Roger L. Simon

Incompetent Propagandists at the New York Times

Just today, the NYT has seen fit to give one of its op-ed spaces to Mourad Benchellali who writes of Guantanamo Prison in “Detainees in Despair“. Says Mr. Benchellali of his fate: In the early summer of 2001, when I was 19, I made the mistake of listening to my older brother and going to Afghanistan on what I thought was a dream vacation. He also tells us: I was seized by the Pakistani Army while having tea at a mosque shortly after I managed to cross the border. A few days later I was delivered to the United States Army: although I didn’t know it at the time, I was now labeled an “enemy combatant.” It did not matter that I was no one’s enemy and had never been on a battlefield, let alone fought or aimed a weapon at anyone. Later he writes: I was eventually released and I will go on trial next month in Paris to face charges that I’ve never denied, that I spent two months in the Qaeda camp.

Oh, really? Those were the charges? Did the Times’ vaunted fact-checkers bother to check or were they too mired in their reactionary world view to investigate. Unfortunately for them, by a strange quirk of fate, Mr. Benchellali and his beloved family – the ones who invited him on his “dream vcation” – were sentenced yesterday in France. From the AP:

The court convicted 24 defendants of criminal association in relation with a terrorist enterprise, a broad charge used by France to sweep wide in bringing terror suspects to justice. One other was convicted of using false papers.

The Benchellali family was at the center of the case, with Menad’s mother, Hafsa, and brother, Hafed, also on trial for roles in the plot to carry out an attack in France.

The network was dismantled in two waves, the first in December 2002 as investigators stormed two houses in the Paris suburb of La Courneuve and the nearby town of Romainville. They found gas canisters, fuses, chemicals and a suit to protect against chemical attacks.

During a second wave of arrests, in January 2004 in Venissieux, in southeast France, investigators found chemical products, including ricin, and definitively broke up the network.

BTW, in his op-ed, Benchellali informs us he is a “quiet Muslim”. [big hat tip: Ed Holston who describes the two articles linked here as “res ipsa loquitor” – the thing speaks for itself.]