Algerian in Guantánamo Loses Habeas Petition for Being in a Guest House with Abu Zubaydah


Last Tuesday, while activists, journalists and lawyers were holding a rally outside The White House to ask President Obama to honor his pledge to close Guantánamo, and to raise awareness of the plight of the remaining 173 prisoners, Judge Richard Leon, in the District Court down the road, refused to grant the habeas petition of an Algerian prisoner in Guantánamo (PDF), bringing the total of government victories in the habeas litigation to 20, out of 58 cases decided to date.

Abdul Razak Ali, a 40-year old Algerian, whose real name is, apparently, Saeed Bakhouche, never stood a chance of winning his habeas petition, as it was his great misfortune to have been staying at a house in Faisalabad, Pakistan on March 28, 2002, when it was raided by Pakistani forces, and he, along with several other men staying in the house, were seized and sent to Guantánamo.

For Ali, the biggest problem was not these other men (although many of them came to be regarded as significant figures), but the fact that another man, touted as the biggest catch in the raid, was Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi-born Palestinian who had served as a gatekeeper for a training camp in Afghanistan.

After the raid, Zubaydah was immediately flown to Thailand, where a plan to torture him — later applied to dozens more “high-value detainees” seized in the “War on Terror” — was implemented, which was formally approved by lawyers in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel — in what are now referred to as the “torture memos” — on August 1, 2002. Zubaydah eventually surfaced at Guantánamo in September 2006, with 13 other “high-value detainees” previously held in secret CIA prisons, but others seized in the raid were even less fortunate. A handful of other prisoners seized with Zubaydah, including at least one teenager, were rendered to a torture prison in Syria, never to be seen or heard from again.

Why Abdul Razak Ali may not be as significant as the US alleges

Ali arrived at Guantánamo in June 2002, after being subjected to abuse in Pakistani custody and in US custody in Afghanistan, and has, presumably, always been thought of as being part of a group associated with Abu Zubyadah, even though there are verifiable problems with this presumption.

The first is that, when four of the other men seized in the raid were put forward for a trial by Military Commission in June 2008, he was not included; the second is that, in November 2008, another Algerian seized in the house, Labed Ahmed, was freed, after the Bush administration accepted his explanation that he had been delivered to the house by mistake, but had nevertheless been allowed to stay; and the third is because the government’s reliance on claims that Abu Zubaydah was a significant terrorist have been thoroughly discredited.

In its allegations against Ali, the government contended that:

[He] was a member of Abu Zubaydah’s force that was reorganizing at a guesthouse in Faisalabad, Pakistan, and preparing for future operations against US and Allied forces. In particular, the Government contends that the petitioner: (1) lived with Abu Zubaydah and a cadre of his lieutenants during a two week period; (2) previously traveled with Abu Zubaydah’s force through Afghanistan and ultimately fled with them through Afghanistan to Pakistan; and (3) took an English course (with an American accent) when he was staying at Abu Zubaydah’s guesthouse.

In response, Ali stated that:

Although he acknowledges being captured in the same guesthouse as Abu Zubaydah, he denies: (1) ever being in Afghanistan, let alone being with Abu Zubaydah’s force there; (2) ever taking an English course from Abu Zubaydah’s trainers at the guesthouse; and (3) ever being a member, permanent or otherwise, of Abu Zubaydah’s force. In essence, he claims that the Government has mistakenly identified him as a member of Abu Zubaydah’s force, who traveled with Abu Zubaydah in Afghanistan and fled with him to Pakistan before gathering at this particular guesthouse to start preparing for their next offensive against US and Allied forces.

In denying Ali’s habeas claim, Judge Leon failed to recognize that, if he was so significant, he would, in all likelihood, have been put forward for a trial by Military Commission in May or June 2008, when four other men seized in the raid — Noor Uthman Muhammed (from Sudan), Ghassan al-Sharbi and Jabran al-Qahtani (both Saudis), and Sufyian Barhoumi (another Algerian) — were charged. In addition, he might also have recognized that Labed Ahmed (also captured in the house and also not put forward for a trial by Military Commissions) had spelled out how he had been staying at the house but had not been involved in any way with Abu Zubaydah.

