A Jihadi's "Dream Vacation"

It beggars belief. What else can you say about the unbelievable claims to be found in an op-ed in the June 14 number of The New York Times penned by one Mourad Benchellali? Mr. Benchellali, a French citizen currently awaiting trial in his home country, was released from the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in July 2004. And thus the eminences at the Gray Lady figured he’d make a particularly useful polemicist against Gitmo.

In fact, it appears as if the Times considered Mr. Benchellali so useful that they printed his article, despite its obvious howlers:

In the early summer of 2001, when I was 19, I made the mistake of listening to my older brother and going to Afghanistan on what I thought was a dream vacation. His friends, he said, were going to look after me. They did–channeling me to what turned out to be a Qaeda training camp. For two months, I was there, trapped in the middle of the desert by fear and my own stupidity.

A “dream vacation”? In Afghanistan under the Taliban? What reasonable person would believe that a French citizen would spend his “dream vacation” in the most impoverished country in the Middle East, ruled by the most repressive regime in modern history? What morons would print such obvious palaver?

The Paper of Record, of course. So wound up about Guantanamo Bay, the folks at the Times simply can’t think rationally.

Naturally, a little digging on Al Gore’s Internet demonstrates that Mr. Benchellali is even less likely to be the naïve good Samaritan he portrays himself to be. In fact, as Michael Radu claims, his father was a radical imam with a terrorist background, and his older brother is a rather committed terrorist himself.

It’s no wonder that someone with such a family “unwittingly” chose the mountains of Afghanistan as his “dream vacation” destination. You just don’t see the typical Frenchman making such choices. They’re not that into burqas.

Thus, when Mr. Benchellali offers his rousing peroration, one has good reason to doubt him:

In Guantanamo, I did see some people for whom jihad is life itself, people whose minds are distorted by extremism and whose souls are full of hatred. But the majority of the faces I remember–the ones that haunt my nights–are of desperation, suffering, incomprehension turned into silent madness.

This makes us wonder: Did Mr. Benchellali see any of his family at Gitmo? We’re pretty sure they’re in the former category.

(Note: The crack young staff normally “weblog” over at “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” where they are currently contemplating sending Arthur “Pinch” Sulzberger Jr. to Guantanamo Bay.)

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