TG Universes & Series:
The trial of bin Laden
On Friday morning, after Norman and I brought our little girls to school, I was spending some time getting ready for the Shabbat evening meal when Sarah burst into the kitchen.
"Why aren't you in school?" I asked angrily.
"We just caught bin Laden," she replied.
"Who are 'we', and why aren't you in school?"
"Anya, Danielle and me," she told me.
"If you were in school you would know that this time it is,
'Anya, Danielle and I.' So what is going to happen now?"
"He is going on trial," Sarah explained. "The arraignment is at Witches' Court in an hour. You are one of the judges."
"Me? The last time I was at that court was when I was on trial for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, YOU, because I allowed you to do magic. One of the judges?
"The others are the Ovid Judge, Samantha Stevens, the SRU Wizard, and the boss at Bikini Beach."
"Where is it?" I asked. "Hempstead?"
"Wootsy. One hundred tenth floor, Windows On the World. Mayor Guilaini is going to observe the proceedings."
"BUT THERE'S NOTHING THERE!" I exclaimed.
"We decided that he should be tried at Ground Zero."
I closed my eyes and said, "I'm afraid of heights."
"Mom, you'll be okay, promise," Sarah told me. "I'll fix it so you won't be afraid."
"What about my cousin Lori?" I asked. "I have to pick her up at the airport this afternoon."
"I'll pick her up if necessary."
"You still only have a permit."
"We'll work it out," she continued. "Alex has his license, now, or daddy will do it."
"What am I going to do?" I replied. "I only have an hour to get to Wootsy."
"Mom, get dressed," Sarah replied. "When you finish, I'll transport you to the mayor's office. Everyone will meet there. The Ovid Judge will transport you to Windows On the World."
"After that, you HAVE TO get back to school."
Another "yes, mom."
I took a shower, redid my hair and makeup, and put on a business suit. I didn't put on jewelry as I felt it was out of place. I had no judge's robe. I then walked out of my bedroom to the kitchen. It had taken only forty-five minutes.
"Ready," I said, closing my eyes and putting on a scarf. I like being transported this way as much as Leonard McCoy liked using the transporter.
"When you get there you will have no fear of heights," Sarah assured me.
I opened my eyes and found myself in the mayor's office. The other four judges were already there. I met the mayor, and then to my surprise, the Vice President. He had been "missing" since the events of September eleventh. Now I knew why. The Vice President explained he was the main coordinator of the effort to find Osama bin Laden. He had asked the girls to find him through magic. Of course it was top secret.
"Are we ready?" asked Jup...Jup...Jup... Shit! Even I can't say it.
I realized we were going to be transported to Wootsy, so I closed my eyes.
"You'll be fine," Samantha assured me as she held my hand.
"We're here," the SRU Wizard said.
I opened my eyes and found us on solid floor in what looked like a judge's office. There were law books along three walls. There were five robes on hooks along the fourth wall. The Ovid Judge (humm, that I could say) picked up the first robe and put it on. He looked distinguished with his black, curly hair that had a little "salt" mixed with his "pepper" colored hair. His strong, well-muscled body was hidden by the robes, or his body would look like a Greek god.
The robes were then put on by Samantha, the SRU Wizard, the Bikini Beach owner, and then me. I was nervous. I didn't know if I was up to the task of being a judge in the Witches' Court for what could be the trial of the century. I knew there would not be a jury. The nature and infamy of the charges insured that a jury could not be fair.
We walked out of the room and across the hall. The Ovid Judge opened the door and we entered the courtroom in the same order that we put on our robes. I was nervous, but being the least important judge (at least to me) made me less apprehensive. Like my trial a few months before, Richard Moll was the chief bailiff.
As we entered and found our seats, Moll said, "Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble. All rise. The Witches' and Wizards' Council Court of the district of Manhattan, New York County, New York is now in session. All persons having business with this court shall be heard."
In the visitor seats sat Mayor Gulaini and Vice President Chaney. I then noticed that the courtroom looked the same as the one I was the defendant in at my trial in Hempstead.
Grandma whispered to me, "It is the same courtroom. We just move it to where it is needed."
'Reading my mind, again,' I thought.
"Of course," she replied.
The other three judges looked at me.
"What is the first case before us?" asked the Ovid Judge who became our Chief Judge.
"The people of the United States of America, et al vs. Osama bin Mohamed bin Laden, your honors," said the court clerk.
"Bring in the defendant, Our Chief Judge said.
Bin laden was brought into the courtroom in heavy chains. He struggled against the bailiffs bringing him to his justice.
"All_h protect me from these demons" bin Laden said.
"We are not demons," replied Samantha. "Like you, most of us are human, although some would say that you do the devil's work."
Bin Laden was surprised he understood.
"You speak Arabic?" asked bin Laden.
"Actually I speak Latin," replied our Chief Judge. "Everything here is being magically translated into the languages we naturally speak. I will allow your transgression of court procedure this time, Mr. bin Laden, but this time only."
"Where are we?" asked bin Laden.
"This court is being held at Window On the World. That's the hundred and tenth floor of the World Trade Center," replied the Ovid Judge. "We call it Ground Zero."
"But that's impossible," replied bin Laden.
"You are here," answered our chief Judge. "You speak Arabic. I speak Latin. We understand each other. Why is that impossible?"
"I don't know, sir," replied bin Laden.
"What are the charges against the defendant?" asked our Chief Judge.
"The charges are murder in the first degree," said the court clerk. "Conspiracy to commit murder, murder of government employees, conspiracy to commit murder of government employees, hijacking, conspiracy to commit hijacking, willful destruction of property, air piracy, conspiracy to commit air piracy, stock fraud, conspiracy to commit stock fraud, insider trading, various violations of civil rights, genocide, illegal declaration of war, murdering of diplomats, murdering of civilians, the illegal use of the Jihad, treason and rebellion.
Some of these are International laws, some of these are United States laws, some are Saudi laws, some of these are laws of the African states that suffered the embassy bombings, some are state or local laws, some are laws of other jurisdictions of people who died, and some are Islamic laws. There are thousands of
counts, your honors."
"I do not recognize this court's authority!" yelled bin Laden in defiance.
He was putting on a noble face because he believed he was going to be a martyr for All_h.
"Would you recognize any court's authority?" asked Samantha. Then to the chief Judge, "Sorry, your honor."
"We are all equals here," replied the Chief Judge.
Then how come I can't say his name?
"Even you, Judge Johnson," noted the Ovid Judge.
There they go again, reading minds. I'm still not used to it.
"Do you, Osama bin Mohammad bin Laden wish each of the charges read to you?" asked the SRU Wizard.
Bin Laden was silent.
"Do you, Osama bin Mohammad bin Laden wish each of the charges read to you?" asked the SRU Wizard.
Again, bin Laden was silent.
"I assume that his silence is a waiving of his rights to read each charge," said Grandma.
"I didn't say that," bin Laden replied.
"I didn't say that, what?" demanded Grandma.
Bin Laden looked down defeated and said, "I didn't say that, your honor."
"Good. Now that he recognizes our court's authority, we can begin," noted Grandma.
"Do you, Osama bin Mohammad wish each of the charges read to you?" asked the Wizard again.
"I am SHEIK Osama bin Mohammad bin Laden."
"NOT YET, YOU'RE NOT!" I said, quoting from "Lion in Winter."
"I don't understand, your honor."
"Your father is alive. Is he not?" I asked.
"Then why do you act like my father Laban in front of his father, Bethuel? You are not a sheik yet, but you try to act like you have that authority."
"But your honor, I AM a sheik," replied bin Laden.
"You may claim it all you want, but this court finds your claim lacking," replied the Ovid Judge.
"Do you Osama bin Mohammad bin Laden wish each of the charges read to you?" asked the Wiz.
"Yes, I do, your honor. I want each and every charge read to me in its full form," bin Laden replied, standing erect and defiant.
I sighed. How am I going to celebrate the Shabbat, let alone pick up Lori at the airport?
"Your honor," I said to the Chief Judge. "In view that this the defendant's Sabbath and mine begins at sundown could we delay these proceedings?"
"The reading of the charges will only take five minutes," he replied.
"OK, then" I conceded. "Let proceed. I'm on a time limit."
The charges were read. And true to the Ovid Judges word the procedure only took about five minutes.
Then the trial began.
"We hand you a document," The Ovid Judge said, as the prosecution handed bin Laden some papers. "Did you write it?"
