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Former Gitmo Detainees Wage Lawfare in the UK

Giving al Qaeda a helping hand.

10:05 AM, Mar 2, 2010 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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From the UK, we get a Guantanamo-related story that is so ridiculous you just have to read it – with a little additional context. The story concerns six former Gitmo detainees who claim the British government was complicit in their “torture.”

Former Gitmo Detainees Wage Lawfare in the UK

British soldiers in Afghanistan.

The Telegraph and The Sun (see here and here) are reporting that British taxpayers are expected to shell out £30 million to lawyers who are working on an inquiry into the former detainees’ torture allegations. The inquiry is expected to last seven years (!), during which time the lawyers will review documents totaling hundreds of thousands of pages and rack up massive legal bills in the process.

 According to the Telegraph, lawyers working for the government’s defense are expected to take in £20 million, while lawyers working for the former detainees will take in approximately £10 million. Incredibly, the lawyers for the six detainees are being subsidized by British taxpayers.

If they win, the six former Gitmo detainees could take in as much as £500,000 each, or £3,000,000 in total – a far cry from the total amount earned by the dozens of lawyers involved, but still a handsome sum.

Let’s take a look at the six detainees in question.  

The most notorious is Binyam Mohamed, who was recruited by al Qaeda in 2001 and, according to U.S. intelligence, slated to take part in an attack on the American homeland with co-conspirator Jose Padilla in 2002. (For a review of the case files on Mohamed, see here and here.) Padilla and Mohamed conspired with a who’s who of al Qaeda, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, and other senior al Qaeda terrorists.

Mohamed admitted to his personal representative at Gitmo that he trained at al Qaeda’s al Farouq camp, and his civilian attorney conceded this much as well. Along these lines, The Sun notes that Mohamed admits “spending 45 days in a training camp in Afghanistan,” but “he insisted he did not learn bomb-making or any other terrorist skills.”

Right. The truth is, all anyone learned at al Farouq were “terrorist skills.”

Padilla sits in jail. But because Mohamed claimed refugee status in the UK at one point, the British government agitated for his release from Gitmo. The Obama administration finally acquiesced last year. So, as a reward, the British government is now embroiled in a massive lawsuit. That’s lawfare for you.  

Remarkably, the British press has passed on Mohamed’s ridiculous cover story. The Sun writes: “He said he turned to Islam to help beat heroin and crack cocaine addiction and had gone to Afghanistan to see the ‘pure’ form of the faith being practised.”

Of all the places Mohamed could go to kick his heroin habit, the Taliban’s Afghanistan – heroin capital of the world – was not exactly a natural choice. But this flimsy alibi is enough to convince some.

Mohamed was captured shortly after Padilla. He claims that he was tortured and British intelligence officials knew about it, thus he is suing. In particular, Mohamed claims that when was rendered to Morocco he was subjected to various forms of torture, including having his genitalia cut with a razor. If true, this is certainly horrible and objectionable. But we don’t know that it is true at all. Mohamed, a trained al Qaeda operative, could simply be lying or at least exaggerating the severity of his treatment while in custody. And the evidence released thus far does not come close to substantiating Mohamed’s most serious allegations.

In a bit of related news, Prime Minister Gordon Brown responded to Mohamed’s charges late last month. “The UK has the finest intelligence services in the world,” Brown said, according to an account in the Daily Record. “It is the nature of the work that they cannot defend themselves against many of the allegations made.”

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