What’s the government’s case against Gitmo’s most famous New York Times contributor?
This morning, it was impossible not to feel a pang of sympathy for Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, the Guantánamo Bay detainee who described his miserable existence in a column for the New York Times. Moqbel, a 35-year-old Yemeni citizen, has been detained at the military prison without charges for more than 11 years. Given ...
This morning, it was impossible not to feel a pang of sympathy for Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, the Guantánamo Bay detainee who described his miserable existence in a column for the New York Times. Moqbel, a 35-year-old Yemeni citizen, has been detained at the military prison without charges for more than 11 years. Given that the column inspired a renewal of calls for Guantánamo's closure, a salient question emerges: What's the government's case against him anyway?
In his column, Moqbel says his interrogators accused him of being Osama bin Laden’s security guard, a claim he says is “nonsense.” In his defense, he says he went to Afghanistan to find work, fled to Pakistan after the U.S. invasion in 2001, and was arrested by Pakistanis sometime afterward. Because Moqbel’s account is a column, it’s necessarily one-sided. So we dug into the government files against him, which were organized by NPR and the New York Times in its sweeping “Guantanamo Docket” project. Here’s what Moqbel’s file says:
How he was captured:
Detainee was captured with a group referred to as the Dirty 30, which included UBL bodyguards and a 20th 11 September 2001 hijacker while, escaping hostilities during Operation Enduring Freedom.
What he’s accused of:
Detainee received basic and advanced militant training at the al-Qaida al-Faruq Training Camp, and was identified as an al-Qaida guesthouse staff member. Detainee’s name and aliases were found on al-Qaida affiliated documents and he acknowledged he was recruited by known al-Qaida member, Marwan Jawan, who also facilitated his travel to Afghanistan. JTF-GTMO determined this detainee to be: o o o A HIGH risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies A LOW threat from a detention perspective Of MEDIUM intelligence value … Detainee admitted fighting on the front lines, is assessed to be a fighter in UBL’s 55th Arab Brigade, 1 and is assessed to have participated in hostilities
What his potential intelligence value is:
Reasons for Transfer to JTF-GTMO: To provide information on the following: Operations of the Islamic Relief Organization (IRO) and associated individuals 12 Khaled al-Shaykh, a Kuwaiti national Detainee’s work in Kashmir
What his behavior has been like at Guantánamo:
Detainee’s Conduct: Detainee is assessed to be a LOW threat from a detention perspective. His overall behavior has been mostly compliant and rarely hostile to the guard force and staff. He currently has 19 Reports of Disciplinary Infraction listed in DIMS with the most recent occurring on 24 November 2007, when he passed a water bottle through the fence during recreation. He has three Reports of Disciplinary Infraction for assault with the most recent occurring on 13 December 2003, when he threw water mixed with toothpaste on a guard. Other incidents for which he has been disciplined include damage to government property, assaults, unauthorized communications, and possession of food type contraband. In 2007, he had a total of two Reports of Disciplinary Infraction and none so far in 2008.
It goes without saying that these records represent a snapshot of Moqbel from the government’s perspective at one point in time, and are subject to change in a way that could both benefit or damage Moqbel’s case. Indeed, in his column, Moqbel says his interrogators “don’t even seem to believe it anymore” that he was bin Laden’s security guard. Regardless, it’s useful to see a glimpse of what the government has stacked against him.
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