Gitmo Detainee Releases

Title: Sudan: Freed Guantanamo Prisoner [Cook] Returns Home
July 11, 2012
Fox News

Abstract: A former al-Qaida cook released from Guantanamo was flown to his home in Sudan on Wednesday, the country's state media reported.

Ibrahim al-Qosi, in his 50s, was taken by a U.S. Air Force aircraft to Khartoum airport, Omdurman radio said. He was greeted by his father and brother on his arrival and told the station that he had a difficult time in "unfair detention in the infamous Guantanamo prison."

Al-Qosi was taken to Guantanamo in 2002, one of the first terror suspects to be sent there.

He pleaded guilty in July 2010 to supporting terrorism by providing logistical support to al-Qaida and was sentenced to 14 years, all but two of which were suspended by the Pentagon legal officer overseeing Guantanamo tribunals. The suspension was contingent on a number of conditions, including that Al-Qosi not engage in "hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners."

Al-Qosi did not receive credit for the more than eight years he had spent at Guantanamo before his conviction.

The U.S. Embassy in Khartoum could not be reached for comment (Fox News, 2012).

Title: US Names 55 Cleared Guantanamo Prisoners
Date: September 23, 2012
Business Recorder

Abstract:  The US government has published for the first time a list of 55 Guantanamo detainees cleared for release but still held amid challenges identifying a willing host country or concerns about sending them home. The list, which includes names and serial numbers, represents about a third of the 167 "war on terror" suspects who still linger at the US naval base in southern Cuba more than 11 years after the September 11, 2001 attacks on US soil. 

A significant number of the men listed are Yemenis, reflecting US concerns over sending Guantanamo detainees to the troubled nation, where they could become involved in terror-related activities. President Barack Obama suspended transfers to Yemen in January 2010, citing the "unsettled" security situation there. 

Since 2009, government officials have kept secret the identities of detainees approved for release or transfer, saying a public release would hinder diplomatic efforts to arrange for the men to be moved to "safe and responsible" locations. "The United States originally sought protection of this information in order to maintain flexibility in its diplomatic engagements with foreign governments on potential detainee transfers, especially in cases of resettlement in third countries, rather than the detainees' respective countries of origin," a Justice Department spokesperson said Friday. 

But in a court filing in the US District Court for the District of Columbia in the capital Washington, government lawyers said "circumstances have changed" such that prisoners' names "no longer warrant protection." The efforts of the United States to resettle Guantanamo detainees have largely been successful," they said, noting that 28 prisoners have been sent to their home countries since 2009, while 40 prisoners have been transferred to other countries. 

Among the prisoners cleared for release was Shaker Aamer, the last British resident held at Guantanamo, and the prison's five remaining Tunisians. London has repeatedly called for Aamer to be freed. Missing from the list was Adnan Latif, a 32-year-old Yemeni man who died at Guantanamo earlier this month, the ninth prisoner to pass away since the prison camp was opened in 2002. 

Shortly after taking office, President Barack Obama issued an order to shutter the facility by January 2010. But his plans quickly fell apart amid staunch opposition from Congress, as lawmakers raised security concerns. Although Congress has placed restrictions limiting prisoner transfers to other countries or on US soil, the Obama administration has sought help from allies willing to take in qualified detainees. 

Rights groups were quick to hail the new list's publication, with the American Civil Liberties Union calling it a "partial victory for transparency" that should also be a "spur to action." "These men have now spent three years in prison since our military and intelligence agencies all agreed they should be released," ACLU senior staff attorney Zachary Katznelson said in a statement. "It is well past time to release and resettle these unfairly imprisoned men" 
(Business Recorder, 2012).

Title: SFC Speer's Killer Leaves Gitmo
September 29, 2012
Weekly Standard

Omar Khadr has been sent from Guantanamo to Canada, after returning from the jihad in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Khadr is slated to stay in custody for the time being. It is difficult to think of a more mythologized figure in the post-9/11 war on terror. For the worldwide left, Khadr has become a symbol of all that is supposedly wrong with America’s fight against the al Qaeda terror network. He is now, in many minds, a victim. For one Canadian magazine, Omar Khadr is even a Christ-like figure.

But let us briefly review the facts about Omar Khadr.

Khadr killed Sergeant First Class (SFC) Christopher Speer. Khadr’s advocates said this wasn’t true because Khadr was incapacitated during al Qaeda’s firefight with American troops. But they were wrong. Khadr ultimately admitted that he killed SFC Speer.

While Khadr killed one American medic, his life was saved by others. Khadr would not be alive today if U.S. medics had not saved him from extensive wounds.

Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) considered Khadr a “high intelligence value” detainee because he provided “valuable information” about al Qaeda and the Taliban. Khadr’s father was a top al Qaeda figure. Khadr knew his father’s associates well, and spilled the beans on them.

Khadr served as a translator and a minion to a top al Qaeda operative in Afghanistan.

