Posted tagged ‘GITMO prisoner releases’

Former Gitmo Captive on Saudi Payroll Arrested in French ISIS Cell

June 2, 2017

Former Gitmo Captive on Saudi Payroll Arrested in French ISIS Cell, Judicial Watch, June 2, 2017

Despite his disturbing Pentagon document, the Obama administration released Lahmar from the top security compound at the U.S. Naval base in southeast Cuba in 2009 after France agreed to take him. This week he was arrested in Bordeaux as part of a terrorist cell that operated a recruiting network for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

As far back as 2010 former president Barack Obama’s National Intelligence Director confirmed that one in four inmates released from Gitmo resume terrorist activities against the United States. A year earlier the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, which gathers foreign military intelligence, disclosed that the number of Gitmo prisoners who returned to the fight since their release had nearly doubled in a short time.

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Surprise, surprise, another inmate released from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba has been arrested for reengaging in terrorism. His name is Sabir Mahfouz Lahmar and his Department of Defense (DOD) file says he has links to “multiple terrorist plots” and as a member of the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) plotted with Al Qaeda to attack the United States Embassy in Sarajevo.

“Detainee advocated hostilities against US forces and the international community in Bosnia, and is linked to multiple terrorist plots and criminal related activity,” according to Lahmar’s DOD file. “Detainee had intentions to travel to Afghanistan and Iran, and is reported as doing so prior to his capture. Detainee has demonstrated a commitment to jihad, and would likely engage in anti-US activities if released.” Lahmar ended up at Gitmo in 2002 because the Algerian government refused to take him into custody after Bosnian authorities exhausted the legal limits for detention. The Pentagon recommended continued detention and determined that he was a high risk that posed a threat to the U.S., its interests and allies. Lahmar was also labeled a “high threat” from a detention perspective and of high intelligence value.

Also of note in the DOD file is that Lahmar was on Saudi Arabia’s payroll as an employee of the Saudi High Commission for Relief (SHCR), a non-governmental organization (NGO). He was arrested and convicted in 1997 for assaulting an American Citizen in Bosnia but was released, “after the SHCR intervened on his behalf,” the military file states. “After his release, detainee returned to work for the SHCR in Sarajevo.” Authorities in Croatia believe Lahmar was involved in the 1997 bombings in Travnik and Mostar and that he served in the el-Mujahid Brigade conducting training for acts of terrorism in the 1990s. Other reports link Lahmar to car theft and document forgery and indicate he’s wanted in Belgium and France for his involvement in violent activities, the military file says.

Despite his disturbing Pentagon document, the Obama administration released Lahmar from the top security compound at the U.S. Naval base in southeast Cuba in 2009 after France agreed to take him. This week he was arrested in Bordeaux as part of a terrorist cell that operated a recruiting network for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). A British newspaper report says Lahmar was one of six people—four men and two women—captured as part of an aggressive crackdown on a jihadist recruiting network in the European nation that’s been rocked by multiple terrorist attacks in recent years. Just a few years ago a former Gitmo captive, 46-year-old Moroccan Lahcen Ikassrien, was arrested in Spain for operating a sophisticated recruitment network for the Syrian and Iraqi-based terror group known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Like Lahmar and Ikassreien, many of the captives released from Gitmo have predictably returned to terrorist causes and it has long been documented in military and intelligence assessments. Just last year a report issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) showed that of the 161 Gitmo detainees released by the Obama administration, nine were confirmed to be “directly involved in terrorist or insurgent activities” and that 113 of the 532 Gitmo captives released during the George W. Bush administration have engaged in terrorist activities. “Based on trends identified during the past eleven years, we assess that some detainees currently at GTMO will seek to reengage in terrorist or insurgent activities after they are transferred,” according to the ODNI, which is composed of more than a dozen spy agencies, including Air Force, Army, Navy, Treasury and Coast Guard intelligence as well as the Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The agency also stated in its report that “former GTMO detainees routinely communicate with each other, families of other former detainees, and previous associates who are members of terrorist organizations. The reasons for communication span from the mundane (reminiscing about shared experiences) to the nefarious (planning terrorist operations). We assess that some GTMO detainees transferred in the future also will communicate with other former GTMO detainees and persons in terrorist organizations.”

Other examples of recidivism among Gitmo captives include dozens who have rejoined Al Qaeda in Yemen, the country where the 2009 Christmas Day airline bomber proudly trained, and a number of high-ranking Al Qaeda militants in Yemen involved in a sophisticated scheme to send bombs on a U.S.-bound cargo plane. A few years ago, a Gitmo alum named Mullah Abdul Rauf, who once led a Taliban unit, established the first ISIS base in Afghanistan. In 2014, Judicial Watch uncovered an embarrassing gaffe involving an Al Qaeda operative liberated from Gitmo years earlier. Turns out the U.S. government put him on a global terrorist list and offered $5 million for information on his whereabouts!

