Abu Zubaydah Will Not Testify at Guantánamo Military Court Because the US Government Has “Stacked the Deck” Against Him

19.5.17

Abu Zubaydah at Guantanamo, in a photo taken by representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross. His lawyer Mark Denbeaux released the photo in May 2017, and stated that it was a recent image.Please support my work! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

Yesterday, for Close Guantánamo, the campaign I co-founded in January 2012 with the attorney Tom Wilner, I published an article, Abu Zubaydah Waives Immunity to Testify About His Torture in a Military Commission Trial at Guantánamo, explaining how Zubydah (aka Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn), a Saudi-born Palestinian, an alleged “high value detainee,” and the unfortunate first victim of the Bush administration’s post-9/11 torture program, was planning to appear as a witness today a pre-trial hearing at Guantánamo involving Ramzi bin al-Shibh, one of five men accused of involvement in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Zubaydah was planning to discuss bin al-Shibh’s claims that “somebody is intentionally harassing him with noises and vibrations to disrupt his sleep,” as Carol Rosenberg described it for the Miami Herald, but as Mark Denbeaux, one of his lawyers, explained, by taking the stand his intention was for the truth to emerge, and for the world “to know that he has committed no crimes and the United States has no basis to fear him and no justification to hold him for 15 years, much to less subject him to the torture that the world has so roundly condemned.”

Denbeaux also explained how “the Prosecution here in the Military Commissions is afraid to try him or even charge him with any crime,” adding, “The failure to charge him, after 15 years of torture and detention, speaks eloquently. To charge him would be to reveal the truth about the creation of America’s torture program.”

Denbeaux also noted that for Abu Zubaydah testifying would be a way “to celebrate his survival and to let the world hear his voice and to see him.”

However, late yesterday evening, after nearly three hours of meetings with Zubaydah, it was revealed that he would not be testifying after all. One of bin al-Shibh’s legal team, Jim Harrington, said, “On the advice of his attorneys he has made a decision that he will not testify because the risks to him in the future from cross examination prohibit him from being able to give important testimony on the issue before the court.”

In the Miami Herald, Carol Rosenberg explained that Zubaydah “made the decision in tandem with his lawyers after his attorney Mark Denbeaux arrived at this remote Navy base Thursday afternoon.” She stated, “At issue was material Sept. 11 trial prosecutors planned to use in court to demonstrate Zubaydah’s bias against the United States, including a video showing the Palestinian before his capture in Pakistan in March 2002 praising the Sept. 11 attacks.”

This would be an unacceptable example of the US government trying to blacken Zubaydah’s name, despite having no case against him. As Rosenberg explained, although Zubaydah has admitted to having been a jihadist, “he has insisted, and US intelligence analysts have concluded, that he was not a sworn member of al-Qaida and there is no evidence he knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance.”

Speaking of what Zubaydah was supposed to be discussing, Harrington said Zubaydah had “heard the noises but [had] not felt the vibration,” but he added that the issue at stake was that prosecutor Ed Ryan intended to undertake “a sweeping cross-examination” of Zubaydah, even though the judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, had specifically cautioned Ryan against “turning the testimony into ‘a United States versus Zubaydah case.’”

Harrington’s co-counsel, reserve Army Maj. Alaina Wichner, said, “We’re very disappointed that he’s not going to testify. But we understand the circumstance. The only people who can obviously testify for Ramzi are people who are in the camps with us, and this was an important witness for us.” She added that her team “was considering whether to call other witnesses who might validate Bin al Shibh’s claim of the disruptions.”

While this is a disappointment for bin al-Shibh, it is also a major blow for Abu Zubaydah, and his efforts to hold the US government to account of this torture, and for their failure to charge him or release him. Mark Denbeaux issued a statement to the press, which I’m cross-posting below in its entirety, as it perfectly captures the disgraceful position taken by the government. As Denbeaux describes it, they have “stacked the deck” against Zubaydah, because “the court gave virtual free reign to the prosecution in search of proving bias — while extremely limiting my client’s ability to respond meaningfully about his experience.”

Statement to the Press
By Mark P. Denbeaux

On May 19, 2017 counsel for the detainee known as Abu Zubaydah chose to not allow their client to testify.

We could not allow our client to testify; the Government stacked the deck. We stipulated to bias against the US. but the court gave virtual free reign to the prosecution in search of proving bias — while extremely limiting my client’s ability to respond meaningfully about his experience.