Before his release in November 2008, after being “approved for transfer” by a military review board, Ahmed explained how he had ended up at Zubaydah’s house by accident, and how he had been allowed to stay, despite not knowing anyone in the house, for 12 days — a stay that would clearly have lasted longer had the house not been raided.

After explaining that he had traveled from Germany to Afghanistan at the start of September 2001, and had left for Pakistan in December, Ahmed said that he had stayed for three months in safe houses in Bannu and Lahore, and had then been advised to go to Faisalabad, where some people would come to give him his passport and send him back to Germany. He explained that he was with two other people, a Russian and a Yemeni, but that, after they arrived at Shabaz Cottage (the house where he was captured with Zubaydah and the others), they were told that they had been brought there by mistake and would be moved to another house after the evening prayer.

As I explained in an article after Ahmed’s release:

Ahmed insisted that he didn’t want to leave, because the previous houses had been crowded, whereas this house was “big and nice” and “everybody had their own room,” and explained that he refused to leave in the vehicle that was brought in the evening. Several days later, he said, “The guy from al-Qaeda, Daoud [identified in the hearing as Zubaydah] questioned me as to who I was, what I was doing here and who brought me. I said I’m from Germany waiting on my passport. When I get it, I will leave. He said, no problem, you can stay here for a week. I stayed there for about 12 days and the Pakistani police came. They took us to prison. Daoud was arrested with us, you can ask him about us.”

While this example should have provided a precedent for Judge Leon, he chose to ignore it, describing “the obvious and common-sense inference that a terrorist leader like Abu Zubaydah would not tolerate an unknown and untrusted stranger to dwell in a modest, two-story guesthouse for two weeks with himself and ten or so of his senior leadership, while they [were] preparing for their next operation against US and Allied forces.”

How the US courts are ignoring the bitter truth about Abu Zubaydah

Leon also chose to focus on the Washington courts’ history of believing a discredited narrative about Abu Zubaydah. As I have been explaining in articles for many years, Zubaydah, although intitially considered as a senior al-Qaeda operative — perhaps even the number three in the organization — was no such thing, and was, instead, the mentally damaged gatekeeper for a training camp, Khaldan, that had little to do with al-Qaeda, and was, in fact, closed down by the Taliban in 2000 after its emir, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, refused to cooperate with Osama bin Laden.

In 2006, the author Ron Suskind reported in his book The One Percent Doctrine that FBI agents, who had been involved in Zubaydah’s interrogations before the CIA’s torturers took over, had concluded that he was mentally ill, and was not a major player in al-Qaeda, and further statements from knowledgeable insiders downplaying Zubaydah’s alleged role were the focus of articles in the Washington Post in December 2007 and March 2009.

By October 2009, the government officially conceded that Zubaydah was not a member of al-Qaeda. In response to 213 requests by his lawyers for discovery in his habeas corpus petition, officials turned down the requests by stating (PDF) that it “has not contended … that Petitioner was a member of al-Qaeda or otherwise formally identified with al-Qaeda” and “has not contended that Petitioner had any personal involvement in planning or executing either the 1998 embassy bombings in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, or the attacks of September 11, 2001.”

This was enormously significant, although it was entirely ignored by the D.C. Circuit Court in June last year, as I explained in a detailed article last July, In Abu Zubaydah’s Case, Court Relies on Propaganda and Lies. In that article, I noted that, in reviewing an appeal by Sufyian Barhoumi, who lost his habeas petition in September 2009, the court claimed, based on long-discredited information, that Zubaydah was “the person in charge” of the Khaldan training camp, and that he was “an associate of [Osama bin Laden]” who “coordinates and cooperates with [bin Laden] in the conduct of training and trainee movements between [redacted] camps and al-Qaeda camps.”

