abu Zubaydah

Saudi-born Palestinian Abu Zubaydah asks Pentagon for release from Guantanamo

Abu Zubaydah - Eye patch -- darker - facing front

Abu Zubaydah apparently lost his left eye while in U.S. custody.

For the first time in almost 15 years, the outside world saw the face of war crimes suspect Abu Zubaydah. He was arrested in Pakistan in 2002, awarded $100,000 Euros damages from Poland for torture in U.S. / CIA black sites, lost his left eye while in U.S. custody, and was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2006.

At this morning’s Periodic Review Board (PRB) hearing, Abu Zubaydah and his pentagon-appointed personal representatives formally tried to convince the U.S. government that he is not a threat to U.S. national security. They asked the U.S. to release him from Guantanamo.

The hearing was held in the back corner of a Guantanamo Bay courtroom, but was broadcast live to a nondescript Pentagon conference room. Instead of the typical handful of media and human rights workers attending at the Pentagon, today we had 15 – more than I’ve seen at any other PRB.  Maybe this was because of Abu Zubaydah’s reputation, the loss of his eye, or the extreme extent of his alleged criminal activities over many years, coupled with his proved torture and his being cloistered in U.S. custody for 1/3 of his life. The conference room was full. All wanted the first glimpses of Abu Zubaydah in 15 years.

Who is Abu Zubaydah?

Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian, was born in Saudi Arabia in March 1971. The U.S. government does not clearly indicate when they believe he became involved in terrorism or war crimes activities, but the U.S. alleges that he trained militant recruits in Afghanistan as early as 1989, when Abu Zubaydah was a late teen, early adult.

The U.S. alleges that he perpetrated international crimes over many years in different jurisdictions. These include involvement in the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa in 1998, the USS Cole bombing off the coast of Yemen in 2002, and other atrocities.

Abu Zubaydah - Eye patch -- lighter - facing left

Abu Zubaydah — Apparently with both eyes.

Abu Zubaydah kept diaries for approximately 10 years, ending around the time he was captured in Pakistan, in 2002. Those diaries tell his story in his own words.

On 24 July 2014 the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered Poland government to pay Abu Zubaydah 100,000 euros in damages and 30,000 euros for costs because Poland permitted the CIA to detain and torture him in Poland in 2002 – 2003.

This morning’s PRB hearing.

 As usual, I arrived at the Pentagon before 8:00 a.m., cleared through the first round of security (badging, metal detectors), and spotted a group of other regular observers, waiting for our Periodic Review Secretariat escorts.

This time, I noticed a several other people, whom I did not know, hovering around the regular observers.  In addition, it was a treat to see two media reps I met on my recent media trip to Guantanamo Bay.

The escorts arrived as scheduled, ready to take us through the next round of the building’s security, and the maze that leads to the conference room where this high-value detainee (HVD) alleged war criminal would appear on TV monitors at 9:00 a.m.

It took a little extra maneuvering to get of us all through the main internal Pentagon portal.

Today we had 5 human rights workers, academics or authors in our Observer group, along with 10 media representatives (al Jazeera, Courthouse News, NPR, AP, the New York Times, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, the Miami Herald, the Intercept, and the Washington Post). No representatives of the Saudi Arabian government or the Palestinian government were present.

We deposited our cell phones and cameras on a table outside the conference room, and filed in. Some of the Observer have attended dozens of PRBs, and have favorite seats.

We filled out a form swearing that we had indeed left our cell phones and cameras outside the room.

In the middle of the room is a large conference table, on top of which sits an octopus-like device that houses the phone line to connect us to Guantanamo. Today a Pentagon official (our escort) designated me as the person to answer the conference room phone when Guantanamo called to start the PRB connection, to adjust the volume if necessary, and to mute the speaker. I followed instructions when the phone rang at 9:01 a.m.

The History Channel that we had been watching on the big screen was switched off, and all eyes stared at an empty chair on the screen, broadcast live from the Guantanamo Bay courtroom.  It was the chair where the judge sits during regular Military Commission hearings. PRBs are not judicial proceedings, there is no judge present, and there is no need for them to be conducted in a courtroom. Indeed, most PRBs have been conducted in trailer-like structures very close to where most of the detainees are housed. For reasons unknown to observers, high value detainee PRBs are held in the courtroom.

After about a minute, we lost sound. We lost visuals. We lost our Guantanamo connection. Our escort exchanged chat messages with Guantanamo, and we were told to hold tight.

For the next 16 minutes, we sat in the conference room, engaging in nervous chatter. Would the hearing go forward even if the Pentagon observers couldn’t see and hear the proceedings? What if we could hear but not see the hearings, or see but not hear them? Would they postpone them until we could both see and hear? Would they start without us if the reconnection took too long?

The name Abu Zubaydah is a household name, at least for those of us involved in the national security arena. Many had been waiting for years to see him face to face, after his being under cloak of confinement for so long.

At 9:17, a picture of the four Guantanamo participants appeared on our Pentagon big screen.

Abu Zubaydah - Eye patch -- with both eyes

Purportedly a photo of Abu Zubaydah

Abu Zubaydah sat at the head of a narrow rectangular table, directly facing the camera – that is, directly facing us who were viewing the hearing at the Pentagon. To his right, sitting along the long side of the table, were his two camouflage-clad Pentagon-appointed personal representatives (one of whom appeared to be the same personal representative who represented both detainees whose PRBs I attended last week, in this same Pentagon room). Directly across from the 2 representatives was the interpreter, a balding middle-aged dark-olive-skinned man, with a short brown tropical shirt.

Some of the words spoken during the hearing were in Arabic, and were spoken by the on-camera interpreter.

An off camera voice, presumably from but not necessarily from Guantanamo, advised in English on the nature of the hearing, the format, and the short agenda.

Another off camera voice read aloud an “unclassified summary statement”, in English, of behavior that Abu Zubaydah allegedly engaged in, both before he arrived at Guantanamo and after he arrived. (See comment below.)

After the government’s unclassified summary statement, one of the two personal representatives read an opening statement in English.

After both statements, an off camera voice asked if anyone had any questions. There were none.

The unclassified portion of the hearing ended roughly 14 minutes and 32 seconds after it started. Observers were invited to leave the conference room, since Observers are not permitted to observe classified portions of the PRB hearings.

