Why Captured Terrorists Can Be Detained Indefinitely

guantanamoA controversial practice of the U.S. government is indefinite detention: “detaining an arrested person by a national government or law enforcement agency without a trial.”1 Many people believe that if a terrorist suspect is captured, the individual should be charged and tried in a civilian court. However, when a member of a terrorist organization is detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, whether or not they have committed a crime is irrelevant. Like an enemy soldier captured during a war, they can be detained indefinitely without trial.

It is not illegal to capture enemy soldiers during a war and detain them. As Edwin Meese III, former Attorney General of the United States, points out, “Under the law of armed conflict, also called the law of war, engaging the enemy includes killing or capturing the enemy. This age-old principle — detention of the enemy during wartime for the duration of hostilities — is just as applicable to al Qaeda as it was to Nazi POWs in World War II or other enemies in previous wars.”2

During World War II, captured German soldiers were held in prison camps. By the end of the war, “there were 425,000 enemy prisoners … throughout the United States.”3 Although German POWs were sometimes mistreated, holding them prisoner was legal under the 1929 Geneva Convention, and is still legal today.4 After the war, “former POWs were returned to Europe at the rate of 50,000 a month.”5 Detaining a member of a terrorist organization is equivalent to holding a German soldier in a U.S. prison camp during World War II. German soldiers were held prisoner not as punishment, but to prevent them from returning to the battlefield and killing American soldiers. Similarly, detaining captured terrorists is necessary to prevent them from killing soldiers and civilians.

A second reason why terrorists should be detained is to interrogate them. Gaining valuable intelligence from the enemy is an important strategy in preventing future terrorist attacks, and winning the war on terror. If captured terrorists stand trial and are sentenced to prison, they can no longer be interrogated.

Many people are opposed to indefinite detention because they believe terrorists should be treated the same as civilians. Instead of detention, they want a terrorist suspect to stand trial in a civilian court. The U.S. constitution prevents a civilian from being detained indefinitely. According to the Sixth Amendment, “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.”6 However, this right does not apply to a member of a terrorist organization.

Terrorists are engaged in an illegal war against the United States. They are not civilians; they are “enemy combatants” who do not follow the rules of war. An enemy combatant is a “captured fighter in a war who is not entitled to prisoner of war status because he … does not meet the definition of a lawful combatant as established by the Geneva Convention.”7 Whereas a civilian can only be sent to prison if they are proven guilty of a crime, a terrorist can be detained not only for their past actions, but for the threat they pose to innocent people. The right of the U.S. government to detain terrorists indefinitely was upheld in a 2004 U.S. Supreme Court Ruling. The court “recognized that detaining individuals captured while fighting against the United States in Afghanistan for the duration of that conflict was a fundamental and accepted incident to war.”8

The danger in the US. government detaining terrorist suspects is the military may abuse its power and detain innocent people. During World War II, German soldiers who were captured and detained were easily identified by their uniforms. Given that captured terrorists wear no uniforms, there must be due process to prove that they are terrorists. According to the Fourteenth Amendment, no State can “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”9

Terrorist suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have due process rights.10 Additionally, in a 2008 Supreme Court ruling, they received “the constitutional privilege of habeas corpus.”11 In the U.S legal system, “a writ of habeas corpus is used to bring a prisoner or other detainee before the court to determine if the person’s imprisonment or detention is lawful.”12 The Supreme Court ruled that detainees “have the right to challenge their detentions in federal court.”13

Although terrorist suspects now have the right to habeas corpus, this does not prevent the U.S. government from detaining them indefinitely. Proving their membership (or involvement) in a terrorist organization is the only requirement for detention, and they do not need to be charged with a crime. When World War II came to an end, many Nazis stood trial for their crimes in military courts.14 Similarly, terrorist suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, can face justice (in a civilian or military court) when the war against the terrorist organization they belong to is over.