Faced with overwhelming evidence that they tortured the wrong man, the Government wanted to cherrypick statements to paint a picture of prejudice under this cloak of “bias” without telling the whole story.

We invaded this man’s country, waterboarded him 83 times and tortured him for 4 years in secret prisons where he lost an eye. Of course he’s biased. He’s been imprisoned for 15 years without being charged and while he was being tortured, the CIA officially directed that he be silenced as long as he lived, forever and without fail. And if that wasn’t enough, they ordered his body cremated — assuring his silence even beyond the grave.

Tell me, what kind of people burn the bodies of their victims? Not innocent ones. And not people who want their victims to talk. These proceedings ultimately turned out to be just a continuation of that campaign of silence. We, perhaps foolishly, had hoped for better.

Before being captured, my client made a video extremely critical of the United States. My client fought against the Soviets and their agents as a mujahadeen, and then vowed to fight again against anyone who invaded his country, and to stand in solidarity with anyone who defended it. It was a response to battle. He essentially made a pledge of allegiance to his country and his beliefs. How is that a crime in America? Millions of American soldiers and schoolchildren take oaths and make a pledge of allegiance every day — does that mean they’re all guilty of the horrific torture that the CIA performed against my client? Expressing allegiance to one’s beliefs is not a crime in America. Maybe that’s why the prosecution in Guantánamo refuses to charge him.

The Government sought not truth, but stacked the deck in a way that made it impossible for my client to be presented fairly and accurately. For those reasons, we have respectfully abstained from taking part in this dog and pony show.

Mark P. Denbeaux
Lead Civilian Military Defense Counsel for Zayn Abu Zubaydah

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album ‘Love and War’ and EP ‘Fighting Injustice’ are available here to download or on CD via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

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19 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Following up on my article yesterday for Close Guantanamo about how torture victim Abu Zubaydah was planning to testify at Guantanamo in the case of alleged 9/11 co-conspirator Ramzi bin al-Shibh, he has now been advised not to testify, because, as one of his lawyers, Mark Denbeaux, stated, “the Government stacked the deck … the court gave virtual free reign to the prosecution in search of proving bias — while extremely limiting my client’s ability to respond meaningfully about his experience.” So Abu Zubaydah, tortured in CIA “black sites” for four and a half years, and held for ten and a half years in Guantanamo with hardly any chance to communicate with the outside world, has, sadly, been silenced yet again.

  2. arcticredriver says...

    Thanks Andy!

    Abu Zubadah’s story is one of the most important. I am afraid that, by the time the secret classifications run out on the documents in his file, most or all of the remaining key details will have been shredded, just as the torture tapes were erased.

    In 2008 DCI Hayden wrote that the CIA recorded the videos “for training purposes”. But we know, from al Zeidan’s 2004 CSRT testimony that interrogators had access to the videos, and showed them to other interrogation subjects. So,I think that what Hayden was disingeneously admitting is that the CIA recorded Abu Zubaydah’s torture, and then produced a training video, for interrogation subjects, showing them how far interrogators were authorized to go, when subjects weren’t giving the right answers.

    There is one thing al Zeidan told the officers on his CSRT panel that I thought was wrong. He told them that Abu Zubaydah was at Guantanamo. But, as we know now, he had been at Guantanamo.

    I know I have written this before, but if I was one of the members of Congress who was authorized to know about the recordings, who the CIA didn’t trust with knowledge of the recordings, and I learned that knowledge of the nature and contents of the tapes were common knowledge among Guantanamo interrogators and captives, I’d be absolutely furious. Al Zeidan testified that some captives had even been shown the recordings, or stills made from the recordings.

    When I read that I wondered whether the first group of former CIA captives, the ones with the ISNs in the 1400s, who arrived in Guantanamo in September 2004, told other captives about being shown the secret recordings, during the time they were in CIA custody. But al Zeidan’s knowledge of the secret that Abu Zubaydah was in Guantanamo, suggests it is just as possible that the JTF-GTMO interrogators traded war stories with the CIA and Blackwater interrogators, after they downed a few martinis, at the officer club. It suggests they not only shared stories, but that the torture recordings were leaked, one interrogator to another.

    So, why weren’t those sadistic leakers tried and give sentences similar to Manning’s?

