[Ppnews] The Guantánamo 16 - Upcoming Trials

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue May 27 11:15:56 EDT 2008


May 27, 2008
http://www.counterpunch.org/worthington05272008.html


A Fact Sheet on the Upcoming Trials


The Guantánamo 16

By ANDY WORTHINGTON

As a 16th prisoner at Guantánamo, Noor Uthman 
Muhammed, is put forward for trial by Military 
Commission (the much-criticized system of trials 
for “terror suspects” invented in the wake of the 
9/11 attacks), here’s a brief guide to the men and their stories.

1. David Hicks. An Australian, who was captured 
in Afghanistan in December 2001, Hicks accepted a 
<http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2007/06/13/the-reviled-military-commissions-collapse-and-the-pressure-to-close-guantanamo-increases/>plea 
bargain in March 2007, admitting to providing 
“material support for terrorism,” and dropping 
well-documented claims that he was abused in US 
custody, in exchange for a nine-month sentence, 
the majority of which was served in Australia. It 
has been claimed, plausibly, that his plea 
bargain was the 
<http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2007/10/23/the-politics-of-david-hicks-release-from-guantanamo-confirmed-plea-bargain-arranged-between-cheney-and-howard/>result 
of political maneuvering between US Vice 
President Dick Cheney and Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

2. Omar Khadr. A Canadian, who was just 15 years 
old when he was captured after a firefight in 
Afghanistan in July 2002, 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/worthington11152007.html>Khadr 
is accused of killing a US soldier, although 
<http://counterpunch.org/worthington02082008.html>developments 
over the last six months in his pre-trial 
hearings suggest that exculpatory evidence, 
indicating that he was not responsible for the 
murder, was withheld from his defense team. In 
the latest twist in Khadr’s case, the Canadian 
Supreme Court ruled last week that Canadian 
agents acted illegally when they interrogated 
Khadr at Guantánamo in 2003 and handed the intelligence to US authorities.

3. Salim Hamdan. A Yemeni, who was a driver for 
Osama bin Laden and was captured while attempting 
to cross the Pakistani border in December 2001, 
Hamdan is accused of being an active member of 
al-Qaeda, although his defense team argues that 
he was just a paid employee. It was Hamdan’s 
case, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, that caused the Supreme 
Court to rule that the first version of the 
Commissions were illegal in June 2006 (although 
they were later revived by Congress). In April, 
Hamdan decided to 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/worthington05172008.html>boycott 
his trial proceedings, and on May 9, following a 
blistering attack on the legitimacy of the 
Commissions by their former chief prosecutor, 
Col. Morris Davis, the judge in Hamdan’s case, 
Capt. Keith Allred, took the unprecedented step 
of barring the Commissions’ Pentagon-appointed 
legal adviser, Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, from 
playing any further part in Hamdan’s trial. The 
following week, Capt. Allred made headlines again 
by 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/worthington05202008.html>postponing 
the start date of Hamdan’s trial until late July, 
citing the importance of a pending Supreme Court 
decision about the prisoners’ rights.

4. Mohamed Jawad. An Afghan, who was just 16 or 
17 years old at the time of his capture, 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/worthington10172007.html>Jawad 
is accused of throwing a grenade that wounded two 
US soldiers and an Afghan interpreter in December 
2002, although he has always claimed that Afghan 
police obtained his “confession” through torture. 
At his arraignment in March, he 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/worthington03222008.html>rejected 
the trial proceedings, and alleged that he had 
been tortured at the US prison at Bagram airbase 
in Afghanistan, and had been mistreated in 
Guantánamo. At a pre-trial hearing in May, Air 
Force Major David Frakt, who was assigned to 
represent him on April 28, told the court, “Mr. 
Jawad is an innocent man. He has been held for 
five years. He was a homeless boy wrongfully 
accused and beaten into confession by the Afghanistan police.”

5. Ahmed al-Darbi. A Saudi, who is accused of 
plotting attacks on shipping for al-Qaeda, 
al-Darbi was kidnapped in Azerbaijan and rendered 
to Guantánamo via Afghanistan in 2002. At his 
arraignment in April, he 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/worthington04212008.html>refused 
to take part in the Commissions, prompting his 
military-appointed lawyer, Army Lt. Col. Bryan 
Broyles, to comment that, in order to comply with 
established legal rules that prevent lawyers from 
representing clients who refuse their services 
(which are worryingly at odds with the 
Commissions’ own rules), his role in al-Darbi’s 
forthcoming trial was now equivalent to that of a “potted plant.”