For his part, Judge Leon also chose to ignore this evidence, not only describing Zubaydah as a “terrorist leader” (as mentioned above), but also citing a District Court opinion from last May, in which it was stated, “There appears to be no dispute that Abu Zubaydah was an al-Qaeda operative and that al-Qaeda-related activities took place in his [Faisalabad] house.” He also drew on the Circuit Court’s ruling in Barhoumi’s appeal, stating:

It is worth noting that our Circuit Court has unequivocally recognized that Abu Zubaydah and his band of followers have well established ties to al-Qaeda and the Taliban and thus constitute an “associated force” under the AUMF [the Authorization for Use of Military Force, passed by Congress the week after the 9/11 attacks, which is used by the government to justify the detention of prisoners at Guantánamo]. See Barhoumi v. Obama (affirming the district court’s conclusion that Barhoumi was part of “Abu Zubaydah’s militia — an ‘associated force that was engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners'” and affirming denial of petitioner Barhoumi’s writ).

Why the government’s new ploy in Abu Zubaydah’s case is troubling

Here, the problem is not only Judge Leon’s reliance on a discredited appraisal of Zubaydah’s significance, but a new ploy introduced by the government after it acknowledged that Zubaydah was not a member of al-Qaeda, which first surfaced in its response to Zubaydah’s lawyers in October 2009, and was then used in Barhoumi’s case. In this new scenario, the government claimed that the ongoing detention of Abu Zubaydah was “based on conduct and actions that establish [that he] was ‘part of’ hostile forces and ‘substantially supported’ those forces,” and that he “facilitat[ed] the retreat and escape of enemy forces” after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001.

Zubaydah’s lawyers countered this by stating that “the persons whom [Zubaydah] assisted in escaping Afghanistan in 2001 included ‘women, children, and/or other non-combatants’” and that the government has “evidence to support those assertions,” but in Barhoumi’s case, the government pushed the line that Zubaydah “was ‘part of’ hostile forces and ‘substantially supported’ those forces,” persuading the judges to accept, as evidence, the diary of an alleged associate of Zubaydah, Abu Kamil al-Suri, to demonstrate that Zubaydah was in charge of a militia, which included Sufyian Barhoumi.

As I explained at the time, “Whether there is any truth in this is difficult to ascertain, as Abu Kamil al-Suri is not available to ask about his diary, [because] his whereabouts are unknown.” I also noted other problems:

Al-Suri’s diary also identifies 15 members of what is described as “Zubaydah’s militia,” although, in the translation of al-Suri’s own words, it is described, less spectacularly, as a “group,” and a fractious one, moreover, with al-Suri noting that several of the members were “trying to take over this group,” to “lead us to join Sheikh Osama bin Laden.”

Nevertheless, the shadowy figure of Abu Kamil al-Suri and his dubious diary resurfaced in Abdul Razak Ali’s habeas petition, clearly exciting Judge Leon, who noted that a man with the same alleged alias used by Ali — Usama al Jaza’iri — was listed “as a permanent member of Abu Zubaydah’s group,” and “also placed him in at least one of the same locations in which [an] eyewitness identified him.”

Why Judge Leon’s reliance on eyewitnesses is of dubious value, and why the goverment’s withdrawal of a key witness is unacceptable

Judge Leon was also happy to accept the word of the eyewitness mentioned above, and others included in the government’s submissions, describing “credible accounts by fellow guesthouse dwellers who not only positively identified the petitioner by one of the various names he was using at that time — i. e., Abdul Razak — but who also credibly account for petitioner participating in one of Abu Zubaydah’s various training programs while he was staying in the guesthouse (i.e., taking a class in English).”

The obvious problem with these accounts is the suspicion that the eyewitnesses — the “fellow guesthouse dwellers” described by Judge Leon — may not have produced their statements willingly. This is particularly true if one of them was Abu Zubaydah, as the extent of his torture and the false confessions it yielded has been thoroughly established over the years, but there are also reasons to suspect that any of the four men put forward for trials by Military Commission in 2008 (who are the likely source of the statements) would also have been subjected to interrogations in conditions that ought to cast doubt on the veracity of their allegations.

For Abdul Razak Ali, the only hope now is that an appeal willl be successful. This seems unlikely, in light of the D.C. Circuit Court’s bullish assertions that the government has more rights to continue holding priosners at Guantánamo than it has asserted itself, but there is clearly a flaw in Ali’s case, beyond the obvious problems with the statements of his “fellow guesthouse dwellers” — namely, that, on December 24, the government withdrew a key allegation on which, until that date, it had been relying, having discovered that it contained “potentially exculpatory information that the Government had not turned over to detainee counsel because it was classified at a higher classification level than detainee counsel was authorized to view.”

