With the Obama Administration now worried about the fiscal costs associated with detainees at Guantanamo Bay we have reached a new low. Recently a senior official in the Obama Administration stated that it was costing $2.7 million for each detainee held at GITMO. What exactly is the cost of justice? Justice has been delayed for far too long for those individuals who have committed or assisted in the commission of terrorism against the United States.
While it is not surprising that the Obama Administration has released as many detainees as possible he is attempting to keep his pledge and close this facility. But at what cost to our future security? How many of those recently released or slated for release or transfer will go back to wage jihad or commit other acts of terrorism?
Just recently, the United States released four detainees back to Afghanistan. One of the four was Mohammed Zahir. Zahir fought against the Soviets from 1984 to 1989. He then worked as a clerk at the Police Department in Ghazni Province. Once the Taliban gained control of most of Afghanistan he worked for the Taliban Intelligence Directorate in Kabul. He returned to Ghazni in 1998 and worked for the Taliban Security Office before he was transferred to the Taliban’s Ghazni Intelligence Office. After the fall of the Taliban it was reported that Mohammed Zahir was a major weapons dealer in Ghazni Province and had Stinger missiles and uranium. Zahir’s compound was raided and he was arrested for his connections to weapons caches, weapons trafficking and his affiliations with the Taliban and members of the Haqqani Network. Items seized during Mohammed Zahir arrest included four passports, three identification cards, two Codan high frequency radios, a small sealed can marked “Heavy Water-U235 150 grams” in Russian as well as other items. Documents recovered showed that the uranium was intended for “use in a nuclear device.” More than anything else these items show intent and that Mohammed Zahir was part of these efforts on behalf of terrorists in Afghanistan.
In February 2008, the JTF-GTMO Detainee Assessment of Mohammed Zahir stated that the detainee failed “to disclose extensive details or the true nature of his Taliban activities and affiliations.” When Zahir was arrested he had pocket litter that included a memorandum to the Internal Affairs Ministry Department of Intelligence in which he identified himself as the Chief of Intelligence from Ghazni. During his detention Zahir had refused “to discuss the significance of official documents and other extremist-associated items found in his house during his capture.” The average Afghan did not have access or use Codan high frequency radios and that these were only used by Al Qaeda and the Taliban. In 2000, Mullah Omar had the Taliban’s Codan high frequency radios distributed to the “fifty-two key leaders in the Taliban.” Yet for political reasons Mohammed Zahir today is not being held in Guantanamo anymore. He is not the only individual who should never have been released from Guantanamo Bay.
In November 2001 Abdullah Mehsud was captured in Kunduz while fighting with the Taliban. Mehsud had a fake identification card and was able to convince his captives that he was an innocent Afghan. After two years in Guantanamo he was deemed to have “no further intelligence value to the United States and will not be seen for further intelligence purposes. Subject detainee has not expressed thoughts of violence or made threats toward the U.S. or its allies during interrogations or in the course of his detention. Based on the above, detainee does not pose a future threat to the U.S. or U.S. interests.” On January 18, 2003, Said Mohammad Alam Shah better known by his kunya Abdullah Mehsud was recommended for release or transfer to the control of Afghanistan. Abdullah Mehsud was able to fool those who captured him, those at Guantanamo who released him. Upon his release he immediately rallied the Mehsuds tribe in Southern Waziristan who then began kidnapping individuals, and conducted attacks on American troops, the Pakistan Army and the Pakistan government. Like Abdullah Mehsud, Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul, Mullah Shahzada, and Said Ali al Shihri, and others who were held at Guantanamo returned to the battlefield to undertake terrorist operations.
Lets not kid anyone. The prisoners still being held at Guantanamo Bay are a threat. While the most serious terrorists will be held and hopefully finally tried, this Administration has cleared 64 detainees for transfer or release. We will see terrorist attacks and a number of these individuals return to the battlefield in places like Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and other countries. To give one some background, I have selected two detainees randomly to highlight so that one may gleam some insight into those still being held. Shaker Aamer, a Saudi citizen was a member of Al-Qaeda and was close to Osama Bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Suri, Sheikh Abu al-Walid among other senior terrorist leaders. Aamer spent time in the United States and has been an Al-Qaeda recruiter, facilitator and financier. Aamer has been associated with Abu Hamza al-Masri, the former Egyptian cleric from the Finsbury Park Mosque, Richard Reid, the shoe bomber and Zacharias Moussoui. Aamer’s JTF-GTMO Detainee Assessment stated that “coupled with detainee’s membership in Al-Qaida, his desire for martyrdom and his assessed skills in recruitment and facilitation, detainee will pose a threat.”
Omar Saeed Salem al Daini was born in Hadramawt, Yemen. He is an Islamic extremist and Al-Qaeda fighter. He was recruited and travelled to Afghanistan in 2001 to attend the al-Faruq Training camp. He also recruited others to attend terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. In October 2001, he went from Kandahar to Jalalabad as Al-Qaeda emptied its terrorist training camps. While in Jalalabad he stayed in Abu Jihad’s safe house and then returned to Tora Bora as part of a small unit of fighters to take up defensive positions. Armed with Ak-47s and RPGs, Omar was present for the bombing by the US of Al-Qaeda positions in the mountains. He was part of a group of 60-70 Al-Qaeda fighters attempting to escape to Pakistan on December 13, 2001 when he was injured during the US bombing. Al Daini was knocked unconscious and his leg was broken. On December 15, 2001 he was captured and hospitalized. He spent time in various US prisons in Afghanistan before being sent to Guantanamo Bay. During his interrogation he used well known counter interrogation techniques to avoid answering questions. On May 11, 2008 he was found to be in possession of a small white piece of plastic with sharp corners.
These two random profiles shed some light into the mindset of those still being held in Guantanamo Bay. Unfortunately the Obama Administration in seeking a political solution places the closure of Guantanamo Bay ahead of protecting Americans and America’s interests abroad. These hardened terrorists and Islamic fighters if given the chance will seek to attack Americans where they can find them whether that is Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan or elsewhere. To think otherwise shows great ignorance.