"Yes," said bin Laden.
"Is it a Fatwa?" asked our Chief judge. "A declaration of Jihad?"
"Yes it is, your honor," replied bin Laden, quite relieved that this document would be put into evidence. "It states our reason for the Jihad."
"You were head of a government at the time?" asked Grandma.
"No," replied bin Laden.
"Part of a government?" asked Grandma.
"No," replied bin Laden.
"Head of state?" she asked.
"No," replied Bin Laden. "But I am a sheik."
"A sheik is head of a tribe or region?" asked Samantha.
"That is correct, your honor."
"Yet your father is the sheik that you claim to be," replied Samantha.
"I also claim the title of sheik as head of al-Qa'eda."
"What legal government formed al-Qa'eda?" asked Samantha.
"I did, your honor."
"But you just said you are not head of government or head of state." Noted the Ovid Judge. "Were you part of a government at the time?"
"No, your honor," bin Laden said.
"Were you ordained as a religious leader of your faith?" continued Grandma.
"No," replied bin Laden.
"But the Koran states that to declare a Jihad you must be a ruler or a religious leader," stated Grandma. "How could your Fatwa be legal?"
"I was and still am head of al-Qa'eda," he replied.
"In other words," replied Grandma. "You are a mobster, a leader of a gang. You are outside the law. Is that correct?"
"I don't see it that way," replied bin Laden. I'm a fighter for All_h."
"This document," I asked. "Is it accurate?"
"Yes, your honor."
"Is that what you wrote, or at least agreed to?" I asked.
"Yes, your honor," replied bin Laden.
"You quote the Koran where it says, 'fight and slay the pagan where ever you find him.' Is that correct?" I asked.
"Yes, your honor," replied bin Laden with a smile. He thought he won a point.
"Yet the Koran says to respect the people of the Book." I noted.
Bin Laden was silent.
"Speak up," I said. "I didn't hear you."
"Yes, your honor," he said with a small voice.
"Who are the people of the Book?"
"Christians and Jews," whispered bin Laden.
"Pardon?" I asked. "I didn't hear you. Could you speak a little louder?"
"Christians and Jews," replied bin Laden.
"Why are these two groups exempt according to the Koran?" asked Grandma.
"Because they believe in All_h. They just give him a different name and follow older, inferior laws."
"Yet, you declare a Jihad against the United States because you say it is a pagan country," I continued.
"It is a pagan country," he replied.
"The United States is an overwhelmingly CHRISTIAN country," I replied. "The second largest group are the JEWS, and there is also a small, yet very sizable, MOSLEM contingency. That means there are few pagans in the country. WHERE'S THE BEEF?"
"But the United States started a CRUSADE!" replied bin Laden.
"There hasn't been a Crusade in the definition you're using in about seven hundred years," I replied. "My people were usually the first victims of those Crusades, not yours. Yet, again, you expect my people to be among your victims."
"Now," said our Chief Judge. "It says in your document that there are three, so called 'facts'."
"They ARE facts, your honor."
"The first of these alleged 'facts'," noted our Chief Judge. "Is that the 'United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula.' Is that correct?"
"The United States HAS, your honor."
"I assume you are referring mainly to the United States military presence there," noted the Chief Judge.
"Yes, your honor," replied bin Laden. "The United States military is not allowed there."
"Why?" our Chief Judge asked.
"Because it is not a nation ruled by Islam."
"But," I said. "The United States military is there under the invitation of the Saudi king to protect the country from foreign invaders."
"It is wrong."
"Did you express your opinion to the royal family?" I asked.
"Yes, and they told me it was necessary at this time."
"And the United States also thinks it's necessary at this time," I continued. "The fact is the United States doesn't want its troops in Saudi Arabia, nor on the border between Israel and Egypt, or between the two Koreas, in Kosovo, or even on the bases in Germany and Japan. But what America wants is not what America or the world needs. We are there to preserve the peace or create it. Those troops that you complain about are doing G_d's work."
"But it is a non-Moslem country," he replied.
"Shall I not inform you of a better act than fasting, alms and prayers?" Samantha quoted. "Making peace between one another. Enmity and malice tear up Heavenly rewards by the roots."
"Where did you learn that?" bin Laden asked.