That statement, made by another Guantánamo prisoner who was not even seized with Zubaydah and Ali, but was captured in a house raid in Karachi six months later, apparently related to a claim by the prisoner in quesion that he had seen Ali in Afghanistan, and its removal not only emphasizes the general unreliability of the government’s supposed evidence, but also indicates how difficult it is for prisoners’ defense teams to be sure that they have been given given access to all the exculpatory material they need to defend their clients.

In any other circumstance, the withdrawal of a key piece of evidence would have led to a new hearing, but with Guantánamo the normal rules do not apply, and while Abdul Razak Ali clearly has grounds to appeal, it seems unlikely that he will be able to dislodge the lies and misconceptions about Abu Zubaydah that have become accepted in the D.C. Circuit Court, or to challenge the dubious nature of statements made by his fellow prisoners, or that he will be able to succeed in reminding judges about the clear precedent for releasing a man who had nothing to do with Abu Zubaydah, as was established in the case of Labed Ahmed.

Two years and seven months after the Supreme Court granted constitutionally guaranteed habeas corpus rights to the Guantánamo prisoners, it is impossible to conclude that, for the majority of the men who have lost their petitions (including Abdul Razak Ali), anything resembling justice has been delivered.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — 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. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in July 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here), my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

As published exclusively on Cageprisoners.

For an overview of all the habeas rulings, including links to all my articles, and to the judges’ unclassified opinions, see: Guantánamo Habeas Results: The Definitive List. For a sequence of articles dealing with the Guantánamo habeas cases since the start of 2010, see: Appeals Court Extends President’s Wartime Powers, Limits Guantánamo Prisoners’ Rights (January 2010), Fear and Paranoia as Guantánamo Marks its Eighth Anniversary (January 2010), Rubbing Salt in Guantánamo’s Wounds: Task Force Announces Indefinite Detention (January 2010), The Black Hole of Guantánamo (March 2010), Guantánamo Uighurs Back in Legal Limbo (March 2010), Guantánamo and Habeas Corpus: The Torture Victim and the Taliban Recruit (April 2010), An Insignificant Yemeni at Guantánamo Loses His Habeas Petition (April 2010), With Regrets, Judge Allows Indefinite Detention at Guantánamo of a Medic (April 2010), Mohamedou Ould Salahi: How a Judge Demolished the US Government’s Al-Qaeda Claims (April 2010), Judge Rules Yemeni’s Detention at Guantánamo Based Solely on Torture (April 2010), Why Judges Can’t Free Torture Victims from Guantánamo (April 2010), How Binyam Mohamed’s Torture Was Revealed in a US Court (May 2010), Guantánamo and Habeas Corpus: Consigning Soldiers to Oblivion (May 2010), Judge Denies Habeas Petition of an Ill and Abused Libyan in Guantánamo (May 2010), Judge Orders Release from Guantánamo of Russian Caught in Abu Zubaydah’s Web (May 2010), No Escape from Guantánamo: Uighurs Lose Again in US Court (June 2010), Does Obama Really Know or Care About Who Is at Guantánamo? (June 2010), Guantánamo and Habeas Corpus: 2 Years, 50 Cases, 36 Victories for the Prisoners (June 2010), Obama Thinks About Releasing Innocent Yemenis from Guantánamo (June 2010), Calling for US Accountability on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (June 2010), Judge Orders Release from Guantánamo of Yemeni Seized in Iran, Held in Secret CIA Prisons (July 2010), Innocent Student Finally Released from Guantánamo (July 2010), Guantánamo and Habeas Corpus: Prisoners Win 3 out of 4 Cases, But Lose 5 out of 6 in Court of Appeals (Part One) (July 2010), Obama and US Courts Repatriate Algerian from Guantánamo Against His Will; May Be Complicit in Torture (July 2010), In Abu Zubaydah’s Case, Court Relies on Propaganda and Lies (July 2010), Guantánamo and Habeas Corpus: Prisoners Win 3 out of 4 Cases, But Lose 5 out of 6 in Court of Appeals (Part Two) (July 2010), Judge Orders Release from Guantánamo of Mentally Ill Yemeni; 2nd Judge Approves Detention of Minor Taliban Recruit (August 2010), Judge Denies Habeas Petition of Afghan Shopkeeper at Guantánamo (September 2010), Nine Years After 9/11, US Court Concedes that International Laws of War Restrict President’s Wartime Powers (September 2010), Fayiz Al-Kandari, A Kuwaiti Aid Worker in Guantánamo, Loses His Habeas Petition (September 2010), Heads You Lose, Tails You Lose: The Betrayal of Mohamedou Ould Slahi (September 2010), First Guantánamo Habeas Appeal to US Supreme Court (Fayiz al-Kandari, October 2010), Former Guantánamo Prisoner, Tortured by Al-Qaeda and the US, Launches Futile Attempt to Hold America Accountable (Abdul Rahim al-Ginco/al-Janko, October 2010), Judge Denies Guantánamo Prisoner’s Habeas Petition, Ignores Torture in Secret CIA Prisons (Tawfiq al-Bihani, October 2010), Court Orders Rethink on Tortured Guantánamo Prisoner’s Successful Habeas Petition (Mohamedou Ould Slahi, November 2010).

