10 August 2015

Why Are Acts of War Being Treated Like Terrorism?

A U.S. jury on Friday found Irek Hamidullin guilty of terrorism-related charges, including providing material support to terrorism and trying to destroy U.S. military aircraft. Hamidullin faces potential life in a U.S. prison for leading an attack against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The former Russian soldier turned Taliban commander was facing the death penalty for a charge of using a weapon of mass destruction, but U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder chose not to pursue that option.

th-8Most Americans reading this probably think something along the lines of, so what, sentence the terrorist and send his ass to prison.

However, we think Americans should be questioning the entire scenario. It’s not that we’re soft on terrorism, but we question whether the suspect’s actions truly constituted terrorism, and we’re not happy that millions of our tax dollars are being spent on the “show” trial and then on hosting him in a U.S. prison for the next 20 or so years.

Hamidullin was captured by U.S. forces after he led an attack on an Afghan border police compound in 2009. When U.S. helicopter gunships responded to the raid, the militants tried to shoot them down, but their anti-aircraft weapons malfunctioned and most of the militants were subsequently killed. As coalition forces conducted a post-battle damage assessment patrol, Hamidullin arose from hiding and allegedly fired at the troops with a machine gun. He was wounded and then captured. He was held in custody at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan until last year, when he was transported to the U.S. to face trial.

The Taliban has been at war with the U.S. and the current Afghani government since the U.S. invaded the country in 2001 due to the Taliban’s support of Al Qaeda, which had just carried out the 9-11 attacks on our country.

The Taliban is still at war with the U.S. and current Afghani government, and Hamidullin’s actions in 2009 would appear to be an act of war, not of terrorism. His attack was not targeting civilians and was not designed to sow terror. It was warfare plain and simple.

Charged with trying to shoot down a U.S. military aircraft?

Hello, that’s what soldiers are supposed to do when confronting their enemies.

Weapons of mass destruction?

That would be the anti-aircraft guns that failed to fire. If used against a civilian aircraft, sure call them weapons of mass destruction. But against highly armed American attack choppers?

OK, so “providing material support to terrorism?”

Well, the Taliban is allied with Al Qaeda, so pretty much every member of the Taliban is guilty of that crime. Are we now going to bring every Taliban we capture over here for trial?

A large part of the trial was reportedly focused on whether Hamidullin actually fired on U.S. forces, with several soldiers testifying that he did, but the marksman who wounded him testifying that he never saw the suspect shoot. Ludicrous, we say, because soldiers are supposed to shoot at each other during battle. Why even bother debating it in court, let alone charge him for it.

Technically Hamidullin is not a soldier because he doesn’t fight for an existing government and he doesn’t wear a uniform. But those black th-9pajama-wearing, AK-47 toting Viet Cong fighters that gave the U.S. military an especially hard time back in the 1960s and early 70s weren’t technically soldiers either. However, we didn’t cart them back to the U.S. mainland to put them on trial every time we caught them trying to down our aircraft or otherwise inflicting damage upon our troops. No, when captured we put them behind a wire cage and treated them pretty much like prisoners of war.

And that’s what we should be doing to Hamidullin and others of his ilk. Especially when you consider that Hamidullin basically got his ass kicked–his attack was a complete and utter failure in which he failed to cause any damage to his enemy and lost 30 of his men.

And for that he’s going to spend the rest of his life in prison?

Oh well, perhaps it’s for the best for him, as were he to return to Afghanistan his Taliban buddies would probably shoot him for incompetence.

But come on, America, let’s save our courtrooms and prisons for real terrorists, not enemy combatants, insurgents, guerrillas, militants or whatever we’re calling them this week.

–M.J. Moye



M.J. Moye