Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed

ISN: 10024
Nationality: Pakistani

The following is an analysis of the statements made by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's at his Combatant Status Review Tribunal. I also recommend reading Daniel Byman's analysis of the same document for Slate. 

At his CSRT, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) said, “I hereby admit and affirm without duress that I was a responsible participant, principal planner, trainer, financier, executor, and/or a personal participant in”   31 successful or attempted terrorists attacks.

KSM said that he “was responsible for the 9/11 Operation, from A to Z.” The 9/11 attacks resulted in the death of 2,972 people.

KSM said he “was responsible for the bombing of a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, which was frequented by British and Australian nationals.” 202 people died in that attack.

KSM said that he “was responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center Operation.” Six people died when a bomb was detonated in a truck in the parking garage underneath the building.

KSM said he “was responsible for the Filka Island Operation in Kuwait.” In this attack, gunmen fired upon US soldiers who were training and killed one of them.

KSM said he “decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi, Pakistan.” Daniel Pearl was a national security reporter for the Wall Street Journal who was killed in early 2002.

KSM said Pearl was working with Mossad and the CIA. I do not believe that this is true, but even if it was it would not have justified Pearl’s murder.

By my count KSM admitted to responsibility for the murder of 3,182 people at his CSRT.

The CIA waterboarded KSM 183 times. KSM told his CSRT that he made false statements as a result of his torture, but that he was not under any pressure, threat, or duress during his CSRT.  

KSM said that Osama Bin Laden was like George Washington and that Al Qaeda was fighting against American oppression.

KSM said that, “the language of any war in the world is killing. I mean the language of the war is victims.” KSM said that the attacks he conducted were part of a war.

KSM said that the US killed the wife and children of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri in an airstrike because they were in his house. KSM is right about that. The BBC says that the air strike took place in late 2001. Ayman al Zawahiri was not killed in the airstrike. 

KSM asked the tribunal “to be fair with many Detainees which are not enemy combatant. Because many of them have been unjustly arrested. Many, not one or two or three.”

KSM said that some Islamist fighters who fought against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan could not return home and stayed in Afghanistan. KSM said that some of them were arrested by the US even though they did not fight against the United States.

KSM also said that many people who fought against the United States in Afghanistan came because they heard there was an enemy in Afghanistan and did not have any other issue with the United States.

He said that others joined the Taliban simply because that was their government at the time.

KSM said that a Sunni government sent spies to assassinate Osama Bin Laden but that Al Qaeda caught them. Al Qaeda sent them to the Taliban who imprisoned them. KSM said that these prisoners were then arrested by the US and brought to Guantanamo. I could find no confirmation or rebuttal to KSM’s claim that individuals who attempted to assassinate Bin Laden were imprisoned at Guantanamo.

KSM said that his kids were arrested for four months and abused by the United States. In March 2003 the British paper The Telegraph reported that KSM’s 9 and 7 year old sons were in American custody.

KSM said “So, enemy combatant itself, it flexible word. So I think God knows that many who been arrested, they been unjustly arrested.”

KSM was captured with Mustafa al Hawsawi by Pakistani forces in March 2003.

One of KSM’s closing statements was that, “War start from Adam when Cain he killed Abel until now. It’s never gonna stop killing of people.”

KSM has been charged for his role in the 9/11 attacks. The pre-trial hearings in his case are underway. 

Ammar al Baluchi

Abd al Aziz Ali

ISN: 10018
Nationality: Pakistani

Baluchi’s DAB says that he facilitated the travel and funding of many of the 9/11 hijackers.

At his CSRT, the government alleged that Baluchi sent $114,500 to 9/11 hijacker Marwan Al-Shehhi between June 2000 and September 2000.

Baluchi said he transferred the money to Shehhi but that he did not know that Shehhi was a member of Al Qaeda or a hijacker. Baluchi said that he was an entrepreneur and that Shehhi approached him as someone wanting to do business. Baluchi said that the money he transferred was from Shehhi’s own account.  

KSM is Ammar al Baluchi’s uncle. KSM said that Baluchi never had an association with Al Qaeda. KSM said that he sent money to the 9/11 hijackers in Germany in preparation of 9/11. He said that he mostly used Hawsawi to do that in 2000 and 2001.

In his closing statement to his CSRT, Ammar al Baluchi said, “according to your definition, it is imperative that the US financial institutions, banks, flight schools, rental car agencies, and property managers all fall under the enemy combatant definition, since without the support of all those people, 9/11 would not have been possible.”

In April 2003 Ammar al Baluchi was captured by Pakistani forces in Karachi along with Walid bin Attash.  

