The War Profiteers - War Crimes, Kidnappings & Torture
November 26th, 2008 - Freed Guantanamo Prisoner Arrives Home in Yemen
Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver and bodyguard to Osama bin Laden, will serve the remaining month of his sentence in his homeland.
By Carol J. Williams
Los Angeles Times
November 26, 2008
Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver and bodyguard for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, arrived in his Yemeni homeland after being released from Guantanamo Bay, the Pentagon disclosed late Tuesday.
The transfer Tuesday marked an end to the seven-year odyssey that began with the Yemeni's capture at a roadblock in Afghanistan as U.S. forces bombarded suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban strongholds after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"As part of a transfer agreement with the United States, the remainder of Hamdan's sentence will be served in Yemen," a brief Pentagon statement announced, referring to the few weeks Hamdan has left in a sentence due to end Dec. 27.
Hamdan, a man with a fourth-grade education believed to be about 40, was convicted by a six-member military jury in August and sentenced to serve 66 months for providing material support for terrorism. He was acquitted at the end of a three-week trial of the more serious charge of conspiracy and credited by the judge, Navy Capt. Keith J. Allred, for the 61 months he had already spent at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since being charged.
Hamdan, whose challenge to his detention led the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006 to quash the original war crimes tribunal established by President Bush, was only the second Guantanamo prisoner to win release after being formally charged with terrorism. Australian David Hicks was freed under a plea bargain last year and completed the last seven months of his sentence in his homeland.
Yemeni authorities reportedly agreed to detain Hamdan for the remaining month of his sentence and to monitor him to ensure he doesn't resume contact or collaboration with terrorist groups. But similar conditions imposed in exchange for release of other former Guantanamo prisoners have been ignored by their national authorities after repatriation and risk assessments.
Hamdan's defense attorney, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brian Mizer, said he had been provided little information by the U.S. government about his client's transfer.
"Attorneys should have many rights under this system, and so should an accused. But those just don't happen at Guantanamo," he said. "The way things happen in Guantanamo is that your client is whisked away in the middle of the night and you find out about it in the newspapers."
Of the nearly 800 men brought to Guantanamo since the detention network was built at the U.S. naval base in January 2002, about 250 remain. The majority have been released or transferred to their home countries for lack of evidence to put them on trial for war crimes.
Nearly 100 of the prisoners still at Guantanamo are Yemeni, and Hamdan's release could portend a breakthrough in years-long efforts to repatriate most of them.
Williams is a Times staff writer.
By Daria Sito-Sucic
November 26, 2008
Sarajevo - Hajj Boudella's children will have to wait a while to see their father, even though a U.S. federal judge ordered his release last week from the Guantanamo Bay prison after nearly seven years.
"After the ruling, my children asked if this means their dad would come home that same night," Boudella's wife Nadja Dizdarevic told Reuters in an interview this week.
"Their faces fell when they realized it may be a long time before they see him again," said the mother of four who has to move from apartment to apartment each time her landlord finds out about her husband's case.
It may take up to two years before Boudella, one of five Algerians ordered released last week from Guantanamo, returns home to Bosnia, where he first went during the 1992-95 war to help organize humanitarian assistance.
Thousands of volunteers from Arab and African countries came to Bosnia during the war to fight along with Bosnian Muslims against Serbs and Croats. Some worked for Islamic aid groups.
Boudella stayed on past the war after marrying Dizdarevic, who was widowed with one child when her first husband died in the war. They have three children of their own.
"He has never seen our youngest daughter who was only eight days old when they kidnapped him," Dizdarevic said, referring to extradition by Bosnian authorities of the six Algerians to the U.S. military authorities in January 2002.
Bosnia picked up the men in October 2001, shortly after the Sept 11 attacks on the United States by al Qaeda militants. U.S. President George W. Bush said later the six men had been planning a bomb attack on the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo.
Justice Department attorneys said last month they would no longer rely on those accusations but that the men should continue to be held because they planned to go to Afghanistan in late 2001 to fight U.S. forces there.
Lack of evidence
The U.S. court ruled last week that there was enough evidence to keep one of the six men in detention but that the evidence against the other five was too weak.
"My children grew up overnight, they are not children anymore. They don't play games but watch news," Dizdarevic said. "I want normal children and not adults but it is too late now."
The men were taken to the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba the day after a ruling by a top court in Bosnia that they should be released due to a lack of evidence.
"I expect Bosnia-Herzegovina to use this opportunity and correct injustice inflicted on all of us, and establish diplomatic links with the United States as soon as possible to bring these men home," Dizdarevic said.
Their final release from Guantanamo is pending a decision by the U.S. government on whether to appeal the ruling, and on a request by the Bosnian authorities for their immediate release, human rights activists said.
"They should have reacted immediately and made an emergency plan to bring these people back home after their innocence had been proved," said Muhamed Djemidjic, the director of the Bosnian branch of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights.
Over the years Dizdarevic has become a determined human rights activist who has organized protests and lodged appeals at local and international human rights courts.
"I fought not to spend the rest of my life as the wife of a terrorist but of a man who was illegally kidnapped," she said.
Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; editing by Adam Tanner and Philippa Fletcher.
© Thomson Reuters 2008. All rights reserved.
External link: http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE4AP61220081126
By Agence France Presse
November 26, 2008
Ottawa - All three of Canada's opposition parties on Wednesday called for the immediate repatriation of the only Canadian held at the US naval facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on terrorism charges.
"Mr. (Omar) Khadr's continued imprisonment in Guantanamo Bay is simply indefensible," said Liberal foreign affairs critic Bryon Wilfert at a press conference, echoed by his Bloc Quebecois and New Democratic Party counterparts.
"With the pending closure of the controversial facility under the incoming Obama administration, the Conservatives must take action to ensure that Mr Khadr is transferred to Canada, where justice can be carried out before a fair and impartial tribunal," he said.
Omar Khadr, 21, was arrested in Afghanistan in 2002 when he was 15 years old and charged with killing a US soldier with a hand grenade. He faces a US military trial in January.
Opposition parties in Canada and human rights groups have been clamoring for his immediate repatriation to Canada where he would be treated as a former child-soldier.
His father Ahmed Said Khadr, an Egyptian-born Canadian national, was a suspected Al-Qaeda financier and was killed in a gun battle with Pakistani troops.
Bloc Quebecois MP Paul Crete accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government of "twisted ideological doggedness" in its refusal to ask Washington for Khadr's release.
"The Conservatives' attitude from the start, and reiterated by Canada's new Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, is unworthy of a democratic government," said Crete.
On Monday, Canada's top diplomat underscored that Khadr faces "very serious charges."
"Any questions regarding whether Canada plans to ask for the release of Mr Khadr from Guantanamo are premature and speculative in nature as the legal process and appeals are ongoing," he said.
The daily La Presse, citing a government document, said last week that top officials in the foreign affairs department felt Khadr could be rehabilitated and lead a normal life.
They openly questioned "why the government is not doing more to help this young man."
Copyright © 2008 AFP. All rights reserved.