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Great to hear from you, arcticredriver, and thanks for the reminder of the case of Ibrahim Zeiden, who spoke in his tribunal in 2004 about how he had been shown photos of Abu Zubaydah, who, he said, had told lies about him. As you also note, of course, at the time it was not actually known that Zubaydah was held at Guantanamo, but we later discovered that he had been held in the short-lived CIA prison within Guantanamo that was open in 2003-04.
    Wouldn’t it be nice – and reassuring for US justice – if there was a single lawmaker prepared to dig deep into the Guantanamo story?

  4. Anonymous says...

    “[T]here is no evidence he knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance.”

    Wrong! The U.S. government made it very clear in their unclassified summary of Abu Zubaydah that he “was generally aware of the impending 9/11 attacks.” There’s no “probably”, “possibly” or “may” in the sentence. It’s true that Zubaydah was not a formal member of al-Qaeda but he was a high-level facilitator who worked closely with al-Qaeda. Stop insisting that the guy is an innocent man. It’s disgusting.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    That’s the US authorities’ own assessment. Why not listen to what the FBI had to say about him? One of the agents involved in his case said that nobody would tell him anything important because they all knew that he was on the phone the whole time. For 9/11 to succeed, it needed as few people as possible knowing about it, and certainly not anyone with a reputation for talking too much, as was evidently the case with Zubaydah.
    In a Washington Post article in December 2007, Dan Coleman of the FBI “explain[ed] how he and others at the FBI had concluded not only that he [Zubaydah] had severe mental problems — particularly because of the head injury that he had suffered in 1992 — but also that this explained why he was regarded with suspicion by the al-Qaeda leadership. ‘They all knew he was crazy, and they knew he was always on the damn phone,’ Coleman said. ‘You think they’re going to tell him anything?'”
    From my article: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2009/03/30/abu-zubaydah-the-futility-of-torture-and-a-trail-of-broken-lives/
    Drawing on the Post article here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/17/AR2007121702151.html
    Oh, and if you want any further response from me, do not resort to insults. Calling my opinion of Abu Zubaydah “disgusting” is unacceptable. The man was tortured horribly by the US, and there is no evidence that he was who they initially claimed he was. He worked at Khaldan, which trained people, some of whom went on to be involved in terrorism, so I’m hardly setting him up as an innocent man – although if he has committed a crime, he should be charged and tried.

  6. arcticredriver says...

    Andy, did you see that Oliver Stone is slated to direct a TV series, set in Guantanamo? I’ve admired some of his past movies. But I wonder if he will realize that a large fraction of the captives were not only not terrorists, they weren’t even combatants, for any reasonable definition of combatant.

    Anonymous has no business asserting he is disgusted by the idea Abu Zubaydah is innocent.

    Suppose, for the sake of argument, Abu Zubaydah had heard concrete details of rumours that al Qaeda was planning an attack in September 2001? What would have happened? Anonymous’s comment suggests he would only have forgiven Abu Zubaydah if he had tried to warn the USA, succeeding in trying to share those details.

    Muttawikil was the Taliban’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. He didn’t learn of al Qaeda’s plans to attack the USA, through his own channels. But the Taliban allowed that Uzbek resistance group to establish training bases in Afghanistan, and the leader of that group did hear concrete rumours of the attack. He correctly anticipated that if al Qaeda weren’t stopped from attacking the USA, from Afghanistan, his group’s bases would be targetted by US airstrikes, as if they were al Qaeda bases. This threat terrified him, so he asked Muttawakil to tip off the Americans. Muttawakil DID tip off the USA, over a month in advance of the attacks.

    That warning was a waste of time. I think since Muttawakil’s warning was a waste of time, any warning from Abu Zubaydah would have been a waste of time. If he didn’t rely on a letter, phone call, email, telegram, but delivered his warning, in person, he would have triggered his capture, and torture, two years earlier. A warning, via phone call, or email, would have been an invitation to have a missile fired at his home, from a predator drone.

    If, for the sake of argument, Abu Zubaydah had heard concrete details of al Qaeda’s plans to attack the USA, can we really blame him for not trying to warn the USA, when that would put his life at risk from a predator drone, or from al Qaeda, if they should learn of his betrayal?

  7. arcticredriver says...

    A further thought about Abu Zubaydah, his alleged ties to al Qaeda, and the idea that this might have earned him advance knowledge of al Qaeda’s secret plans to attack the USA.