19 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Khan Sohail wrote:

    encouragement and inspirations Andy, great work bro !

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Sohail. Much appreciated!

  3. Tweets that mention Algerian in Guantánamo Loses Habeas Petition for Being in a Guest House with Abu Zubaydah | Andy Worthington -- says...

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andy Worthington. Andy Worthington said: Algerian in #Guantanamo Loses #Habeas Petition for Being in a Guest House with Abu #Zubaydah – Omissions, distortions […]

  4. Norwegian Shooter says...

    This one was hard for me to follow. Too many names and intertwining storylines. Also, you give an account of Ahmed’s story of why he was in the Faisalabad house (although the traipse among “safe houses” was weird), but not Ali. Have you written anything else about him?

    Saw the NAF talk. Great stuff from you and the other two. I’d never heard Wilner before. Loved his response to Wittes, in essence: “yes the law is subtle, but the judgment is not.” Got your movie too, Jan. is GTMO month for me! Oh, the 9th installment?

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Heh! In my defense, I hope that’s because it’s a confusing story with lots of elements feeding into it, and not simply my inability to tell a coherent story. The role of Abu Zubaydah — and why the courts have picked up on a discredited narrative — is central to it, but I also needed to introduce some other members of the cast — the others in the house, whose statements about Ali may have been extracted under torture — and the released man, Labed Ahmed, whose innocent presence in the house should, at least, have been touched on.
    As for Ali himself, you’ve guessed that I didn’t have a huge amount to go on, beyond his insistence that he was never in Afghanistan, and wasn’t part of Zubaydah’s “group” — if, indeed, such a “group” existed.
    Also glad you saw the New America Foundation talk:
    Tom’s excellent, isn’t he? He was really fired up with indignation beforehand, and I think Ben Wittes just set him off.
    Let me know what you think of “Outside the Law,” and as for that 9th part, I thought no one was looking! It’s still on the cards — just a small matter of finding the time.

  6. Carlyle Moulton says...


    Another excellent article.

    I feel myself compelled to explain the thought processes that drive US officials to treat these men as they are doing. In my opinion, objective and disinterested observers would judge these men to be with a high probability innocent of the actions that US authorities fear they may have carried out.

    For the US legal authorities (as for most Americans) three ideas dominate their thinking:-

    1/ The guilt for 2001 kamikaze airlinering of the World Trade Centre, The Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania attaches to all Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians in the world since most of them support the ultimate aims which drove Mohammad Atta and his 18 accomplices, such as the liberation of Palestine and the overthrow of corrupt pro-US governments in the Arab world and they have at least have a sneaking sympathy with terrorist acts no matter how much they deny it. the only way a Muslim or Arab can convince the Americans that he does not support Al Queada is to convert to a fundamentalist brand of protestant Christianity and become an expert in terrorism who advises US police forces on how to detect radicalized US Muslims. Therefore they think that the fact that any such person is convicted and imprisoned for a terrorist act in which he did not actually participate or which never actually happened is not really an injustice. All Muslims, all Arabs and all Palestinians are fair game as targets for righteous revenge for the actions of Mohammad Atta and is confederates.