Government’s Unclassified Summary Statement

As mentioned, during the hearing, the government submitted an “unclassified summary” statement that an off-camera voice read aloud.

That statement listed a number of unlawful activities allegedly engaged in by Abu Zubaydah, and alleged that Abu Zubaydah:

  • “possibly had some advanced knowledge of the bombings of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and the USS Cole bombing in ”
  • Was “generally aware of the impending 9/11 attacks and possibly coordinated the training at Khaldan camp of two of the hijackers”
  • “most actively plotted attacks against Israel” at home and abroad
  • “was convicted in absentia by the Jordanian Government for his role in planning attacks against Israeli, Jordanian, and Western targets during the Millennium time frame in Jordan” and
  • post-9/11, allegedly “took a more active role in attack preparations, sending operatives to al-Qa’ida senior member Khalid Shaykh Muhammad (KU-I 0024) to discuss the feasibility of exploding a radiological device in the United States, and supporting remote-controlled bomb attacks against US and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan “.

The government’s statement asserted that:

[abu Zubaydah] has shown a high level of cooperation with the staff at Guantanamo Bay and has served as a cell block leader, assuming responsibility for communicating detainees’ messages and grievances to the staff and maintaining order among the detainees. He readily and consistently responded to most if not all lines of                 questioning by the debriefers, including providing detailed information on his terrorist activities and those of his associates. His debriefers assessed that he withheld information, which might have been to protect historical or current activities. GZ-10016 has used his time in Guantanamo to hone his organizational skills, assess US custodial and debriefing practices, and solidify his reputation as a leader of his peers, all of which would help him should he choose to reengage in terrorist activity.

Furthermore, the government’s statement noted that:

OZ-I 0016 probably retains an extremist mindset, judging from his earlier statements. GZ-10016 has not made such statements recently, probably to improve his chances for repatriation . GZ-10016 has condemned ISIL atrocities and the killing of innocent people. He has had little communication with his family, suggesting he  would lack a support network, even if he tried to leverage his university coursework in computer programming to get a job and reintegrate into society. Some of GZ-100 I 6’s former colleagues continue to engage in terrorist activities and could help GZ-10016 return to planning attacks against Israel and the United States in Pakistan, should he choose to do so.”

Personal Representatives’ Opening Statement

The Personal Representative Opening Statement of the two personal representatives is reproduced here in its entirety:

 UNCLASSIFIED

Approved for Public Release

 

Periodic Review Board Initial Hearing, 23 Aug 2016 Zayn Al-Ibidin Muhammed Busayn, ISN 10016 Personal Representative Opening Statement

Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the Board. We are the Personal Representatives for ISN 10016, Mr. Zayn al-Ibidin Muhammed Husayn. We will be working with Zeinelabeden to present his case to you on why he no longer needs to be detained in order to ensure that the security of the United States is not in jeopardy.

Although he initially believed that he did not have any chance or hope to be released, because of the reputation that has been created through the use of his name, he has been willing to participate in the Periodic Review Process. He has been respectful to us in all of our meetings and dealings with him, and he has come to believe that he might have a chance to leave Guantanamo through this process.

Zeinelabeden has expressed a desire to be reunited with his family and begin the process of recovering from injuries he sustained during his capture. He has some seed money that could be used to start a business after he is reintegrated into society and is living a peaceful life.

Zeinelabeden has stated that he has no desire or intent to harm the United States or any other country, and he has repeatedly said that the Islamic State is out of control and has gone too far.

Zeinelabeden would like to thank the board for this opportunity to plead his case and looks forward to answering any questions the board may ask him.

Observations of Abu Zubaydah at today’s PRB hearing

Until today, no member of the public has seen Abu Zubaydah since he was arrested in Pakistan in 2002. After arrest, he was immediately taken to a CIA black site and remained in CIA custody until September 2006, when he was delivered to Guantanamo, exactly 10 years ago next month (September 2016).

Photographs of him in custody are generally not permitted (with the exception of Red Cross and file photos), and we were not able to take photos of him at the Pentagon today. Even if we were permitted to sketch him, there would not have been enough time, given that today’s hearing last only 14 ½ minutes.

But I can say that Abu Zubaydah appeared to be of sturdy build, with a full face covered with a healthy closely cropped, dark, kempt beard.

The hair on his head was dark, full, stylish, as though neatly and well-trimmed for today’s hearing.

He wore a high-collared white seemingly starched tunic-like top, ¾ sleeved, pleated in front. It looked like a fine, dress garment, unlike ordinary household or prison clothing worn by some of the other detainees during their hearings or during their day-to-day life at Guantanamo Bay.

Strikingly, hanging from a cord around Abu Zubaydah’s neck throughout the hearing appeared to be his round, black eye patch, several inches in diameter – apparently bigger than his left eye, which he purportedly lost while in U.S. custody.

At first glance, it looked like an old-fashioned round microphone, perched in front of him, chest level as he sat at the head of the table. But it did not take long to recognize that it appeared to be more like a round hip hop medallion, but jet black and cloth, not a glistening metallic gold. The ornament’s blackness contrasted brilliantly with Abu Zubaydah’s bright white top.

With the stories that circulated about the loss of his eye and the circumstances of that loss, it was of curiosity as to why his eye patch would be nestled in the white fabric in the center of his chest, and not covering his left eye socket.

When the hearing began, Abu Zubaydah wore metal-framed eyeglasses, silver-looking, fashionably shaped – not regularly round or regularly rectangular, but with molded angles. From time to time he dabbed beneath his eyes, and his forehead, with a neatly rectangularly-folded handkerchief he would shift from his right hand to left, and back.

At one point he lifted his eyeglasses, and deliberately rubbed his right eye (his only eye) with his hand, as if to scratch or console. Or was it to draw attention to his eye, on which perhaps many in the room were focusing anyway?

The blink of his right eye was visible through his glasses. There appeared to be no movement from his left eye socket, which was visible, albeit not too clearly, when he removed his glasses.

Abu Zubaydah appeared intently to follow the proceedings, paying rapt attention, though at times his actions could be perhaps interpreted as reflecting a lack of interest, for example, when he would rest his right arm on the armrest or table, put his index finger to his temple, his thumb to his chin, and his middle finger to his lips — as though bored.

When the off-camera U.S. government male voice began reading in English the government’s unclassified statement about Abu Zubaydah, he began searching through documents apparently looking for a copy of the document, which one of his personal representatives pointed out for him.