  1. US Legal, s.v. “Indefinite Detention,” accessed October 24, 2017, http://definitions.uslegal.com/i/indefinite-detention/
  2. Edwin Meese III, “Guantanamo Bay prison is necessary,” CNN, January 11, 2012, http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/11/opinion/meese-gitmo/index.html
  3. Arnold P. Krammer, “German Prisoners of War,” Texas State Historical Association, accessed October 25, 2017, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qug01
  4. “Prisoners of war and detainees protected under international humanitarian law,” International Committee of the Red Cross, October 29, 2010, https://www.icrc.org/eng/war-and-law/protected-persons/prisoners-war/overview-detainees-protected-persons.htm
  5. Krammer, “German Prisoners of War, Texas State Historical Association.
  6. “Sixth Amendment – U.S. Constitution,” Find Law, accessed June 6, 2016, http://constitution.findlaw.com/amendment6.html
  7. West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, s.v. “Enemy Combatant,” accessed October 25, 2017, https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/enemy+combatant
  8. “Boumediene et al. v. Bush, President of the United States, et al.,” Supreme Court of the United States, 1, https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/pdf/06-1195P.ZS
  9. “Fourteenth Amendment – U.S. Constitution,” Find Law, accessed June 6, 2016, http://constitution.findlaw.com/amendment14.html
  10. “Boumediene et al. v. Bush,” Supreme Court of the United States, 2.
  11. “Boumediene et al. v. Bush,” Supreme Court of the United States, 3.
  12. Legal Information Institute, s.v. “Habeas Corpus,” accessed October 25, 2017, https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/habeas_corpus
  13. Bill Mears, “Justices: Gitmo detainees can challenge detention in U.S. courts,” CNN, June 12, 2008, http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/06/12/scotus/index.html
  14. Holocost Encylopedia, s.v. “International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg,” accessed October 25, 2017, https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007069

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How the Palestinian Authority Encourages Terrorism

dalalThe Palestinian Authority (PA) is the interim “self-governing authority” that represents the Palestinian residents of the West Bank.1 In March 2017, the PA honored Dalal Mughrabi by naming a youth camp in Jericho the “Brothers of Dalal.”2 This is shocking because Mughrabi was a terrorist. By celebrating her as a national hero, the PA is encouraging acts of terrorism.

Dalal Mughrabi took part in the worst terrorist attack in Israeli history. As reported by the Times of Israel, “On March 11, 1978, Mughrabi and several other Fatah terrorists landed on a beach near Tel Aviv, hijacked a bus on Israel’s Coastal Road and killed 38 civilians, 13 of them children, and wounded over 70.”3 Mughrabi was killed by Israeli forces, and following her death, many buildings and streets in the West Bank have been named after her.4

Naming a youth camp after a dead terrorist is an example of moral inversion: declaring evil to be good. A Palestinian Authority official, Ramallah Laila Ghannam, praised the initiative for “remembering the pure-hearted Martyrs.”5 The PA should be condemned by the International Community for honoring Mughrabi. She was a criminal, not a martyr.

Unfortunately, honoring dead terrorists is common practice by the PA. A 2010 report by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) included “100 examples of places and events named after 46 different terrorists.”6 Instead of condemning Palestinian terrorists for killing Israeli citizens, the PA celebrates them as heroes, even though they killed innocent people.

Honoring and celebrating terrorists sends a message to Palestinians that if you carry out acts of terrorism against Israeli citizens, the PA may one day honor and celebrate you. Naming a youth camp after Mughrabi is a tacit endorsement of terrorism by the PA. They are encouraging Palestinians to follow her example, and do what she did. Further, by calling a dead terrorist a “martyr”, the current leadership of the Palestinian Authority stands for radical Islam. And the goal of radical Islam is to destroy the state of Israel.


  1. “Palestinian Authority,” The Reut Institute, accessed March 12, 2017, http://reut-institute.org/Publication.aspx?PublicationId=563
  2. Brooke Singman, “PLO names youth camp after terrorist who murdered 37,” Fox News, March 7, 2017, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/03/07/plo-names-youth-camp-after-terrorist-who-murdered-37.html
  3. “Palestinian Authority holds youth camp in terrorist’s honor,” Times of Israel, March 6, 2017, http://www.timesofisrael.com/palestinian-authority-holds-youth-camp-in-terrorists-honor/
  4. “Israel Balks as Palestine Honors Militants,” CBS News, March 24, 2010, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/israel-balks-as-palestine-honors-militants/
  5. Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “PLO names youth camp after terrorist who led murder of 37,” Palestinian Media Watch, March 5, 2017, http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=20557
  6. Itamar Marcus, “From Terrorists to Role Models: The Palestinian Authority’s Institutionalization of Incitement,” Palestinian Media Watch, May 2010, http://palwatch.org/STORAGE/special%20reports/PA%20honors%20terrorists%20Final%20Eng.pdf

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When Mass Surveillance is Necessary: The Dark Knight (2008)

the-dark-knight-poster-12In Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, The Joker (Heath Ledger) is a terrorist. To find the Joker, Batman (Christian Bale) asks Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) to monitor the cell phone communications of the citizens of Gotham without their knowledge or consent. The film suggests that mass surveillance is necessary when there is an imminent threat from terrorism.