    2/ Once a person suspected of terrorism has been taken into custody, albeit on evidence that is extremely thin, the balance between the evils of keeping imprisoned were he innocent (in that narrow and technical sense of not having committed the actions of the alleged crime) and releasing him were he in fact guilty of the alleged crime changes. If there is even a 0.01% probability that a detainee might actually have been associated with terrorism or that he might now support terrorism having been radicalized by treatment by the US, then releasing him and any consequent actions by him would be considered a far worse disaster than would imprisoning him for ever in the case that with 99.99% probability he is in fact innocent;

    3/ The fact is that once the Americans have tortured someone, had allied states torture him (or her) and held him for nine years, they cannot accept the implied criticism of US justice that releasing such a person implies. Also the US cannot allow such a person freedom to tell their side of the story to the World. This is especially true in the case of Aafia Siddiqui.

    Incidentally Andy, the other day I came across this post relating to an interview with Elaine Whitfield one of Aafia’s lawyers. Finally someone associated with the case has been explicit in stating her belief that Aafia was held by the US for 5 years although not necessarily in Bagram. With anticipation do I await the collision between fecal matter and some fast whirling blades.

  7. the talking dog says...

    Great job, Andy! A thorough and detailed explanation of both the Razak Ali case, and the overall “Abu Zubaydah” scenario.

    Given that the Government seems to be on something of a “winning streak” in the habeas cases (6 in a row, if I’m not mistaken), after a long period in which detainees were prevailing something like 75% of the time or more, it may be appropriate at some point for the Supreme Court to step in yet again and determine if the D.C. Circuit’s “rules of the road” on these habeas cases– such as permitting “the mosaic” theory of permitting the piecing together of apparently irrelevant or even completely innocent facts to create “a profile” justifying detention– actually comply with Boumediene‘s proviso that the habeas remedy be a meaningful and fair one… of course, given the almost certain recusal of Justice Elena Kagan, it’s not clear or likely that such intervention will be in the offing.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Carlyle. Great points, as ever. And thanks also for alerting me to the Aafia Siddiqui piece. I’ll give that some publicity soon.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    A rather longer T-shirt slogan than the one we discussed last week, Seth — which, for any manufacturers out there with a fine line in irony, is a photo of, say, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed accompanied by the slogan “Too dangerous to try” — but compelling nonetheless:
    “The mosaic theory: justifying the piecing together of apparently irrelevant or even completely innocent facts to create ‘a profile’ justifying detention” with, perhaps, a picture of Judge Randolph.
    Then again, this is hard to beat: “Boumediene should equal the scope of habeas rights as they existed in 1789, when the Constitution was written.” Perhaps Judge Randolph could be photoshopped into a plantation scene, with ownership of women also clearly indicated.

  10. Norwegian Shooter says...

    Of course it’s not your inability to tell a coherent story. You’re a very good writer. Is this the whole list of people taken at the Faisalabad house: Zubaydah, Noor Uthman Muhammed (from Sudan), Ghassan al-Sharbi and Jabran al-Qahtani (both Saudis), and Sufyian Barhoumi (another Algerian), Labed Ahmed and Ali. That is Zubaydah, 4 followers, and 2 people just there.

    Do you have or know of a good summary of the raid on the house? I know it involved a fire-fight, and I wonder if there is any record of Ahmed and Ali participating or not. Your Zubaydah category is too big to look through.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    No, there were others — 2 or 3 at least, including at least one teenager — who were rendered to Syria, never to be seen or heard from again. I covered their story here:
    And also in the UN secret detention report:
    Judge Leon mentioned 10 other men in his opinion, if I recall, so we’re not quite there. The diarist al-Suri may well be one. No one’s ever heard anything about him.
    And there is, of course, the US government’s deliberate pretense that a raid on a university dorm the same night also netted terrorists, when it clearly didn’t:
    Some of these men have been released, but not all. Good stories here:

  12. Former CIA “Ghost Prisoner” Abu Zubaydah Recognized as “Victim” in Polish Probe of Secret Prison « Eurasia Review says...