He accepted the document, then placed it on the table in front of him. He took off his glasses, reached forward and picked up a second pair of wire-rimmed glasses, and swapped them out. Perhaps one pair of glasses was for distance, and the other was for reading. I had seen detainees at hearings with glasses, but never with two pair, swapping out as called for by the situation.

As the 15 observers left the conference room after the hearing, words like “handsome”, “striking”, “good looking”, “not so disheveled like you might expect”, “well-groomed”, “nicely dressed” could be heard, describing someone who is alleged to have perpetrated unspeakable crimes against humankind, but who looked as though this morning he could have been participating in any sort of a business meeting – lease signing, mortgage loan closing or other corporate transaction – given the manner in which he was dressed, how he comported himself, and how he sat at the head of the table and commanded the audience of the personal representatives and the interpreter who straddled the sides of the conference table.

But, Abu Zubaydah is not being judged by his looks, his clothes, his hair, or his mannerisms. Regarding the PRB, he will be judged by what was revealed in the public portion of the PRB, and presumably what is covered in the classified portion of the PRB, which was scheduled to commence 15 minutes after the public portion.

Next steps

The PRB – which comprises one representative each from the Departments of Homeland Security, State, Justice and Defense; the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and the Office of the Director of National Security – will deliberate and determine whether they believe that Abu Zubaydah poses a threat to the national security of the U.S.

The PRB will likely render its assessment soon. You can check www.prs.mil (under “initial reviews”) for updates.

By George Edwards,

Professor of Law, Indiana University McKinney School of Law

Faculty Director (Founding), Guantanamo Bay Periodic Review Board (PRB) Project

Faculty Director (Founding), U.S. Military Commission Observation Project

 

 

PS:  Like last week, during the PRB a narrow, stream of light shined vertically down the large viewing screen today, whispering through cracked blinds of the Pentagon room. I’d forgotten to ask that the blinds be fully closed to maximize the observers ability to observe.

 

PPS:  Photos are from various websites. Citations available.

Alleged Bali Bomber’s Guantanamo Hearing Viewed at the Pentagon Today

PRB -- Hambali - hambali Riduan Isamuddin

Indonesian born “Hambali”, also known as “Asia’s Osama bin Laden”. He allegedly plotted the 2002 Bali bombing.

One of the 61 detainees now held at Guantanamo Bay is Indonesian-born Riduan Issamuddin, also known as “Hambali” or as “Asia’s Osama bin Laden”. He allegedly plotted the 2002 nightclub bombing in Bali, Indonesia that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians and 7 Americans.

This morning Hambali appeared at a formal hearing in which he and his pentagon-appointed personal representatives asked the U.S. government to release him from Guantanamo. The hearing, called a Periodic Review Board (PRB), was held in a back corner of a Guantanamo courtroom, and broadcast by live video-feed to a Pentagon conference room. I and a dozen or so others traveled to the Pentagon and watched and listened.

Who is Hambali

Bali-bombings-in-2002-with-great-destruction

The 2002 Bali nightclub bombing killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

Hambali, who is 52 years of age, was born in the small Indonesian village of Sukamanah in Cianjur, West Java, Indonesia. As a young adult, he moved to Malaysia, and then, after apparently receiving a calling, fought Soviet troops in Afghanistan and the Philippine army in Mindanao. He eventually became one of the most wanted terrorist suspect in all of Southeast Asia.

Hambali purportedly became operations chief for a militant group known as Jemaah Islamiah (JI). As a senior member of JI, Hambali allegedly served as a liaison between JI and al Qaeda.

Another scene from the Bali bombing.

Another scene from the Bali bombing.

In addition to being an alleged plotter of the Bali nightclub bombing, he is alleged to have plotted the 2003 JW Marriott bombing in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Hambali has also been accused of participating in a plot to put explosives on planes bound for the U.S., and of playing a supporting role (handling some finances) in the 9/11 attacks.

Hambali was arrested in August 2003 in Thailand, and spent over 3 years in CIA custody – in black sites – where he was subjected to nakedness for extended periods, stress positions with hands cuffed to a hook in the ceiling, being blindfolded with a sack over his head, and other tactics.

The 2003 JW Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta, Indonesia, also caused great destruction.

The 2003 JW Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta, Indonesia, also caused great destruction.

One might expect Hambali’s “nickname” of Hambali to be linked to Bali, Indonesia, the sight of the horrific 2012 Bali bombing, but that may not be the case.

It has been reported that:

“Security officials in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines add that “Hambali”, a nom de guerre taken from Imam Hambali, a famous 8th-century Islamic saint, is also linked to attacks in the region that started with the Christmas bombings of churches in Indonesia in December 2000 and the subsequent bombings in the Philippines. “ (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/EH19Ae06.html)

A JW Marriott restaurant after the bombing.

A JW Marriott restaurant after the bombing.

The PRB hearing this morning.

 As usual, I arrive at the Pentagon before 8:00 a.m., cleared through the first round of security (badging, metal detectors), and joined a group of other regular observers, waiting for our Periodic Review Secretariat escorts.

The escorts arrived on schedule, ready to take us through the next round of the building’s security, and the maze that leads to the non-descript conference room where Asia’s once most notorious alleged terrorist would appear on TV monitors at 9:00 a.m.

Today there were 5 human rights workers or academics present in our Observer group, along with 4 journalists (al Jazeera, Courthouse News, AP, and Straights Times Singapore). There were no representatives of the Indonesian government there to witness the hearing on behalf of their citizen.

We deposited our cell phones and cameras on a table outside the room, and filed into the room. Some of the Observer have attended dozens of PRBs, and almost have assigned seats in the viewing room.

After we sat, we filled out a form swearing that we had indeed left our cell phones and cameras outside the room.

On a big screen in the front of the room, we watched a few minutes of the History Channel before the conference table phone rang to alert us that the hearing was beginning.

At 9:02, the History Channel was switched off, and all eyes in the room descended upon Hambali, live from the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

Hambali sat at the head of a narrow rectangular table, directly facing the camera – that is, directly facing us who were viewing the hearing at the Pentagon. To his right, sitting along the long side of the table, were his two camouflage-clad Pentagon-appointed personal representatives (who also appeared to be the same personal representatives who represented on behalf of the detainee whose PRB I attended 2 days previous, in this same Pentagon room). Directly across from the 2 representatives was the interpreter, with head wrapped so full with a blue flowery scarf that not one inch of her face showed throughout the entire hearing.

