Abd Al-Hadi Al-Iraqi is first ‘high-value detainee’ to accept plea deal at Guantánamo, could be released by 2024 – OpEd – Eurasia Review
Two weeks ago, an important event took place at Guantanamo, when Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, a 60 or 61-year-old “high-value detainee”, real name Nashwan al-Tamir, who was one of the last prisoners to arrive at Guantánamo, in April 2007, admitted to involvement in war crimes as part of a plea deal that could see him released from prison by 2024.
It is the first plea deal reached with a ‘high-value inmate’ under President Biden, and could point a way forward for the nine other ‘high-value inmate’ trials, including those of the five accused men. of having participated in the 9/11 attacks, and of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, accused of having participated in the attack, in 2000, against the USS Cole, in which 17 US Navy sailors were killed. Trials are stalled in seemingly endless preliminary hearings, largely because of the seemingly intractable problem of providing fair trials for men who have been tortured, and it should be noted that in March it has been reported that plea agreements were being discussed as part of the 9/11 trial.
When al-Iraqi arrived at Guantánamo more than 15 years ago, the Pentagon described him as “one of al-Qaeda’s oldest and most experienced operatives”, although the details of how he ended up at Guantanamo were rather more shady. A Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, explained that he had been transferred to DoD custody from CIA custody, although he “did not say where or when al-Iraqi was captured or by whom. “, while a US intelligence official, “speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue,” said the Associated Press that al-Iraqi had been captured in late 2006 “in an operation that involved many people in more than one country”.
A month later, in an interview with Al-Jazeera, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, a senior member of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, said that al-Iraqi was on his way to Iraq when he “was arrested in Turkey”, then “handed over to the Americans”, and this was confirmed later, by the Senate Intelligence Committee CIA torture program reportthat he was held for six months by the CIA, although in September 2006, when 14 “high-value detainees” were transferred to Guantánamo from CIA “black sites”, President Bush, who had previously denied the existence of the “black sites”, said that following these transfers, the “black sites” had all been closed.
As was also revealed in the torture report, al-Iraqi “was consistently assessed as being cooperative” while in CIA custody, although “interrogators believed he was hiding information” about future operations “and locations high value targets. However, it was also revealed that in February 2007 “CIA headquarters discussed the possible use of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ [torture] against al-Iraqi, although at the end of the month they determined that there was “insufficient intelligence… [al-Iraqi] own[d] actionable information… to justify the use of EITs.
Accused and indicted
When this information finally surfaced via the Senate torture report, al-Iraqi had already been at Guantánamo for seven and a half years, largely engulfed in secrecy that shrouded particularly “high-value detainees” – and in particular those who had not been charged. This situation had only changed when he was indicted in June 2013, and when a conspiracy charge was added in February 2014. In June 2014, he was finally arrested, along with then-employee Carol Rosenberg. Miami Herald, reports that he “looked much older than his pre-capture photo”, and explaining that he was charged with “classic war crimes punishable by life in prison” – in particular, “targeting medical workers and civilians as well as foreign troops in Afghanistan” – in 2003 and 2004.
As I explained at the time, al-Iraqi’s defense team pointed to issues raised by the fact that US authorities appeared to consider him to be involved with both al-Qaeda and the Taliban. As one of his lawyers, Army Lt. Col. Chris Callen, said, “If you said he’s Taliban, we’d say he’s a legitimate fighter. He added: ‘It seems that at the beginning of the war they confused the two’ and then adopted a ‘pick one’ policy.
Al-Iraqi’s lawyers also explained that he was “originally from Mosul, although he has a wife and children in Afghanistan”, and described him as “a courteous former non-commissioned officer in the army Iraqi company which took care of logistics and administrative functions during the 1980s”. -88 Iran-Iraq war”, and who then “fleed his homeland for a new life in Afghanistan after the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein and before the Desert Storm led by the United States”.
They added, as I described, that “he did not participate in hunger strikes, is a devout Muslim and read everything in the library of secret camp 7, where the ‘detainees of great value'”. They also described him as “more of a Taliban soldier than a terrorist”.
A degenerative spinal condition
Since then, al-Iraqi’s preliminary hearings have been largely dominated by his serious physical problems. As Middle Eastern eye explained in an article last September that when he “had a medical emergency” he allegedly “lost feeling in his lower legs” and was “unable to walk or stand,” as he “suffered from a degenerative disease of the spine, and is among the most physically handicapped” of the 36 remaining prisoners.
As the Center for Victims of Torture explained, al-Iraqi “was diagnosed with spinal stenosis in September 2010”, although “he did not receive surgical treatment until his condition worsened seven years later, when he “began to experience significant loss of sensation in both feet and loss of bladder control. He then “underwent four additional surgeries performed at Guantánamo by specialists off-island” (due to a continuing prohibition in the annual National Defense Authorization Act against the transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo to the continental United States for any reason, even medical treatment. urgent medical attention), and it was also noted that he “continues to suffer from the disease and may require further surgery”.
It was also noted that al-Iraqi “rely on a wheelchair and walker inside the prison” and “also has a padded geriatric chair and a hospital bed for the court, the latter being retained when heavy painkillers put him to sleep.”
The Plea Agreement
During her plea hearing on June 13, as reported by Carol Rosenberg for the New York Timesal-Iraqi “spent much of the day-long hearing answering ‘Yes, your honor’ to questions from military judge Lt. Col. Mark F. Rosenow about a secret account of his activities in Afghanistan as a co-conspirator with Osama bin Laden and other senior al-Qaeda leaders between 1996 and 2003,” which “included over 100 items.” The expense sheet is hereand a transcript of the hearing is here.
Rosenberg added that al-Iraqi “pleaded guilty to the traditional war crimes of attacking protected property – a US military medical evacuation helicopter that responding insurgents failed to shoot down in Afghanistan in 2003. – and of treason and conspiracy related to the insurgent bombardments which killed at least three Allied troops, one from Canada, one from Great Britain and one from Germany.
As Judge Rosenow described it, “These Allied soldiers were killed by car bombs or suicide bombers posing as civilians…If Mr. Hadi had known in advance of the plans, he had a duty to stop them. If he had had no prior knowledge, [he] had a duty to punish the perpetrators.
Rosenberg stressed that the plea deal represented “a drastic reduction” of the government’s initial charges against him, when it was claimed that he “is part of the larger al-Qaeda conspiracy to rid the Arabian Peninsula of non-Muslims”, that he had knowledge of the September 11, 2001 attacks and was implicated in “the Taliban’s destruction of monumental Buddha statues in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site , in March 2001” and “the 2003 assassination by insurgents of a French worker for the United Nations Relief Agency. Rather, the disappearance of all of the above tends to reinforce suspicions that it was unreliable information extracted from al-Iraqi while he was in a CIA “black site”, although it could also have been extracted in dubious circumstances via his fellow prisoners.
Under the plea agreement, as Rosenberg also explained, “a military jury will hear the evidence against him” and be asked to choose a sentence “within a range of 25 to 30 years.” After that, the military commission convening authority, a “senior Pentagon official overseeing” the commissions, “will reduce it to 10 years.”
Also under the agreement, the sentencing is postponed for two years, to allow the US government “to find a sympathetic nation to receive him and provide him with lifelong medical care”, and also to detain him while he serves his term. the remainder of his sentence. As Susan Hensler, his Pentagon-appointed civilian attorney, explained, “He pleaded guilty to his role as a front-line commander in Afghanistan. He has been detained for 16 years, including the six months he spent in a CIA black site. We hope that the United States will keep its promise to transfer him as soon as possible for the medical treatment he desperately needs.
I wrote the above article for the “Close Guantánamo», which I created in January 2012, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, with the American lawyer Tom Wilner. please join us — All it takes is an email address to be counted among those who oppose the continued existence of Guantánamo and to receive updates on our activities by email.