Although it is never stated in the film, the Joker is a terrorist. According to the FBI, domestic terrorism is defined as acts “intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.”1 The Joker’s acts of terrorism include assassinating public figures, kidnapping, blowing up a hospital, firing weapons at unarmed civilians, and inciting the public to kill a civilian. The Joker describes himself as “an agent of chaos.” As a terrorist, his political aim is to overturn the political order in Gotham and create a state of anarchy.

When the Joker places explosives on two ferries, there is an imminent threat from terrorism. If the Joker is not caught, the people on the ferries will die. To locate the Joker, Batman asks Lucius to engage in mass surveillance. Although Lucius feels that it is “unethical” and “wrong”, he decides that saving the lives of civilians justifies a short-term violation of the Gotham citizens’ right to privacy. Batman and Lucius agree to use mass surveillance on one condition: When there is no longer an imminent threat from terrorism, the mass surveillance will end.

Mass surveillance can be used for good or evil, justice or injustice. In The Dark Knight, Batman, the “watchful protector” of Gotham, uses mass surveillance for good: to catch a terrorist. The U.S. government has also used mass surveillance for good. According to the National Security Agency, mass surveillance has helped thwart 50 “potential terrorist events” around the globe since 911.2 However, in a country without a fair justice system, mass surveillance could be used by the government to punish citizens who are not guilty of any real crime. The danger with mass surveillance is if the government is no longer the protector of the people like Batman, but becomes the enemy, like the Joker.


  1. “Terrorism 2002/2005,” F.B.I., accessed June 1, 2016, https://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/terrorism-2002-2005
  2. Sean Sullivan, “NSA head: Surveillance helped thwart more than 50 terror plots,” Washington Post, June 18, 2013, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2013/06/18/nsa-head-surveillance-helped-thwart-more-than-50-terror-attempts/

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Why Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is a not a Moderate

 U.S. President Obama participates in joint news conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at Muqata Presidential Compound in RamallahMahmoud Abbas was elected President of the Palestinian Authority (PA) on January 9, 2005.1 Although his four-year term expired on January 8, 2009, 2 he is still serving as President. Not only has he usurped democracy by suspending elections, but he recently endorsed acts of terror against Israeli citizens. The West views Abbas as a moderate,3 but in reality, he is a radical Muslim.

On February 3, 2016, Abbas met with 11 families of Palestinian terrorists who carried out attacks against Israel.4 As reported by The Times of Israel, the 11 terrorists included “Baha Alian, who killed three Israelis on a bus” and Alaa Abu Jamal who “careened his car into Israeli pedestrians, exited the vehicle and stabbed the victims.”5 Abbas showed his support for the dead terrorists by telling the families, “Your sons are martyrs.”6

To call a terrorist a martyr is to endorse the killing of innocent civilians. This is not the view of moderate Islam—it is radical Islam. The Islamic teaching of martyrdom is based on verses in the Qur’an including 4:74 – “So let those fight in the cause of Allah who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter. And he who fights in the cause of Allah and is killed or achieves victory – We will bestow upon him a great reward.”7 By calling 11 dead terrorists “martyrs”, Abbas is suggesting that they will be rewarded by Allah for their actions.

Terrorists who kill civilians are not martyrs—they are criminals. To intentionally kill an innocent civilian is an act of evil. Abbas is guilty of moral inversion: declaring that evil is good. He should be condemned by the International community for his support of terrorism. If he were the leader of a Western nation, he would be forced to resign.


  1. “Abbas achieves landslide poll win,” BBC News, January 10, 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4160171.stm
  2. “PLO elects Abbas ‘Palestinian president’,” The Sydney Morning Herald, November 24, 2008, http://www.smh.com.au/world/plo-elects-abbas-palestinian-president-20081123-6eza.html
  3. Uri Savir, “The end of Abbas, the end of moderation,” Al-Monitor, October 7, 2015, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/10/israel-abbas-moderate-leader-true-partner-peace-end-era.html
  4. Elior Levy, “Abbas meets with terrorists’ families hours after attack,” Ynetnews, February 4, 2016, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4761949,00.html
  5. “Abbas meets families of terrorists just after deadly Jerusalem attack,” The Times of Israel, February 4, 2016, http://www.timesofisrael.com/abbas-meets-families-of-terrorists-just-after-deadly-jerusalem-attack/
  6. Ibid.
  7. Qur’an 4:74 (Sahih International). http://quran.com/4

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