Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Allegations Against Mohammad Al Qahtani

ISN: 063
Nationality: Saudi

The following is a summary of the allegations against Mohammad Al Qahtani 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.  

Mohammad Al Qahtani is accused of attempting to be a highjacker in the 9/11 attacks.

Mohammad arrived at the Orlando International Airport on August 4, 2001. Immigration officials noted that he did not have a return ticket. He contradicted himself in his answers to their questions. He was denied entry into the US and returned to Dubia via London. 

Mohammad was captured fleeing from Afghanistan to Pakistan with other suspected Al Qaeda members by Pakistani forces in December 2001.

Mohammad told US interrogators he attended 2 Al Qaeda training camps, Al Faruq, and Tarnak Farm.

KSM, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, identified Mohammad as an intended 9/11 highjacker. Mustafa Al Hawsawi, a defendant in the 9/11 trial,  said that Mohammad Atta called him with instructions to make reservations and buy airline tickets to Orlando, Florida for 5 individuals, including Mohammad.

Soon after arriving at Guantanamo, Mohammad confessed to attempting to be a 9/11 highjacker.

This confession, however, was obtained through torture. He later retracted this confession. He now says he had no plans to participate in the 9/11 attacks.

As I explained in the previous post, Mohammad was tortured extensively at Guantanamo. KSM was waterboarded by the CIA 183 times. Hawsawi was also tortured by the CIA. If the claims made by these individuals about Mohammad were obtained through torture, as they almost certainly were, they would be inadmissible in court. They would also be completely unreliable. People who are tortured will say whatever they believe their captors want to hear in order to make their torture stop.

That only leaves the circumstantial evidence about Mohammad being denied entry into the US in August 2001 and his capture by Pakistani forces, hardly enough to prosecute him in a court of law.

The FBI was sent in to interrogate prisoners who had been tortured by the CIA after they arrived at Guantanamo, in the hope that those interrogations could be used in court. The Washington Post said that these “clean teams” concluded that Mohammad Al Qahtani attempted to be a highjacker in the 9/11 attacks. It did not say on what evidence this conclusion was based.

Former Chief Prosecutor at Guantanamo Colonel Morris Davis believed that he could build a compelling case against Mohammad Al Qahtani without using anything he said in US custody. Davis believed that due to Mohammad’s mistreatment anything he had said was unreliable.

Convening Authority Susan Crawford did not think there was enough evidence to prosecute Mohammad in court. In 2008 Crawford did not allow charges to be brought against him due to his torture.

She told the Washington Post, "there's no doubt in my mind he would've been on one of those planes had he gained access to the country in August 2001. He's a muscle hijacker. . . . He's a very dangerous man. What do you do with him now if you don't charge him and try him? I would be hesitant to say, 'Let him go.' "

In May 2009 Obama gave a speech on national security where he said, “there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases because evidence may be tainted, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States.”

In January 2010 Mohammad Al Qahtani was recommended for prosecution by Obama’s Guantanamo task force. 

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