View Full Version : Alleged bin Laden Guard Ordered Freed

08-19-2009, 11:22 AM
Alleged bin Laden Guard Ordered Freed
August 19, 2009
Miami Herald

A federal judge has ordered the Pentagon to free a Yemeni father of two with a heart condition who has been held for seven and a half years at Guantanamo on suspicion of serving as Osama bin Laden's bodyguard.

Mohammed al Adahi, 47, testified by video link from the prison camp that he had met bin Laden socially during the summer before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks but never worked for him or waged jihad.

"I did not fight the American alliance. I did not deal with Taliban or al Qaeda. I am a working man in my country. I have never committed a crime," he said, according to a transcript of his mostly classified June hearing at the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C.

U.S. Judge Gladys Kessler ruled for his release on Monday, instructing the U.S. government to "take all necessary and appropriate diplomatic steps" and comply with Congressional requirement to release him "forthwith." She also ordered the government to release a public version of her decision Friday.

Unclear is how soon Adahi might leave Guantanamo, where his attorneys say he suffers high blood pressure and at one point was offered angioplasty treatments by prison camp medical staff.

The U.S. is still negotiating a repatriation agreement with the Yemeni government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh for up to 93 Yemeni citizens held among the 229 detainees at the U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba.

Kessler's ruling raised to 29 the number of long-held Guantanamo captives that federal judges have ordered released through unlawful detention suits, compared with the six whose detentions that judges have upheld.

Dozens more cases are winding their way through the courts.

The hearing lasted three days. Justice Department attorneys called no witnesses but showed the judge prison camp videos of guards tackling and shackling the Yemeni and forcing him from his cell, said defense attorney Kristin Wilhelm of Atlanta.

To clear his name, she said, Adahi collected statements from fellow detainees at Guantanamo who supposedly fingered him in prison camp interrogations.

None corroborated the U.S. government allegations, Wilhelm said.

"All Mr. al Adahi wants to do is to return to his wife and two children in Yemen. Unfortunately, his health is not good," said attorney Richard G. Murphy Jr., part of a legal team between Washington and Atlanta that defended him without charge.

Pakistani troops captured Adahi as he fled the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan soon after 9/11. He was aboard a bus carrying wounded Taliban soldiers, the basis of a Pentagon claim that he had been in league with the Taliban.

On his wrist was a Casio watch, which U.S. military intelligence said was similar to those al Qaeda terrorists had rigged as explosive triggers. But the Yemeni told the judge at his hearing that his watch had hands, and wasn't digital, a key distinction.

Pentagon records released through the Freedom of Information Act indicate that Adahi arrived at Guantanamo in the early days of Camp X-Ray, on Jan. 27, 2002 -- the same date as the first visit by delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

For a time, the U.S. had suspected that Adahi served as a bin Laden bodyguard, in part because his brother-in-law may have worked for the al Qaeda leader.

But Adahi had long maintained that he was captured during what was meant to be a two-month vacation from a Yemeni oil refinery. He was escorting his sister to an arranged marriage with a fellow Yemeni in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

While there, in the summer before the 9/11 attacks, Adahi attended a party of men celebrating his sister's wedding and was introduced to bin Laden among the guests.

Bin Laden, a Saudi, traces his family back to Yemen, and Adahi testified that in the summer of 2001 bin Laden was "in control of Kandahar . . . considered as the governor of the city."

They made small talk about Yemen he said, and then a few days later he was summoned to meet bin Laden again. "If you are a stranger and you go to that place and the man called you, you submit," he said.