    I’ve wondered what the truth would be, if there was a meaningful association between Abu Zubaydah and al Qaeda. I think you and I both took at face value the information, on the public record, that al Qaeda, and the Khaldan camp, were, rival organizations that did not cooperate. I have considered the possibility that, while Osama bin Laden hated that the Khaldan group were stripping him of donations, and potential recruits, Abu Zubaydah may have de facto cooperated with his opposite numbers, who placed potential recruits in al Qaeda safe houses, in Pakistan.

    At his CSRT Abu Zubaydah testified that a big part of his job was to vet potential trainees. If he thought they were too crazy he was supposed to turn them down. Well, when he is turning down the crazy applicants for training, the Zacharia Moussaui types, it would be pretty easy for him to tell that applicant for training, “We don’t have room to train you at the Khaldan camp. Here is the address of my opposite number, at another organization that runs a training camp in Afghanistan.”

    I doubt that this amount of very low-level cooperation, in Pakistan, would have put Abu Zubaydah in the loop to learn about an impending attack, while the Khaldan camp was in operation.

    What you and I know is that the public record supports Abu Zubaydah’s account that the Taliban shut the Khaldan camp down, in 2000. After the Khaldan camp was shut down, didn’t Abu Zubaydah become a nobody? As a nobody, is there any reason anyone would be talking to him, and accidentally leak information on a secret attack?

    I am doubtful.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for your comments, arcticredriver. It is worth remembering Mullah Muttawakil and his warning, unheeded by the US. As you say, what would Abu Zubaydah have been able to do had he tried to issue a warning?
    Nevertheless, it still seems feasible to me that Zubaydah didn’t know, as I strongly believe that for a plot like 9/11 to succeed, it needs to be known about by as few people as possible.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    The US government’s claim is that Zubaydah ended up heading an al-Qaeda-affiliated militia, arcticredriver, but they’ve never been confident enough to use that to actually put him on trial, so I doubt its trustworthiness.
    It always seemed to me that Zubaydah was responsible for getting all kinds of people out of Afghanistan – some combatants, but also women and children, and other men seeking to return to there home countries, who may or may not have been combatants; essentially, more of the logistical work he was known for.

  10. arcticredriver says...

    The focus US intelligence officials, and the Bush administration, put on Abu Zubaydah, has always seemed to me to be like that old, old joke, about the drunk looking for his car keys.

    The joke is so old it dates back to the days when people still drove vehicles, after having a few drinks.

    In the joke the police constable finds a drunk, on his hands and knees, underneath a street lamp. He asks him what he is doing. “I am looking for my car keys. I dropped them when I was unlocking my car.”

    And where is your car sir?

    When the drunk points at a dark section of the street, the constable asks him, why, if he dropped his keys, over there, why is looking, here.

    “Oh, well the light is so much better, over here, under the street lamp.”

    The Khaldan group and al Qaeda, took some of the same precautionary security measures. But, I think al Qaeda was harder for US security officials to trace. They were actually planning to attack the USA, which I think you and I have concluded never seems to have been part of the Khaldan group’s agenda. So it made sense for al Qaeda to take more security measures.

    I think potential trainees came to Pakistan, looking for military training, to fulfill their obligation to be prepared to defend themselves, their family, their tribe — because they came from a branch of Islam that thought they had a religious obligation to be prepared. I think a lot of these potential trainees had no idea how the ideology of the Khaldan group differed from that of al Qaeda’s.

    I think American security officials did not understand the weaknesses of Al Qaeda. Some al Qaeda recruits were related to more senior recruits — like the bin Attash brothers, and had already undergone the ideological conversion necessary to become an al Qaeda style extremist, prior to their arrival at the al Farouq camp.

    Other trainees, who had merely gone to an Afghan training camp to learn how to defend themselves, were converted, at the camp. PBS broadcast a documentary on the Lackawanna Six a decade or so ago. After watching it it seemed to me that they were clueless, had no idea that they vacation they took to Afghanistan was going to turn into a nightmare, where anti-American ideologues were going to try to recruit them to attack America.

    I think this explains Osama bin Laden’s jealousy of the Khaldan Group. Because it was more famous than his training camps, and was operating more openly, he saw it diverting a large fraction of the small number of potential trainees he could try to recruit, at al Farouq.