6. Ibrahim al-Qosi. A Sudanese, who is accused of 
being a bodyguard and a driver for Osama bin 
Laden, and a quartermaster for al-Qaeda, al-Qosi, 
who was captured after crossing the Pakistani 
border in December 2001, was previously charged 
in the Commissions’ first aborted incarnation. In 
April, he also boycotted his pre-trial hearing, 
telling the judge, “I do not recognize the 
justice or the lawfulness of this court,” and 
adding, “What is happening in your courts is in 
fact a sham, which aims solely that the cases 
move at the pace of a turtle in order to gain 
some time to keep us in these boxes without any human or legal rights.”

7. Ali Hamza al-Bahlul. A Yemeni, who is accused 
of producing videos for al-Qaeda and servings as 
a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, al-Bahlul, who 
was captured after crossing the Pakistani border 
in December 2001, was previously charged in the 
Commissions’ first aborted incarnation. In May, 
he also boycotted his pre-trial hearing, proudly 
proclaiming his association with Osama bin Laden, 
and telling the judge, “We will continue our 
jihad and nothing’s going to stop us. You must 
not oppress the people in the land. Your 
oppression against us and your support to the 
strategic ally in the region is what made me 
leave my house and today, I’m telling you, and 
you’re a man of law, if you sentence me to life 
 
me and the others will be the reason for the 
continuation of the war against America.”

8. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM). Reportedly the 
third most important figure in al-Qaeda, after 
Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, KSM, who 
was captured in Pakistan in March 2003, and the 
four men described below are among the 14 
“high-value detainees” transferred to Guantánamo 
in September 2006 after being held for years in 
secret prisons run by the CIA. KSM 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/worthington07142007.html>confessed 
in his military tribunal in Guantánamo last year 
(convened to confirm that he was an “enemy 
combatant” who could be tried by Military 
Commission) that he was “responsible for the 9/11 
operation, from A to Z.” He is one of three 
“high-value detainees” whom CIA director Michael 
Hayden admitted had been subjected to 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/worthington02072008.html>waterboarding 
(a torture technique that involves controlled 
drowning) while held in a secret prison run by the CIA.

KSM and his co-defendants, who were 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/worthington02122008.html>charged 
in connection with the 9/11 attacks in February, 
are due to be arraigned on June 5, although his 
recently appointed military lawyer, Navy JAG 
Prescott Prince, recently told the Los Angeles 
Times, “I think it's the constitutional case of 
our time. Because in the 221st year of America, 
the question is whether the Constitution applies 
to the government.” He added, “I have no idea 
whether he did even half of those things he is 
accused of doing. But if he did commit those 
offenses, there are still issues of whether this 
court has jurisdiction, whether he is an enemy 
combatant who should be tried in a tribunal of 
this nature.” Prince also said, “He (KSM) 
believes his treatment has been illegal. I 
believe it's been illegal too. And I personally 
believe that he cannot, as a result of all these things, get a fair trial.”

9. Ramzi bin al-Shibh. A Yemeni, and reportedly a 
friend of the 9/11 hijackers, who helped 
coordinate the attacks with KSM after he was 
unable to enter the United States to train as a 
pilot for the operation, as he originally 
planned, bin al-Shibh was captured in Pakistan in 
September 2002. After being held in secret CIA 
custody for four years, he refused to take part 
in his tribunal at Guantánamo, and if he speaks 
at his arraignment it will be his first publicly 
available statement since his capture.

10. Mustafa al-Hawsawi. A Saudi, who was captured 
with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al-Hawsawi is 
accused of sourcing funding for the 9/11 attacks 
from Dubai. In his tribunal at Guantánamo, he 
admitted providing support for jihadists, 
including transferring money for some of the 9/11 
hijackers, although he denied that he was a 
member of al-Qaeda. Last week, his lawyer, Army 
Maj. Jon Jackson, sought fruitlessly to delay his 
arraignment, in particular because he has only 
been allowed to meet his client twice, and “has 
not received any potential evidence against 
al-Hawsawi supporting charges that ‘allege a 
complex conspiracy spanning several years,’” as the Associated Press put it.

11. Ali Abdul Aziz Ali. Also known as Ammar 
al-Baluchi, he is a nephew of KSM, and was 
captured in Pakistan with Walid bin Attash (see 
below) in April 2003. In his tribunal at 
Guantánamo last year, he admitted transferring 
money on behalf of some of the 9/11 hijackers, 
but insisted that he was a legitimate 
businessman, who regularly transferred money for 
Arabs, without knowing what it would be used for.

12. Walid bin Attash. A Saudi, who lost a leg in 
Afghanistan before 9/11, bin Attash stated in his 
tribunal at Guantánamo that he was the link 
between Osama bin Laden and the Nairobi cell 
during al-Qaeda’s African embassy bombings in 
1998, and admitted that he played a major part in 
the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, explaining 
that he “put together the plan for the operation 
for a year and a half,” and that he bought the 
explosives and the boat, and recruited the bombers.