    […] Zubaydah: Tortured for Nothing, In Abu Zubaydah’s Case, Court Relies on Propaganda and Lies and Algerian in Guantánamo Loses Habeas Petition for Being in a Guest House with Abu Zubaydah]. About the […]

  13. Hiding Horrific Tales of Torture: Why The US Government Reached A Plea Deal with Guantánamo Prisoner Noor Uthman Muhammed « Eurasia Review says...

    […] as I explained in my articles, In Abu Zubaydah’s Case, Court Relies on Propaganda and Lies and Algerian in Guantánamo Loses Habeas Petition for Being in a Guest House with Abu Zubaydah. The courts’ inability, or unwillingness to investigate the evidence about Abu Zubaydah has been […]

  14. Hiding Horrific Tales of Torture: How Guantanamo Fuels Injustice (Andy Worthington) says...

    […] as I explained in my articles, In Abu Zubaydah’s Case, Court Relies on Propaganda and Lies and Algerian in Guantánamo Loses Habeas Petition for Being in a Guest House with Abu Zubaydah. The courts’ inability, or unwillingness to investigate the evidence about Abu Zubaydah has been […]

  15. WikiLeaks Reveals Secret Guantánamo Files, Exposes Detention Policy as a Construct of Lies | Dandelion Salad says...

    […] to waterboarding, a form of controlled drowning, on 83 occasions in CIA custody in August 2002, Abu Zubaydah was moved to Guantánamo with 13 other “high-value detainees” in September […]

  16. arcticredriver says...

    Thanks Andy!

    Leon… Isn’t he the judge who reviewed the habeas appeals of the “Algerian Six”? He release five of them — but he kept Bensayah Belkacem. The most serious b.s. allegation against Belkacem was that the USA had covertly acquired electronic evidence that Belkacem had conducted dozens of telephone conversations with Abu Zubaydah in the weeks following the attacks of 9-11.

    IIRC Leon took those ludicrous allegations at face value too. As you noted he did not discount the now abandoned claim that Abu Zubaydah was in al Qaeda’s leadership circle.

    Another ludicrous part of this allegation is that Belkacem was broke, and could not afford a phone. A Bosnian journalist did the legwork, and found he had to rely on his landlord to make any phone calls. He would let him come downstairs, occasionally, to use the phone in his kitchen. But you don’t plot secret attacks on a phone in your landlord’s kitchen. In the weeks following 9-11 I doubt that Abu Zubaydah had time to conduct dozens of conversations with anybody.

    It seems unlikely the two men could ever have met. I think Belkacem had fled from Algeria to Europe, with no detours to Pakistan, Afghanistan, or anywhere nearby. Meanwhile, didn’t Abu Zubaydah travel to Afghanistan in the late 1980s, and wasn’t he stuck in Afghanistan – Pakistan – possibly Saudi Arabia, right up until his capture?

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Good to hear from you, arcticredriver, and thanks for your reflections on Belkacem Bensayah and Judge Leon’s credulity. As you say, “you don’t plot secret attacks on a phone in your landlord’s kitchen.”
    I also can’t see how the two men ever met. Bensayah was in Bosnia, Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan – where, I think, he spent most of his time, Peshawar being the gateway to Afghanistan and the camps.
    I just found this, which looks interesting, from ‘The Arabs at War in Afghanistan’ by Mustafa Hamid and Leah Farrall:

  18. arcticredriver says...

    I just bought the e-book of The Arabs at War in Afghanistan. Its index doesn’t contain an entry for “Khadr”, but it does contain four references to Abu Abdul Rahman al-Kanadi. Abdul Said Khadr was often referred to by the nickname “al-Kanadi” — the Canadian. And people with Arabic names use two parallel naming system: (1) the name give to the individual as a child; (2) and a name based on the names of your sons, if you have any. Khadr’s second oldest son was Abdurahman, Omar’s older brother who was a CIA mole in Guantanamo. Abdurahman is a variant of Abdul Rahman.

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    I look forward to hearing more, arcticredriver. I admire your dedication. It’s a book I should read too!

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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 and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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