Judge Lewis Kaplan, the U.S. District judge in Manhattan who has been dealing with the trial of Guantánamo detainee and accused terrorist Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, set a September 2010 trial date for the man this morning. Ghailani is accused of membership in Al Qaeda and involvement in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. He allegedly served as a bomb-maker, forger of documents, and envoy of Osama bin Laden. The attacks in which he is accused to have participated left 224 people dead, including 12 Americans.
Ghailani is the first of the Guantánamo detainees to be tried on American soil, following President Obama’s resolution to close the offshore prison and try all of its remaining accused terrorists in civilian courts when possible. There has been much fuss from opponents of this plan, and from governors over the fact that this will mean terrorists will be shipped to their states.
You’ll note that there has been little uproar over Ghailani’s presence right here in New York — and the news that he might remain in the area for over a year before his trial even begins. To which we say: Sack up, rest of the country. Ghailani may not be one of the 9/11 masterminds, but for a while, he was reportedly housed here in the city at the Metropolitan Correctional Center — not even a supermax facility. It is, in fact, where they put wimps like Bernard Madoff until sentencing.
Side note: bet that was a fun cafeteria line.