November 13, 2009

Cruickshank: Put Bin Laden on Trial

Posted: 07:11 PM ET

Editor's note: Paul Cruickshank, a Fellow at the NYU Center on Law and Security, regularly contributes to CNN's coverage of al Qaeda terrorism.  He will be a guest on tonight's LKL.

osamaNew York (CNN) - The announcement that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other men accused of the 9/11 attacks will soon be moved to New York to face trial in a federal court will be welcomed by some Americans as finally starting the process of bringing the perpetrators of these attacks to justice.

To date, not one person has been convicted for the attacks. But it also will be a reminder that their boss, the man most responsible for killing 3,000 civilians - the majority of them Americans but many from all around the world - is still at large.

President Obama has stated that it is vitally important for the country to put some of the controversial policies of the last eight years behind it. While the forthcoming trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and several figures allegedly involved in plotting the 9/11 attacks in New York will be helpful, nothing would help more than if Osama bin Laden were captured, afforded full due process and put on trial.

It would be nothing short of a watershed moment, doing much to restore the public's confidence in American institutions and the rule of law after years of being told that they were too quaint for the challenges of a new era. And it would go a long way, too, in restoring the moral high ground for the United States in the court of global opinion.

An indictment dating back to 1998 awaits al Qaeda's leader in the Southern District Federal Court of New York, which can be easily updated by a grand jury to include his crimes since. This is where Mohammed and four others accused of the 9/11 attacks are also expected to be tried.

Less than a mile from ground zero, there could be no more appropriate place to try bin Laden. There is virtually no chance that bin Laden would walk free from a U.S. courtroom as there are at least three separate video recordings of him acknowledging responsibility for the 9/11 attacks.


Filed under: al Qaeda • Osama bin Laden

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