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Entries in Guantanamo (6)

Wednesday
Sep122012

Guantanamo Inmate Who Died Identified as Yemeni

John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Guantanamo detainee who died this weekend was a 32-year-old Yemeni who had been held at the U.S. detention camp in Cuba ever since it was established a decade ago in January 2002, and whom human rights activists called "the face of indefinite detention at Guantanamo."

Joint Task Force Guantanamo identified the detainee as Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif from Yemen. His name had been withheld pending family notification of his passing.

Latif had been found unconscious and unresponsive in his cell on Saturday and was declared dead after what were characterized as "extensive lifesaving measures" were performed to revive him.

Investigators from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service are looking at the circumstances surrounding his death. A release by JTF-Guantanamo said an autopsy had been conducted, but said the results and determining a cause of death "take time."

Captured by Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan, Latif arrived at the newly established camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in January 2002 shortly after it had been established as Camp X-Ray. The facility was initially designed for the temporary detention of enemy combatants captured on the battlefields of the War on Terror, but eventually became the permanent detention facility for terrorism suspects.

Latif had pressed his legal status in U.S. civilian courts and reached the Supreme Court, where his case was rejected this past June. While he was alleged to have been an al Qaeda-trained fighter, the Department of Defense issued an opinion in 2004 that he was "not known to have participated in combatant/terrorist training." Latif was recommended for transfer to his home country twice by the military panels set up to review the cases of detainees. However, those recommendations were never acted upon.

The Center for Constitutional Rights, a legal advocacy group that represents many of the detainees at Guantanamo, issued a statement Tuesday that said Latif was "innocent of any wrongdoing that would have justified his detention."

"Adnan Latif is the human face of indefinite detention at Guantanamo," said the statement, "a policy President Obama now owns."

"President Obama's Justice Department knew he was innocent but appealed a district court order directing his release rather than send him home to Yemen," said the CCR. "The president has imposed a moratorium on all transfers to Yemen, which is why more than half of the remaining detainees are Yemenis. … Adnan Latif was held indefinitely and ultimately for life because of his Yemeni citizenship, not his conduct."

Since the camp was opened in 2002 eight other detainees have died while in custody -- six from suicides and the other two from natural causes. The most recent death was in 2011. Latif's death means there are now 167 detainees at the camp, which at its height held 779 detainees. A third of the detainees still at Guantanamo -- 55 men -- are Yemeni.

Latif, who contributed to a 2007 book of poetry by detainees, was one of several "Gitmo" detainees who have been participating in hunger strikes, which have been going on at the camp for years.

He had ended his hunger strike on June 1 and had recouped 95 percent of his body weight. Hunger strikers at the camp are routinely force-fed by medical personnel. A Defense Department official says that the hunger strikes are more of a political act than a physical act as many take their liquid nutrient feeds willingly and assist medical personnel with the insertion of the food tubes that force-feed them.

Latif had been disciplined following a recent "splashing" incident and was being housed in a maximum security facility at Guantanamo. He had allegedly assaulted a guard with a "cocktail," meaning he had allegedly thrown liquid at the guard. "Cocktails" are often concocted from feces, urine and other bodily fluids.

The release from JTF-Guantanamo says Latif's remains are being treated with respect for Islamic culture and traditions. They will be repatriated to Yemen.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep102012

Gitmo Detainee Turned Terror Commander Killed: Reports

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- An al Qaeda terror commander, who was released from Guantanamo Bay to join an art-based "jihadi rehab" program only to return to the fight as a high-ranking member of al Qaeda's Yemen branch, has been killed, according to Yemen's state-run media.

Said al-Shihri, a Saudi national considered by the U.S. government to be the number two man in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), was taken out in an airstrike along with six other militants, Yemen's Saba news agency reported today, citing security officials. DNA tests reportedly had not been done to confirm al-Shihri's death.

Al-Shihri, a "veteran jihadist," traveled to Afghanistan shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks to fight coalition troops, only to be captured weeks later, according to West Point's Combating Terrorism Center. He was sent to the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he stayed for six years before being released to Saudi Arabia. There, he entered a so-called "jihadi rehab" program that attempted to turn terrorists into art students by getting them to get "negative energy out on paper," as the program's director told ABC News in 2009.

But just months after he supposedly entered the fingerpainting camp, al-Shihri reappeared in Yemen where he was suspected to have been behind a deadly bombing at the U.S. embassy there.

At the time, critics of the "jihadi rehab" program used al-Shihri as evidence that extremists would just go through the motions in order to be freed.

"They basically schmooze or con their way out of the system and then they get out," former FBI agent and ABC News consultant Brad Garrett said in the 2009 ABC News report.

Before his release from Guantanamo, al-Shihri had told his captors that should he be freed, he would return to Saudi Arabia to work in his family's furniture store, according to detention documents posted online by The New York Times.