As far back as 2010 former president Barack Obama’s National Intelligence Director confirmed that one in four inmates released from Gitmo resume terrorist activities against the United States. A year earlier the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, which gathers foreign military intelligence, disclosed that the number of Gitmo prisoners who returned to the fight since their release had nearly doubled in a short time. The assessment was made by using data such as fingerprints, pictures and other intelligence reports to confirm the high rate of recidivism among the released prisoners.

Trump’s Election Was a Win in the Fight to Keep Gitmo Open

January 5, 2017

Trump’s Election Was a Win in the Fight to Keep Gitmo Open, Center for Security Policy, Ben Lerner, January 4, 2017

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Source: National Review

President Obama recently signed the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act into law. Like numerous others before it, this NDAA is a densely packed, important piece of legislation, and it contains a provision extending the prohibition on spending federal funds to transfer Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States for any reason through December 31, 2017.

Implementing this provision before the end of the calendar year was crucial. The comparable prohibition in the FY 2016 NDAA was set to expire on December 31, 2016, so failing to extend it beyond that date technically would have left the Obama with three weeks to transfer Gitmo detainees to U.S. prisons between December 31 and January 20, his last day in office. The president and his team have expressed frustration that it is now impossible for them to fulfill his 2008 campaign pledge to close detainee operations at Gitmo, which he backed with one of the very first executive orders he signed upon taking office.

The road to this point was long and uncertain. Just months after Obama’s January 2009 executive order was issued, the administration announced that it intended to prosecute 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other 9/11 co-conspirators in federal court in Manhattan. Bipartisan opposition to this plan was swift and sustained, and the president was forced to abandon it. The administration had also undertaken a parallel initiative to transfer other detainees to a prison facility in Standish, Michigan, but again had to drop those plans in the face of intense opposition from the local community. A similar effort to transfer detainees to a prison facility in Thomson, Illinois was also stymied when then-attorney general Eric Holder, again facing widespread objections from those with security concerns, pledged under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Thomson facility would not be used to house Gitmo detainees.

Not long after Democrats lost their lock on the House and Senate as a result of the 2010 midterm elections, Congress passed the FY 2011 NDAA, prohibiting transfers of Gitmo detainees to the United States for any reason. Congress would pass, and the President would sign into law with objection, similar bans in subsequent NDAAs and related appropriations legislation for the next several years. Over the last two years, Obama seemed to signal a willingness to defy these bans by sending delegations to survey and report on three more possible sites for domestic transfers: Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; ADX Florence, the supermax prison in Colorado that houses the most dangerous federal inmates; and the Navy Brig in South Carolina. But these possibilities, too, were met with strong opposition from state and local authorities, and they have yet to be acted upon further.

One would have to assume that a significant reason why such domestic transfers have failed to happen since Obama first looked at the Kansas, Colorado, and South Carolina sites is that U.S. military leadership has stated publicly that the military will play no part in facilitating such transfers under current law. In November of 2015, 16 Members of Congress sent a letter to the Joint Chiefs of Staff encouraging them to seek legal counsel, in light of current bans on transferring Gitmo detainees to the United States, before implementing any orders from President Obama to the contrary. The Joint Chiefs responded to that letter in February of 2016, stating that they would not take any actions that violated the transfer ban. This was a watershed moment in the debate: Since Gitmo is a military facility, it is hard to envision a transfer of detainees to the U.S. without the cooperation of the military.

The fact that Democrats and Republicans within and outside Congress held the line for the past eight years, thwarting the president’s highly misguided plans to transfer detainees stateside, is a testament to the resonance of the arguments against those plans: It remains just as true today as it was eight years ago that bringing detainees here would pose unacceptable security and legal risks for the American people, and would do nothing to abate the jihadist threat against the United States.

That said, there are two things to keep in mind until January 20th, 2017.

First, President Obama is deeply committed to his view that Gitmo has been detrimental to America’s global reputation and has maintained that “under certain circumstances” the domestic-transfer restrictions might be unconstitutional. His signing of the last NDAA of his presidency into law, and the Joint Chiefs’ previous statement regarding military participation in any such detainee transfer, severely limit his options. But it would be a mistake to consider the matter closed until President-elect Trump, who thankfully has so far adopted a very different perspective on Gitmo, assumes office.