"So you DO know what Mohammad said," Samantha replied. "I was told you didn't know much of the Koran."
"I have read the Koran."
"READ IT?" I asked, not believing what I just heard. "How could you, who insist that others follow Islamic law, know if you are breaking Islamic law if you have JUST read it? How do you know IF you have interpreted it properly? Do you even know learned interpretations?"
"I don't understand. The words are plain."
"But sometimes there are needed interpretations," remarked the Ovid Judge. "That is why an Inman is ordained AFTER he has studied for a while."
"How many times have you read the Koran?" I asked.
"What is 'a few'?" I inquired.
"Maybe three times."
"Are you sure you read it right? I asked. "I have read the Torah over two dozen times with various commentaries, I am still findings things I haven't know before, and NO ONE is calling me a Rabbi."
"But I have performed my Islamic duties."
"Is murder an Islamic duty?" I asked.
"No," he replied.
"Is creating peace?" I asked.
"Yes, your honor."
"What have YOU done to create peace?" I asked. "What have YOU done so others will praise G_d?"
Bin Laden was silent.
"I see the defendant has a lot to say," Grandma remarked.
We all looked at Grandma. She was right, but I was still thinking of throwing the book at her. I realized that bin Laden was going to get it instead.
What bothers me with you and the Koran is your lack of knowledge," I continued. "It is not hidden from you and it is not distant. It is not in Heaven for you to say, 'who could ascend to the heavens for us and take for us?' Nor is it across the sea for you to say, 'Who can cross the other side of the sea and take it for us, so that we can listen to it and perform it?' Rather the matter is near to you in your mouth and in your heart to perform it. That is a quote from the Torah, but it is just as appropriate for the Koran."
"You continue with the claim that the United States was plundering the Arabian Peninsula's riches," noted the Wiz. "What riches were plundered?"
"You take our petroleum," replied bin Laden.
"For which the United States pays," replied the Wiz. "And you are a rich man because of that petroleum. You would be living in a tent in the desert, riding a camel and the son of a pauper sheik in a poor country if there wasn't that petroleum."
"That may be true, but you are still taking our riches."
"I don't see you giving up your riches," replied the Wiz. "Your claim sounds hollow. You gladly too those riches."
"You also claim that the United States is humiliating the Arabian people," noted Grandma. "How?"
"By the United States military being there," replied bin Laden.
"But, how could an invitation of the government of Arabia be a humiliation?" asked Grandma.
"Because the United States is not an Islamic country," he replied.
"If you had volunteered into the Arabian military and raised the army you had, then there would be that much less United States troops in your country," replied Grandma. "Instead you raised an army of hoodlums. It seems to me YOU are the one humiliating others."
"But the United States humiliates us just by being there."
"It says here that the United States is terrorizing Arabia neighbors," I noted. "Which neighbors?"
"Iraq," he replied.
"Do you mean the butcher of Mosul?" I asked.
"The country of Iraq."
"The United States has no quarrel with the country of Iraq," I continued. "Just its dictator."
"Would that the people decide who should protect them," replied bin Laden.
"Yes, that would be good," our Chief Judge said. "It would be a great thing if the people of Iraq would not be terrorized by a mobster such as Sadam Hussein. The countries surrounding Iraq such as Iran and Kuwait would also appreciate not being terrorized by that gangster. The United States might even be able to withdraw its troops from your country."
"The Unites States killed over one million Iraqis!" bin Laden protested.
"Does that include the children who died because of lack of medicine?" asked the Ovid Judge.
"Yes," replied bin Laden, smiling.
He thought he had just won on an idea.
"Then why doesn't Hussein allow humanitarian relief in Iraq?" asked the Ovid Judge. "Why does he build palaces instead of buying food? Even the North Korean dictator has compassion on his people by allowing food and medical relief to enter his country. Why can't Hussein? Why would you support someone that cruel?"
"He is fighting invaders."
"Who came after he invaded other countries," replied our Chief Judge. "Iran only attacked Iraq AFTER Hussein took territory from Iran by force. Kuwait was returned to independence AFTER Iraq invaded that country. I find your claim lacking evidence. You also claim that the Arabian Peninsula rulers are against the United States presence on the Peninsula. Yet, the United States is there at the request of the King Fahd, the Arabian king. Also Qatar troops were part of the alliance that returned the legitimate government of Kuwait to power. So what rulers of the Arabian Peninsular were against it? That is besides you."
"Well, uh" replied bin Laden.
"Then you write that the United States has come to 'humiliate their Moslem neighbors.' Is that correct?" asked the Ovid Judge.
"Yes, your honor."
"Which Moslem neighbors were humiliated?" asked our Chief Judge. "Turkey? Iran? Jordan? Or was it you when you disagreed with your monarch's wishes?"
"There are many who agree with me!"
"Name one ruler other than Hussein that agrees with you."
There are the other signators of the Fatwa."
"I asked you for rulers not gangsters," demanded our Chief Judge.
"You also claim that the United States is supporting the "Jewish" state's occupation of Jerusalem. How did that come about?" asked Grandma.
"The Jewish state took it in war."
"Why?" asked Grandma.
"I don't know why they were the aggressors."
"In 1948, at the birth of the State of Israel there were six Arab armies invaded what was British Palestine," I said. "The Palestine half of that territory was never able to form its own government as it was divided between Egypt and Jordan. Israel lost its part of Old Jerusalem in that war. In 1967, three of those six nations again tried to invade Israel and those nations lost among other territories, East Jerusalem. The Israelis were willing to trade land for peace after that war. There were no Arab overtures for that idea until after the war in '73 which was again started by Israel's Arab neighbors. If it wasn't for people like you ON BOTH SIDES there might even now be peace between Israel and its neighbors that you could accept."
"Only when they are driven into the sea."
"Why can't the sons of Isaac live with the sons of Ishmael?" I asked.
"The Jews don't follow Islamic law."
"We follow Jewish law," I explained. "Do you know how similar it is?"
"I don't know about an inferior law," replied bin Laden.
"You apparently don't know enough to follow Islamic law," I replied.
"You also state that the United States had fragmented several Islamic states in the region," noted the Wiz. "Does that mean those specific states are fragmented within?"
"No, those states are fragmented from the whole of the Arab nation."
"So you wish Arab unity," noted the Wiz.
"Yes," replied bin Laden.
"How did you aid in Arab unity?" asked the Wiz.
"By fighting in Afghanistan."
"I understand you fought in the rear," noted Samantha.
"I was a hero there," replied bin Laden.
"When the war with the Russians was over you decided to attack the United States?" asked the Wiz.
"The United States attacked first," replied bin Laden.
"How?" asked the Wiz.
"By putting troops on Arab soil."
"So the Arab Nation was fragmented because the United States put troops in Arabia in 1991," noted the Wiz. "Is that correct?"
"They are enforcing the fragmentation," replied bin Laden.
"Then the ‘Arab Nation,’ as you call it was fragmented BEFORE the United States posted troops in the region," noted the Wiz.
"You could put it that way."
"I'm going to look at history as it was, not as you wish it was," relied the Wiz.
"You then say that this is clear proof of decclaration of war by the United States," noted the Wiz
"Yes, it is."
"But every part of your claim has been refuted."
"You still don't deal with the United States occupation of the Arabian Peninsula."
"Argue with your king," replied the Wiz. "He invited them."
"Now, you state that you and your co=conspirators have required every Moslem to kill Americans and their allies," noted Samantha.
"That is correct, although I don't like the term co-conspirators."
"The United States allies include your king?" asked Samantha
"Yes, King Fahd requested the United States military presence in Arabia."
"We will deal with him later."
"So," noted Samantha. "You rebel against your legitimate ruler?"
Bin Laden was silent.
"These Americans and their allies that are to be killed, that includes civilians?" asked Samantha.
"Yes," replied bin Laden.
"Even if that is in violation of Islamic law?" asked Samantha.
"What?" asked bin Laden.
"Islamic law requires you to take few, if any civilian lives," noted Samantha.
"And on top of that you claim that the United States controls the al-Aqsa Mosque," I said. "How?"
"You're on our territory."
"But the United States doesn't run that Mosque," I replied.
"Your puppet king does."
"Now you call your king, Fahd a puppet?" I noted. "You could be executed as a traitor in Arabia for what you have just said."
"What else do you have against the United States?" asked our Chief Judge.
