May 31, 2005

I spent all day Tuesday outside the Federal Courthouse in lower Manhattan where one of the two American terrorist suspects caught in an FBI sting made his first appearance before a judge.

I haven't forgotten that we're all innocent until proven guilty, but if what the Feds say is true, I'm disgusted. It's incomprehensible to me how someone who lives in this country and enjoys the freedom and benefits of our democratic society would ever for a moment try to help a terrorist group like Al Qaeda, let alone offer to train its members to be better killers.

Tariq Shah's lawyers didn't outright deny the allegations. They called it a case based on "statements." The men aren't accused of actually carrying out a terrorist attack, or even plotting one, just offering to train "urban warriors" in hand-to-hand combat, or treating their wounds if injured. Apparently there's a lot of stuff on tape that could be hard to refute, like Shah and his doctor buddy swearing allegiance to bin Laden...so maybe the defense is entrapment. What did the FBI undercover agent do over the course of two years that led to these guys taking this oath, if it really happened?

I don't know, but my producer Ian Rafferty raised an interesting point. If the allegations are true, why aren't these guys charged with treason? Should they be? What do you think?

E-mail Rick!

[Ed. note: Click the video tab in the upper right to watch Leventhal's reports.]

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On reflection, and once I set aside my outrage at their behavior, treason would be a little harsh simply for statements made. If they actually trained or treated known terrorists, that is an entirely different story. The first amendment, for better or worse, protects us all.

— Michelle (Austin, TX)


I think they should be charged with treason! And thanks for your great reporting when you were with our troops. Great job Rick.

— G. J. (Russellville, AL)


Hi Rick,

One of your biggest fans...enjoyed your coverage as an embedded reporter during the major part of the war. I believe that ANY American citizen who has collaborated, aided, or abetted Al Qaeda in any way is guilty of treason and should be charged so. Our language has changed so much in this culture so as to walk on eggshells when using such terms as "traitor", "treason."

— Bill


Rick,

You have done and continue to do a wonderful job since this war began. Many thanks from my family for your emotion, compassion and clarity on matters. Your producer is correct - how can this not be treason? These are enemies they want to help! How is it we never hear the word DEPORTATION any more? Sending them to a prison in their homeland would be just fine for me, provided their homeland works favorably with us. Let's see what the word freedom means to them then.

— Barbara (Hatfield, PA)