Amy Goodman, the Marxist host of Democracy Now!, reported that “a former so-called enemy combatant,” who has been jailed in the U.S. for over six years without charge, has now been sentenced to over eight years in prison.
This opening description sets a tone, which leaves the viewer with the impression that the remainder of the piece will veer off into a discussion of the injustice of a sentence, presided over by a heavy-handed and obviously anti-Islamic judicial system, which holds presumably innocent people for six years without charge.
Consider, also, Goodman’s use of the phrase “former so-called enemy combatant.” This is, without doubt, a subtle ploy designed to further distract her viewers from the overall seriousness of the case in question. It so softens the piece that anyone watching would probably have expected Goodman’s next phrase to have been: “and now for the weather.”
And yet, if one pauses to reflect, one is immediately struck by a thought: this is, after all, a Democracy Now! report. If it seems too superficial, surely that must be by design. There has to be more here than meets the eye—what is Amy Goodman leaving out; and who is this “former so-called enemy combatant,” who has just been sentenced to eight years in prison?
Glad you asked. You may recall his name: Ali al-Marri, and that’s him smiling in the above photo.
You may also recall that al-Marri was an al-Qaeda “sleeper” operative who came to the U.S. as a “student,” just one day before the 9/11 attacks; and, as per plan, was waiting for further instructions—directly from 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed—on when to unleash his own terrorist attack (which in all likelihood would have involved the use of cyanide gas).
If your memory is still hazy, here are a few facts about al-Marri that Goodman conveniently left out of her piece:
•He attended an al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan, trained with the specific intention of carrying out a terrorist attack in the United States, and was dispatched by the highest levels of al-Qaeda to carry out those plans.
•After his arrival on September 10, 2001, al-Marri settled in central Illinois, pretended to be a student at Bradley University, and spent much of his time researching Internet sites on the use of chemical weapons and selecting the best targets in order to maximize casualties.
•During his time in Illinois, he remained in e-mail contact with Sheikh Mohammed. He rarely attended classes, instead devoting his time to his “research.” Court documents report that al-Marri had accumulated a huge body of literature: “related to various cyanide compounds. The defendant’s focus was on various cyanide substances … the defendant reviewed toxicity levels, the locations where these items could be purchased, and specific pricing of the compounds.” An almanac found at al-Marri’s residence was bookmarked “at pages showing dams, waterways and tunnels in the United States.
Fortunately, al-Marri also proved to be quite stupid, and he soon found himself on the FBI’s radar, which arrested him just two months after entering the country, on charges of credit card fraud. Al-Marri was found to be in possession of nearly 2000 stolen credit card numbers, the names of the account holders, and falsified identification cards. His computer was seized and was found to contain incriminating folders labeled “jihad arena” and “chem” (which contained his cyanide research). In addition, there were lectures by Osama bin Laden, and numerous links to Web sites providing information on weaponry and satellite equipment.
Regrettably, none of this information was in the Democracy Now! report presented by Goodman.
Perhaps she wanted us to focus on something else altogether?