Ammar al Baluchi has been charged for his alleged role in the 9/11 attacks. The pretrial hearings in his case are currently underway. 

Mustafa Ahmed al Hawsawi

ISN: 10011
Nationality: Saudi

Hawsawi told his CSRT that he attended the Al Qaeda training camp Al Farouq.

Hawsawi’s DAB says that he supported the movement and funding of the 9/11 highjackers in the United States.

According to the unclassified summary of the evidence against Hawsawi presented at his CSRT, three 9/11 highjackers sent Hawsawi around 18 thousand dollars between September 9 and September 11, 2001.

Hawsawi told his CSRT that he received the money that was mentioned in the unclassified summary. He said he did not know why they sent him the money. Hawsawi said he did not send the 9/11 highjackers money prior to 9/11.

A computer said to be associated with Hawsawi contained a list of Al Qaeda members who were killed or wounded. The computer also contained detailed Al Qaeda expense reports for the year 2002.  

Hawsawi said that the computer had files copied from other computers used by him and other occupants of a safe house in order to make it easier to transport the information. He said he had not seen the expense reports before. He said that the list of dead and wounded was downloaded from the internet and included information on all people who were killed or wounded, not just those from Al Qaeda.

Hawsawi was captured by Pakistani forces with KSM on March 1, 2003.

He has been charged for his alleged role in the 9/11 attacks. The pretrial hearings in his case are currently underway. 

Walid Bin Attash

ISN: 10014
Nationality: Yemeni

Walid Bin Attash told his CSRT that he helped plan the attack on the USS Cole in 2000.

“I participated in the buying or purchasing of the explosives. I put together the plan for the operation a year and a half prior to the operation. Buying the boat and recruiting the members that did the operation. Buying the explosives.”

He told his CSRT that he was a coordinator of the US embassy bombings in East Africa in 1998.

“I was the link between Usama bin Laden and his deputy Sheikh Abu Hafs Al Masri and the cell chief in Nairobi. I was the link that was available in Pakistan. I used to supply the cell with what ever documents they need from fake stamps to visas, whatever. Sending them from Afghanistan to Pakistan and individuals, cell members.”

Walid Attash’s DAB says that he told US interrogators that his flights throughout Southeast Asia were surveillance missions for the canceled Southeast Asia part of the 9/11 attacks.

He was not asked about this specific allegation at his CSRT.  

Walid is the brother of Hassan Attash, another prisoner at Guantanamo.

Walid Attash was captured with Ammar al Baluchi by Pakistani forces in Karachi, Pakistan in April 2003.

Walid Attash has been charged for his alleged role in the 9/11 attacks. The pretrial hearings in his case are currently underway.

Ramzi Bin al Shibh

ISN: 10013
Nationality: Yemen

The unclassified evidence presented at Ramzi’s CSRT says that he unsuccessfully attempted to obtain a visa to travel to the United States four times in 2000. He attempted to enroll in a Florida fight training school where one of the 9/11 highjackers was receiving flight training. On 4 separate occasions from June to September 2000, Ramzi sent upwards of one thousand dollars to 9/11 highjacker Marwan al Shehhi.

In June 2002 Ramzi Bin al Shibh was interviewed alongside KSM by Al Jazeera. In the interview, KSM said that Ramzi was the coordinator of the 9/11 attacks. Also in the interview, Ramzi says that he met with 9/11 highjacker Mohammad Atta in Madrid, Spain in July 2001 in order to finalize the operational details of the 9/11 attacks. He also said that he received a call from Atta saying when the attack would take place. 

Ramzi’s DAB says that he relayed messages between Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 highjackers.

Ramzi Bin al Shibh declined to participate in his CSRT.

Ramzi was captured in a raid on a suspected Al Qaeda safe house by Pakistani forces in Karachi on September 11, 2002.

Ramzi Bin al Shibh has been charged for his alleged role in the 9/11 attacks. The pretrial hearings for his case are currently underway. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Abd al Rahim al Nashiri

ISN: 10015
Nationality: Saudi

Nashiri’s DAB says that he masterminded the attacks on the USS COLE and the MV LIMBURG.

On October 12, 2000 a small boat approached the USS COLE, a US navy ship which was refueling in the Yemeni port of Aden. Terrorists on the small boat detonated explosives. 17 American sailors were killed in the attack. The terrorists died in the attack as well.  

Nashiri is charged with perfidy for his alleged role in the attack on the USS COLE. Perfidy is a war crime where someone invites the belief that a person is a noncombatant civilian or belongs to another category that is protected under the law of war in order to conduct a military attack. Nashiri’s charge sheet says that the attack was committed by two men dressed in civilian clothing who waved at crewmembers on the USS COLE while operating a civilian boat.  

