Startling Lack of Evidence on Guantanamo Detainee

     WASHINGTON (CN) — Positive identification from a source tortured during the Bush administration is some of the only evidence prosecutors have on a longtime captive at Guantanamo Bay, representatives for the Algerian argued Tuesday.
     Unlike many of the other detainees, scant information can be found in the public domain about Said bin Brahim bin Umran Bakush, and the 45-year-old has garnered little media attention.
     U.S. forces say they captured Bakush at a safe house in Faisalabad, Pakistan, in March 2002, along with prominent al-Qaida facilitator Abu Zubaydah and al-Qaida trainer lbn al-Shaykh al-Libi.
     While prosecutors consider Zubaydah a high-value Guantanamo detainee, al-Libi died in a Libyan prison in 2009 from an apparent suicide.
     The United States kept the fact that it once had al-Libi at Guantanamo quiet until 2014, a decade after al-Libi recanted his bogus claim about a supposed link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida.
     It was al-Libi’s original report that then-Secretary of State Colin Powell delivered to the United Nations in his famous 2003 speech that paved the way for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
     The Washington Post reported in 2009 that al-Libi made up the story about Iraq having provided al-Qaida with chemical and biological weapons training after Egyptian interrogators beat him and subjected him to a mock burial.
     As summarized in a New York Times profile, al-Libi’s real name was Ali Muhammad Abdul Aziz al al-Fakhri.
     Though a 2014 report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence first revealed that the CIA brought al-Libi to Guantanamo in 2003, there are no known court or military documents about him, according to that profile.
     The U.S. claims that when it captured al-Libi, Zubaydah and Bakush, the trio were training for future attacks on U.S. installations and embassies in various countries.
     Bakush’s previously classified profile says the U.S. raid on the safe house thwarted that plan.
     After receiving basic and advanced training in Afghanistan in the late 1990s, the U.S. says Bakush became an instructor at an extremist camp and that his advanced training probably included explosives.
     Two personal military representatives read a public statement on behalf of Bakush, who arrived at Guantanamo nearly 14 years ago, and appeared before the board on Tuesday without an attorney.
     His previously classified profile says that Bakush has denied knowing Zubaydah and al-Libi, though the two told interrogators they knew Bakush. According to his public profile, Bakush “has consistently denied involvement in terrorist activities.”
     Despite Bakush never having admitted to such involvement, the U.S. says he has given interrogators conflicting information.
     It is for that reason, the U.S. says, it lacks “insight into what motivated his activities before detention and whether he would pursue extremist activity after detention.”
     Bakush’s previously classified profile says the U.S. brought him to Guantanamo to provide information on someone named Ahmad.
     This is a possible reference to Guantanamo detainee Ahmad Abd al-Qader Ahmad Hasan Abu Bakr, whom the U.S. says led the safe house in Faisalabad.
     The U.S. released that 32-year old Yemeni detainee, more commonly known as Ahmed Abdul Qader, to Estonia in 2015.
     Bakush’s public profile, which an anonymous female voice read aloud during the live stream of the hearing from the Pentagon, noted that the detainee, known as AG-685, “has not expressed or demonstrated any sympathy or support for al-Qaida, its global jihadist ideology, or radical Islamic views.”
     Personal representatives for Bakush described the man as “a quiet, compliant detainee earning the respect of his fellow detainees and detention facility staff.”
     They expressed confidence regarding his genuine “desire to pursue a peaceful way of life if transferred from Guantanamo Bay.”
     Bakush does not harbor ill will toward anyone, his male representative told the board, adding that Bakush “does not pose a significant threat to security of the United States or any of its interests.”
     The only property belonging to Bakush held by the U.S. government is a string of green prayer beads, according to his previously classified profile.
     Before his capture, Bakush apparently engaged in menial labor that included restaurant work, welding and vineyard harvesting, representatives for the detainee said. They noted that Bakush also did truck driving during a two-year stint in the Algerian military.
     Bakush could enter the truck driving business if he is released, and would like to get married and start a family, his representatives said.

%d bloggers like this: