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August 10, 2022

US knew 150 Guantanamo Bay prisoners were innocent

According to a new bulk of top-secret documents published by WikiLeaks, a man who spent six years in Guantanamo is now a senior figure in the Libyan rebels’ fight against Colonel Gadaffi.

Combined reports
WASHINGTON –  Whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks published a new series of documents, mainly consisting of intelligence reports on the prisoners at the airbase in Cuba, to various news organisations in the US and Europe on Monday.  The documents reveal that 150 Guantanamo Bay prisoners were innocent but the US government kept them locked up for years anyway, The Daily Record informs.

The files – US assessments of almost all 780 men to pass through Guantanamo – reveal that an 89-year-old Afghan villager with dementia was locked up because he had “suspicious phone numbers” on him. A boy of 14 kidnapped by the Taliban was sent to Guantanamo to be interrogated for his “possible knowledge” of local enemy commanders. And a Sudanese cameraman for Al Jazeera was kept for six years, partly to be quizzed about the Arab TV network. Amnesty International said: “These disclosures appear to back up many of the things we’ve said about Guantanamo being a travesty of justice.” The Americans assessed all Guantanamo prisoners and found that 220 – fewer than a third – were high-level terrorists. Another 380 were described as low to mid-level enemy fighters. But 150 were found to be no more than innocent farmers, drivers or cooks – mostly rounded up in the fevered atmosphere of the Afghan invasion after 9/11. Many were held because they were caught wearing cheap Casio watches of a type reportedly given to graduates of an al-Qaeda bomb-making course. In other cases, the US did not know why men had been taken prisoner. The files state that there was “no reason recorded”.

The documents also show how, for two decades, Britain effectively became a crucible of terrorism, with dozens of extremists, home-grown and from abroad, radicalised, The Telegraph reports. Guantanamo interrogators have uncovered a determined attempt by al-Qaeda to attack Western countries using chemical or nuclear weaponss.

The Cuban base is an embarrassment to Barack Obama who had pledged to close it two years ago when he was elected.  The US government said it was ‘unfortunate’ that news organisations had decided to publish classified information on detainees.

In another disclosed file by WikiLeaks that was written in 2005, Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda Bin Qumu was identified as a “probable member of Al Qaida and a member of the African Extremist Network”.  The revelation will raise concerns about the range of factions fighting Gadaffi in Libya, some of whom have been associated with Al Qaeda.  Qumu was previously a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, but allegedly left the proscribed group in 1998 to join the Taliban.  In the report, US investigators classified Qumu as a “medium to high” risk because he was “likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies”.

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