Several weeks after issuing the executive order that will close Guantanamo Bay by the beginning of 2010, it looks as though President Obama may be intent on emptying it well before the shut down date. This week, he is expected to authorize the release of UK national Binyam Mohamed, who will return to the UK once the two governments have reached an agreement. Mohmed, who was captured in Pakistan in 2004, claims to have been tortured while in U.S. custody.
The media is all over his release and his allegations of torture while at Gitmo. However, they seem to be forgetting the reasons why he was taken into custody in the first place. Thomas Joscelyn, writing for the Weekly Standard, reminds us:
1. The detainee is an Ethiopian who lived in the United States from 1992 to 1994, and in London, United Kingdom, until he departed for Pakistan in 2001. 2. The detainee arrived in Islamabad, Pakistan, in June 2001, and traveled to the al Farouq training camp in Afghanistan, to receive paramilitary training. 3. At the al Farouq camp, the detainee received 40 days of training in light arms handling, explosives, and principles of topography. 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 may claim that he didnâ€™t plan to use his â€œskillsâ€ against the United States, but Joscelyn also relates that some of the 9/11 hijackers were trained at the al Farouq camp, and that Osama bin Laden visited the camp several times after Mohamed arrived there in 2001. After his training, he reportedly was introduced to Abu Zubaydah, a top al Qaeda operative, and directed (along with Jose Padilla and two others) â€œto receive training on building remote-controlled detonation devices for explosives.â€
These are hardly the sorts of things one learns just for the fun of it. And if it waddles like a duck and quacks like a duck, itâ€™s probably a duck.
As for Mohamedâ€™s claims that he wasnâ€™t going to attack the U.S., along with his assertions of torture at Gitmo, thereâ€™s a word that Westerners should familiarize themselves with: taqqiya, which is â€œconcealing or disguising oneâ€™s beliefs, convictions, ideas, feelings, opinions and/or strategies at a time of imminent danger, whether now or later in time, to save oneself from physical and/or mental injury.â€ In other words, take his denials with a very large grain of salt.
Commander Kirk S. Lippold (Ret.), former Commanding Officer of the USS Cole and Senior Military Fellow for Military Families United, released a statement about the pending release of Mohamed:
This unprecedented release of an enemy combatant, who has already targeted the United States, clearly shows that despite the promises that President Obama made to keep this country safe, he may be putting political promises ahead of our national security. The laundry list of charges against Binyam Mohamed, many of which he has admitted to, makes it blatantly clear that it is not if he will attack the United States, but only when his attack will happen.
By Mohamedâ€™s classification as an â€œenemy combatant,â€ the United States is aware that he poses a threat to our country and allies. Instead of maintaining him in custody where justice can be served, President Obama is allowing him to be released to the United Kingdom without condition. This presents a danger that he may rejoin the fight to kill innocent civilians. This potential release is dangerous and must be reconsidered.
Luckily for Mohamed, the UK is planning on giving him â€œevery opportunity, subject to the law, to integrate himself backâ€ into society. Itâ€™s interesting that Mohamed is being welcomed back with open arms while Geert Wilders, whose only â€œcrimeâ€ was to create a film that made Muslims unhappy, was arrested and booted out of Britain before he could even leave Heathrow.
Other released Guantanamo inmates have resurfaced in the news, but not for joining the Boy Scouts or the Salvation Army â€“ a recent example is Muhammad al-Awfi, who is now the head of al Qaeda in Yemen.
Obama expects us to trust that he knows what heâ€™s doing. But trust must be earned, and weâ€™ll reserve judgment on this issue until further notice.
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