"It is a decadent country."
"Tell you a story," I said to bin Laden. "It's about my family. About 1880, according to the secular calendar my great grandparents with his parents and siblings moved here to New York City. Because they thought New York was the worst example of Sodom and Gomorrah they moved back to what is now Belarus. About twenty years later they tried America again, this time moving into Boston. The strange part of what I'm telling you is that my great grandfather had a general store down on New York Lower East Side and lived in the Bronx during most of the time he lived in the United States. This may be a decadent country as you say, but what one does here defines his or her character. I fight decadence partially by being the best person I can be. You don't. The worst decadence is murder, a result of a complete disregard for life. It appears to me you have been part of thousand of murders. That also makes you a fool. ‘For it's a fool who plays it cool by making the world a little colder’."
"Is there another reason you did these things that you believe would aid your case?" asked the Wiz.
"I claim the right of prisoner of war," bin Laden replied.
"In 1945, during the Nuremberg Trials the defendants claimed the same alleged rights. You would be allowed that claim if you weren't accused of these crimes against humanity," replied the Wiz. "I saw the Nazi atrocities, I also saw Pol Pot's among others, and I saw yours. The only difference, and a minor one at that, was who and the amount of the victims."
"Those who you compare to me were not Moslems," explained bin Laden. "They did what they did because they didn't know the Koran.”
"So it is alright to murder someone if you are a Moslem and the victim is not?" asked the Wiz.
"I didn't say that, your honor," replied bin Laden.
"Then what is the difference between what you did and what they did?" asked the Wiz.
"We are at war with the United States," replied bin Laden.
"Even though that deceleration of war is illegal?" asked the Wiz.
"Illegal?" asked bin Laden.
"If you had no legal right to declare a Jihad how can the Jihad be legal?" asked the Wiz.
"Besides you used a fabricated example of an atrocity before," replied bin Laden. "There were no Nazi victims."
"Would you like to tell that to my ex-mother-in-law?" I asked. "She was one of your fabricated victims. So was her mother, who died at Auschwitz."
"They're liars," replied bin Laden.
"I have lived with and spoken to dozens of those 'liars' as you call them," I told bin Laden. "Some even had the number tattoos on their arm. One of those 'liars' was a descendant of a survivor of the Armenian long march. That never happened either."
"What really bothers me is that I and others like me can't fix enough of what people like you do," injected the Wiz. "During the Second World War, I found out about the death camps. I brought my shop into one of the gas chambers and
saved some of those about to be killed, but not the whole group. There were just too many there. I had to look out my shop window and see the faces of those I couldn't save as I warped to a different reality. Those sad pleading faces. I made several trips to that Hellhole that day. That day became weeks, then months. Eventually I did this for over a year until the Russians came. There were always those faces. Those same sad, pleading faces. After the war I was a witness at the trials. Later, I saved some from Stalin and Mao. I saved some from the Killing Fields, and other man made disasters. Lake Victoria has fewer bodies in it because of me, although not enough. On September eleventh I did the same with Canter Fitzgerald and Windows On the World, again with those same faces. Even before your atrocities I couldn't get those faces out of my mind. The first ones still haunt my dreams."
While the Wiz was talking I looked at my friend and fellow judge. I had NEVER seen him this distraught before. "Do you have anything else to say?" asked our Chief Judge.
Yes, your honor," replied bin Laden who believed he was going to be a martyr. "Whether I live or die is not important. I am making sure the economy of the United States will die."
"That's strange," remarked Grandma. "The United States economy had been the reason that so many people are not in poverty. That's both in the United States and other countries. More people have more for themselves and their families because the United States gave to others. Sometimes it was done through trade. Sometimes it was done through foreign aid. Granted there were ulterior motives in that foreign aid, but as Judge Shelly Johnson likes to say, 'a mitzvah for the wrong reason is still a mitzvah.' Sometimes doing the right thing for the wrong reason results in doing it for the right reason.
"Do you have anything else to say in your own defense?" asked our Chief Judge.
"No, your honor," replied bin Laden.
"Are there any other witnesses?" asked our Chief Judge.
"No, your honors," replied the prosecutor, who was the same one I'd had at my trial, Death. "But the prosecution asks that our work be less violent."
