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False Martyr

Gitmo detainee Binyam Mohamed is no innocent.

11:00 PM, Feb 19, 2009 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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4. The detainee was taught to falsify documents, and received instruction from a senior al Qaeda operative on how to encode telephone numbers before passing them to another individual.

At a minimum, therefore, we know that Mohamed has admitted being an al Qaeda-trained operative.

Mohamed claims that he was not going to use his skills against America. Mohamed told his personal representative that "he went for training to fight in Chechnya, which was not illegal." In 2005, Mohamed's lawyer echoed this explanation in an interview with CNN. "He wanted to see the Taliban with his own eyes," Mohamed's lawyer claimed. "I am not saying he never went to any Islamic camp," the lawyer conceded, but he "didn't go to any camp to blow up Americans."

There are obvious problems with this quasi-denial.

The al Farouq training camp was responsible for training numerous al Qaeda operatives, including some of the September 11 hijackers. Al Qaeda used the al Farouq camp to identify especially promising recruits who could take on sensitive missions. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, this is what happened with members of al Qaeda's infamous Hamburg cell. Some of the future 9/11 suicide pilots also first expressed an interest in fighting in Chechnya, but ended up being assigned a mission inside the United States.

This is what the U.S. government, or at least the parts of it that investigated Mohamed's al Qaeda ties, believes happened to Mohamed. In the unclassified files produced at Guantánamo, as well as an indictment issued by a military commission, the Department of Defense and other U.S. agencies have outlined what they think happened during Binyam Mohamed's time in Afghanistan and then Pakistan.

According to the U.S. government's allegations, Osama bin Laden visited the al Farouq camp "several times" after Mohamed arrived there in the summer of 2001. The terror master "lectured Binyam Mohamed and other trainees about the importance of conducting operations against the United States." Bin Laden explained that "something big is going to happen in the future" and the new recruits should get ready for an impending event.

From al Farouq, Mohamed allegedly received additional training at a "city warfare course" in Kabul and then moved to the front lines in Bagram "to experience fighting between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance." He then returned to Kabul, where the government claims he attended an explosives training camp alongside Richard Reid, the infamous shoe bomber.

Mohamed was then reportedly introduced to top al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah. By early 2002, the two were traveling between al Qaeda safehouses. The U.S. government alleges that Mohamed then met Jose Padilla and two other plotters, both of whom are currently detained at Guantánamo, at a madrassa. Zubaydah and another top al Qaeda lieutenant, Abdul Hadi al Iraqi, allegedly directed the four of them "to receive training on building remote-controlled detonation devices for explosives."

At some point, Padilla and Mohamed traveled to a guesthouse in Lahore, Pakistan, where they "reviewed instructions on a computer ... on how to make an improvised 'dirty bomb.'" To the extent that the allegations against Mohamed have gotten any real press, it is this one that has garnered the attention. Media accounts have often highlighted the fact that Padilla and Mohamed were once thought to be plotting a "dirty bomb" attack, but that the allegation was dropped, making it seem as if they were not really planning a strike on American soil.

Indeed, all of the charges against Mohamed were dropped last year at Guantánamo. But this does not mean that he is innocent. As some press accounts have noted, the charges were most likely dropped for procedural reasons and because of the controversy surrounding his detention. According to U.S. government files, Padilla and Mohamed were considering a variety of attack scenarios.

Zubaydah, Padilla, and Mohamed allegedly discussed the feasibility of the "dirty bomb plot." But Zubaydah moved on to the possibility of "blowing up gas tankers and spraying people with cyanide in nightclubs." Zubaydah, according to the government, stressed that the purpose of these attacks would be to help "free the prisoners in Cuba." That is, Zubaydah wanted to use terrorist attacks to force the U.S. government to free the detainees at Guantánamo.