Nashiri is also charged with murder in violation of the law of war, attempted murder in violation of the law of war, terrorism, conspiracy, and intentionally causing serious bodily injury for his alleged role in the attack on the USS COLE.

The unclassified evidence at Nashiri’s CSRT says he discussed the USS COLE bombing with al Badawi prior to the attack. Al Badawi was tried and convicted in Yemen for his role in the bombing of the USS COLE.

Nashiri denied all involvement in the attack on the USS COLE at his Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT).

Nashiri said that he believed that the Yemenis tortured al Badawi into confessing to participating in the USS COLE bombing.

Ali Soufan, an FBI agent who is an adamant opponent of torture, detailed his interrogation of al Badawi at length in his book, The Black Banners. Soufan’s description of his interrogation of Badawi did not include any use of torture.

On October 6, 2002 a small boat exploded next to the French ship Merchant Vessel LIMBURG. The attack on the MV LIMBURG killed the Bulgarian crew member Atanas Atanasov. The MV LIMBURG was being used by a Malaysian oil company. 

Nashiri is charged with terrorism, conspiracy, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, and hijacking or hazarding a vessel or aircraft for his alleged role in the attack on the MV LIMBURG.

Al Darbi, who pled guilty to his role in the attack on the MV LIMBURG, is expected to testify against Nashiri at his trial.

Nashiri denied any involvement in the attack on the MV LIMBURG at his CSRT. He says he knew the people involved in the attacks against the MV LIMBURG and USS COLE as a result of business relationships.

Nashiri is accused of attempting to bomb the USS THE SULLIVANS in January 2000, using two suicide bombers dressed in civilian clothes. The boat with the explosives sank prior to the attack. Nashiri is charged with attempted murder in violation of the law of war and conspiracy for his alleged role in the attempted attack on the USS THE SULLIVANS.

Nashiri was not presented with this allegation at his CSRT to respond to.

Nashiri is also charged with conspiracy for allegedly providing a passport used by one of the participants in the bombing of the US embassy in Kenya in 1998.

Al Owhali confessed and was convicted for his role in the bombing of the US embassy in Kenya. According to Nashiri’s CSRT, Owhali said that Bilal provided him his passport. The FBI believes that Bilal was an alias for Nashiri.

Nashiri told his CSRT that he did not help Owhali in any way obtain a passport.

Nashiri was captured in the United Arab Emirates in November 2002.

In 2008 Michael Hayden, who was the director of the CIA at the time, told Congress that Nashiri was one of three individuals who had been waterboarded by the CIA.

Nashiri told his CSRT in March 2007 that he gave false confessions under torture to participating in the attacks on the USS COLE and the MV LIMBURG.

Nashiri was transferred from CIA custody to military custody at Guantanamo in September 2006. Nashiri was first charged in June 2008. Changes have been made to the charges against Nashiri. The most recent set of changes were made in September 2011.

Nashiri’s trial has been scheduled for September 2014.

I discussed the jurisdictional issues in Nashiri’s case with former Guantanamo defense attorney David Frakt on Public Occurrences.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Torture of Abu Zubaydah

Abu Zubaydah fought against the Soviet backed communist government of Afghanistan. He received a head injury during a battle that wiped out his memory. His fellow Islamist fighters helped him remember who he was. To help himself remember who he was, Zubaydah kept a diary.

According to The Black Banners by former FBI agent Ali Soufan, Abu Zubaydah was captured in a raid on a house in Faisalabad, Pakistan conducted by Pakistani forces and the CIA in March 2002. He was flown to another country to be interrogated by the CIA. FBI agents, including Ali Soufan were sent to assist in the interrogations. The CIA’s Counterintelligence Center (CTC) did not believe that the person in CIA custody was Zubaydah and did not come. The local CIA team did not know anything about Zubaydah. The FBI team did the initial interrogations instead.

Zubaydah had been gravely injured during the battle that led to his capture. FBI and CIA agents pretended that they and Abu Zubaydah were US soldiers as they took him to a local hospital. The FBI interrogations continued at the hospital.

Then the CIA Counterintelligence Center agents arrived. Zubaydah was sent back to the CIA prison. He was stripped naked, forced to listen to loud music for hours on end, and subjected to sleep deprivation.

In December 2007 CIA agent John Kiriakou was interviewed by ABC News. Kiriakou said that he participated in the raid that captured Abu Zubaydah. He said that in the room Zubaydah was in when the raid began, Zubaydah and two other men were building a bomb.

Kiriakou said that he was reassigned before Zubaydah was subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques. He also said that after Zubaydah was waterboarded for 30 to 35 seconds he agreed to cooperate with interrogators.

