- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 18, 2010

As President Obama weighed in to support the Ground Zero mosque during a White House dinner celebrating the Islamic holy month of Ramadan on Friday, one can only imagine what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), the self-professed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, must be saying at Guantanamo.

After personally observing KSM’s religious-themed antics during military commission pretrial hearings on several occasions during the latter half of 2008 and into January 2009, I am confident to opine that he is absolutely delighted with the recent news.

Claiming responsibility for planning “the 9/11 operation, from A to Z” and dozens of other terrorist plots worldwide, KSM sees himself as both an operational and spiritual leader in the worldwide jihad to defend Muslims in the name of Allah.

At his Combatant Status Review Tribunal held at Guantanamo in March 2007, KSM explained the attacks in terms of his faith: “I consider myself, for what you are doing, a religious thing, as you consider us fundamentalist.”

KSM added that “many Muslims” view Osama bin Laden as a “hero” in much the same way Americans view George Washington.

Two years later, in March 2009, as a part of his now-aborted military-commission trial, KSM co-authored the “Islamic Response to the Government’s Nine Accusations” with the other four Sept. 11 co-defendants: Ramzi bin Al Shibh, Walid Bin Attash, Mustafa Ahmed Al-Hawsawi and Ali Abd Al-Aziz Ali.

In the six-page diatribe, religion figures prominently as they make numerous references to passages of the Koran, including:

“God stated in his book, Verse 151, Al-Umran: Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers. … Their place will be the fire, and evil is the home of the wrongdoers.”

“Verse 13, Al Hashir: Of a truth you [Muslims] are more feared in their [the infidels, from Christians, Jews and others] hearts than Allah. This is because they are men devoid of understanding.”

KSM and his Shura Council went on to write, “So, our religion is a religion of fear and terror to the enemies of God: the Jews, the Christians and the pagans. With God’s willing, we are terrorists to the bone. … We will make all of our materials available, to defend and deter, and egress you and the filthy Jews from our countries.”

In concluding their statement to the military judge, KSM et al. heaped praise upon the 19 hijackers who carried out their plan of terror.

“So we ask from God to accept our contributions to the great attack, the great attack on America, and place our 19 martyred brethren among the highest peaks in paradise. God is great and pride for God, the prophet, and the believers.”

While there is no indication that the Ground Zero mosque will witness the type of firebrand sermons practiced by KSM and his followers, there are legitimate questions as to why its developers at the Cordoba Institute and their mysterious financial backers have selected a site just two blocks from where the World Trade Center was destroyed.

Far from promoting a peaceful message for Muslims to “bridge the great divide” with other faiths, as Cordoba claims, the construction of a $100 million, 15-story mosque and community center so close to where nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in an attack inspired by anti-Western Islamic rhetoric seems deliberately provocative and disrespectful.

Though supporters of the mosque (including New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who said those opposed should be “ashamed of themselves”) claim they wish to demonstrate religious tolerance and showcase American values, the insensitivity shown toward Sept. 11 victim family members in backing the mega-mosque is shocking.

New York Gov. David Paterson, correctly noting that the planned construction “obviously ignites tremendous feelings of anger and frustration,” attempted to broker a compromise with the mosque developers by offering state land in exchange for the property. Because the developers rejected the offer, it appears they are on a collision course with the public, as polls show the majority of Americans oppose the mosque.

For his part, rather than focusing his energies on supporting the mosque, President Obama should instead reconstitute the military-commission case at Guantanamo against KSM and the four others thought to have plotted Sept. 11. KSM was in the midst of discussing a guilty plea with the military judge in January 2009 when his case was suspended abruptly by the Obama administration on Inauguration Day - and ultimately dismissed.

No doubt KSM and his followers at Guantanamo take great satisfaction in such high-profile support of the Ground Zero mosque and have exclaimed, “God is great!” or, in their native tongue, “Allahu akbar!” Perhaps this is one of the most remarkable ironies of Sept. 11 and its tragic aftermath.

J.D. Gordon is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy and a retired Navy commander who served in the office of the secretary of defense during the George W. Bush administration.

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