One off camera voice, presumably from but not necessarily from Guantanamo, advised on the nature of the hearing, the format, and the short agenda.

Another off camera voice read aloud an “unclassified summary statement” of behavior that Hambali allegedly engaged in, both before he arrived at Guantanamo and after he arrived. (See comment below.)

After the government’s unclassified summary statement, one of the two personal representatives read an opening statement.

After both statements, an off camera voice asked if anyone had any questions. There were none.

The unclassified portion of hearing ended at 9:12, roughly 10 minutes after it started. Observers were invited to leave the conference room, since Observers are not permitted to observe classified portions of the PRB hearings.

Hambali -- Changing facesGovernment’s Unclassified Summary Statement

The government submitted an “unclassified summary” statement, that an off-camera voice read aloud during the hearing.

It listed out a number of unlawful activities allegedly engaged in by Hambali, including associated with the Bali Bombing of 2002, the JW Marriott bombing of 2003, and the 9/11 attacks.

Regarding his behavior while at Guantanamo, the government’s statement noted

[Hambali] has mostly been compliant at Guantanamo Bay, having committed a low number of infractions relative to other detainees. [Hambali] has emerged as a mentor and teacher to his fellow detainees, seemingly exerting influence over them and has been heard promoting violent jihad while leading daily prayers and lectures.

The government’s statement concluded:

We judge that [Hambali] remains steadfast in his support for extremist causes and his hatred for the US. He most likely would look for ways to reconnect with his Indonesian and Malaysian cohorts or attract a new set of followers if he were transferred from Guantanamo Bay. He is close to his family and probably would quickly contact them as well, but we do not know if they would be able to support him financially. Hambali’s younger brother Rusman Gunawan has emerged as part of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s(ISIL) Indonesia-based network.

Personal Representatives’ Opening Statement

 The Personal Representative Opening Statement of the two personal representatives is reproduced here in its entirety:

PERIODIC REVIEW BOARD INITIAL HEARING, 18 AUG 2016 ENCEP NURJAMAN HAMBALI, ISN 10019

PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OPENING STATEMENT

Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the Board. We are the Personal Representatives for ISN 10019, Encep Nurjaman Hambali.

Hambali has attended all scheduled meetings. During these meetings he has been respectful and energetic. He has been most enthused about his PRB. He always smiles and never hesitates to answer any questions we have.

During his time in detention he has learned English, some from his interaction with JTF Staff and some from Rosetta Stone. He also taught himself Arabic, which he then held classes to help teach his fellow detainees.  He went so far as to have homework and tests for them.  His father and uncles were all teachers, so it came naturally for him.

When programs were offered, he was eager to attend. He enjoys watching the programs Planet Life, Blue Planet and also enjoys the great courses on DVD’s.

Hambali has stated he has no ill will towards the U.S. He believes America has diversity and sharing of power which is much better than a dictatorship. He states that he wants nothing more than to move on with his life and be peaceful.  He hopes to remarry and have children to raise.

We stand ready to answer any questions you may have.

 Observations of Hambali at today’s PRB hearing

Since Hambali was arrested in Thailand in 2003 – when he was held for over 3 years in CIA black sites and over 9 years at Guantanamo – virtually no members of the public have seen Hambali. Photographs of him are not permitted. Even if those of us who have seen him at hearings were permitted to sketch him, there would not enough time, given that, for example, today’s hearing last only 10 minutes.

But I can say that Hambali appeared to be of sturdy build, with a full face covered with a healthy but medium-length beard, ¼ of which was dark and close to his skin, with the remaining white or gray barely touching his upper chest when he leaned forward. His sideburns appeared to be tufted, and not as full as his beard, mixed mostly dark with some white.

His hair was dark, stylish, parted on the left, with windows of slight recession on the left and right forehead.

He wore dark Clark Kent eyeglass, that gave the impression of being thick, and his eyebrows rose above the rims, whether he was looking down at his papers or whether he was looking up towards the camera, as he occasionally did.

Hambali wore a short sleeved white top, and sat erect, though he leaned slightly forward throughout the hearing, except for when he occasionally reached down to touch his left thigh or leg. Was he in pain or just uncomfortable? He did not shift around in his chair, as some detainees have done at their PRBs.

His eyes focused intently on a small stack of white and yellow papers he shifted from one stack to the other, and back again, even while the interpreter was speaking to him in a language he understood. On the one hand, it looked like he was following the proceedings intently, with a serious, firm face. But, that face continued whether an off camera voice was speaking in English, his representative was speaking English, or the interpreter was speaking his own language.

A narrow, stream of light shined vertically down the large viewing screen today, whispering through cracked blinds of the Pentagon room. Note to self – ask if the blinds can be totally shut for the PRB hearing next Tuesday – for Abu Zubaydah, who as a high value detainee has also not been seen by any member of the public in over a decade.

Next steps

The PRB – which comprises one representative each from the Departments of Homeland Security, State, Justice and Defense; the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and the Office of the Director of National Security – will deliberate and determine whether they believe that Hambali poses a threat to the national security of the U.S.

The PRB will likely render its assessment soon. You can check www.prs.mil (under “initial reviews”) for updates.

When the PRB assess whether Hambali poses a significant threat to the national security of the U.S., how much deference will the PRB give to the following portion of the government’s unclassified statement?

We judge that [Hambali] remains steadfast in his support for extremist causes and his hatred for the US. He most likely would look for ways to reconnect with his Indonesian and Malaysian cohorts or attract a new set of followers if he were transferred from Guantanamo Bay. He is close to his family and probably would quickly contact them as well, but we do not know if they would be able to support him financially. Hambali’s younger brother Rusman Gunawan has emerged as part of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s(ISIL) Indonesia-based network.

We will need to wait until the PRB posts its decision on http://www.prs.mil.

Three Guantanamo detainees cleared for release; A fourth held as continuing threat

Department of Defense LogoIn July 2016, Guantanamo Bay Periodic Review Boards (PRBs) cleared three detainees for release, and found that a fourth detainee posed a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and would not be cleared for release.

These detainees, each of whom has each been held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002, each had argued in separate PRB hearings that he should was not a threat, and that he should be repatriated to his home country or resettled in a third country.