In 2009 the Obama Administration declassified a 2005 Justice Department legal memo that said that Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times.

Abu Zubaydah was sent to Guantanamo in September 2006 to be prosecuted for terrorist activities against the United States.

At his March 2007 CSRT Zubaydah said that taking and keeping his diary from him was worse than his treatment by the CIA. He said that not having his diary caused him to have nearly 40 seizures. He said that it was like his child. (Page 25)

At his CSRT Zubaydah said that he made false statements under torture. (Page 24)

In January 2010 Obama’s Guantanamo task force recommended Abu Zubaydah for prosecution. 

Abu Zubaydah

ISN: 10016
Nationality: Ethnic Palestinian born in Saudi Arabia

The story of Abu Zubaydah is a frustratingly complicated one. In this summary I have done my best to avoid unreliable evidence. Fire Dog Lake has done a good job dissecting the apparent contradictions in Abu Zubaydah’s DAB. The introduction to this set of summaries explains some of the terms used below. My sources are cited in the text below, but if any of my sources are inaccurate or misleading, then my summary will be as well.

KSM and Ibn al Shaykh al Libi said that Abu Zubaydah was a member of Al Qaeda. In his book, The Black Banners, former FBI agent Ali Soufan said that Abu Zubaydah admitted to being a high ranking member of Al Qaeda under torture even though he wasn’t a member of Al Qaeda (page 424). KSM and al Shaykh were also tortured by the CIA.

On December 14, 1999 Ahmed Ressam was captured attempting to enter the US with parts that could be used to build explosive devises. He said that he planned to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport on New Year’s Eve 1999.

Abu Zubaydah’s DAB says that Ressam said that Zubaydah encouraged him and helped him facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Zubaydah was planning his own US attack.

The Unclassified Summary of Evidence presented at Abu Zubyadah’s CSRT stated that Ressam had said that he trained at the Khaldan militant training camp in Afghanistan. Ressam also said that Abu Zubaydah facilitated terrorist attacks. Ressam said trainers at Khaldan indicated that viable targets included US warships, hotels hosting conferences of VIPs, barracks of US military personnel, commercial and economic targets, petroleum targets, and information technology centers.

At his CSRT Abu Zubaydah said that he was responsible for facilitating the travel of students to Khaldan and to conflict zones, like Chechnya and Bosnia, to fight after they were trained, or back to normal lives.

Zubaydah also said that Khaldan trained Muslims to defend against non-Muslim invaders anywhere in the world. He cited the wars between the Soviet Union and Islamist fighters in Afghanistan, Serbia and Bosnia, Russia and Chechnya, and Israel and Palestine. He says that at Khaldan they taught their recruits to only attack military targets. He said that he disagreed with the decision to attack innocent civilians like those who were in the World Trade Center on 9/11.

The 9/11 commission said that two of the 9/11 highjackers were trained at Khaldan. The British paper The Observer reported that al-Owhali, one of the bombers who participated in the 1998 US East Africa embassy bombings, trained at Khaldan.

At his CSRT Zubaydah said that he believed Khaldan was closed by the Taliban because Bin Laden wanted all of the militants to be trained at his training camp.

At his CSRT, Zubaydah said that he was an enemy of the US government.

“I have been an enemy of yours since I was a child because of your unjust acts against my people, the Palestinians, through your help and partnership with Israel in occupying our land and by killing our men and raping our women and kicking out our people and turning them into refugees for more than 60 years. […] My moral position is not against the American people or America, but against the government which I see as a partner in oppression.”

In 2013 Al Jazeera obtained a copy of the FBI’s English language translation of Abu Zubaydah’s dairy. His diary contained his reaction to the 9/11 attacks.

“Happiness was not enough, as soon as the news came out on the radio, lambs were slaughtered, and juice and sweets were distributed for several days, and then, preparations started for the counter attack… News on the radio reflected American threats and preparation, close to a world war, while we were in a state of elation that only God knows.” (Part 6 page 14)

No mention was made of an opposition to the killing of civilians in the World Trade Center.

His diary also shows how he helped prepare for counter attacks after 9/11.

“I have been in Khost since a week ago, in the setting of the security and military preparations platform which Sheikh Bin Ladin is doing, to confront any American military landing…Work is at its highest degree, buying weapons, arming those without a weapon, storing weapons, preparing locations and lines of confrontation, and preparing ambushes.” (Part 6 page 15)

About a month before his capture in March 2002, Abu Zubaydah described in his diary ways that he wished to, “wage war against America.” These included instigating a war between the races, preparing timed explosives, starting timed fires, simultaneous explosions, and burning fuel and gas trucks. (Part 6 page 89)