Catch and Release: Save It for Wildlife, Never Al Qaeda

Al Qaeda members are not fish

I’m sure everyone remembers being a youngster fishing with your father, older brother, or elder friend of the family.  You are briefly taught how to cast, which usually turns out to just be a 1 foot plop-drop over the side of the boat splashing down into the water.  Suddenly, you feel a hard tug on the line and the sound of the reel as it begins to take drag.  You begin to jump around in excitement holding the rod in one hand (or in my case, let go of it) not knowing that hooking the fish is half the battle.  Your experienced other comes over to guide your arms sturdily back onto the rod and rotates your hand on the reel clock-wise while speaking words of encouragement.  The feeling you’re experiencing is similar to opening a present on Christmas or your birthday.  After 10 seconds of fighting with the fish, up come the mouth and eyes with the body flipping and splashing.  You’ve done it, you have caught your first fish, the biggest fish in the world.  But after all the excitement, come the words, “Sorry, we gotta throw this bass back, she just ain’t big enough, son.”  You begin to tear up and question the decision in a tantrum.  To the response, “Don’t worry, this bass is just a baby, in a couple of years, we are gonna come back here and she will be all grown up, and we will catch her again, this time for keeps.”  Habeas corpus was granted to the bass and it was released.

The 2010 release of classified documents on the WikiLeaks website have shocked some into rage, but have also shown how governments act behind the scenes, away from the people.  It has shown some good, some bad, and some really stupid.  Captured Al Qaeda members that had been caught and imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, were then released after showing no links to terrorism.  It appears that after some good hard police work in countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, we decided that they were now rehabilitated enough to function peacefully back in society.  This was obviously stupid.  From the LA Times on April 25th, 2011:

Said Shihri, who was captured in Pakistan in late 2001 and became one of the first suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, was released six years later after he convinced U.S. officials that he would go home to Saudi Arabia to work in his family’s furniture store.

He emerged instead as the No. 2 leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a Yemen-based group that U.S. intelligence considers the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization.

Review panels at Guantanamo Bay also released at least six other detainees who later joined the militant group that has turned Yemen into a key battleground for Al Qaeda. One former detainee now is a prominent radical cleric, and another writes propaganda in English encouraging others to attack the United States.

Shihri is not alone.  It is estimated that 25% of the captured and subsequently released Al Qaeda prisoners are now operating back in their respective countries, with most being in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.  These two countries produce the most hard-line Al Qaeda members.  Osama bin Laden is originally from Saudi Arabia.  The majority of the 9/11 high-jacker’s were from Saudi Arabia.  The USS Cole was bombed while docked in Yemen.  The Christmas Day bomber was trained in Yemen.  Islam was founded in Saudi Arabia, which could be a reason for boosted fanaticism.  With all the unrest in Yemen, and the massive amounts of well trained Al Qaeda operatives lying in wait, do the math.  This bit of information however, did not require a WikiLeaks spill to show that former Al Qaeda prisoners were once again re-enlisting for active terrorist duty.  From the Sunday Times on January 5th, 2010:

At least a dozen former Guantánamo Bay inmates have rejoined al-Qaeda to fight in Yemen, The Times has learnt, amid growing concern over the ability of the country’s Government to accept almost 100 more former inmates from the detention centre.

The Obama Administration promised to close the Guantánamo facility by January 22, a deadline that it will be unable to meet. The 91 Yemeni prisoners in Guantánamo make up the largest national contingent among the 198 being held.

Six prisoners were returned to Yemen last month. After the Christmas Day bomb plot in Detroit, US officials are increasingly concerned that the country is becoming a hot-bed of terrorism. Eleven of the former inmates known to have rejoined al-Qaeda in Yemen were born in Saudi Arabia. The organisation merged its Saudi and Yemeni offshoots last year.

The release of these men was not only a mistake, but a direct threat to the United States and allies.  Just as it has and still happens in the poorer areas of America, getting dirt on you gets you street credit.  Doing a 10 year stint in a Federal or State prison goes a long way to the up and coming criminals in the neighborhood.  They will look to you for advice and leadership.  Except in America, where it might be knowledge on how to sell your drugs without getting caught, to whereas in Yemen, it will be how to evade authorities while wearing your improvised explosive device and exploding it on an airliner killing 300 people.  Some of these men were low ranking Al Qaeda operatives when arrested, but when they return home, they are treated as savvy veterans who defeated the US justice system, which they WILL tell the other Al Qaeda members how to defeat. In Shirhi’s case, his freedom rested upon the quote, “just a muslim, not a terrorist.”

President Obama, who was in favor originally of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, has acknowledged the true threat of this reality.  The facility will now be able to resume trials of suspected terrorists.  Yes, there may be a prisoner who is innocent.  But I find it is doubtful that the individual was arrested and brought all the way to Guantanamo Bay for little reason.  Is there a risk of this guy potentially being responsible for the murder of hundreds upon release?  If there is even a 1% chance of that, then he should be held for as long as it takes to be a 100% sure he is innocent.  It is not that hard when all of the guys they bring in live by the saying, “I want to die more than you want to live.” Let them die in a cell without harming people that enjoy the gift of life.

This isn’t for instance, a group of four guys get pulled over, while only the driver has marijuana on him, all go to jail under suspicion that it belonged to everyone.  That is not how it works.  If you are rolling around with Al Qaeda members in Afghanistan, you are certainly assisting them.  When the Toyota truck gets pulled over, and three of the four guys have AK-47s, while a rocket-propelled grenade launcher is under your seat, but you claim it’s not yours, you might be going to jail for a while.  But who knows, maybe you will be one of the lucky ones who pull off a mass escape like the one that just occurred at Sarposa prison in Kandahar.  480 inmates escape out a Taliban dug tunnel.  This poses a massive threat to Afghan and US security forces.  Fortunately, the guards weren’t stupid enough to allow the prisoners to transfer the dirt around the prison in their trousers like in the film, The Great Escape.  Nah, they just dug from the outside and used a good old fashioned car jack to break up the concrete, making a hole to crawl through.

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