Rep. Frank R. Wolf on Monday reiterated his opposition to jailing and prosecuting Guantanamo Bay detainees in Alexandria, after a fellow Northern Virginia congressman said over the weekend he was open to the idea.
“To bring someone to Alexandria, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed - who killed Daniel Pearl and was a mastermind of 9/11 - would be a mistake,” Mr. Wolf, a Republican, told editors and reporters at The Washington Times. “We’re just saying, ‘Don’t bring people like that.’ “
President Obama plans to close the terrorism-suspect detention facility at the U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by January. Officials have said the fates of its roughly 240 detainees will vary: Some may be released, while others will stand trial, possibly in Alexandria’s federal courthouse.
Mr. Wolf’s stance aligns him with other House Republicans from Virginia, but places him at odds with Rep. James P. Moran, a Democrat who argued Saturday in an op-ed piece in The Washington Post that Alexandrians should accept the challenge if the detainees are tried in the city.
“I’m not advocating we bring detainees to Northern Virginia,” Mr. Moran said Monday. “But if the administration deems it in our country’s best interest that a reasonably limited number be tried at the courthouse, then I will be on the same page as the president.”
Alexandria in 2006 hosted the trial of convicted terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, but Mr. Wolf said the area surrounding the courthouse has changed considerably since then. For example, a Westin Hotel now sits nearby.
“The stress it would put on the system would be very great, and the location has dramatically changed, compared to what it was,” Mr. Wolf said.
Mr. Wolf has co-sponsored legislation that would bar the use of federal funding to transfer the detainees to Virginia. The congressman has pressed Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. for details on the possible length of detainee trials, as well as other issues related to the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
He also has written to Mr. Obama about the possible release of Chinese Uighur detainees held at Guantanamo into the United States.
Mr. Wolf said Mr. Holder had not answered his letter.
The attorney general last week told a Senate subcommittee that decisions were still being made regarding whether detainees will be brought to the United States.
“At this time, the department has no announcements to make about disposition of the Uighurs or other detainees at Guantanamo Bay,” Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said Monday.