A Gitmo Detainee's Tall Tale
And the complicity of the press.
3:35 PM, May 20, 2010 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
More often than not, Guantanamo detainees’ claims are repeated verbatim, and uncritically, by the press. This is true both here in the U.S. and abroad. And it leads to some curious stories. For instance, earlier this week the Yemen Post reported:
This is sheer nonsense, of course. Officials at Gitmo are not trying to assassinate any detainees. This story is quite obviously propaganda.
And who is telling this tall tale to the Yemeni press? We’ve profiled Abdul al Salam al Hilal (spelled Abdul Salam Al-Hila in the excerpt above) more than once. (See here and here.) Both U.S. and Italian authorities have concluded that al Hilal is an al Qaeda facilitator. While working for Yemen’s Political Security Organization (PSO), al Hilal shuttled al Qaeda terrorists around the globe and arranged for others to be freed from prison.
In the summer of 2000, while al Hilal was visiting the Islamic Cultural Institute in Milan, Italian authorities caught him talking to another al Qaeda terrorist in a wiretapped phone conversation. The Italians recorded al Hilal saying:
It is no wonder that the Italian press and authorities have taken al Hilal’s words to mean that he had foreknowledge of the September 11 attacks, which were just over one year away at the time.
But that part of al Hilal’s story wasn’t reported by the Yemen Post. Instead, al Hilal’s assassination conspiracy was dutifully repeated.
Such is the type of propaganda the world reads regularly when it comes to Gitmo.
Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.