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Wednesday, July 17, 2024 | Back issues
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Yemeni Gitmo Detainee Loses Bid for Release

(CN) - A federal judge in Washington, D.C., rejected the habeas petition of a Yemeni detainee at Guantanamo Bay who claimed he had unwittingly joined al-Qaida.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler found that Suleiman Awadh Bin Agil al-Nahdi knew he was associated with al-Qaida when he traveled to Afghanistan to receive military training. Al-Nahdi was captured by coalition forces after he was injured by shrapnel after leaving Tora Bora.

Al-Nahdi said he traveled to Afghanistan in 2001 to receive military training to help the Palestinian cause, and would not have gone had he known he was being recruited to join al-Qaida.

But Judge Kessler noted that al-Nahdi stayed at al-Qaida guesthouses, twice heard Osama bin Laden speak about jihad and received military training from al-Qaida's Al Farouq training camp.

"[E]ven a recently recruited, low-ranking Taliban or al-Qaida member" can be detained, Kessler wrote. The government can detain any individual that has shown "some knowledge or intent" of joining al-Qaida, she said.

Even if al-Nahdi didn't intend to join al-Qaida at the outset, the government only has to show that "it is more likely than not that petitioner knew he was becoming or intended to become a part of or substantial supporter of al-Qaida and/or the Taliban," Kessler wrote.

Al-Nahdi argued that the government offered no hard evidence that he knew the guesthouses and training camp were associated with al-Qaida, but Kessler said the government provided sufficient circumstantial evidence.

According to the ruling, al-Nahdi maintained a guard post at Tora Bora and, though he asked to leave, stayed there after his commander yelled at him for asking. Al-Nahdi did not leave Tora Bora until Taliban and al-Qaida leadership allowed him to, the ruling states.

[W]hile it may be true that petitioner was happy to leave Tora Bora when he did, his attempt to cross back into Pakistan does not demonstrate an effort to dissociate himself with al-Qaida," Kessler concluded.

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