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KSM’s reckoning: Make justice for Khalid Shaikh Muhammed sure and swift


In this file photo, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is shown in these undated FBI handout photos. (AP)

Comes word, nearly 18 years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, that the mastermind of the mass murder of 2,996 on 9/11, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, will go on trial in Guantanamo Bay in 2021.

It is an enduring stain on the national conscience and an open wound for New York City in particular that it has taken this long to bring closure to the families of the dead.

It is the government’s duty now to push KSM through the military justice system that’s been built. It is imperfect, but it’ll have to do.

There’s no “alleged” here. Reams of evidence show the man orchestrated an act of war on civilians at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon and on four airliners. As sure as many Nazis who never saw trial were genocidal murderers, KSM is a terrorist. He is a killer. He deserves death.

After his capture, we, with many others, celebrated his one-way ticket to Gitmo. We did not want him afforded the platform of a civilian trial, nor did we want New York to bear the significant costs of his detention. More to the point, we believed that as a combatant in an active conflict, he should be treated as such.

In the clearer light, it is undeniable that, while morally sound, the choice to send him as his compatriots to a place where a justice system was being built from scratch has proven pragmatically fateful. Bureaucratic delays have been exhausting. Debates over the admission of evidence derived through torture have been unresolved. Paralysis satisfies no one.

Had he been put through regular courts, KSM would have been tried and convicted by now, as nearly 700 other terrorists have been. He would be serving time in federal Supermax if not executed. (Military commissions, by contrast have convicted eight people. Three of those have been overturned completely, one partially.)

What’s done is done. Now, pray KSM is done.