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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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In other words, former detainees are free to allege whatever they want, whereas intelligence professionals can’t respond because they are either busy doing their jobs or the truth resides behind a classified wall. This creates an information vacuum that current and former detainees, as well as their lawyers, are more than happy to fill.

As for the other five detainees suing the British government, their profiles are troubling as well. The five are Bisher al Rawi, Jamil el Banna, Richard Belmar, Omar Deghayes, and Martin Mubanga.    

Bisher al Rawi and Jamil el Banna worked for London-based Abu Qatada, who has rightly been called Osama bin Laden’s “right hand man in Europe.” Qatada is an influential al Qaeda cleric who has been at the center of a deportation dispute for years. He has been tied directly to terrorists around the globe.

Al Rawi and el Banna were detained in Gambia in November 2002. Prior to that time, they were well-known to British intelligence officials. According to a UK investigation completed in 2007:

Mr al-Rawi and Mr el-Banna were known to the Service prior to their detention in The Gambia. Whilst in the United Kingdom, both were in contact with a number of individuals considered by the Service to be Islamist extremists, including Abu Qatada, the radical cleric…

British intelligence described el Banna as:

…a Jordanian Palestinian veteran of the Afghan-Soviet war and…assessed to be Abu Qatada’s financier. [He] is in close contact with members of [two North African terrorist groups].

Al Rawi was known to be: 

…an Iraqi extremist who is a member of Abu Qatada’s close circle of associates. He has previously come to our attention for his financial activities…

Documents produced at Guantanamo mirror the conclusions of UK intelligence officials. (See here and here.) 

Richard Belmar was an al Qaeda recruit who traveled to Afghanistan for training in 2001, after hearing Abu Qatada speak. During his Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) at Guantanamo, Belmar admitted he “received basic weapons, war tactics, and navigation training at a terrorist training camp” and that he received “training in the assembling and disassembling of the AK-47” at a house in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Belmar conceded that he trained at al Qaeda’s notorious al Farouq camp, where Binyam Mohamed also trained, but claimed that he didn’t know the camp was for terrorists and thought it was just used for “military training” for Muslims.)

U.S. intelligence and military officials concluded that Belmar swore bayat (an oath of allegiance) to Osama bin Laden. Belmar denied this during his CSRT, but said he saw bin Laden “at a group meeting.” Belmar added that the terror chieftain “was far away” and Belmar “had no contact with him.” Despite Belmar’s denials, the fact that he was at a meeting attended by bin Laden in 2001 is telling.

Gitmo officials alleged that the fourth detainee who is suing the British government, Omar Deghayes, was a longtime jihadist who first joined the cause in Bosnia in 1993. Deghayes would later travel to Afghanistan, where he was allegedly trained at the Khalden training camp, which was run by senior al Qaeda terrorists. Gitmo officials also alleged Deghayes “had a good relationship with Osama bin Laden” and the “last time” he met bin Laden “was during the last days of the Taliban regime in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan.” Senior al Qaeda operatives reportedly identified Deghayes as a co-conspirator and someone who trained in Afghanistan.

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