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Trying Ahmed Abu Khatalla: A military tribunal is the only appropriate venue

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
 

First, all due kudos to those responsible for the capture, albeit tardily, of the terrorist thug suspected of directing the deadly Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Thanks to the intrepid work of Delta Force commandos and the FBI, a very bad actor is in American custody. The days of Ahmed Abu Khatalla sipping tea at his mother's house, entertaining the inquiries of Western journalists and publicly mocking the United States appear to be over. Or, when it comes to the latter, maybe not.

What's far from over is the debate about what Mr. Abu Khatalla is. Is he a civilian criminal who, as the Obama administration once again is planning, should be tried in our civilian criminal justice system and, in the process, handed a valuable propaganda tool? Or is he an enemy combatant, as more than a few veteran prosecutors contend, and a transnational terrorist, as others more adroitly characterize him, who should be tried by a military tribunal?

By definition, Abu Khatalla is the latter. As Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., the former prosecutor leading a House committee's investigation into the Benghazi attack, succinctly put it, “A non-U.S. citizen who committed a crime outside of the United States in what can only be defined as an act of terror tantamount more to a war than a criminal code violation puts me in the camp of arguing for a noncivilian court trial.”

The venue question should be moot. That it isn't not only suggests that the Obama administration seeks its own propaganda pedestal but that it continues to fail to understand the true nature of the war Islamofascists are waging.

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