Second, Obama has indicated that he will continue trying to transfer remaining detainees to other countries, as he has done already with several very dangerous terrorist suspects. There is less that Congress can do to stop these transfers since they fall squarely within the executive branch’s prerogative as the primary conductor of foreign policy. The recidivism rate for former Gitmo detainees released under both presidents Bush and Obama is 30 percent. So while it remains unlikely that Obama can fulfill his desire to transfer remaining detainees to the U.S. for trial before he leaves office, he can still do grave damage to America’s national security in the few weeks he has left.

With this in mind, President-elect Trump would be well-advised to minimize such damage by 1) reiterating that in his administration, Gitmo will be kept open for detainee operations involving those still there and those who may be captured or re-captured on the battlefield; and 2) announcing that countries who accept detainees for transfer between now and January 20th would be guaranteed an extremely poor start to relations with the new administration.

Obama Admin Secretly Scouted U.S. Cities to Move Gitmo Terrorists

October 3, 2016

Obama Admin Secretly Scouted U.S. Cities to Move Gitmo Terrorists, Washington Free Beacon, , October 3, 2016

The entrance to Camp 5 and Camp 6 at the U.S. military's Guantanamo Bay detention center, which President Barack Obama has pledged to close amid opposition in Congress, at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, Saturday, June 7, 2014. The U.S. currently holds 149 men at Guantanamo. They include five prisoners charged with planning and aiding the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack who face trial by military commission, as well as a handful of others being prosecuted. Most have been held without charge since the government began taking prisoners suspected of links to al-Qaida and the Taliban at the Navy base on the southeastern edge of Cuba in January 2002. (AP Photo/Ben Fox)

The entrance to Camp 5 and Camp 6 at the U.S. military’s Guantanamo Bay detention center (AP Photo/Ben Fox)

The Obama administration secretly used taxpayer money to fund an official inspection of several U.S. cities as possible locations to move terrorist inmates held at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in violation of federal law, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

The Obama administration ordered the Pentagon to spend U.S. taxpayer funds for a domestic search of “possible Guantanamo detainee relocation” sites, according to documents obtained by the Free Beacon. United States law bars the administration from spending taxpayer money on its effort to move Gitmo inmates onto American soil.

The disclosure has prompted a congressional inquiry to determine who in the Obama administration ordered the relocation search and how taxpayer funds were authorized for that purpose, according to a formal letter sent by lawmakers to the Defense Department on Monday and obtained by the Free Beacon.

The disclosure of this activity by the Obama administration has renewed concerns on Capitol Hill that the White House will make a last-minute effort to shutter the Gitmo prison and ship the remaining inmates to the United States, despite laws prohibiting the transfers.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt informed lawmakers in a letter late last month that he had discovered documentation showing the Obama administration spent more than $25,000 to scout potential relocation sites in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Charleston, South Carolina, and Florence, Colorado.

Schmidt obtained this information from the Pentagon only after threatening to sue the administration for its refusal to produce documentation on the matter.

“While the amount of money is relatively small—a total of$25,909.53, of which $7,687.20 was spent on the site survey for Fort Leavenworth—the admission raises the concern that the Department of Defense violated the law by knowingly expending these funds while federal law enacted by Congress expressly prohibited the agency from doing so,” Schmidt informed lawmakers in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Free Beacon.

The administration’s behavior has raised concerns in Congress that it is secretly planning to relocate detainees to United States cities without informing local officials and residents.

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kansas) told the Free Beacon that Americans should not have the most “hardened terrorists” secretly transferred to their towns by the Obama administration.

“Americans, and particularly Kansans, understand that President Obama’s desire to bring hardened terrorists from Guantanamo Bay to the U.S. would make our country less safe,” Pompeo said. “In completing these site surveys, the Department of Defense followed neither the letter, nor the spirit of American law. I am proud to stand with my colleagues in condemning this illegal action and encouraging all states to pursue appropriate legal action.”

Pompeo, along with fellow Kansas Republican Reps. Lynn Jenkins and Kevin Yoder, are demanding the Pentagon explain its intentions and why it violated U.S. law in its effort to bring Gitmo inmates to America, according to the Monday letter obtained by the Free Beacon.

“Rather than spending zero dollars on site surveys, as mandated by U.S. law, the Department of Defense has spent over $25,000,” the lawmakers wrote. “This is following neither the letter, nor the spirit of the law.”

The lawmakers seek to determine who in the Pentagon authorized the site surveys, when they took place, and how the taxpayer funds were spent, according to the inquiry. The letter also demanded the names of Obama administration officials and outside contractors who participated in the Gitmo relocation sites surveys.

