A Clue to the Truth about 9/11?

9. The 9/11 Convictions

In that real world, six years ago, George W. Bush promised to bring the perpetrators of 9/11 to justice. What happened to that promise? Let's look at his record. After the first ever 9/11 conviction, in Hamburg on 19 February 2003, Mounir al-Motassadeq was sentenced to 15 years for membership of a terrorist organization and complicity in the 3,066 murders allegedly committed on 9/11; on 4 March 2004, that conviction was quashed. When his retrial on the same charges ended on 19 August 2005, he was acquitted on the murder charges but was given 7 years for al-Qaeda membership. His co-accused, Abdelghani Mzoudi, had been acquitted on all charges on 5 February 2004. On 16 November 2006, at the Karlsruhe Federal Court of Justice, Motassadeq's accessory-to-murder convictions were reinstated — but of only 246 victims, the crew and passengers on the 9/11 planes; those killed in the Twin Towers were now excluded. Pending sentence, his lawyer said they might appeal to the final resort, the Federal Constitutional Court.

On 22 April 2005, after more than three years of pre-trial hearings, Zacarias Moussaoui finally pleaded guilty in Washington to six counts of conspiracy involving the events of 9/11, saving the expense (and possible embarrassment) of a trial; he then immediately tried to withdraw his plea and claimed he had been involved in a different conspiracy, not 9/11 — a claim given some backing even in the Kean Commission Report.

On the very same day, 22 April 2005 — pure coincidence yet again, no doubt — 24 defendants (from the original 41 indicted, including Osama Bin Laden) appeared in Madrid in a trial expected to last two months, with three of the 24 accused of being accessories to the murders of 9/11 — this time numbered at 2,973. In the event, the trial lasted less than three days — Friday 22, Monday 25 and Tuesday 26 — resulting in 18 convictions, but all murder charges and telephone evidence being thrown out, one of the three acquitted on all charges, one given 6 years for membership of al-Qaeda and the third, Imad Yarkas ("Abu Dahdah"), 27 years, comprising 12 for al-Qaeda membership and (as opposed to the 74,325 years — 25 for each murder — requested by the prosecution) 15 for "criminal formation," otherwise known as conspiracy — "providing funding and logistics" for those who planned 9/11, but not, according to the 447-page summary from the 3-judge panel, direct participation in 9/11.

The sum total to date of Bush's efforts to bring the guilty to justice is two convictions. On 4 May 2006, Moussaoui was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. If he is one day found dead in his cell, like Slobodan Milosevic, that would neatly dispose of someone whose precise role in 9/11, if any, is still a mystery — not least to a judge who said she had never believed any of his claims; the general consensus is that he was only indirectly involved — no surprise, when he was already in an American prison cell when it happened. As for Yarkas, his 9/11 conviction, on circumstantial evidence, was overturned by Spain’s Supreme Court on 1 June 2006 (although his conviction for al-Qaeda membership was upheld). If, as seems likely, Motassadeq's convictions are reversed yet again, Moussaoui's will be the only success, if that is not an abuse of the word — no trial, no jury and precious little credibility — after six years of international investigation. In any future US court case where the defendant does not, like Moussaoui, plead guilty, it is entirely possible the eventual sentence will be sealed — classified secret — as it was in the bizarre pre-9/11 case of another accused who did plead guilty: Ali Mohamed, the al-Qaeda operative with a past life as a US Army instructor at Fort Bragg. But his story — what we know of it — could fill another essay.