A videotape recovered in Afghanistan showed Khadr assembling improvised explosive devices (IEDs) for al Qaeda.

Omar Khadr was not tortured. Khadr’s lawyers made up all sorts of allegations about how their client was treated, and these allegations were widely and reflexively repeated. They claimed, to choose just one example, that he was “used by military police as a human mop to wipe his own urine and pine oil off the floor of an interrogations chamber.” This never happened. It was a lie. As military judge Patrick J. Parrish found: “There is no credible evidence the accused was ever tortured…even using a liberal interpretation considering the accused’s age.”

Omar Khadr was not abused during a routine weigh-in session at Guantanamo. Khadr and his lawyers claimed that he was roughed up while being weighed. Unfortunately for the defense, the session was recorded. “The videotape of the accused being weighed…clearly shows the accused was not abused or mistreated in any way by any of the guards,” Judge Parrish found.

Khadr did have one unfortunate run-in with a military interrogator in Afghanistan, but this can hardly be construed as “torture.” That interrogator said a nasty thing to Khadr – recounting a fictitious story about a young Afghan who was sent to prison and gang-raped. But this had no effect. Judge Parrish found “there is no evidence such a story coerced or in any way caused the accused to make any incriminating statements at any time.”

Finally, Omar Khadr was not a “child soldier,” as he has been widely labeled. He worked for al Qaeda – a global terrorist organization. He was a teenager when his life was saved by American medics after an extended firefight. Teenagers are tried as adults in North America regularly. And Khadr clearly did not think of himself as a child when fighting American forces. According to the stipulation of fact agreed upon by both parties during Khadr’s military trial, Khadr refused to flee the firefight even after American soldiers asked for all women and children to evacuate the premises.

Khadr decided to stay and fight that day in Afghanistan. SFC Speer paid the price for Khadr’s choice with his life.

Khadr lives, as do the many falsehoods his advocates have spread in his defense. Judging by the way ex-Gitmo detainees have been received in the UK and elsewhere, Khadr will find there is a large market for his fiction (Weekly Standard, 2012).

Title: Guantanamo Detainee Back In Canada To Serve Out Sentence
Date: September 30, 2012

Abstract: Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr has been transferred to his homeland of Canada to serve the remainder of his sentence, Canada's Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Saturday.

Khadr boarded a military plane at the Guantanamo Naval base in Cuba and arrived at a military airbase in Trenton, Ontario. He will serve the rest of his sentence at Millhaven Prison in Bath, Ontario, about 130 miles east of Toronto.

The case and the prisoner's legal fate have sparked controversy among Canadians. Many think his sentence has been too lenient. Others, noting his capture at age 15, think he should have been treated as a child soldier and point to alleged mistreatment while in custody.

Under a plea deal with military prosecutors in October 2010, Khadr admitted to throwing a grenade during a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan that killed Sgt. First Class Christopher Speer, a member a U.S. Army Special Forces Unit.

He pleaded guilty to murder, attempted murder, providing material support for terrorism, spying and conspiracy.

"This transfer occurs following a process initiated by the United States government and determined in accordance with Canadian law," Toews said.

"I am satisfied the Correctional Service of Canada can administer Omar Khadr's sentence in a manner which recognizes the serious nature of the crimes that he has committed and ensure the safety of Canadians is protected during incarceration," he said, adding that the Canadian government would have no say in parole proceedings.

As part the plea deal, Khadr received an eight-year sentence with no credit for time served. Khadr's lawyers say Khadr agreed to the plea deal under the condition that he would serve most of the sentence in Canada.

Khadr's lawyers say the transfer was delayed for months as the Canadian government seemed to drag its feet.

Earlier this year, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told CNN that Khadr's repatriation would mark a significant step forward in eventually closing Guantanamo.

Two senior Obama administration officials said it took about a year to work out arrangements with Canadians for the transfer.

Negotiations were a very long and complicated process, and there were extensive conversations with Canadians, one of the officials said.

There were a lot of legal hurdles on the U.S. side and clearly hesitation on the part of Canadian government to do this because the public is polarized about Khadr, the official said.

Khadr was the only remaining Western detainee at Guantanamo.

His repatriation in Canada is highly controversial, due in large part to the views held by his family members. His father, Ahmed Khadr was a close associate of Osama Bin Laden and openly said he believed it was his Islamic duty to train his children in jihad.

Human rights groups around the world have denounced Khadr's capture at the age of 15 and his 10-year detention at Guantanamo.

"Given the Obama administration's glacial pace towards closing the U.S.-controlled detention center, little and late though it is, today's news represents progress," Amnesty International USA's Executive Director Suzanne Nossel said in a statement.

Canada should conduct a full investigation into Khadr's allegations of torture and "remedy for the human rights violations he suffered," she said.

The Pentagon said that currently 166 detainees remain in detention at Guantanamo Bay (CNN, 2012).