Those cleared between 6 and 11 July 2016 were: Muhammed Rajab Sadiq Abu Ghanim (ISN 044), of Yemen, who requested that he not be sent home to Yemen; Shawqi Awad Balzuhair (ISN 838), also of Yemen; and Abdul Latif Nasir (ISN 244), of Morocco, and whom the PRB recommended be released only to Morocco.  The PRB did not clear for release Said bin Brahim bin Umran Bakush (ISN 685) of Algeria.

As an example of a PRB decision in which a detainee is cleared, I quote below the full text of the PRB decision in the case of Shawqi Awad Balzuhair (ISN 838)

The Periodic Review Board, by consensus, determined that continued law of war detention of the detainee is no longer necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.

In making this determination, the Board considered that the detainee’s degree of involvement and significance in extremist activities has been reassessed to be that of a low-level fighter. The Board also noted the detainee’s lack of expression of support for extremist ideologies, the detainee’s compliance record at Guantanamo, and the detainee’s lack of ongoing extremist ties.

The Board recommends transfer, with the appropriate security assurances as negotiated by the Special Envoys and agreed to by relevant USG departments and agencies.

The PRB decision in the case of Said bin Brahim bin Umran Bakush of Algeria (denial of release) is found here:

 

The Periodic Review Board Secretariat today announced that 7 additional PRBs have been scheduled for detainees in August 2016.

The Periodic Review Boards are being studied by the Period Review Board (PRB) Project of the Indiana University McKinney School of Law.

___

Libyan Detainee Requests Release from Guantanamo

GTMO - ismael-ali-farag-al-bakush - ISN 708 -- 1

Ismael Ali Faraj Ali Bakush, Guantanamo Prision # ISN 708, asked Board to release him

This morning, Ismael Ali Faraj Ali Bakush (ISN 708), who is a Guantanamo Bay detainee from Libya, pleaded to a group of U.S. officials that he is not a threat to U.S. national security, and he should be repatriated to Libya or resettled in a 3rd country. Bakush is around 47 or 48 years of age, and has been held at Guantanamo Bay for a month shy of 14 years. Today he argued for his freedom from the prison, where he has lived for almost a third of his life.

This hearing, which is called a Periodic Review Board (PRB), was conducted pursuant to a 2011 Executive Order which has required most detainees to have a “periodic review” of their detention status. Though Bakush has had similar reviews under now defunct processes, this is his “initial review” (or “initial PRB”) under the 2011 procedure.

If a detainee is cleared for release after his initial review, he would have no additional hearings. If he is not cleared for release he would have a “file review” every six months. If he remains uncleared, he would have a “full review” every three years.

About 60 the 76 men remaining captive at Guantanamo are entitled to PRBs per the rules, and about 55 have had an initial review. Many who have had initial reviews were subsequently cleared for release, and many of those have actually been released post-initial review.

PRBs do not assess the defendant’s guilt or innocence, and are not criminal proceedings.

Getting to the PRB hearing; the other observers

Bakush’s initial review today was likely similar to the 55 or so initial reviews held since the 2011 Executive Order was implemented in 2013. Today’s PRB was my first, having multiple times been denied permission to observe. I had some sense of what to expect, having read reports from media and non-media representatives who had viewed earlier PRBs, but I also believe that the more qualified people who observe the proceedings first hand, the greater the transparency.

I was up early to take the Metro from DC to the Pentagon, which is where PRB observation takes place now, rather than its earlier viewing location at a Virginia building near the Pentagon. It was suggested that we arrive at the Pentagon not long after 7:00 a.m., to be certain that all security and other formalities would be completed so we could adjourn to a special conference room before the 9:00 scheduled PRB start.

When I was at the Pentagon a few months ago, the new Visitor Entrance was under construction, and it was cramped and unwieldy to gain access to the mammoth facility. The new Visitor Entrance is markedly updated and spacious, with significantly more x-ray machines and other security measures in place. Though no clear signage instructed visitors to the appropriate queues (e.g., no sign for the uniformed military personnel line or the “other” line), it was still quite easy and quick to be processed – at least at that hour on a Thursday morning.

After clearing security, I entered into the Visitor Waiting Area (after another guard made certain that I still had the Visitors Badge that had been handed to me just a few yards before I passed through the airport-like metal detectors), where I was soon joined by what appeared to be contractors, uniformed military personnel, a high school group, an ROTC group, a group of dozens of Japanese military personnel clad in crisp white uniforms, and others – waiting to be escorted into the Pentagon proper.

Two representatives from the Periodic Review Secretariat (PRS) came to collect the 5 non-media observers, and we all processed into the main complex and walked down multiple hallways in the Pentagon maze. Though I know the names of our escorts, and the name of the offices that housed the conference room where we observed, out of an abundance of caution, I will not provide details of them.

The 4 other observers consisted of a an undergraduate intern from a different DC-based organization, a person who had graduated from law school a year or so ago and was working for a DC-based organization, an investigator from a DC-based organization along with that person’s undergraduate intern. I did ask myself about the observer selection process, taking into account the rounds of application submission / denial / application supplements I went through to get cleared for 2 specific hearings only.

Coincidentally, I knew one of the other observers from another organization with which she had been previously affiliated.

pentagonReaching the Pentagon hearing room

We observers and our military escorts snaked our way down multiple, high-ceilinged corridors in the complex, passing pale nondescript doorways and archways that led to seemingly reinforced entry points into high-security areas. We arrived at the door of an office that looked like a typical government office like those I had seen in any number of other Departments or Agencies – standard desks and chairs, file cabinets and computers, and clutter.

no-electronic-devices-clipart-1Off to the side of that office was a door leading into what I would learn was the conference room where we would observe the hearings. Before reaching that conference room door, we had to relieve ourselves of our electronic devices – phones, laptops, iPad, Fitbit – anything with an on / off switch. We placed all of our items on a table.

Several of us went on a Starbucks run, down to the Pentagon’s expansive restaurant area. It was like any other Starbucks, except that while standing in line our group could not fiddle with our mobile phones, as we had already been liberated of them. It gave me a chance to become reacquainted with the young lawyer observer whom I had met before.

Getting situated in the hearing room

After refreshments, we winded our way back to the nondescript office. It was almost 9:00, the time for the PRB to begin.

We filed past the table that held our electronics, and entered the conference room. We sat around a conference room table that seemed to have just enough seats for the 5 observers, our escorts and a couple of other Department of Defense people who joined us, both uniformed and non-uniformed.

