Skip to comments.Face to face with evil: 9/11 family member tells of close encounter with Gitmo terrorists
Posted on 02/01/2009 1:01:33 PM PST by knighthawk
My brother was killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11. I have been waiting for justice ever since. Last month, I went to Guantanamo Bay to try to find it.
What I witnessed was shocking. I saw a place where prisoners toy with the authorities, read the newspaper and get one hour breaks for prayer. I saw a place where detainees are treated far better than many ordinary American criminal defendants - and, as far as I'm concerned, far better than they deserve.
I looked straight into the eyes of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the man who masterminded the attacks that killed my brother and almost 3,000 other Americans. I was there when President Obama was inaugurated - and, soon thereafter, when he called a four-month halt to the criminal trials that were just getting underway.
I left with a deep fear that some day the men we now hold in custody will be free to inspire others who hate - if not to continue to kill innocent people themselves.
My presence at Guantanamo was rare. My brothers were chosen by lottery to be among the small number of family members able to observe the proceedings there; with their one remaining slot, they invited me. In retrospect, it turns out we may have been among the very last civilians to set eyes on the detention camp as we know it today.
The proceedings began at 9 a.m. on a Monday morning, in a state of the art courtroom. My brothers and I sat behind glass, a curtain separating us from the press. Much of what we watched appeared on two closed circuit TVs, which edited out information that might be classified.
Then the detainees arrived. "Detainees" - it's a mundane word. These were the five co-conspirators of 9/11, all under one roof. Five men who have celebrated the taking of innocent lives by the thousands. They arrived in well-appointed traditional garb - white linen, I presumed. Someone asked, "Where are the orange jumpsuits?"
My focus that morning was on one of the five men. I could hardly believe my eyes when he came into focus: Khalid Shaik Mohammed, the man who boasted of having masterminded the attacks. He sat there in front of us, preening his beard. Did he seem humbled or chastened? Hardly. He looked like, deep inside, he was laughing in our faces.
What we then saw unfold was less of a trial than a farce. Mohammed dismissed his council - only to call them back. He sat there at the table, in front of his personal computer, complaining about something he had read in The Wall Street Journal - holding up the newspaper for the rest of us to see.
Before long, the scene was overwhelmed by a steady stream of what sounded to me like legal minutiae and trivialities. It was sickening. It was surreal.
I will never forget what interrupted that: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's defense declaring to the court that their client was requesting a cushion because his seat in the van had been too hard. A debate unfolded: the prosecution claimed the cushion had already been provided; the defense insisted he had not received one.
Was this really happening? I went outside for air. My on-base escort followed and asked me what was wrong. "Three thousand people are dead and they are arguing over a cushion," I answered.
Then came a two hour break - one for lunch, the second for the defendants' specially protected hour of prayer.
It wasn't long before the circus resumed. Back at trial, Mohammed burst out with this (according to my notes): "I did it I said I did it! I am proud I did it for jihad!! We say we are guilty just sentence me!"
The words were chilling but something cut even deeper to my core: his gaze. Mohammed turned to make eye contact with us. We stared back.
Before long, court was dismissed, and we were informed that, due to the inauguration of the new President, there would be no hearings the following day.
The following morning we heard the news over CNN: by order of the President, all the proceedings were now on hold. Others were angry that our opportunity to see justice done had been postponed. I shared some of that frustration, but I tried to remain hopeful. I am hopeful that our new government simply wants some time to examine all the issues.
Obama, you must never forget: residing at Guantanamo are confessed architects of 9/11. Please, Mr. President, swiftly fix the system if you must. Then turn to the much more important work of bringing these men and other hardened terrorists to justice - hopefully in military court. These men must never go free.
Arias-Beliveau's youngest brother Adam Arias was killed in Tower 2 of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
We are not allowed to insult their delicate sensitivities.
IT IS GOING TO GET MORE OF US KILLED!! And .. you can take that to the bank - because obviously the liberals have already taken out all the money.
