TCS Daily

Kill the Bastard!

By Ralph Kinney Bennett - March 19, 2004 12:00 AM

As I write this, the news is filled with alarms and speculation about the "cornering" of Al-Qaeda "No. 2 man" Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian eye-surgeon turned mass murderer.

There's been much gibbering about the importance of capturing him. Well, let's think about that. What's the record on capturing big cheeses in war? What do we gain from them?

Not that much.

Napoleon ended up coming back from exile and raising a lot more hell before his string ran out at Waterloo and he was banished to the remote island of St. Helena, where he died six years later.

The biggest Nazi we bagged was Herman Goering. He had a pretty good time of it, strutting on the stage of the Nuremburg trials and finally killing himself with a cyanide capsule to escape the executioner.

Hideki Tojo, the bespectacled Japanese warlord, didn't give much valuable insight before he botched his own suicide and then went to the gallows. Benito Mussolini was executed by Italian partisans, who captured him when he was trying to escape to Austria. His battered body ended up hanging by its ankles before jeering Italians at a gas station.

Someone on one of the cable networks was blabbing about what a "treasure trove" of information Al-Zawahiri would be if he were captured and quizzed about the workings of al-Qaeda.

Pu-u-u-leeeze! We're not going to torture him. That's out. Some expert on the television Friday morning said he would be put in isolation and "all appropriate pressure would be applied." Okay-y-y.

So what are we going to get out of him? Nothing.

He'll strut and lie and propagandize and wait for his chance to showboat at a trial. Meanwhile the Red Cross will have to check that he's being treated correctly, human rights groups will wring their hands, Muslim clerics will get "concerned" and then outraged, and Kofi Annan will have something to say and, well, you get the picture.

Sooner or later the media will want to get at the "human side" of this arrogant and hateful man. You know, like that recent Canadian documentary telling how Osama bin Laden plays volleyball with his kids and gives them horses etc., etc.

Word is already out about how former hole-dweller Saddam Hussein has regained his composure and verbally fences with his interrogators. Just imagine the show he's going to try to put on at his trial.

I know, I know, there's that amateur psychologist in most of us that wants to know how the mind of a monster works. And there is also that nature in us that thinks that maybe we could turn this guy around -- rehabilitate him. That reminds me of a cartoon I saw somewhere long ago. It showed this slouching tough kid in black leather jacket, shades and sideburns standing alongside a highway. He has his thumb out and he's holding a handmade sign that says, "Young Punk. Maybe a good talking-to will straighten me out."

The joke, of course, is that all he really wants is a free ride.

If we catch the Egyptian or the tall Saudi Arabian, every hour they are alive after that is a free ride for them, more time to wage their hate-filled war on civilization. I don't want to have to spend one tax dollar on the security that would be required to protect these thugs.

The better part of me understands the need to apply the rule of law. But I have to admit that in the case of al-Zawahiri and company the term "brought to justice" rings a little hollow. I imagine long Muslim diatribes and self-serving books written from cells and well chosen interviews. Maybe, if I knew this guy would be confined somewhere where his food came in a drawer at the bottom of the door and he had to break rocks somewhere until the firing squad came, I'd feel better.

Bring in air strikes, I say. Maybe he'll get roasted like a pig. And if troops do manage to close with al-Zawahiri, we can save a lot of money, a lot of grief and a lot of time if one of those Pakistani soldiers turns out to have a little Boston Corbett* in him.

*For the historically challenged, he's the soldier believed by many to have shot John Wilkes Booth the night he was trapped in that Maryland barn in 1865.

Ralph Kinney Bennett recently wrote for TCS about Car Bombs vs. Human Victims.


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