20 years of 9/11 attacks and justice keeps waiting

Published : Tuesday, 14 September, 2021 at 12:00 AM

The world marked 20 years of 9/11 terror attacks on Sep 11, 2021. It was the most brutal terrorist attack of the history, which changed the world and showed us another dimension of fear. Terrorist group Al-Qaeda was responsible of the attack and their leader, Osama bin Laden, was killed at Abbottabad of Pakistan in 2011, almost ten years after the attack, by the US forces. Five terrorists, involved in planning and executing the 9/11 attack, was captured by the US. They were captured almost 18 years ago and since then, people of America and the world are waiting for their punishment as everyone wants justice to be served. But 20 years have passed after the attack, but the trial has not yet completed.

The events of 9/11 not only changed America but the whole world as everyone around the globe had to go through the consequences. Religious victimization and racial attacks became a trend at the Western world which drastically disturbed the global harmony and even today, the world is going through abuse of humanity due to that sore event. All these happenings demanded for quick justice to the victims and an effective but speedy trial of the detained suspected terrorists.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sep 11, 2001 attacks, along with four co-defendants appeared in a military courtroom at Guantanamo Bay this week for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began. Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Walid bin Attash and Abd al-Aziz Ali along with Khalid Mohammed face the death penalty in a trial by military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay that has yet to start and remains bogged in process 20 years after the attacks. The five are accused of war crimes in the Sep 11 aircraft hijackings that resulted in the deaths of 2,976 people.

A new military judge has been assigned to the trial. Previously it was expected to start in 2022 but now likely to be further delayed as lawyers of the defense prepare to attack the legal foundation of the military commission. Khalid’s legal team would be filing a series of motions designed to challenge the legitimacy of the military commissions and bring to light the CIA’s torture of Khalid and other detainees. Indicative of the misty outlook, the new judge, US Air Force Lt Col Matthew McCall, assured lawyers in Guantanamo this week that he has no plans to leave the bench when he becomes eligible to retire in three years. McCall is the fourth judge assigned to the case and is still trying to get up to speed on its inconsistent history.

Human rights advocates say the trial is so troubled with legal obstacles that it may never reach a satisfactory conclusion. Many even indicated human rights violation with detainees going through severe torture more than a decade at Guantanamo–without the trial which is very exceptional considering the legal system of the US. Everyone deserves justice and somehow it is stuck both for the detained suspects as well as the victims of the brutal attack.

The military commissions at Guantanamo were established by former President George W Bush in 2001 to prosecute detainees accused of organizing the Sep 11 and other attacks outside the bounds of US criminal law. The US Navy base at Guantanamo is on the island of Cuba, where inmates do not have most of the protections of US law and where successive administrations have refused to apply international conventions. Now, proceedings against Khalid and the four other alleged co-conspirators are tangled as it is caught between US military and criminal legal precedents and further complicated by the CIA’s torture of the accused. Ongoing government secrecy around the CIA interrogations of the five men, more than 500,000 pages of evidence kept under seal and the tribunal’s isolated setting at the Guantanamo prison further prevent a fair process.

In 2009, former President Barack Obama promised to close the prison at Guantanamo and then Attorney General Eric Holder directed the trial of the five 9/11 defendants moved to federal court in New York City. But public backlash and political pressure from Congress forced Obama to back down on the plan to conduct the trial in the US instead of Cuba and after a two-and-half-year halt, proceedings returned to the military tribunal in Guantanamo. In 2014, at a press conference, Obama casually acknowledged to torture some people. In his 2010 memoir Decision Points, Bush acknowledged that he approved the use of waterboarding and other interrogation techniques, which further questioned the protection of human rights for the suspects of 9/11 attacks.

This year, during the 20 years of the 9/11 attack, people, especially the victims and their family members, strongly demanded the completion of trial of the detained suspects as they are awaiting justice. Many even questioned why the trial is taking such a long time. While the trial is waiting for so many years, the US has entered foreign soils so many times.

They have killed Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil, uprooted the Taliban force from Afghanistan once after killing their supreme leader Mollah Omar, entered Iraq and helped in capturing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein which ultimately led towards his execution in 2006 and assisted the NTC fighters in Libya to uproot and kill the former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi in 2012 and participated in war against ISIS in Syria. While they did so many things in the last 20 years, the trial of those five detainees did not see light.

There are several concerns related to the successful trial and punishment of the five detained suspects of 9/11. The terrorist groups often commit heinous crimes as bargaining tool to release their captured associates. Hence, these five detainees can become a bargaining chip of large terrorist groups anytime, which may cause loss of many innocent lives. Moreover, keeping this trial hanging for so long is creating so many questions in the mind of people and many of those questions are related to the intention of the US government regarding a fair trial.

The human rights issue is highly important in the US system. While an important trial takes a long time in another country, the human rights organizations and even the US government criticizes that delay. They often become vocal on any human rights issue. But many think that human rights were seriously violated with these five detainees, which will be raised by the attorneys of these suspects soon. Moreover, this delay of the trial is further making the scenario very vague.

Recently, the Taliban regained the power in Afghanistan while the US troops left the soil of Afghanistan. Both the Taliban and the US government honored the ‘Doha Agreement’, which actually helped the Taliban to claim power so fast as the US government did not interfere at all after passing 20 years on the Afghan soil. The efforts of the US during this long time were completely foiled and many experts have criticized the US for the current situation in Afghanistan.

With the Taliban in power in Afghanistan, the rise of terrorism in the upcoming days becomes a new concern for the world. The Taliban previously sheltered the Al-Qaeda leaders. Their own acts were also highly like fundamentalists. The success of the Taliban may give high hopes to different terrorist groups who are trying to spread their ideology for so many years. We can feel that, the spirit of these terrorist groups is getting high. Hence, if the US government completes the trial of the five suspects of 9/11 quickly and brings them under justice, then that will give a strong message to these terrorist groups.

None wants terrorism to foil the global peace and harmony. Already we have lost a lot due to the terrorist acts and do not want any more of that. Terrorism and patronization of terrorism for political leverage cannot be an option to maintain control. Hence, we hope the US government will deliver justice to the victims of 9/11 terror attack very soon and will keep playing a great role in eliminating terrorism. We hope peace and harmony to prevail all around the globe after war on terror so long.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA), Editor at Kishore Bangla and
Chief Patron, Bangabandhu
Shishu Kishore Mela

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