    After watching the PBS documentary on the Lackawanna Six I think they were relieved that they weren’t killed, for not agreeing to join al Qaeda. I think they were very embarrassed over the mistake of trusting the crimp who talked them into going. Should they have immediately have gone to security officials, and told them about their experience?

    Anyhow, al Qaeda’s weakness, prior to 9-11, is that it relied on a mere trickle of new converts, recruited when they attended al Farouq. After 9-11 the Bush administration was desperate to appear “strong”, and strike back, at someone, anyone, in retaliation.

    But a much more restrained response, with further diplomatic and economic pressure, on Taliban ruled Afghanistan, would have been a wiser approach. Muttawakil was ready to hand over Osama bin Laden, and al Qaeda. Any response that did not magnify the flow of recruits from a trickle to a firehose, would have been a wiser approach.

    If the USA had not invaded Afghanistan, and Iraq, there would be no ISIS.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for your thoughts, arcticredriver. I’m not entirely sure I’d agree that attacks on the US weren’t part of Khaldan’s agenda. I suspect that at some level anti-western hostility meant that plots against any of the western aggressors were considered acceptable.
    Anyway, be that as it may, it’s hugely important that your main point is remembered: if the west had taken a restrained response, and worked with the Taliban moderates, the Afghan debacle, and then the Iraqi debacle could the been avoided, and IS would never have come into existence.

  12. Anna says...

    Re : whether Abu Zubaydah could/should have warned the US about 9/11 if he had known about that – which I very much doubt for the reason which Andy reminded us of : that he was too scatterbrained and talkative to be trusted with any secret, let alone one as vital as that one.
    That any warning from this ‘nobody’ (assuming he would have been able to deliver it) would have been taken seriously by any US authorities is beyond ridiculous. Even those provided by Massoud – their ally! – were not taken seriously.
    And yes, if the west had had any sense and positive intentions, they would have negotiated with the Taliban from a position of strength right after having ousted them back in 2001. They were weak then and controlled very little of the country. Poppy cultivation was at a long time (maybe even all time) low, there were virtually no drug addicts to speak of (now more than 2 million …). But that’s what you get when you attack a country with no other vision or objective than medieval revenge for having been publicly ridiculed by a handful of fanatics. Suddenly you find yourself militarily in charge of a country without the foggiest idea what should be next.
    So you just plough on, spinning one improbable pretext after another to explain your over staying your welcome. A surge here, a counter-insurgency campaign there, all without brains or even common sense to put it very mildly. And lo & behold, 15 years later they’re still at it, preparing the next surge, with the same old sound bites. The world would have been spared ISIL and Afghanistan this never ending ‘stalemate’ which just keeps dragging on and on. Just like poor Abu Zubaydah’s never ending ordeal.

    As for anonymous’ claim that Abu Zubaydah ‘must have known, because a US report says so’, it is beyond words. I suggest reading at least the summary of the 2014 Senate report or for instance Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s diary. Maybe that will bring home the understanding that if someone is tortured while being asked over and over : ‘did you know about X or Y’, he eventually will ‘confess’ to knowing it. That after all is also how the ‘evidence’ was produced which ‘justified’ to the invasion of Iraq. Disgusting indeed …

  13. Anna says...

    That’s an amazing picture by the way. For one thing that he’s sitting (incapable of standing?) rather than just the usual ‘mugshot’ but also that again his beard seems to have been redrawn, blackened. Just like on the previous one which we’ve been seeing since so many years. On his glasses or the plastic chair it could be caused by light breaking, but not on a beard. Make him look more ‘demonic’?

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for the comments, Anna. As ever, I am reminded of when I met Anand Gopal, the author of the excellent No Good Men Among The Living, who told me how sad and counter-productive it was that, in Afghanistan, the US had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory after toppling the Taliban. That was apparent from Guantanamo, from the succession of Afghans sent there until November 2003, when the transfer of prisoners to Guantanamo ended and Bagram became the main prison – in case after case, men who had been working with the Americans, but who had been lied about by their rivals, dubious warlords that the US were dealing with, because they had no idea who to trust.