13. Mohammed al-Qahtani. A Saudi, who was 
reportedly recruited as the 20th hijacker for the 
9/11 attacks, but was refused entry into the 
United States by immigration officials, 
al-Qahtani was tortured for several months at 
Guantánamo in late 2002 and early 2003. Although 
he was put forward for trial by Military 
Commission in February, with KSM and the other 
four men described above, the charges against him 
were dropped in May, when the others were 
formally charged, either because evidence of his 
torture is admissible (whereas that obtained in 
secret prisons by the CIA is not), or because of 
a pronounced deterioration in his mental health 
since he was first charged, which led to a number 
of suicide attempts. It’s possible, but unlikely that he will be charged again.

14. Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani. A Tanzanian, and one 
of the 14 “high-value detainees” transferred to 
Guantánamo from secret CIA prisons in September 
2006, Ghailani, who was captured after a gun 
battle in Gujrat, Pakistan in July 2004, is 
accused of being a coordinator of the African 
embassy bombings, and of running a 
document-forging operation for al-Qaeda in 
Afghanistan. In his tribunal, he described 
himself as a peripheral character in the African 
embassy bombings, who was duped by others around 
him, although he admitted forging documents for 
al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Evidence of a revealing 
false allegation that he made in Guantánamo, 
which I discovered during research for The 
Guantánamo Files, was reported 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/worthington04012008.html>here.

15. Mohammed Kamin. An Afghan, who was captured 
in 2003, Kamin is accused of “providing material 
support for terrorism,” specifically by receiving 
training at “an al-Qaeda training camp,” 
conducting surveillance on US and coalition 
military bases and activities, planting two mines 
under a bridge, and launching missiles at the 
city of Khost while it was occupied by US and 
coalition forces. He is not charged with harming, 
let along killing US forces, and were it not for 
his supposed al-Qaeda connection -- he apparently 
stated in interrogation that he was “recruited by 
an al-Qaeda cell leader” -- it would, I think, be 
impossible to make the case that he was involved in “terrorism” at all.

For his arraignment on May 21, 2008, Kamin 
refused to leave his cell, and was dragged to the 
court by guards. The judge, Air Force Col. W. 
Thomas Cumbie, explained that he was handcuffed 
and shackled because he had “attempted to spit on 
and bite one of the guards” on his way to the 
courtroom. Refusing to be represented by a US 
military lawyer, Kamin called the charges “a lie 
and a forgery,” according to Reuters, adding that 
he had no connection with al-Qaeda or the 
Taliban, and that he “did not recognize the 
court's legitimacy and would not attend future 
hearings.” In a brief statement, he said, “My 
judge is the god that has created the sky and the 
land. He will be my lawyer and represent me. I 
wait for his decision. That's enough.”

16. Noor Uthman Muhammed. A Sudanese, Muhammed 
was captured in Pakistan in March 2002, during 
the raid that netted the alleged senior al-Qaeda 
operative Abu Zubaydah (whose significance is 
disputed, along with his mental health). While 
Abu Zubaydah has not been charged before the 
Military Commissions, Muhammed was charged with 
“conspiracy” and “providing material support for 
terrorism” on May 23, 2008. He is accused of 
serving as the deputy emir and a weapons 
instructor at the Khaldan training camp in 
Afghanistan from 1996 to 2000, when the camp was 
closed. It is also alleged that he delivered a 
fax machine to Osama bin Laden at a training camp in 1999.

Noticeably, these charges do not relate to the 
9/11 attacks, and in his tribunal at Guantánamo 
in 2004, Muhammed insisted that Khaldan was “a 
place to get training” that had nothing to do 
with either al-Qaeda or the Taliban. “People come 
over to that camp, train for about a month to a 
month and a half, then they go back to their 
hometown,” he said, adding that what the people 
did with the training they received was their own 
business. This may well have been an evasive 
explanation on Muhammed’s part, but he is not the 
only prisoner to state that Khaldan was not 
connected with al-Qaeda, and that Abu Zubaydah 
did not have a close relationship with the 
leadership of al-Qaeda. Similar claims, as I 
reported 
<http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2008/04/26/the-insignificance-and-insanity-of-abu-zubaydah-ex-guantanamo-prisoner-confirms-fbis-doubts/>here, 
were made by Abu Zubaydah himself, and by a 
released Saudi prisoner called Khalid 
al-Hubayshi, and it will be interesting to see 
what Muhammed will have to say when he is 
arraigned -- unless, of course, he follows recent 
trends by boycotting the proceedings completely.

Andy Worthington is a British historian, and the 
author of 
'<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0745326641/counterpunchmaga>The 
Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 
Detainees in America's Illegal Prison' (published 
by Pluto Press). Visit his website at: 
<http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/>www.andyworthington.co.uk

He can be reached at: 
<mailto:andy at andyworthington.co.uk>andy at andyworthington.co.uk




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