“But despite his statements and some potential evidence “” he was captured with a bag of various currencies and passports from several countries “” some legal experts say it may be difficult for the United States to bring charges against him under the law as it stood in 2001.”
“Gitmo detainee: ‘I do pose a threat'” by Peter Finn and Julie Tate for the Washington Post, February 16:
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba “” In a small room at Guantanamo Bay, plain white except for an American flag hung on the wall, Abdul al Rahman al Zahri sat shackled in front of three military officers at a hearing to determine whether he continued to pose a threat to the United States and its allies.
Zahri, a Yemeni captured in Afghanistan in 2001, was clear on that point. “I do pose a threat to the United States and its allies,” he said, according to a transcript of the 2006 hearing. “I admit to you it’s my honor to be an enemy of the United States. I am a Muslim jihadist, and I”m defending my family and my honor.”
Zahri may have been unambiguous about his state of mind, but the question of whether he can be charged with any crime is murkier. Complicating matters for the administration is the fact that he has made sometimes flatly contradictory statements about his loyalties, at one point condemning bin Laden as a “heretic.”
Zahri said he heard the call to jihad outside a mosque in Yemen in early 2001, and he decided to go to Afghanistan as a trainee to eventually fight Russian forces in Chechnya, according to military documents. Within a week, he met bin Laden at an al-Qaida guesthouse, one of 10 meetings that military officials allege he had with terrorist leaders.
“The detainee stated he attended a meeting prior to 11 September 2001 in which an upcoming operation was discussed,” according to military documents.
Zahri went to the front lines in Afghanistan to fight the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance, where he was wounded, captured and eventually sent to Guantanamo. But despite his statements and some potential evidence “” he was captured with a bag of various currencies and passports from several countries “” some legal experts say it may be difficult for the United States to bring charges against him under the law as it stood in 2001.
“His statement that he is a jihadist and wants to stand against America “” exactly what law does that violate?” asked Benjamin Wittes, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of “Law and the Long War.” “I cannot be confident that these facts “” even if proven “” would amount to a prosecutable case.”
Wittes and others have suggested that some system of detention may be needed for prisoners who cannot be prosecuted but are too dangerous to release. Human rights advocates, however, disagree.
“Contrary to many of the naysayers, the U.S. has adequate tools at its disposal to prosecute those who provided material support to terrorism in late 2001 and beyond,” said Jennifer Daskal, senior counterterrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch.
Zahri has refused to meet with his attorneys, who said they were unable to discuss his case in any detail because much of the material about him remains classified. But they raised the possibility that his statements may have been coerced and cautioned that his sometimes contradictory remarks “” condemning bin Laden at one hearing and pledging fealty to him at another, threatening the United States and then saying he has “no issue” with America “” make anything he has said at Guantanamo Bay unreliable.
No, it just makes him a liar. More specifically, when feeling defiant and honorable, he claims to be a jihadist against America; when reality sets in and the consequences of his bold assertions come to mind, he “condemns” bin Laden and says he has “no issue” with the US.
“We are concerned that some of the statements may have been given under questionable circumstances, either physical or mental,” said Vicki Werneke, an assistant federal public defender in Ohio who is representing Zahri in habeas proceedings in U.S. District Court in Washington.
Zahri, too, has said that his statements cannot be proven, and, military officials said in documents, he sees it as his mission “to waste our resources investigating his lies.”
Yes, indeed; for, as Islam’s prophet declared, “War is deceit.”