NYT Schadenfreude Alert: Severe

Oh, this so gloriously cosmic it’s hardly even believable. Today’s New York Times featured an op-ed by a former Gitmo detainee named Mourad Benchellali arguing, among other things, that the vast majority of the detainees at Gitmo have no connection to terrorism. Here’s how Benchellali explains how he wound up there:

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. His friends, he said, were going to look after me. They did — channeling me to what turned out to be a Qaeda training camp. For two months, I was there, trapped in the middle of the desert by fear and my own stupidity.

As soon as my time was up, I headed home. I was a few miles from the Pakistani border when I learned with horror about the attacks of 9/11. Days later, the border was sealed off, and the only way through to Pakistan and a plane to Europe was across the mountains of the Hindu Kush. I was with a group of people who were all going the same way. No one was armed; most of them, like me, had been lured to Afghanistan by a misguided and mistimed sense of adventure, and were simply trying to make their way home.

At this point, I’d usually make some sarcastic remark, but Cliff May has that totally covered. Besides, on to the schadenfreude.

As most of you are probably aware, The New York Times has been on jihad against Gitmo for quite some time and this op-ed is just the latest example. Benchellali depicts Gitmo as place where the detainees are in despair (oh my!) and, as I noted earlier, argues that most of the detainees are innocent, randomly swept off the streets of Afghanistan by the overzealous U.S. military.

As it turns out though, it seems that Benchellali isn’t as pure as he claims.

Wait for it…

Wait for it…


A court on Wednesday convicted 25 people for their roles in preparing an attack in France in support of Islamic fighters in Chechnya.

The five top defendants received prison terms of 8 to 10 years, while the others received lesser sentences. Two were acquitted. All but one defendant had been accused of helping Islamic fighters in Chechnya in what prosecutors said underscored the “globalization of the jihad movement.”

Prosecutors were unable to prove strong suspicions that the attack was to have involved chemicals, even though investigators found equipment, including a protective suit, and chemicals including the highly toxic ricin.

In handing down sentences, the court followed the prosecutor’s office by giving the maximum 10-year term to the group’s alleged chemicals expert, Menad Benchellali. However, Menad’s father, Chellali Benchellali, an imam, or prayer leader, in the Lyon suburb of Venissieux, received only an 18-month suspended prison term — far lower than the prosecution’s demand for six years behind bars.

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 Benchellali family has long been established in Lyon. Imam Benchellali is known to have occasionally used his makeshift mosque on the ground floor of a high-rise building to collect funds for Islamic fighters in Chechnya.

This AP story broke the same day that The New York Times ran Benchellali’s op-ed. Talk about irony. But more importantly, this reveals that either The New York Times knew about Benchellali’s family’s ridiculously clear ties to terrorism and ran the article anyway or, more likely, “the newspaper of record” was in such agreement with Benchellali’s arguments that it didn’t bother researching his background. After all, he was singing the right tune and had the Gitmo cred to back it up.

Knowing what we know now, it seems likely that Benchellali just “happened” to be in Afghanistan like each of the Twin Towers and the Pentagon just “happened” to be hit with planes all on the same day. And The Times, blinded by its own agenda, wound-up promoting the agenda of a terrorist. Well done guys. Well done.

(hat tip: Power Line)

UPDATE: Jim Hoft notes that The New York Times has actually reported on the Benchellali family before and that–now get this–it speculated that the family had ties to Zarqawi!

UPDATE: Ace weighs in and has some choice words for Andrew Sullivan.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, Terrorism, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Greg Tinti
About Greg Tinti
Greg started the blog The Political Pit Bull in August 2005. He was OTB's Breaking News Editor from June through August 2006 before deciding to return to his own blog. His blogging career eventually ended altogether. He has a B.A. in Anthropology from The George Washington University,


  1. JKB says:

    What’s the moral of this story?

    When your from a family of terrorists, don’t go on family vacations.

    On the other hand it is quite reasonable for a foreigner from a terrorist supporting family captured in a terrorist supporting country would be detained.