I second your ping.
This is unreal and totally disgusting!
He wanted a cushion? His sorry butt should have been wrapped in a pig carcass and buried years ago!
I was looking for a picture and found this link. I have not seen it before. Heartbreaking.
Complete 911 Timeline
(8:53 a.m.) September 11, 2001: NORAD Public Affairs Officer Calls Brother in WTC; Possibly Warns Him of Second Hijacked Plane
[Source: US Air Force]Major Don Arias, the public affairs officer for NORAD, has just learned of the first WTC crash from television and a phone call from NEADS (see (8:38 a.m.-8:52 a.m.) September 11, 2001).
Alarmed because his younger brother works at the WTC, he calls him immediately. Adam Arias works for an investment company on the 84th floor of the South Tower. According to some accounts, Don Arias tells his brother that the aircraft that crashed into the North Tower was likely a hijacked plane that he has been informed of, and orders him to Get out of there. Go home. [Florida State Times, 11/2001; Newhouse News Service, 1/25/2002; Airman, 9/2002]
But according to Newsday, Don Arias tells his brother he has heard there is another hijacked airliner and might be another attack. [Newsday, 10/30/2001]
This would be consistent with an early NORAD timeline, which had the agency receiving notification of the second hijacking at 8:43 a.m. (see 8:43 a.m. September 11, 2001). However, later accounts, including the 9/11 Commission Report, will claim NORAD only hears of it around the time the plane hits the South Tower (see (9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001).
Adam Arias reacts to his brothers call with urgency, going around the floor exhorting people to leave, and physically throwing one woman out of her office. Several survivors will later credit him with saving their lives. [Newhouse News Service, 1/25/2002; Airman, 9/2002; Filson, 2003, pp. 124] Adam Arias will be killed when the South Tower collapses. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 9/9/2003]
Entity Tags: Don Arias
Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline
Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events
One could argue that's a much higher level of cruelty...
He doesn't care. Give it up.
After reading about all the abuse our soldiers endure by the prisoners at Gitmo, this garbage doesn't surprise me.
Please tell me she didn’t vote for Obama...she seems to have confidence that he will do the right thing.
not a chance now.
Wow. This is an incredible post. This should be in every newspaper in the country. But it won’t be.
Every time I think about those poor people at the WTC, sitting at their desks drinking coffee or making phone calls and examining their day’s work, and then suddenly engulfed in flames, crushed to death by their building, or dying slowly for days buried under it, I want to burst into tears. And the horrible, hideous, evil Muslims who did this to them are sitting there mocking them and mocking us.
Earlier, we had a President who started to get us justice but was too weak once the left-wing press began to attack; now we have a President who is on their side.
I think she’s being polite, because nobody could possibly think that Obama will do the right thing. Well, not the right thing from the American point of view, at least; from the Muslim point of view, I bet it will give Khalid yet another thing to smile about. I’m sure Khalid has been grinning for several days now.
Our problems with those at Guantanamo Bay and likewise with Israel’s problems and also problems with Iran and the rest of the Muslim nations are not going to be solved until we recognize that there is no solution to all this (in all its various facets) until we rid the world of Islam.
If you say (i.e., anyone says) it can’t be done, then be prepared for the “endless war with Islam” as a consequence...
Putin is executing innocent journalist in Russia merely because they report the truth. In America, we can’t seem to execute terrorist that are sitting in a court admitting guilt. We are doomed to failure because we are choosing to ignore history.
This won’t make you want to barf, it will make you want to vomit.
American in Nov 4,2008 forgot about Sept 11,2001. We now live in a Sept 10th world again. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.
Why the hell did President Bush dillydally on this matter? During WWII we meted out swift justice to Nazi spies and saboteurs.
I would feed them to pigs.
I’m not sure which is stronger: the stomach-clenching queasiness this gives me or the rage that it fills me with.
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