Saturday, April 23, 2005

What Lessons can you draw from Zacarias Moussaoui

It is always dangerous to extrapolate too much from the circumstances of one individual, but there are some items that one could analogize to some extent from the Moussaoui case.

Mr. Moussaoui demonstrated strange and erratic behaviour during the trial, and afterward, he pleaded guilty to six separate charges, saying he would seek to avoid the death sentence that comes with four of them.

"I will fight every inch against the death penalty," he promised, after saying that he expected no leniency from a U.S. court.

Earlier, Mr. Moussaoui's defence lawyers had argued that their client was not mentally competent to enter a guilty plea — a contention rejected by Judge Leonie Brinkema.

So often, the press portrays bin Laden and his tools, for these guys carrying out the acts are nothing but that, as cold, calculated and devious.

I don't know about the warmth, but calculated and devious do not seem to be accurate terms to apply to Moussaoui who appears to have been seriously mentally incompetant for some time. There was little subtlety or deviousness about him. Malevolent yes, but he seems the last person you would want to send on a secret plan to eventually commit terrorist acts. He was caught because he was reported to be acting strangely and admitting things such as he only wanted to learn how to fly a plane...but not land it. How much intelligence does it take to NOT say something that stupid?

I have no doubt that a number of the 19 who actually hijacked the four planes of September 11th were intelligent, clever, and completely logical in carrying out their awful deed. But I also have no doubt that more than a few of them were a demonstrably incompetent and pathetic as Zacarias Moussaoui.

The thing is, that I imagine the ration of clever killers to foolish ones is probably about the same now for Al Qaeda and similar groups as ever...but our actions in Iraq are making many, many more of them, and a terrorist organization can now distill the wheat from the chaff through the luxury of sheer numbers. The Zacarias Moussoui's are now being used to drive trucks loaded up with bombs into buildings after a few days of planning and zeal.

But the cleverer ones, the more intelligent and subtle, they are working on something far worse, and there are more of them than ever before.

Thank you Mr. Bush.

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