The alleged "mastermind" of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, has been in US hands for more than four years now (arrested in Rawalpindi 1 March 2003), and Ramzi Binalshibh even longer (Karachi, 11 September 2002 — the first anniversary — another pure coincidence, need it be said). One might think the Bush administration would want a trial as a matter of urgency, but apparently not. In September 2006, "KSM," Binalshibh and 12 others were moved from "CIA custody" to Guantαnamo, in preparation for trials that have still to begin, months later. In March 2007, the 14 faced a hearing before a panel of three US military officers deciding whether to extend their detention, with an alleged Mohammed confession issued a few days later — the familiar pattern — with the media's usual "security experts" trotted out to pronounce their guilty verdicts. For years, all we ever got was the occasional story fed to the press about interrogation sessions supplying enough information to lock up others indefinitely; after all that time out of circulation, how much useful intelligence could these people possibly have had left? About the same as between George Bush's ears, probably. Some of the Nuremberg defendants had been tried and executed — for far worse crimes than 9/11 — within 18 months of VE Day; even the Tokyo Tribunal "only" lasted 30 months. Whatever the arguments about "victors' justice" — which I accept — there never was much doubt about the defendants' guilt; perhaps that's the difference. As for Bin Laden, Rumsfeld long ago frankly admitted he couldn't care less where he is; I dare say the feelings are mutual. I'd guess he might possibly be safe in the "lawless" north-west of Pakistan — The Wild North-West, home of the notorious Gunfight at the Peshawar Corral and Abdullah the Kid — the only place on Planet Earth too dangerous for the Pentagon to even think of going near. How could they possibly face those suicidal Pashtun gunslingers, totally different from the ones they dealt with next door in Afghanistan six years ago? We can discount the guilt by innuendo of the hundreds of others held in Guantαnamo for years without charge, over 9/11 or anything else, and the implied guilt of the late Saddam Hussein, CIA asset and US stooge for 40 years, against whom there never was any 9/11 case.

Is this the justice — two highly dubious convictions — promised to the American people in September 2001 by the Commander-in-Chief who, at the absolute minimum, failed to prevent the attacks in the first place? Instead of the official version of events being proved in a court, we have had the Kean Report, just as 40 years ago we had the Warren Report — as a substitute for judicial process.

The rest of the official 9/11 story amounts to hot air. The Bush government has no 9/11 case: not a single shred of evidence, put to a jury in a trial — which excludes Moussaoui — leading to the conviction of someone directly responsible — which excludes Moussaoui, Motassadeq and Yarkas — for committing 3,000 murders. Given this abject failure — or, as I and millions of others believe, worse — far worse — perhaps my contribution might achieve something: it can hardly achieve less. If the real guilty parties have not yet been convicted, the whole question of their identity is wide open. The minor players convicted so far — or even any major ones convicted in the future — could very well be the victims of manipulation by others still in the shadows. If the people who have been convicted so far didn't do it, who did?

Given this state of affairs, no-one who thinks the US government itself organized 9/11 need offer the slightest apology for believing it — and they have Northwoods as a specific precedent, to prove that those at the very top of the US military establishment are capable of that level of cynicism — not just thinking it, but planning it, putting it in print and expecting it to be endorsed by a Defense Secretary and an Attorney General. Robert McNamara and Robert Kennedy may have had their reasons for rejecting Northwoods — perhaps not moral compunctions so much as the risks involved in something that, if exposed, would make the U-2 shoot-down and the Bay of Pigs fiasco look like minor problems. By 2001, what made them major — the existence of the Soviet Union — was past history, the USA now had no serious enemies or competitors, and Donald Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft were in office.

When would there ever be a better opportunity? Does anyone with a brain and any sense of honesty seriously believe Osama Bin Laden brought that situation about, or that a government like Bush's would sit around, staring into space, waiting for him to do it? They made the opportunity happen. Why would a real enemy — if they had any capable of inflicting serious harm — give them a gift like that? The onus is on those who claim Bush did no more than capitalize on an accident to justify this fatuous image of the USA as a passive spectator, or a defenseless victim, when the historical record tells us the opposite. Were all the USA's meddling and invasions carried out by a passive, peace-loving state that believed in just minding its own business? How can anyone who knows about the rapacity and the lying hypocrisy of US governments possibly see them as poor little innocents, wide open to attack by a gang of terrorists living in a cave in Afghanistan? It would be hilarious if it wasn't deadly depressing listening to this stupidity.

Go to Part 10