In September 2014, I am scheduled to travel to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to observe proceedings related to charges against Abd al Hadi al Iraqi. Military Commission charges against Hadi allege that he was a senior member of al Qaeda and liaison to the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Iraq, and that he led insurgency efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
These alleged activities included supporting and directing attacks against U.S. and coalition forces, utilizing illegal means, such as attacks on civilians, using perfidy, and firing on medical personnel during efforts to evacuate casualties. He also stands accusedof denying quarter by directing that coalition forces should not be taken alive.
Following his activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, he is also alleged to have traveled to Iraq for the purpose of helping to lead al Qaeda in Iraq. The maximum sentence for these charges, if convicted, could be confinement for life. (Dept. Defense News Release 426-13, 10 June 2013).
A recent article by Carol Rosenberg in the Miami Herald (Iraqi Appears in Guantanamo Court on War Crimes Charges, 18 June 2013) states that Hadi was captured in Turkey in 2006, and was held by the CIA until 2007, when he was transferred to Guantanamo. Rosenberg’s article describes a long career for Hadi, including service in the Iraqi Army during the 1980-88 war with Iran, service to Al Qaeda in Sudan in the late 1990s, helping the Taliban destroy Buddha statues in Afghanistan in 2001, and other Taliban military activities.
Pentagon-appointed defense counsel is quoted in that article as stating that, if Hadi is Taliban, then he was a lawful combatant. The prosecution, however, claims that Hadi served as a liaison between the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and supported and directed illegal attacks against U.S. and coalition forces.
According to a 2005 Newsweek article, Osama bin Laden sent Hadi to Iraq to establish an Al Qaeda insurgency, in part because bin Laden did not trust al-Zarqawi (who had already established an organized insurgency). However, Hadi convinced bin Laden that it would be better to work with Zarqawi than try to create a competing organization. (Newsweek, “Terror Broker,” 10 April 2005).
It will be interesting to learn more about the charges and defense theories as I read more about Hadi’s case.