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September 27, 2005
Spanish Verdicts Contradict 9/11 Commission But Disappoint Prosecutors

I wrote yesterday before the Spanish trial judges announced their decision on their only 9/11 trial that the verdict had the possibility of demonstrating the invalidity of the conclusions reached by the 9/11 Commission. The Spanish court did just that, convicting two of the three major figures before the court with belonging to the 9/11 conspiracy -- but then confused the issue by letting them off the hook for the actual deaths that conspiracy caused. The Washington Post tried to make sense of the verdicts reached:

A Spanish court on Monday convicted and sentenced a Syrian-born man to 27 years in prison for conspiring with al Qaeda and the hijackers who carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, alias Abu Dahdah, was one of 18 found guilty among 24 defendants on charges of cooperating with al Qaeda. ...

Prosecutors presented evidence that Yarkas and Driss Chebli, a Moroccan, coordinated a key meeting in Spain with the lead Sept. 11 hijacker two months before the attacks.

Chebli received a six-year prison sentence on a charge of collaborating with a terrorist organization. Ghasoub Abrash Ghayoun, a Syrian who videotaped the World Trade Center and other key landmarks in the United States, was acquitted. He insisted he shot the footage as a tourist.

Tayssir Alouni, a journalist with the Arabic-language television network al-Jazeera, was sentenced to seven years in prison. Prosecutors used an interview that Alouni conducted in 2001 with Osama bin Laden as evidence that he had a link to al Qaeda.

If the overwhelming number of convictions belied the 9/11 Commission's findings that Mohammed Atta and Ramzi Binalshibh received no material assistance from anyone else in Spain during the odd interlude in Madrid two months before the attacks, the sentencing appeared strangely disconnected from the crimes they conspired to commit. Yarkas got twenty-seven years for conspiracy to commit terrorism, even though his conspiracy ultimately met success with the deaths of 3,000 people, the worst such attacks in history. The Spanish court ruled that although prosecutors had proven his role in the 9/11 planning, he had not taken material part in the attacks themselves. Thanks to this ruling, Yarkas will likely survive to walk out of prison a free man within the next decade.

Even more odd, the court only gave Chebli a six-year sentence for performing more or less the same role as Yarkas. The six-year sentence guarantees that Chebli will emerge from prison within a couple of years, free to coordinate more attacks on Western targets. Both men will make a number of new contacts in prison to allow al-Qaeda to hatch new plots and find new "holy warriors". Why the twenty-one year disparity between the sentences? Why didn't the Spanish court recognize that those who conspire to commit murderous acts that prove successful become accessories before the fact to each murder committed -- and sentence them properly for it?

As Dafydd at Big Lizards notes, this puts the sanctimonious closing argument from the Spanish prosecutor in the light it deserves:

In clear reference to the United States, the lead prosecutor, Pedro Rubira, called in his closing arguments this summer for "an exemplary sentence which shows that neither wars nor detention camps are necessary in the fight against Islamic terrorism."

Rubira didn't get an exemplary sentence; he got instead a ridiculously light sentence for his efforts, proving that the idea of using civilian courts to answer acts of war provides only an illusion of security. He wound up proving the wisdom of the Bush administration's policy, not deflating it. The Spanish took four years to settle the question of 24 detainees from the 9/11 attacks, and will likely take two more to do the same with the terrorists captured from the 2003 Madrid bombings. In the meantime, the Spaniards wait for the next terrorist attack so that they can arrest a few more people and take another four years to figure out what to do with them -- and the ultimate result will be that since the detainees didn't commit suicide, they cannot be held responsible for the murders.

Brilliant. They have the al-Qaeda martyrs right where they want them now! Dafydd wonders whether the Democrats will still want to argue for the law-enforcement approach in next year's elections:

Yep, the Spaniards certainly showed us how to do things. I wonder if the Democrats in Washington D.C. will point with admiration in November 2006 to this less-than-spectacular result of the antiterrorism policies they advocate...?

They'll abandon that strategy about the same time they quit demanding 9/11 Commission-type panels to investigate the response to Hurricane Katrina. Some people cannot admit failure even when it stands out so obviously, as it does in both cases.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 27, 2005 6:16 AM

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Spanish Verdicts Contradict 9/11 Commission But Disappoint Prosecutors:

» More Evidence of 9/11 Commission Failures from A Blog For All
Yet another example of the Commission's failure to get to the bottom of the 9/11 hijacking plans and preparations. [Read More]

Tracked on September 27, 2005 11:23 AM

» Spain's 9-11 Convictions from kellino
Spain's 9-11 Convictions [Read More]

Tracked on September 27, 2005 3:04 PM

» Civil courts can’t crush caliphatistas from Right We Are
Good analysis of the 9/11 conspiracy trial in Spain over at Captain’s Quarters. The verdict was a strange mix of good news, bad news, and odd news that, sum total, underscores the inappropriateness of treating al-Qaeda’s terrorism as just ... [Read More]

Tracked on September 27, 2005 3:21 PM

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