Guantanamo Detainee Details Years of Regret

      WASHINGTON (CN) — A Pakistani seeking transfer from Guantanamo Bay has spent 14 years in detention, sorry that he took a job working directly for the mastermind of 9/11, the man’s representatives told a review board Thursday.
     Abdul Rahim Ghulam Rabbani called himself an “idiot” and has said he deserved what happened to him, according to the public statement that his attorney of 10 years, Agnieszka Fryszman, read to the board.
     “I have had a lot of time to think about the mistakes I made,” Rabbani told the attorney, according to the statement. “I didn’t know anything about politics until I got myself into trouble. I found myself in a big hole. At the end of the day, I deserve what happened to me. I hope you will forgive me and allow me to turn a new page.”
     The United States says Rabbani ran al-Qaida safe houses in Karachi, Pakistan, where he started as a cook.
     The defense does not dispute this allegation, nor that Rabbani helped Khalid Sheikh Mohammed house and transport the group’s fighters from Afghanistan to Pakistan.
     Despite his admitted involvement with al-Qaida, anonymous personal military representatives for the detainee painted a different picture – one of a man limited by the economic opportunities available to him who sought work from al-Qaida in order to support his family.
     “At the time, he did not fully understand the effects of his actions and prioritized family support, care, and feeding,” one of his female representatives told the Periodic Review Board.
     “Abdul Rahim quickly realized during his time in Guantanamo, though, that al-Qaida is a terrorist organization and that it was wrong to aid their fighters as a housing and transportation facilitator,” she read from the representatives’ public statement.
     Fryszman, the attorney, echoed this sentiment.
     “Mr. Rabbani was an indigent Arabic-speaking, off-and-on taxi driver in Karachi when he was hired for a steady, relatively well-paid job – to provide labor for Khalid Sheik Mohammed,” Fryszman said. “He performed tasks as directed and was paid a salary. That is a job he certainly regrets taking.”
     Rabbani could be seen on the monitor at the Pentagon, which aired the hearing via closed-circuit from Guantanamo, with a long, dark beard and wearing a long-sleeved white shirt and a white prayer hat.
     Though minimally educated, Rabbani appeared to read the hearing documents sitting in front of him on the rectangular table and occasionally sipped from a plastic bottle of water.
     An avid sports and soccer fan, Rabbani spends his time at Guantanamo watching soccer, reading the Quran and cleaning his cell block.
     Fryszman says Rabbani has “a gentle sense of humor,” and told the board that he is not an extremist – he has taken responsibility for his life and actions.
     “Mr. Rabbani did not act for ideological or hate filled reasons,” she said. “During the entire 10 years we have represented him, he has never expressed to us any anti-American sentiment. He has never expressed to us any anger or intent to harm anyone.”
     Rabbani would like to be reunited with his wife and two teenage sons, preferably in Saudi Arabia where he has family willing to support him, Fryszman said. Additionally, a resettlement program through Reprieve has agreed to help support him in finding work through its Life After Guantanamo Project.
     Rabbani is willing to undergo any rehabilitation programs the U.S. requires and will agree to any necessary security measures, Fryszman said.
     His personal representatives said they believe his desire to live a peaceful life after Guantanamo is genuine.
     “Based on everything we have seen and heard during our meetings, as well as the statements from his family and his private council, we do not believe that Abdul Rahim is a continuing significant threat to the United States,” they said.
     Rabbani was arrested in Pakistan in September 2002, but did not land in Guantanamo until two years later.
     “His access to Muhammad and other senior al-Qaida members probably positioned PK-1460 to play a support role in al-Qaida operations, including 9/11, Karachi-based attack plotting, and possibly the al-Qaida anthrax program, although we judge that PK-1460 most likely did not have specific insight into al-Qaida operational plans,” the detainee’s unclassified profile states, using his internment serial number.
     Reading from the unclassified profile, an anonymous female voice noted that Rabbani “has not admitted to being aware of al-Qaida attack plotting details, either because he really was ignorant of them or because he is attempting to mask his involvement in anything beyond facilitation activities.”

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