Barack Obama approved the release of Binyam Mohamed from the detention center to Guantanamo Bay to Britain, where he was set free. Military Families United criticizes the decision in a new advertisement, demanding that Obama keep Gitmo open and stop releasing terrorists still classified as dangerous:
Military Families United released a national advertisement in response to the breaking news that Binyam Mohamed, an ‘unlawful enemy combatant’ was released from Guantanamo Bay and freed in England. This is an unprecedented release because it is the first time that a GITMO detainee, who is classified as an “Unlawful Enemy Combatant” has been released – meaning that he still poses a threat to our national security and the security of our allies. All of the previous released GITMO detainees were declassified and determined to no longer be of intelligence value or pose a threat to our country.
“Military Families United has issued this ad to bring attention to the dangerous decision the White House has made in releasing Binyam Mohamed, a known member of al-Qaeda and alleged collaborator with the 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohamed. Under the dark of night the Administration chartered a plane from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to Britain to release this known terrorist as a free man. Actions speak louder than words in the War on Terror, and releasing dangerous terrorists as free men isn’t a way to keep America safe and secure,” said MFU’s Executive Director Brian Wise.
The Telegraph reports on Mohamed’s release from the British perspective:
Mr Mohamed, an Ethiopian refugee who worked as a caretaker at a mosque in West London, claims he travelled to Afghanistan in June 2001 in order to kick his drug habit but he was arrested in Karachi, Pakistan in April 2002 using a false passport to fly to London.
He was interrogated in Pakistan and was then flown to Morocco where he claims he was detained and tortured for two years.
He re-surfaced at the US detention facility in Bagram, Afghanistan in May 2004 and was then transferred to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where he confessed to attending lectures by Osama bin Laden and being sent to the US to carry out a “dirty bomb” attack on high rise apartment buildings.
He claims he confessed as a result of the torture and the charges against him were dropped in October last year.
If the charges were dropped in October and never reinstated, that sounds as if the US has dropped his classification as an unlawful enemy combatant. If so, they would have had to release him eventually. The British did free him, but according to the Telegraph, after booking him for trial on charges relating to his detention. At least for now, they plan to try Mohamed for terrorism.
Mohamed’s claims of torture in Pakistan and Morocco have been upheld in the British High Court, too. They ruled that MI-5, the British intelligence service, colluded in that torture, which will make for an interesting trial. The confessions given in Pakistan and Morocco will likely get thrown out. Mohamed also claims that he was tortured at Gitmo into his confession about his role in the “dirty bomb” plot, and we’ll have to see what his lawyers do with that — assuming he doesn’t flee back to Ethiopia or Pakistan.
This is really a separate issue from closing Gitmo, as Mohamed would have gotten extradited in any case after having the charges dropped by the Bush administration. MFU has a petition on the site (at the first link) to demand that Gitmo stay in operation.