Sus­pected bomber in Iraq had been re­leased from Gitmo

The Washington Times Weekly - - From Page One - By Bill Gertz

A detainee re­leased from the prison at Guan­tanamo Bay three years ago is blamed for a deadly sui­cide bomb­ing in Iraq, high­light­ing the dan­ger of re­leas­ing hard-bit­ten ter­ror­ists from the U.S. fa­cil­ity in Cuba.

Pen­tagon press sec­re­tary Ge­off Mor­rell con­firmed that Ab­dal­lah Salih al-Ajmi, who was held at Guan­tanamo for more than 3 1/2 years, likely car­ried out the sui­cide bomb­ing last month in the north­ern Iraqi city of Mo­sul.

The Pen­tagon plans to ask the Kuwaiti gov­ern­ment to de­ter­mine how the ter­ror­ist re­leased to them in 2005 was able to carry out the Mo­sul bomb­ing, Mr. Mor­rell said.

Civil lib­er­ties groups and some con­gres­sional law­mak­ers have called for the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion to close the Guan­tanamo prison, say­ing that hold­ing un­con­ven­tional con­flict com­bat­ants there is in­hu­mane and un­con­sti­tu­tional. Some crit­ics have com­pared the Guan­tanamo prison to the no­to­ri­ous Soviet gu­lag po­lit­i­cal prison-camps sys­tem.

Douglas Feith, a for­mer un­der­sec­re­tary of de­fense for pol­icy, said alAjmi’s case high­lights the dif­fi­culty of hold­ing de­tainees dur­ing the war on ter­ror­ism. The Pen­tagon had used three cri­te­ria for hold­ing ter­ror­ists pris­oner in Cuba: their intelligence value, whether they could be pros­e­cuted, and the dan­ger they posed.

“Ify­ouhad­some­onewhowas­mod­er­ately dan­ger­ous, we tried to mit­i­gate the dan­ger with an agree­ment from the home coun­try,” he said.

Al-Ajmi was “ob­vi­ously some­body who was judged to be con­sid­ered some­what dan­ger­ous but that there was a sense you could mit­i­gate the dan­ger with an agree­ment,” he said.

The sui­cide at­tack by the for­mer detainee shows the dif­fi­culty of hold- ing ter­ror­ists.

“There is a se­ri­ous prob­lem here in that the law was de­vel­oped for a con­ven­tional con­flict and we’re deal­ing with an un­con­ven­tional con­flict,” Mr. Feith said. “You don’t want to let ex­tremely dan­ger­ous peo­ple go, but hold­ing peo­ple un­til the war is over has ob­vi­ous prob­lems.”

Rep. Peter Hoek­stra, Michi­gan Repub­li­can and rank­ing mem­ber of the House Per­ma­nent Se­lect Com­mit­tee on Intelligence, said the at­tack by alAjmi “demon­strates the dif­fi­culty of the de­tainees in Gitmo.”

“Once again a detainee may have been given the ben­e­fit of the doubt, re- leased, and re­turned to the bat­tle­field and at­tacked in­no­cent peo­ple and our troops. Th­ese are dan­ger­ous peo­ple,” Mr. Hoek­stra said.

Mr. Mor­rell said it is not cer­tain that the man named al-Ajmi, who con­ducted one of sev­eral ter­ror­ist bomb­ings in Mo­sul, was the for­mer detainee or whether an­other per­son with the same name car­ried out the car bomb­ing.

If proved that al-Ajmi was the for­mer detainee, “sadly it will not be the only case of ter­ror­ists who have been re­leased or trans­ferred from that fa­cil­ity go­ing on to com­mit at­tacks again.”

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