Can’t help wondering why two UN Human Rights watchdogs and the Archbishop of Canterbury seem to believe the world would have been a better place if “Geronimo” had been captured alive?
Would it? In theory, yes. We all agree that all human beings deserve a fair trial and should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. If it had been a minor Al Queda leader most likely he would have been captured alive. But there’s an exception to every rule, and to this one Osama bin Laden probably is.
Are you presumed innocent after repeatedly pleading guilty?
He has voluntarily declared himself guilty numerous times, not only to 9/11 but several other terrorist attacks around the world. Can he then be presumed innocent? He was even proud of what he had done and boasted about it. In fact, even encouraged his followers to kill innocent people to further his own interest.
Would he have allowed the Americans to capture him alive?
Bin Laden was an intelligent man. So clever he was able to be in hiding for at least five years in a house 500 meters from Pakistan’s military academy. Have actually been to Abbottabad and it seems to me the place was chosen since it’s next to Kashmir and India, which could have come in handy for him.
Seriously doubt a man as proud and vain as he was would have allowed himself to be captured and become a trophy for the hated Americans. He carefully created his image and I seriously doubt that’s the way he intended to end his life. In the presumable absence of a cyanide capsule, he knew that just one threatening gesture would have made the Navy Seals kill him.
Where would the trial have taken place?
Where could Osama bin Laden have been held awaiting trial? A whole army of suicide bombers would have volunteered to take revenge and thousands and thousands of innocent people would have died as a result.
Am sure the Americans decided against having the trial in the US for security reasons and he could not have been tried in the International Criminal Court in the Hague since its jurisdiction only runs from 2002. And trying him before a military commission in Guantanamo would render the validity dubious.
So where could the trial have taken place in order to please both Western civilians and adherents of Sharia law?
Who would have been prepared to work on his trial?
The prosecutor, judge and jury’s days would be numbered. They and their families would never be safe again and need to be provided with fake identities. So it would have had to be people willing to risk their lives, or die, in order to convict “Geronimo”.
And they would all have had to be men since religious fanatics like Osama bin Laden refuse to be anywhere near women who are not family. The joke in Saudi Arabia was that it was a good idea to marry such a man since he wouldn’t even look at another woman.
Why would Osama have spilled his guts?
It would definitely have been interesting if “Geronimo” had been put on trial and told the truth under oath.
But would he have done that? Definitely not. He would not have given away any information worth having. Probably instead gone on a hunger strike and done everything in his power to convey a picture of him as a martyr and further his cause as much as possible. The information gathered during the raid is probably of more interest than what he would have revealed in a trial.
Would a civilian US court have found him guilty?
If he had been found guilty he would have faced the death penalty. If so he would instead of being shot have been given a lethal injection.
But would he have been found guilty? It would have been difficult for a civilian court to reach a verdict that he was guilty beyond reasonable doubt. The fact that he, and his followers know he is and that he has actually pleaded guilty may not have been enough to reach such a verdict. A clever lawyer would probably have been able to work wonders for him.
Putting him on trial would have given Al Queda the enormous boost it needs. After all its followers are supporters of Osama bin Laden’s and not the network as such. And what would the world have gained from strengthening Al Queda?
Am against the death penalty, but when I lived in Riyadh I understood that the ways the Saudis deal with terrorist is the only way to handle such fanatics. They will never walk the streets again unless they are reformed. And they know that if they are up to no good again they will follow convicted terrorists to chop-chop square. It’s interesting to note that the Saudis are actually successful in making followers of Osama bin Laden’s see their errors and change for good.
We don’t need a revived Al Queda
Putting him on trial would have made him even more of a martyr than he already is to his followers. And Al Queda would have been strengthened. It’s bad enough that they have stated they will avenge his death. But the carnage would have been much greater if he had become a cult figure awaiting trial. Thousands and thousands of innocent people would have died as a result of giving him a fair Western trial.
Am against targeted killings. But was there really much of a choice in the case of Osama bin Laden? What do you think? Would bin Laden have allowed the Americans to capture him alive? Where could his trial have taken place? Is it likely that he would have told the truth under oath? Would he have been found guilty in a civilian US court? How many innocent people would have died as a result of trying him? Would Al Queda have been given a huge boost by a bin Laden trial? Or should he simply have been left in peace in Abbottabad planning further terrorist attacks? Would anything positive really have come out of capturing him alive? And would it have made the world a better place place for all, not just for Al Queda?
(photo: Flickr – Adam Jones, Ph.D.)