Saturday, February 1, 2014

Tariq Mahmoud Ahmed al Sawah

ISN: 535
Nationality: Egyptian

The following is a summary of the allegations against Tariq al Sawah found in publicly available US military documents. If US military documents about this prisoner are inaccurate or misleading then this summary will be as well. The introduction to this set of summaries explains some of the terms used below.   

Tariq told US interrogators that he taught courses in explosives at the Tarnak Farm Al Qaeda training camp. Tariq’s DAB says that he developed a design for a shoe-bomb that was similar to the design of the shoe-bomb used by Richard Reid in a failed 2001 al Qaeda plot to bring down an airplane. Tariq fought against the Northern Alliance, the Afghan allies of the US in the Afghan war, in 2001.

Tariq’s DAB says that he was injured by a cluster bomb as he was fleeing to Pakistan with a group of al Qaeda fighters. An Afghan offered to take him to Jalalabad for medical attention. Instead he turned Tariq over to the Northern Alliance. After a month and a half, the Northern Alliance turned Tariq over to the United States. He was sent to Guantanamo in May 2002.

In 2008 Tariq was recommended for release because of the valuable intelligence he provided US interrogators regarding al-Qaeda. His DAB says that he, “has provided valuable and extensive amounts of information which has been instrumental in understanding the ideologies and methods used by terrorist groups.”

Later in 2008 Tariq was charged with conspiracy and material support for terrorism. In 2010 Obama’s interagency Guantanamo task force recommended Tariq for prosecution. The charges were dismissed in March 2012.

Lawyers for Tariq and doctors they have brought to examine him say that he is now an obese man with diabetes who is barely able to walk 10 feet. He may not make it out of Guantanamo alive. Egypt is pressuring the United States to release him.  

UPDATE (2/23/14): Former FBI Agent Ali Soufan explained in his autobiography that the allegation connecting Sawah to the attempted shoe bombing attack was based on conclusions from inexperienced interrogators. 

"I found out that the military interrogators had said to him: “You’re an explosives expert. If you were to build a shoe bomb, how would you do it?” He had drawn them a diagram. That diagram constituted their “proof.” It turned out that it was a bad drawing, unrepresentative of the shoe bomb Reid used … They were novice interrogators and didn’t understand that you can’t just jump to those kinds of conclusions. They admitted that they had messed up."

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