Gitmo Detainee Blames Extremism on Youth

     WASHINGTON (CN) — A high-value Guantanamo detainee with suspected ties to senior al-Qaida leadership asked the parole board for release Tuesday, saying his youth and narrow world view led to extremism.
     Malaysian national Mohd Farik bin Amin is among the 17 high-value detainees the CIA held in its secret prison system. He entered CIA custody in 2003 after being captured in Thailand with several other current detainees. The three arrived at Guantanamo in 2006.
     The United States claims bin Amin traveled to Afghanistan in 2000 for extremist training in al-Qaida’s al-Farouq camp. He pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden and was hand-picked by al-Qaida senior leader Riduan Isomuddin, better known as “Hambali,” to hijack airliners to crash into California’s tallest building, the government believes.
     Bin Amin was captured with Hambali and Mohammad Bashir bin Lap, also of Malaysia. In 2015, the Miami Herald reported that the men are among seven additional Guantanamo detainees the Pentagon envisions trying. However, none of the three men have been charged with any crimes yet.
     Bin Amin is suspected of providing operational support for terrorist activities “including casing potential targets, researching and practicing bomb-making, obtaining weapons, and acquiring false documents,” his unclassified government profile states.
     The government says bin Amin helped facilitate money transfers to Hambali that may have been used to carry out the 2002 and 2003 attacks in Bali and Jakarta, Indonesia.
     An anonymous female voice read his profile verbatim during the Periodic Review Board hearing, which Courthouse News viewed from the Pentagon in a closed-circuit feed.
     Bin Amin appeared in a white, short-sleeved shirt, wearing glasses and with very little facial hair. He poured through binders and papers piled up on the table before him during the 15-minute proceedings.
     Diplomats from the Malaysian embassy were present for the hearing.
     An unidentified attorney appeared at the table with bin Amin, but he did not offer an unclassified statement, as many of the attorneys for Guantanamo detainees opt to do during the parole board hearings.
     Two anonymous personal representatives, however, offered a public statement on his behalf, based on their interactions with bin Amin over several months.
     Their statement focused on his regrets and his desire for a fresh start.
     “Farik has expressed regret and sorrow to us in talking about his past. He believes he made stupid, hasty decisions, largely attributed to his young age and narrow view of the world,” one of them told the board. “He now hopes to put all that behind him and start a new, peaceful life,” he added.
     According to their statement, bin Amin wants to get married and start a family. He has a “large, loving family” committed to supporting him if the Periodic Review Board decides to release him to a country that can offer security assurances that satisfy Defense Secretary Ash Carter, they said.
     Bin Amin has participated enthusiastically in a detainee socialization-management program where he improved his English, one of his representatives told the board.
     “He has enjoyed fitness magazines and watches movies like ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,'” the representative added, noting that bin Amin loves soccer, running and drawing.
     His government profile describes him as quiet with a mild-mannered disposition.
     “He has yet to engage any guard or staff personnel in a derogatory manner. MY-10021 has a very low number of noncompliance entries relative to other detainees,” his profile states, referring to him by his internment serial number.
     But the government says bin Amin remains an extremist at heart.
     “MY-10021 almost certainly remains committed to al-Qaida’s global jihadist ideology, judging from statements he has made, and is fiercely loyal to Hambali and close associate Mohammad Bashir bin Lap,” the anonymous female voice said during the hearing.
     His representatives, however, say he just wants to go home.
     “He has told us many times he is not a threat and only wants the opportunity to go home and start a normal life,” their statement said.

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