In a bizarre move, the U.S. Military Commission held a lengthy hearing this month to determine if a convicted Al Qaeda operative who rejoined the terrorist group after the Obama administration released him from Guantanamo is an enemy belligerent. The hearing, held at the Fort Belvoir Army base in Virginia, was also supposed to determine if the convicted terrorist, Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi, can be forced to serve more jail time though his exact whereabouts appear to be unknown. It may sound like a bad joke but it’s not and Judicial Watch was part of a group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) approved by the Pentagon to cover the absurd proceeding.
Here’s some background on Al Qosi, a Sudanese national who spent more than eight years at the U.S. military compound in southeast Cuba that houses the world’s most dangerous terrorists, including 9/11 masterminds Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi. In 2010 Al Qosi pleaded guilty to conspiring with Al Qaeda and providing material support for terrorism. A military panel sentenced him to 14 years in confinement, but the Obama administration transferred him to his native Sudan two years later under a plea agreement that included three conditions, including that Al Qosi would not become involved in or support terrorism.
Al Qosi has since joined Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), U.S. officials confirm, and has proudly appeared in propaganda and recruitment videos that indicate he is one of the group’s leaders. Though U.S. military officials wouldn’t confirm Al Qosi’s whereabouts, it’s obvious that he’s not in U.S. custody and the ridiculous hearing—which included an army of taxpayer-funded lawyers—was held while he engages in terrorist activities.
To quote our commander-in-chief, Al Qosi is a “bad dude” who never should have been released. His Department of Defense (DOD) file is disturbing and recommends continued detention. “Detainee is an admitted al-Qaida operative and one of Usama Bin Laden’s (UBL) most trusted associates and veteran bodyguard,” the Pentagon file states. “Detainee was the accountant for UBL’s Taba Investment Company (TIC) in Sudan, which provided financial and logistical services for UBL and al-Qaida. Detainee served as a treasurer and courier for TIC. Detainee is associated with senior al-Qaida members and received advanced training. Detainee participated in hostilities against US and Coalition forces at Tora Bora, AF.” The intel file says that releasing Al Qosi is a high risk because he is likely to pose a threat to the U.S., its interests and allies. “Detainee is an admitted veteran jihadist with combat experience beginning in 1990 and it is assessed he would engage in hostilities against US forces, if released.”
The Fort Belvoir spectacle was officially called a DuBay hearing, a seldom-used fact-finding session that’s unique to the military justice system. It was quite a production, with a packed gallery that included a large contingent from the various defense teams involved in the 9/11 trails, media and NGOs. Al Qosi was represented by three taxpayer-funded attorneys, including Michael Schwartz, a former military lawyer who has represented Guantanamo terrorists for more than five years.
Among the first issue addressed by the court was defense counsel’s ability to represent Al Qosi’s best interests because his original attorney, Navy Reserve Commander Suzanne Lachelier, claims a conflict of interest prevents her from representing him. Back when Al Qosi was sentenced after his 2010 convictions he instructed of his intent to appeal and, though he’s an Al Qaeda poster boy training future jihadists, an appeal was filed on his behalf.
Over the years Judicial Watch has repeatedly traveled to Guantanamo to cover the 9/11 trials and hearings as well as those of other terrorists, including Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who orchestrated the 2000 attack on the Navy destroyer USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors and injured dozens of others. Judicial Watch has also covered every proceeding conducted by President Obama’s special Guantanamo Periodic Review Board (PRB) via live broadcasts at the Pentagon. Comprised of senior officials from the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice and State, the board reviews whether continued detention of certain individuals remains necessary to protect against significant threat to the security of the United States.