The observers all were required to sign another document (in addition to the Ground Rules we previously signed), this one swearing that we knew the rules related to SCIFs — sensitive compartmented information facilities – and that we were complying with those rules, including not having recording devices in our possession. Another reminder to us to double-check our pockets for extra mobile phones, etc.

This conference room was very small, packed with the conference table and chairs, and lots of other equipment occupying almost every square inch of the room’s real estate, including, as I recall, the walls.

There was a big screen on one wall, positioned such that almost no one in the room had a natural, straightforward view of it. I chose a seat from which at least I didn’t have to turn my body to see the screen.

As 9:00 got closer, the Observers shared small talk. Others in the room sat quietly doing their jobs related to the technical aspects of the hearing, or maybe perhaps observing the observers–I’m not sure.

The Guantanamo side of the camera – the PRB begins

Initially I sought to absorb the environment of the room, but I also focused on signing the SCIF form and exchanging pleasantries with fellow observers (Have you attended a PRB before? You’re a college junior – do you plan to go to law school? What issues are you working on as a summer intern at your organization?)

All of a sudden, we began to hear distant voices over the web-shaped speaker nestled in the center of the conference room table. Audio checks.

Almost precisely on time, the screen came to life. We could see a small, barren-walled claustrophobic room in which sat a very small rectangular table with 3 chairs, which was surrounded by 3 men.

For all PRBs the detainee is physically in Guantanamo Bay. During the hearing, he sits at the head of the rectangular table on the Guantanamo Base, flanked by a linguist who sat at a place setting on one side of the table. The linguist sits directly across from the detainee’s Government-appointed personal representative. Seated on 3 sides at the end of a rectangular table, the arrangements would have been suitable for a shared meal among the 3, or board games. Had Bakush had private counsel, perhaps that person would also have sat at the table.

A video camera is pointed towards the three sitting at the Guantanamo table. The camera faced Bakush head on, and captured the right side of the face of the linguist’s and the left side of the face of the personal representative. The linguist and the personal representative had to turn their heads slightly to see and speak directly into the camera.

At 9:08, a few minutes past the appointed hour, the hearing began.

Eyes naturally gravitated to the focus of the hearings – on Bakush. He appeared hunched forward over the stack of white papers on the table, dressed in white gown flannel-like top that may have been local to Libya. His full, long, seemingly dark beard appeared to touch the table as he leaned forward. The screen appeared to be a little fuzzy, so I cleaned my glasses. The screen was still fuzzy, with the faces a bit blurred.

Bakush’s facial expressions appeared not to change dramatically throughout the 13-minute hearing. It was impossible to know whether he understood what was being said or read, as virtually the entire hearing was conducted in English, and I do not know if he understands English. He waived reading of the unclassified government document in Arabic.

Was Bakush emotionless during the PRB? Was he detached or interested? It is impossible to know what was going on in his mind, and it does not do justice to try to read what could be made out of his expressions, his mannerisms, or his posture.

As documents were being read into the record in English, Bakush from time to time would flip through white papers sitting in front of him on the table. I do now know what, if anything, was written on those sheets, or what language any text might have been. Perhaps those pages contained his own personal statement that he would read into the record later? The observers were not permitted to stay in the room while he, through his own mouth, made his personal plea for release from Guantanamo.

A distant voice was heard listing out the titles / roles of various people who were present at the hearing, either at Guantanamo in the hearing room, or elsewhere.

Others present for the hearings included members of the “Board” itself that conducts the PRBs, and that consisted of one representative each from the Departments of Defense, State and Homeland Security; the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Presumably each of those representatives watched remotely in his or her office in the DC area. Also present for the hearing were the Legal Advisor to the Board; the Case Administrator; a Hearing Clerk; and a Security Officer, though it is not clear where these individuals were located at Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere.

The PRB hearing itself

The PRB hearing itself lasted a total of about 13 minutes. The clock on the wall had a time different from the time announced by the distant voice piped in through the speakers, and those times were different from the time on my watch. I didn’t catch the precise number of minutes. I thought I would be able to see the time on the transcript, but the Pentagon posted a notice indicating that Bakush requested that the public transcript of his hearing not be posted online.

Suffice it to say that the hearing was very short.

After the roll call of attendees that began the hearing, a voice said something like this — “This board is called to order. This board is convened to determine whether continued law of war detention is warranted for detainee [Ismael] in order to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.” [Quote based on notes and was not verified as the transcript was not available on the PRS website online after the hearing.]

The first document read into the record, in English, was the Government’s Unclassified Statement. It was read by a woman who did not appear on camera. It answer the question of who does the U.S. Government believe Bakush is and what does the U.S. Government believe Bakush did. Essentially, the Statement summarized reasons that the U.S. believed that Bakush poses a continuing threat to U.S. National Security.

Government views on “Who is Bakush”?

First, it should be noted that the allegations that the government made against Bakush in its unclassified summary are not criminal charges. That is, the government has not levied any criminal charges against him in the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Military Commissions. These allegations related to the Government’s assessment as to whether Bakush is a threat to US national security and whether he should be released from detention.

The unclassified summary document alleges that Bakush alleges in definite terms that Bakush “was a Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) explosives expert who trained al-Qaida members”, and he “developed close relationships with several al Qaida leaders and provided explosives training to LIFG and al Qaida operatives, including some who later conducted attacks in Kuwait and Morocco”.

A number of other allegations against Bakush were couched in more tentative terms, such as “probably” – he “probably” “associated with and provided operational support to” key al Qaida figures. He “probably” was in Afghanistan from 1991 – 1994, and again starting in 1998.. He “probably helped” al Qaida, and “communicated regularly with prominent” al Qaida figures, including “possibly” Abu Zubaydah and “probably” senior al Qaida leader Abu Faraj al-Libi. However, using stronger language, one allegation was that he “almost certainly” “plotted to kill Libyan leader Moammar Qadhafi”

The full text of the Government’s Unclassified Statement follows:

 

Bakush’s Government Appointed Opening Personal Statement

Bakush’s U.S. Government-Appointed Personal Representative, dressed in fatigues, said in his Opening Statement that he was “presenting “Bakush’s case this morning”. He said that Bakush had “been cooperative and receptive while meeting with me”, and that Bakush “is eager and excited to begin a new chapter in his life.” He said that Bakush “has learned to be more opened minded [sic], tolerant and accepting to others while living in a communal living setting”, and that Bakush “believes that his communal living arrangement allows him more opportunities to gain exposure for himself to other detainees’ cultural and religious backgrounds”, and as a result, Bakush “now respects and values the opinions of others from various cultural backgrounds”.