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    The photo is by representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Anna, so I doubt they have any negative agenda to make him look ‘demonic.’
    I thought he was probably trying to look like some sort of film star …

  16. Anonymous says...

    And yet another former FBI agent named Ali Soufan interrogated Abu Zubaydah BEFORE he was tortured and said the following:

    “We knew Abu Zubaydah’s background well: We had been investigating terrorist attacks in which he was involved in Jordan and terrorists who had come through his training camp. The reality is that Abu Zubaydah was an independent operator with close ties to al-Qaida, but he was never a member. He had actually tried to join earlier on in his career, but al-Qaida deemed him unstable; later, when they wanted him to join, Abu Zubaydah refused. We pointed this out at the time, but the “enhanced” interrogators refused to listen. A few years ago, very quietly, the US government changed its claims about Abu Zubaydah, reflecting the reality that he was never a member.”

    Again, Zubaydah was not al-Qaeda but he was an independent terrorist leader who plotted attacks against U.S. forces and Israel. That much is certain.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/12/interrogated-terrorist-cia-senate-report

    “If the USA had not invaded Afghanistan, and Iraq, there would be no ISIS.”

    We had to invade Afghanistan. Remember where 9/11 was plotted from? You want to complain about Iraq, I hear you brother. That war was a clusterfuck. But the Afghanistan war was necessary though I personally think we’ve been there too long. We got Bin Laden. Time to come home.

  17. Anonymous says...

    “In a Washington Post article in December 2007, Dan Coleman of the FBI “explain[ed] how he and others at the FBI had concluded not only that he [Zubaydah] had severe mental problems — particularly because of the head injury that he had suffered in 1992 — but also that this explained why he was regarded with suspicion by the al-Qaeda leadership. ‘They all knew he was crazy, and they knew he was always on the damn phone,’ Coleman said. ‘You think they’re going to tell him anything?’”

    Actually, Ali Soufan of the FBI says he is not mentally ill. He has memory problems from a shrapnel wound he suffered in Afghanistan.

    “During a battle, he was hit in the head by shrapnel. The shrapnel wiped out his memory. He didn’t even know who he was. He was rushed to a hospital for treatment, and it was judged too dangerous to remove the shrapnel. To this day, he has a hole in his head.

    After treatment, he was taken for therapy to a guesthouse in Peshawar. He was shown his passport. As was standard for mujahideen, it had been stored with an emir at a safe house while Abu Zubaydah had been fighting on the front. To help him with his therapy, everyone in the guesthouse would tell him, “Your name is Abu Zubaydah.” This is why he was one of the few terrorists who operated under his actual name rather than an alias.

    In the guesthouse, as part of his therapy to try and piece together his past, Abu Zubaydah began keeping a diary that detailed his life, emotions, and what people were telling him. He split information into categories, such as what he knew about himself and what people told him about himself, and listed them under different names [6 words redacted] to distinguish one set from the other. When the diary was found, some analysts incorrectly interpreted the use of the different names as the symptom of multiple-personality disorder.

    Even after Abu Zubaydah’s therapy was completed and he had left the guesthouse, he kept writing in his diary. we later evaluated it, and it both provided us with new information and confirmed information he had given us. The diary, for example, contained details of how, days before 9/11, he began preparing for counterattacks by the United States, working with al-Qaeda to buy weapons and prepare defensive lines in Afghanistan. Another entry, from 2002, details how he personally planned to wage jihad against the United States by instigating racial wars, and by attacking gas stations and fuel trucks and starting timed fires. He went into greater detail later in our interrogation.”

    http://www.rulit.me/books/the-black-banners-read-249656-97.html

    As you can see, he should be tried for plotting terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. But the CIA had to go torture the guy which ruined a good case Soufan built against the guy. Finally, I’ll point out that the PRB does not use information acquired from torture to review detainees which is why the millennium plot was not mentioned when Mohamedou Slahi was interview for release. The PRB summaries may not be perfect but they are more reliable than the leaked Gitmo files. None of the 41 remaining detainees are innocent. That much is certain. But believe what you want.

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, in Afghanistan the US “snatched defeat from the jaws of victory”, as Anand Gopal, the author of No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes, put it to me.

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    I still think they have less of a case than this suggests.
    Ghailani was tortured – but he was sent for trial in the US and convicted. The 9/11 co-accused are facing trials despite being tortured. I don’t think the US plots were plots. As Wolfowitz said about the dirty bomb plot at the time Padilla was captured, it hadn’t actually gone beyond browsing the internet (never mind that it simply wasn’t feasible).

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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