"We will take your request in consideration when we go to our chambers and render a verdict," the Ovid judge said.
We walked out of the courtroom and into the room that we had entered this "building." This time there was a round table with five chairs. There were many folders on the tables containing the records of this case.
"Let's go over each count," said the Ovid Judge. "Before you object," he said to me. "This should only take five minutes."
We went over every count and decided that with most of the counts he was guilty. Now the tough part: sentencing.
"I suggest he become a tree in one of the parks in my little town," suggested our Chief Judge. "If he was always a tree then he never could have done what he did in Africa, September eleventh or any other time."
"I was thinking of giving him a lifetime pass to my water park," Grandma said. "A woman living in Saudi Arabia has no rights, so she could never have done what he did."
Everyone else was silent.
"What was your idea, Shelly?" asked the Wiz.
Why did the Wiz have to read my mind?
"It is not as good as the other two," I replied. "Their ideas mean this building we're in would still be here. Mine means everyone below us would still be dead."
"Let's hear it anyway," requested our Chief Judge.
"Alright," I said reluctantly. "I thought that he should be changed into an eight-year-old religious Christian American girl who had just lost her parents here at WOOTSY. She will be adopted by religious Jewish American parents. Every time
she asks or thinks, 'why' or is in a similar situation she will remember who she was. Her life would not be short, as she will live for another ninety years. Nor would she use legal or illegal drugs to ease the pain. My problem is that the other two bring back the dead. Mine doesn't. "Are there any other suggestions?" asked our Chief Judge.
"No," replied Samantha.
"I have nothing to recommend," answered the Wiz. "Other than we have to study which idea is best. May I suggest that our assistants do the leg work?"
"What assistants?" I asked.
"Well, I have Danielle," replied the Wiz.
"I can use Tabatha," answered Samantha.
"Diana could lead the group," said the Ovid Judge.
"That means Anya and Sarah will complete the group," continued Grandma.
"I give up," I said out loud to myself. "What kind of an excuse am I going to give to the school for Sarah's absence? I know. I'll tell them Sarah is involved in a top-secret project for the Feds and they are not allowed to know anything about it. They’ll surely take that.”
As I said that the five girls walked into the room. They each took a folder and gave a kiss to their relative or boss and walked into an adjoining room. About five minutes later they returned with their recommendation. Sarah was smiling. We read the report.
"I had no idea," I said as I read the recommendation. "She's that important?"
"Yes," replied Diana. "We checked the information several times."
"I guess we have no choice then," said Samantha.
"I think you're right," said Grandma.
"Agreed," said the Wiz.
"Then if we are all in agreement we might as well give the verdict and sentence," said the Ovid Judge.
"WAIT!" I said. "We can't let this report leave this room. It must be sealed and we all have to swear NEVER to reveal its contents to anyone else."
I looked around the room and noticed the other nine shaking their heads "yes" as they all told us they agreed. "Just so you know what I mean, Sarah," I continued. "You can never tell Alex or your father. It bothers me that I can't tell Norman. I hope this is the only secret I will ever keep from him."
Sarah closed her eyes and said, "Yes, mother."
She didn't like it, but she understood.
"Is there anything else to discuss?" asked our Chief Judge.
Everyone was silent.
"In that case we will give our verdict," he said.
We walked across the hall to the courtroom and sat down in the same seats we had before. Richard Moll again called the court to order.
"Will the defendant please rise," said Moll.
Osama bin Laden stood up from the chair. He was expecting to be a martyr.
"You have been found guilt of the following counts," said our chief Judge. He read the thousands of counts. It took another five minutes.
"Nothing would make me happier than to have you executed, and have you permanently just outside Paradise," pronounced our Chief Judge.
That comment surprised me. I always suspected that he was really a messenger, that is an angel. The primitive people he was sent to protect thought of him as a god.
"However, that is not to be," continued the Ovid Judge. "We hereby sentence you to be changed into an eight-year-old American girl from a religious Christian family. Both of your parents were killed her at the World Trade Center on September eleventh. You will have the memory of being that girl. You are to be adopted by religious Jewish American parents. Whenever you ask why your parents died or there is a similar situation you will remember that you were Osama bin Laden and you caused this to happen."
"You can't make me female," bin Laden said. "A child and a Jew?" He said "Jew" as if he was spitting.