The Personal Representative said that he “was not able to contact [Bakush’s] family, but understand from our discussions that his mother has properties that would enable her to offer [Bakush] financial support. His cousin is employed and is also willing to help [Bakush] financially”. It was not mentioned why the Personal Representative was unable to contact Bakush’s mother, to find out firsthand about the “properties that would enable her to offer [Bakush] financial support”, or could not contact the employed cousin who “is also willing to help [Bakush] financially. Would it be practicable to release Bakush based on his being able to receive family assistance, if the Personal Representative is unable to contact these family members?

The Personal Representative spoke about how Bakush “enjoys watching and playing many sports such as soccer and swimming”, has taken classis in health and life skills, and enjoys cooking for others. Bakush “would like to work in the restaurant industry”. He looks forward to having his own family, and to raising children of his own. He would prefer to live in an Arabic speaking country, but “is willing to relocate to a country that provides him opportunities for a successful future”. He is “willing to participate in a rehabilitation or reintegration program as well”.

Then, the Bakush’s US Government-Appointed Personal Representative of Bakush read the Personal Representative’s Opening Statement, the full text of which follows:

 

The following document appeared on the PRS website following the hearing, and indicates that Bakush requested to not have his own written PRB statement published to the website:

 

The following document appeared on the PRS website following the hearing, and indicates that Bakush requested to not have the transcript of his PRB published to the website.

 

FYI, the New York Times has posted http://projects.nytimes.com/guantanamo/detainees/708-ismael-ali-farag-al-bakush/documents/115 documents related to this detainee, and prior reviews for possible release:

  1. Combat Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) Summary
  2. Administrative Review Board (ARBs) (3 documents)
  3. Joint Task Force – Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) Assessment

George Edwards

_______

Somali Detainee Guleed Testifies at Guantanamo Bay in 9/11 Case

Hassan Guleed - Somalia

Hassan Guleed, a detainee since 2006, testified today about “vibrations” and “noises” purportedly used to harass detainees in Guantanamo Bay’s secret Camp VII that houses “high value detainees” (HVDs)

On Thursday, 2 June 2016, I was in the courtroom at Guantanamo when an unusual rare event occurred. I was there when a detainee, named Hassan Guleed, was called to testify in open court. Guleed, who is a Somali detained at Guantanamo since 2006, testified about “vibrations”, “noises” and “smells” that allegedly have been used to harass detainee Mr. Bin al Shibh, who is one of 5 men charged with masterminding the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Below I provide some background on today’s hearings, details of the hearing, and some of my personal observations.  I am writing this entry soon after court ended today, in the middle of other activities in store for me and the other observers that the Pentagon permitted to travel to Guantanamo for this week’s hearings. I will seek to fix any misspellings or other errors later.

Background

On 21 June 2013, the U.S. Military Commission hearing the case against the 5 9/11 defendants ordered the Government not to disrupt Mr. Bin al Shibhs’s cell. On 2 November 2015 the Military Commission again issued a” Do Not Subject Mr. bin al Shibh to Disruptive and Harassing Noises and Vibrations Order”.    Counsel for bin al Shibh filed a motion to hold the government in contempt because, according to bin al Shibh, the disruptions have not stopped.

Two witnesses were scheduled to testify today in support of bin al Shibh – Abu Zubaydah and Hassan Guleed.  Both witnesses are high value detainees (HVDs) who are detained in Canp VII, where bin al Shibh is detained, and which is a secret, isolated detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.  The two witnesses were purportedly fact witnesses with knowledge of the alleged continuous vibrations and noises “which are an extension of the traumatization of the torture he has experienced at the hands of the United States Government, especially during the nights leading up to a schedule hearing.”  (AE 152 LL (RBS), Emergency Motion for Show Cause why the Government, JTF Camp Commander And JTF Guard Force Members Should Not Be Held in Contempt filed 11 December 2015)

Witness Testimony

SPOILER ALERT: Abu Zubaydah did not testify.  There was only one witness, which is still more than most observers have been able to experience in-person.

The witnesses were to testify about the conditions at Camp 7, again where the witnesses and bin al Shibh are housed.  bin al Shibh has stated that he is being subjected to external sounds and vibrations while detained, even after Judge Pohl Ordered such activity, if occurring, to cease.   Hassan testified beginning at approximately 10 am. Zubaydah was scheduled to testify at 2:15 pm.

Guleed:

Hassan Guleed was the first witness.  The guards made a line, shoulder to shoulder, facing in opposite directions between the defendants and the witness as the witness walked in. I was told that the distance walked by Guleed from the entry to the witness stand is the longest he has walked without shackles since being detained in 2004. The defendants did not look around as the witness was walking in, however there appeared to be some “interaction” between the witness and the defendants when the witness was on the stand and the defendants were seated at their respective defense tables.

Mr. Harrington, Learned Counsel for bin al Shibh, conducted direct examination on Guleed.

Here is a link to a DOD Detainee Assessment on Guleed. The document, that was released in 2008,  contains some background information on Hassan Guleed.

Guleed, who has never testified in court and has never been charged with any Guantanamo Bay crimes, does not have an attorney and did not have an attorney in court with him today. Guleed refused services of an interpreter, and wanted to speak only in English.  In my opinion, language was a bit of a barrier in only a few specific instances, but overall Guleed appeared to have a good command of the English language.  Guleed noted the defendants were his “brothers”, and he called them “brothers” during his testimony.

The transcript of the testimony has been released on the Military Commission’s website.

Mr. Guleed testified that he heard noises and felt vibrations like those purportedly heard / felt by bin al Shibh.

Mr. Edward Ryan, for the government, cross-examined Guleed. It was interesting to watch.  Mr. Ryan started off on an aggressive tone which he carried throughout the cross examination.  He tried to establish that the witness was biased by asking questions which explicitly or implicitly point to the idea that Mr. Guleed considers the United States his enemy.  For example, Mr. Ryan asked if Mr. Guleed’s Kunya is his Al-Qaeda or Jihadi name.  He also specifically asked if America was Mr. Guleed’s enemy.

