Terrorist faces the red, white and blue

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 5, 2004

Lying in the shadow of the Sept. 11th attacks on America is Richard Reid, the man accused of packing his shoes with explosives and attempting to light the fuse aboard a commercial jetliner during a Dec. 22, 2001 flight from Miami to Paris.

Reid’s plan to join his al-Qaeda buddies in their version of heaven failed when he was overpowered by the passengers and crew of that transatlantic flight, an action that saved 197 people, including Mr. Reid.

In the months of investigative work by the FBI following Reid’s act of terrorism, it was learned he trained with al-Qaeda and, on an e-mail account, vowed to, &uot;remove the oppressive American forces from the Muslim land.&uot;

Good try, Richard, but as you found out at your trial, one that ended last month, we Americans don’t take kindly to those who use acts of terror as intimidation. We’re not intimidated by any of your sort. Now you can come face to face with the harsh reality of your actions.

Listed below are the court’s findings in the case of the United States of America vs. Richard Reid:

Prior to sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge William Young asked the defendant if he had anything to say. His response: After admitting his guilt to the court for the record, Reid also admitted his &uot;allegiance to Osama bin Laden, to Islam, and to the religion of Allah,&uot; defiantly stated &uot;I think I ought not apologize for my actions,&uot; and told the court &uot;I am at war with your country.&uot;

Judge Young then delivered the statement quoted below, a stinging condemnation of Reid in particular and terrorists in general.

&uot;Mr. Richard C. Reid, hearken now to the sentence the Court imposes upon you. On counts 1, 5 and 6 the Court sentences you to life in prison in the custody of the United States Attorney General. On counts 2, 3, 4 and 7, the Court sentences you to 20 years in prison on each count, the sentence on each count to run consecutive with the other. That’s 80 years. On count 8 the Court sentences you to the mandatory 30 years, consecutive to the 80 years just imposed.

&uot;The Court imposes upon you for each of the eight counts a fine of $250,000 for the aggregate fine of $2 million. The Court accepts the government’s recommendation with respect to restitution and orders restitution in the amount of $298.17 to Andre Bousquet and $5,784 to American Airlines. The Court imposes upon you the $800 special assessment.

&uot;The Court imposes upon you five years supervised release simply because the law requires it. But the life sentences are real life sentences so I need go no further. This is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes. It is a fair and just sentence. It is a righteous sentence.

&uot;Let me explain this to you. We are not afraid of you or any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is all too much war talk here. And I say that to everyone with the utmost respect. Here in this court, where we deal with individuals as individuals, and care for individuals as individuals.

&uot;As human beings, we reach out for justice. You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier, gives you far too much stature. Whether it is the officers of government who do it or your attorney who does it, or that happens to be your view, you are a terrorist. And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not treat with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.

&uot;So war talk is way out of line in this court. You are a big fellow. But you are not that big. You’re no warrior. I know warriors. You are a species of criminal guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very real sense, State Trooper Santiago had it right when you first were taken of that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and where the TV crews were and he said you’re no big deal. You’re no big deal.

&uot;What your counsel, what your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have as honestly as I know how tried to grapple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here to this courtroom today? I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you to search your heart and ask your self what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty and admit you are guilty of doing. And I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you. But as I search this entire record, it comes as close to

understanding as I know. It seems to me you hate the one thing that is most precious.

&uot;You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose.

&uot;Here, in this society, the very winds carry freedom. They carry it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom. So that everyone can see, truly see that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discreetly. It is for freedom’s sake that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf and have filed appeals will go on in their representation of you before other judges. We are about it.

&uot;Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties. Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden, pay any price, to preserve our freedoms. Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. Day after tomorrow it will be forgotten. But this, however, will long endure.

&uot;Here in this courtroom and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice, individual justice – justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done. The very President of the United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged, and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice.

&uot;See that flag, Mr. Reid? That’s the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag stands for freedom. You know it always will.

&uot;Custody, Mr. Officer. Stand him down.&uot;