Read the Gitmo Files
CNN fails to challenge Gitmo detainees' false stories.
8:30 PM, Jun 15, 2009 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
On Sunday night, CNN ran part of an interview with a Uighur named Khalil Abdul Nasser. Until just a few days ago, Nasser was detained at Guantanamo. Nasser's transfer to Bermuda, along with three of his fellow Uighurs, has caused a storm of controversy on the tiny resort island. So, Nasser wanted to quell any doubts about his innocence.
Regarding allegations that he attended a terrorist training camp, Nasser (speaking through a translator) said: "This is not true, because I have never been in any kind of training camp."
Nasser added, "The U.S. courts confirmed this that I have never been a terrorist or trained for a terrorist, so this is just [an] accusation against me."
A few moments later, CNN re-printed this statement from Sabin Willett, an attorney that represents Nasser and his fellow Uighurs.
"Neither the classified nor the unclassified U.S. government documents on these men, and I have read every page, contains any allegation that they ever had any Al Qaeda link or were in an Al Qaeda camp. The Bush administration never alleged in any court filing that they were in an Al Qaeda camp."
Neither Nasser's denials, nor Willett's statement, are true. And while it is easy to demonstrate that their words are false, requiring only a few minutes of research to do so, CNN did not provide any alternative view.
Take Nasser's denial of the allegation that he received training at a terrorist camp. He did not always dispute this. During his combatant status review tribunal (CSRT) at Gitmo, Nasser freely admitted that he once trained at the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement's (ETIM's) Tora Bora training camp.
The transcript of Nasser's CSRT session at Gitmo, who was then known by his alias, Abdul Helil Mamut, is readily available on the New York Times's web site. (See here.) A U.S. military tribunal alleged: "The Detainee arrived at the Uighur Tora Bora training camp on 17 June 2001."
Other Uighur detainees held at Gitmo, like Nasser, said they were not familiar with the name Tora Bora. It may be that the camp was not known to them as the "Tora Bora training camp," as described by the government. But, that is clearly where they were. Their descriptions of the camp match it precisely and, as described below, Nasser admitted he was in the Tora Bora mountains during the beginning of the U.S. bombing campaign in 2001. Nasser also admitted he was at the Tora Bora facility, after initially disputing its name.
The military tribunal continued: "The Detainee received training on the AK-47 while at the Uighur Tora Bora training camp."
"Correct. I was there. I don't know if it was the AK-47. It was an old rifle, and I trained for a couple of days. I went to the camp to train because the Chinese government was torturing my country, my people, and they could not do anything. I was trying to protect my country, my country's independence and my freedom. From international law, training is not illegal in order to protect your freedom and independence. I did it for my country."
Nasser was likely trained at the ETIM camp for more than a "couple of days." He conceded that he arrived at the camp during the first couple of weeks in June 2001. Nasser was there when the American-led bombing of Tora Bora began months later, after the September 11 attacks. So, he was there for a matter of months.
The tribunal claimed: "The Detainee was at the Uighur Tora Bora training camp when it was bombed by US/Coalition forces in October."
"Correct. I went there before the things happened in the U.S. One night while we were sleeping, bombing started. There was fire everywhere. We started to escape. Should we have stayed and been killed by the bombs? We stayed there since before 9/11, and then they came and bombed us. We did not have any problems with the U.S. Economically, socially, culturally, they are not [our] enemy. We have nothing against the U.S."
Statements such as this one have been used by the Uighur detainees' proponents to suggest that they never posed a threat to America, or the West, because they are only interested in attacking the Chinese government. But this is false, despite the claims of ETIM trainees such as Nasser.