Red Light - GTMO

This “red light” in the Guantanamo Bay courtroom flashed twice when the witness Mr. Guleed purportedly referred to classified information about the secret Camp VII where he is housed.

During the testimonay, the court’s “Red Light” went off twice signaling that the court security officer was cutting the audio and video feed from the courtroom to the gallery where we observer were, with the cut presumably because classified information was being discussed during the testimony. The audio / video feed was turned back on after only a couple / few minutes.

A few quotes I jotted down during the hearing, copied here from the transcript on the Military Commission’s website:

Guleed: They didn’t charge nothing for me, I’m staying, only staying in the camp.  They didn’t charge anything for me against.  So I’m just waiting charge or whatever it is.  … No charge.  They don’t have nothing to charge me.  I did nothing.

Guleed on why he is testifying: There’s two things:  Helping brother, and same thing that I got a problem.  So there’s nowhere else that I can tell them.  So the people outside here…so that’s the chance for me to testify at the same time and tell my problem.
—-
Mr. Ryan: All right.  I’m going to start with vibrations.  What does that mean?

Guleen: What means vibration?

Mr. Ryan: Yeah.

Guleen: Vibration is vibration.

Mr. Ryan: Thank you.  That helps me.
—-
Mr. Ryan: Mr. Gouled, I don’t want to cut you off.  If I cut you off, please tell me so.  Okay?

Guleed: You did already.

(I have seen the last name spelled differently on several government documents)
——
Mr. Ryan: Is America your enemy?

Mr. Guleed: I’m not in Guantanamo if it’s not my enemy.

Mr. Ryan: Thank you for that, but now my question is, is America your enemy? Do you believe America is your enemy?

Mr. Guleed: No, I’m not believing.  I think they’re my friend.

Mr. Ryan: You think they’re your friends?

Mr. Guleed: Yeah.

Mr. Ryan: Are you kidding right now?

Mr. Guleed: No, they give me food in my Camp VII.
—–
Mr. Ryan: Is it true that under your version of Islamic law, it’s acceptable to lie to infidels?

Mr. Guleed: My Sharia tells me that I have to tell the truth.

Mr. Ryan: To whoever is asking the questions?

Mr. Guleed: Depends.

Mr. Ryan: Okay.  Sir, in the course of your testimony today, am I correct to say that you’ve like to us many times.

Mr. Guleed: I’m not lying.

Mr. Ryan: That’s all I have, Judge.

Abu Zubaydah:

Abu Zubaydah, a high value detainee, who has not been charged and has not been seen by the “public” (press, observers) since his capture in 2002, was scheduled to testify at 2:15.  Mr. Zubaydah was transported to Camp Justice from Camp 7 over lunch and was waiting outside the courtroom.  He never entered the room, and no one in the gallery ever saw him.

Mr. Zubaydah is also being held at Camp 7 and was going to testify in support of allegations made by bin al Shibh regarding the continuous noise and vibrations at the facility.

Zubaydah was represented by counsel, Commander Patrick Flor.  Commander Flor was present in the courtroom during the hearing.  The afternoon session started with a conversation among the Military Judge, Commander Flor, Mr. Harrington, and Mr. Ryan.  The conversation ended with a decision that Zubaydah would not testify today.

An issue concerns whether any testimony by Zubaydah might incriminate him, and whether immunity could be granted so that he could testify fully without his testimony being able to be used against him should charges be filed against him.

During the discussion among the Military Judge and the lawyers, the prosecution (Mr. Ryan) noted that he would ask questions attempting to show bias in favor of the bin al Shibh.  Mr. Ryan planned on showing bias by asking questions about alleged illegal activities as well as asking about any bias against the United States, shared values with the accused, and relationships with the accused. Harrington and Flor suggested that the Judge provide immunity for the questions asked.  The Military Judge did not believe he had the authority to provide immunity, and the parties were not sure at what point the immunity would kick in.  There was also a question of what information would get struck if immunity was not given, but instead if objections were raised during cross examination.  The parties could not determine if, in that situation, both the cross and direct examination would be struck from the record, or just the cross.  It was decided that his testimony would be postponed until the next hearing. The parties were requested to file briefs with the court.

Personal Observations

All five of the 9/11 defendants were present for today’s hearing.  Today KSM, bin ‘Attash, and bin al Shibh wore cameo jackets. All of the defendants had their heads covered. al Baluchi wore a Pashtun hat. KSM and al Baluchi had “scarves” draped over their shoulders with a golden dome and the word “Palestine”.

It seems the laweyrs involved in the Zubaydah fiasco could have worked out any issues before Zubaydah arrived at the court today.  I have no experience with the substantive issues, but it does seem that bin al Shibh’s defense counsel or counsel for Zubaydah could have known the sort of questions that the prosecution was going to ask, and could have been prepared on the self-incrimination / immunity issues.  If the witness is testifying in support of a motion made by the defense, wouldn’t it only make sense that the prosecution would attack the witness’s credibility by trying to show bias?  Hindsight is 20/20 but it is possible that the parties were well aware that the immunity issue would come up and for whatever reason decided to not work out the issue prior to testimony.

There was disappointment in the gallery when the Military Judge stated Zubaydah would not testify today. I was disappointed.  However, those in the courtroom seemed un-phased.  Although I was disappointed to not have a chance to see Zubaydah in person, I am glad I was able to see and hear Guleed’s testimony live.  It is very rare to be able to see an in-person testimony during these proceedings, let alone an in-person testimony from a high value detainee.  His testimony was surprisingly entertaining, which feels odd to write given the context.  Parts of the testimony caused laughter to break out in the gallery, while other parts led to tears.

There is a book which touches on Zubaydah called Black Banners, by Ali Soufan.  I hope to listen to it on the drive to Indianapolis from Andrews Air Force Base on Saturday.

I have had some time to explore the Guantanamo Bay Naval base and will be posting about my down time experience here at Guantanamo Bay as time permits.

20160601_170134Many of the notes above are based on my memory and understanding of the 30 May 2016 hearing and related motions and transcripts. The foregoing is my opinion in my own personal capacity, and my blog posts and other comments are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Indiana University McKinney School of Law or anyone else, for that matter.

Leontiy Korolev, J.D., Indiana University McKinney School of Law

Participant, Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP), Program in International Human Rights Law (PIHRL), Indiana University McKinney School of Law