This is nonsense, of course. They were being held there under the same circumstances long before President Trump took office. But as we have seen many times over the years, jihadis in the West have a keen ability to exploit the flash points of American culture, finding ways to articulate their agenda that will resonate the Left and get them help from the such quarters. And it has worked quite well many times.
On the other hand, 121 former Guantánamo detainees have returned to the jihad. This is perfectly understandable, since at Guantánamo absolutely no effort was made to disabuse them of their jihadist sentiments, and the book that inspired their motivating ideology more than any other, the Qur’an, was treated by guards with exaggerated respect, reinforcing to the inmates the idea that even their captors had submitted and knew the truth of Islam. So how many more much be sent now to reinforce the ranks of al-Qaeda and the Taliban?
“Guantánamo inmates claim Trump’s ‘anti-Muslim bias’ fuels their detention,” by Ed Pilkington, Guardian, January 11, 2018:
Eleven Guantánamo inmates are challenging their indefinite detention in the US military camp in Cuba on grounds that Donald Trump’s defiant pledge to keep all remaining detainees permanently locked up is fuelled by hostility towards Muslims.
The inmate’s petition, filed on Thursday in a federal court in Washington, falls on the 16th anniversary of the arrival of the first 20 detainees to Guantánamo. The prisoners were brought in shackles from Afghanistan on 11 January 2002 dressed in distinctive orange jumpsuits.
Some of the petitioners in the new filing have themselves been held on the Cuban base almost since the beginning; others have been detained for 10 years. None of them has ever been charged, and all know that unless the courts intervene they could remain in their cells until they die.
In a memorable phrase, they say that “the aura of forever hangs heavier than ever”.
At the heart of the legal petition is the claim that President Trump has taken a radically new approach towards the treatment of the 41 prisoners who remain at Guantánamo. The inmates argue that his stance is defiant in spirit, arbitrary in nature, and fueled by his “suspicion and antipathy” towards Muslims.
The petitioners quote medical experts who have compared the prolonged indefinite imprisonment at Guantánamo to sensory deprivation and psychological torture. “Prisoners are medicated for depression and anxiety brought on by acute despair.”
The inmates are basing their challenge on two legal points. They claim that indiscriminate indefinite detention is illegal under the due process clause of the US constitution.
The second argument is that the justification for never-ending detention under the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) was that it was needed to prevent committed enemies of the US returning to the battlefield. But the petitioners claim that justification has begun to unravel.
On the campaign trail Trump said of Guantánamo that he would “load it up with some bad dudes”.
Shortly before his inauguration he pledged in a tweet to block any further releases on grounds that all the 41 were “extremely dangerous people”.
That threat has come to pass. Pardiss Kebriaei, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights who represents one of the petitioners, Sharqawi Al Hajj of Yemen, who has been detained for 15 years, said that all moves towards release have ground to a halt since Trump came in.
“There’s nothing happening. It’s an entirely static situation, and that kind of indefinite detention without charge is intolerable, it cannot be allowed to continue,” she said.
Protesters with Witness Against Torture participate in a rally at the supreme court in Washington on 11 January 2017, calling for the closure of the Guantánamo Bay prison.
Two of the petitioners, Toufiq al-Bihani and Abdul Latif Nasser, have officially been cleared for transfer out of Guantánamo. Bihani, who has been in the camp for almost 15 years having been arrested in Iran on suspicion of having al-Qaida ties, has been held for a full seven years after the US government decided he could leave.
Nasser was approved to be sent to his native Morocco in July 2016 and was all set to travel until procedural hiccups prevented the move in the last days of the Obama administration. The inmates argue that since Trump came to office there has been “open hostility to transferring any detainees.
Trump’s approach stands in sharp contrast to either of his predecessors. Though George W Bush was instrumental in setting up the extrajudicial nature of the military detention system, in the end he released 539 of the 780 prisoners.
Obama went on to transfer 201 prisoners out of the base. Despite his declared intent to shut down the camp, Obama was ultimately frustrated in the ambition, not least by Republican opposition in Congress to transferring inmates to the US….