"You didn't learn the Koran well," I said. "Maybe you can learn the Torah better. In some ways they are the same."
"We also confiscate ALL your assets," continued the Ovid Judge.
"Why the assets?" asked bin Laden.
"When I became the Evil Witch," I explained. "I was worth about two million dollars. My family and I gave away that and more over the months that followed. These alms were among the miracles we were able to do as G_d's agents. Then we encountered the results of your deeds of September eleventh. What you did stretched our ability to help beyond our strength. My husband and I asked for help from G_d. He made our task bearable and made suggestions that we will be implementing within the next few months. We also asked the Witch and Wizard Council, but they can only do so much. This money won't make amends, but it will go a long way to help those who are survivors of your atrocity."
"Try to find the money," bin Laden challenged.
"Shall we enumerate the accounts?" asked Grandma.
"Do these bearer bonds look familiar?" asked Samantha.
"So, you have found some of my assets," he said. "I still have others."
"Not any more you don't," replied the Wiz.
"Even your real estate holdings belong to us now," added Samantha.
"That island in the Bahamas is very pretty," noted Grandma.
"But that's impossible for you to know about that," bin Laden complained.
"You could have used your money for good as the Koran requires of you," I said. "But instead of trying to help your fellow man, you have caused more misery. You have even caused my family pain by making us choose between doing more to help those who need help because of what you did and getting the rest and family togetherness we need. The only peace we have is the Sabbath."
I was crying.
"It's not fair," I sobbed, putting my head down on the bench.
Grandma, who was next to me, comforted me.
"Finally," the Ovid Judge said. "The money you gave to the relatives of those who did the dirty work is counterfeit."
"You can't do this," bin Laden complained. "Those people NEED the money."
"They'll get the money," Samantha said. "But not from you. We will give them the money after they tell the authorities who gave them the phony money. In fact, we will give them more."
"You're bluffing about the magic," bin Laden claimed defiantly. "You can't change me into a little girl. That's impossible."
"We already have," replied Samantha. "Look down at your body, Osama."
Bin laden looked down as he was told and saw that he was in an American style girl's white blouse, black knee length pleated skirt, white sox and black Mary Janes. He was surprised and scared.
"I want my mommy," she said as she started crying.
"I'll take her home," I said. "She'll be living with my friends, the Rapaports. Isn't that right, Sue Ellen?"
"Until they find mommy and daddy," Sue Ellen replied through her tears.
I picked Sue Ellen up and held her as she cried for her parents.
"They hurt mommy and daddy are bad," Sue Ellen said sobbing on my shoulder.
"Very bad," I replied.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" she shouted out. It was a loud, piercing, primal scream.
She cried uncontrollably, kicking and screaming. Boy, did those shoes hurt.
"I DID IT! I'M THE BAD ONE!" she screamed.
I held her and massaged her. Did we do the right thing to Sue Ellen? This child is suffering, but I know the Boss would not let us do anything unless it would make the world better. But how? Even reading the report didn't make me think the sentence was not a mistake. I could not help but think that Sue Ellen's punishment was too severe. She is only a child, even if she was bin Laden.
"Please find mommy and daddy," she sobbed
"We'll try, I said to Sue Ellen trying to comfort her.
"You got 'ta find mommy and daddy."
"We'll do everything we can."
"PLEASE!" pleaded Sue Ellen.
"I know, honey. I know," I replied with my eyes watery.
Suddenly we were in Miriam's home. I was still holding Sue Ellen. She was still screaming and kicking.
"She gets this way, constantly. She thinks she destroyed the World Trade Towers. I am worried about that fantasy," Miriam said.
"It's only been three days," I replied. "She just lost her parents. She's just a kid and scared."
"I'm just worried she would never be right," Miriam explained, worried.
"We heal from a loss like this," I explained. "We don't get cured. We are never the same again after something like this happens. Our scars are still there."
For Joseph Parro, one of the hero/victims of the World Trade Center.
There are quotes from Torah, the Koran, “Lion in Winter,” an old television commercial, and “Hey Jude.” There are also minor connections to “Night Court” and Star Trek.
Wootcy was a common name by New Yorkers for the Word Trade Center from W(oo)TC(ee).
This was written in December 2001.
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