A New York jury delivered a stunning verdict Wednesday. Ahmed Ghailani, an al Qaeda terrorist who conspired to blow up American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, was acquitted of more than 280 charges, including one count of murder for each of the 224 people killed in the simultaneous attacks. The jury found Ghailani guilty of only one charge: conspiracy to destroy U.S. government buildings.So just what kind of jury was behind this idiotic verdict anyway? The same one that acquitted O.J. Simpson of murder in 1995, perhaps?
The Department of Justice, which moved Ghailani from Guantanamo to New York for the trial, says it is “pleased” with the outcome since Ghailani will face a minimum of 20 years in prison and possibly serve a life sentence.
It is difficult to square the DOJ’s rhetoric with the carnage that was unleashed in Africa more than a decade ago. The man who helped murder more than 200 civilians was acquitted of their murders even though he is obviously guilty.
Let’s review some of the evidence presented at Ghailani’s trial. According to CBS News, government prosecutors presented all of the following facts to the jury:
1. Ghailani and another al Qaeda operative “purchased the used refrigeration truck converted to a weapon of mass destruction in Tanzania.”
2. “Ghailani then obtained some of the oxygen and flammable acetylene gas tanks joined to the TNT to enhance the explosion.”
3. “Ghailani also stored electric detonators - one and a half inch, aluminum coated, PETN charged blasting caps -- in the armoire of his Dar es Salaam house. The FBI found one, along with clothing tainted with TNT residue.”
4. Ghailani gave the suicide bomber who blew himself up in Tanzania the cell phone he used in plotting the attack. The suicide bomber made calls from this phone both the night before, and the morning of, the attack.
5. The government produced “numerous witnesses” who “placed Ghailani in 1998 in the company of known al Qaeda operatives and embassy bombers, at [a] ‘safe house’ in coastal Mombasa, Kenya, at the house Ghailani shared in Dar es Salaam, and riding in utility vehicles the conspirators used to ferry supplies to their bomb making locations.”
CBS News explains that two of the men “seen with Ghailani” have already been convicted for their role in the embassy bombings and are “serving life sentences.”
6. “Ghailani fled Tanzania using a fake name and passport the day before the bombings” and “three senior al Qaeda leaders involved with the East Africa's cell were on Ghailani's flight to Karachi, Pakistan."
Even if Ghailani does serve a long prison term, it will not excuse the fact that he is guilty on his part in the murder of more than 200 people, and must be convicted of that as well. This is enough to raise the question of whether juries should even be used in major trials like these, if they could involve people unqualified for the job.
IMO, there should be a retrial of Ghailani to try and get him convicted properly on the charges he's guilty of besides the conspiracy to destroy government buildings, but there's no telling if it'll happen. What can be brought into discussion now, however, is whether the US judicial service should continue to rely on jury-bases systems when there's quite a few emperors out there who wear no clothes.