Once again, the William G. Truesdale Detention Center in Alexandria provides the best housing and security for another alleged international terrorist. The word alleged must be used here in fairness before a federal court criminal trial steals all the headlines.
From the moment Ahmed Abu Khatallah was grabbed, I mean captured, by military commandos in Libya on the night of June 15-16, there was little or no doubt the 43-year-old would find a new home on Mill Road, Alexandria.
Sheriff Dana Lawhorne and his staff automatically figured another “special” prisoner would be gracing the facilities.
Abu Khatallah is the point-man, the considered ringleader, in the horrendous 2012 Benghazi fatal attack on the American diplomatic mission — the ambassador and three security officers were killed.
The city’s jail is well known for its first-class security services. The last terrorist held there was Zacarias Moussaoui. He pleaded guilty to the conspiracy to kill Americans in the 9-11 attacks. After three years in the Alexandria jail, he was transferred in May 2006 to the federal super-max prison in Florence, Colo. for the rest of his life.
Prospects for Mr. Abu Khatallah, obviously if found guilty, are likely also to be in Colorado. That is a bit premature at this point.
Hearing the news the Libyan had been captured and the ensuing squabbling whether or not he would be tried by a military court or the federal court, this was evidence the feds would consider Sheriff Lawhorne’s domain rather than Guantanamo, Cuba. The Truesdale facility, I can speak with some ability, probably is the best throughout Virginia and quite possibly anyplace else.
The facility has a long-term contract to house federal prisoners. It’s been a successful relationship. The association between the U. S. Marshals Service and the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office is nothing short of outstanding. From transporting and housing prisoners, the security team is solid. From the days of Captain John Griggs, now retired, to Deputy Chief Clarke Stearns, recently retired, and now to Deputy Chief Doug Schuler, Sheriff Lawhorne has an esteemed team.
For the sake of security we won’t report here the exact section of the jail where Abu Khatallah now calls home. Can say he will not be in general population. He will get “room service” and be under 24-hour surveillance.
When the alleged terrorist is transferred to the Washington Federal Court from Alexandria, U.S. Marshals will take him from his abode to the vehicles for a secured ride.
Actually, life around the jail won’t notice any change. The routine of every deputy and sworn and civilian staff will be the same. The education unit, the chaplain’s work, the feeding programs and haircutting will continue seamlessly.
Abu Khattala arrived in Alexandria under constant interrogation from the military, FBI, CIA, et al, on the Navy ship New York, helicoptered to Washington for Saturday’s appearance before a federal magistrate judge. Obviously he received a federal public defender, was read his Miranda rights, held without bond, pleaded not guilty. Reports are he was physically tired, bedraggled naturally. Unless he wants it, he won’t get a shave and a haircut. There’s a law against that.
How long will the legal procedures take? No one knows. No photos will be possible either. Glimpses of the alleged terrorist will only be from artists’ courtroom drawings. No times will be released on transfers from jail to court, besides all marshal’s vehicles have darkened windows and parking is securely under the courthouse.
Actually, Sheriff Lawhorne’s jail on the international stage will be rather quiet. At least to the public. Daily security will be the best, as it is all the time.