Since before Osama bin Laden's death at the hands of U.S. Navy SEALs in May 2011, U.S. security officials have warned that al Qaeda's regional arms -- especially AQAP -- represented a greater danger to the U.S. than the traditional "core" of the terror organization over which bin Laden presided.

Officials at the CIA, whose drone program U.S. officials say was responsible for the death of another high-profile AQAP member in April, declined to comment for this report.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug292012

Saudi National, Gitmo Detainee Charged in 2002 Terror Attack

John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Defense has sworn charges against Guantanamo detainee Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza al Darbi for conspiracy and acts of terrorism.  The charges represent the first step in the process towards a military commission.  

Al Darbi, a Saudi Arabian national, is charged with participating in the 2002 terror plot against a French oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden.   The charges allege that al Darbi "joined a terrorist conspiracy with al Qaeda" prior to 1997 and trained at al Qaeda's Jihad Wahl camp in Afghanistan before participating in the 2002 terror plot on the MV Limburg oil tanker.  The attack on the vessel "severely injured multiple civilians and caused a large oil spill in the Gulf of Aden," the DOD said in a statement.

He now becomes the seventh detainee recommended for trial through the Military Commissions process.

If convicted, al Darbi faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan182012

Al Qaeda Magazine Found in Guantanamo Cell, Prosecutor Says

John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- An issue of a terrorist magazine produced by an al Qaeda affiliate somehow made its way into a cell in Guantanamo Bay, supposedly one of the most secure detention centers in the world, a U.S. military prosecutor revealed Wednesday.

The disclosure was made during a pre-trial hearing for Adb al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind behind the deadly bombing of the USS Cole in 2000. Seventeen American sailors were killed in the attack. Nashiri was captured in 2002.

Navy prosecutor Cmdr. Andrea Lockhart did not claim the magazine was al-Nashiri's but told a military judge Wednesday about the offending material while arguing over policies concerning mail screening between terror suspects and their attorneys. Lockhart did not say how or where exactly the magazine was discovered, nor did she say which issue of the magazine it was.

The English-language magazine, called Inspire, had been produced by al Qaeda's Yemen-based branch, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and was believed to have been put together by an American-born AQAP member named Samir Khan. The magazine, which spanned several issues, featured lectures from terror leaders as well as instructional guides for everything from how to shoot an AK-47 to "How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom."

In the magazine's last issue, which surfaced in September, Khan promised an upcoming interview with high-profile al Qeada cleric and recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki called "Targeting the Populations of Countries That Are at War With the Muslims." The promotional ad for the article used New York's Grand Central Station as a background.

But both Awlaki and Khan were killed in a drone strike just days after the announcement. No further issues of Inspire have apparently surfaced online since.

Al-Nashiri, believed to be one of al Qaeda's top commanders, was captured in 2002 but was in CIA custody, reportedly at a secret prison, until he was transferred to Guantanamo in 2006.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb172011

U.S. Defense Secretary: Chances of Closing Guantanamo "Very Low"

Photo Courtesy - Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Thursday that the chances of closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba are remote.

“The prospects for closing Guantanamo, as best I can tell, are very, very low, given very broad opposition to doing that here in the Congress,” Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Gates was testifying with Admiral Mike Mullen and answered questions on a variety of topics ranging from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Wednesday that President Obama still remains steadfast about closing the facility.

"The president remains committed to closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, because as our military commanders have made clear, it's a national security priority to do so," Carney said on his first day as White House press secretary.

Gates said Thursday that the mostly Republican opposition to closing the facility was not entirely without merit.

“One of the things we have discovered over time is that we’re not particularly good at predicting which returnee will be a recidivist,” he said. “Some of those we have considered the most dangerous have not, and some that we have evaluated as not being much of a danger, we’ve discovered in the fight.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio ´╗┐

Tuesday
Dec212010

Executive Order Being Drafted for Indefinite Detention

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A White House official confirms that officials are writing a draft executive order dealing with those Guantanamo detainees to be held in indefinite detention, setting up a periodic review of the detention status "of those detainees who cannot be tried in Article III or military commissions" and are too dangerous, in the government's judgment, to release.

In a speech at the National Archives in May 2009, President Obama acknowledged that his way forward in dealing with the terrorist threat would include indefinite detention.

"There remains the question of detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people," he said in that speech. "And I have to be honest here -- this is the toughest single issue that we will face.  We're going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country. But even when this process is complete, there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases because evidence may be tainted, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States. Examples of that threat include people who've received extensive explosives training at al Qaeda training camps, or commanded Taliban troops in battle, or expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden, or otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans.  These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States."

The official noted that the draft order has not yet reached President Obama's desk.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio´╗┐







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