Louis Pepe is advocating that New York City is no place to try the mastermind of September 11, 2001. Louis Pepe understands that terrorists do not belong in civilian courts, but should be tried in safe, protected, escape-proof military venues.
Louis Pepe knows whereof he speaks, and he is speaking out.
As a federal prison guard in November of 2000, Mr. Pepe was escorting Mamdouh Mahmud Salim back to his cell at at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. Salim’s cellmate was Khalfan Khamis Mohamed. Both prisoners were accused of bombing two embassies in Africa back in 1998. When Mr. Pepe and his charge arrived at the cell, here is what happened:
Somehow, they slipped out of their handcuffs.
They sprayed me with some kind of hot sauce. I couldn’t see. They pulled me into the cell and hit me — boom, boom. They hit me so much, I swear to God, like a hundred times.
I hit my radio. I thought help would come.
They wanted the keys for the other prisoners, but they couldn’t find them. They were in my front pocket. I used to be big, 300 pounds, and I was laying on them. I gave them my car keys.
About halfway through, they used a comb — thick and long, about 10 inches, with a handle. They’d taken the teeth out and sharpened it like a knife.
They put it in my left eye. It went three inches into my brain.
- In collusion with his lawyers, KSM is able to get word to other terrorists to attack the courthouse where the trial is being held. Result: Many are killed and KSM disappears.
- Faithful followers mass and attack the trial venue. Result: see previous.
- With the spotlight on KSM, other prisoners are able to overpower or kill guards and escape. Result: see previous.
- Al Qaeda higher-ups following the trial on CNN are able to stage riots and diversions around the courthouse. Result: see previous.
Mr. Pepe nearly paid with his life for mistakes that were made before we understood just how dangerous these men are. We now know, and have known for nearly ten years, that they are lethal. Let’s treat them accordingly, and allow the professionals in our military to keep them and try them in a facility that we created for just such people. Otherwise:
Federal prison officials are still naive. They give these terrorists toothbrushes, squirt bottles, items that can be used as weapons. Caught up by political correctness, they let them out of handcuffs to pray, leaving guards unprotected.
It’s going to happen again — unless the trial gets moved to where it belongs, a military prison.
Please, let’s spare other civilian public servants the fate Mr. Pepe had to suffer. And let’s spare our nation the possibility of a show trial turning into another terrorist attack.