“We stand with our Senate colleagues in condemning this illegal action and encouraging all states to pursue the appropriate legal action in response,” the lawmakers concluded.

Guantanamo Bay inmates who have been released continue to reengage in terrorism. At least two former inmates have participated in terror operations against U.S. forces since January.

The Obama administration continues to pursue an aggressive effort to free as many inmates as possible before leaving office.

Obama’s Latest GITMO Dump

August 18, 2016

Obama’s Latest GITMO Dump, Front Page MagazineAri Lieberman, August 18, 2016

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In his mad rush to shut down the Guantanamo detention facility, housing America’s most notorious Islamist criminals, President Obama has engaged in yet another Gitmo dump. In the latest outrage, Obama released fifteen detainees – 3 Afghans and 12 Yemini nationals – and transferred them to the UAE where they will enjoy their new found freedom and in all likelihood, return to their violent jihadi pasts.

Obama has made the closure of Guantanamo the cornerstone of his failed policies of appeasement and has done all that is within his power to shut the facility. Congressional legislation prevents him from closing the facility outright and he doesn’t have the votes to overturn that legislation so he’s doing the next best thing and is freeing the detainees, emptying the facility of its violent, hardcore inhabitants.

Throughout his tenure, Obama has released or transferred over 150 detainees from Guantanamo. Some of those transfers were conducted in a blatantly illegal fashion such as when 5 terrorists – the so-called Taliban 5 – were released in exchange for U.S. army deserter, Bowe Bergdahl. In that exchange, Obama demonstrated his utter contempt for Congress and the constitutional process by violating legislation requiring him to provide Congress with 30 days’ notice before releasing detainees.

Those supportive of Obama’s deleterious policies have claimed that the recidivist rate is low. The figure of 5 percent is usually thrown out by the president’s shills but that figure is an outright fabrication and number is alarmingly higher. In fact, in March 2015, reports surfaced that at least three members of the Taliban 5 were attempting to communicate or otherwise reconnect with known terrorist networks. Anyone with a scintilla of foresight knows and understands that radical Muslim terrorists, steeped in hatred of the West will revert to their old ways if given the opportunity. Moreover, many of Guantanamo’s detainees are not only imbibed with hatred, they possess skills of the terror trade that make them manifestly more dangerous.

Obama has offered a number of reasons for closure of the Guantanamo facility but they all fall flat. He has argued that Guantanamo serves as a propaganda tool for terrorists but that tired line is pure drivel. The 1983 marine barracks and U.S. embassy bombings, the 1993 WTC bombing, the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing, the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, the 2,000 USS Cole bombing and the 9-11 attacks, among many other outrages, all preceded Guantanamo. Muslim terrorists don’t need an excuse to hate and attack America. America is an anathema to everything they stand for and Guantanamo is just a side show.

He has also argued that the facility is expensive to run and drains resources. This is an almost comical excuse considering the source. The tax and spend Socialist in Chief has never met a wasteful project he didn’t like. Billions have been spent on Obamacare, an extravagant, failed socialist experiment that has visited disaster on the American economy. Nearly $1 billion was spent propping up the failing Solyndra solar power company and team Obama spent $500 million training four or fiveSyrian rebels.

He claims that continued maintenance of Guantanamo harms partnerships with U.S. allies and that the issue of Guantanamo continuously arises in talks with world leaders who express disquiet over its existence. Obama is of course careful to avoid specifying which leaders have expressed disapproval. Perhaps it was his good buddy Erdogan, Turkey’s unhinged Islamist thug whose abysmal human rights record makes Vladimir Putin look like Mother Theresa by comparison. The U.S. government should pay no heed to sanctimonious lecturing from third-world despots.

Lastly, Obama has argued that the existence of Guantanamo “runs contrary to our moral values,” and “is viewed as a stain on our broader record of upholding the highest standards of the rule of law (emphasis added).” Viewed by whom? He does not say. Nor does he explain how the existence of the facility “runs contrary to our moral values.” The detainees at Guantanamo are fed and clothed and accommodations are made for their “religious” requirements.

Let us not forget for one second the nature of the people we are dealing with. They are zealots who have committed bestial acts in the name of their religion and have declared Jihad on Western civilization and there is virtually no hope for their rehabilitation. Consequently, they need to be kept separate and apart from civilization. Moreover, Guantanamo has proven to be an effective tool for intelligence gathering and vital information obtained from detainees has saved lives.

This however, does not matter to Obama who seems fixated on closing the facility. He suffers from an acute case of myopic tunnel vision and is incapable of entertaining any argument that runs counter to the narrative he wishes to present. He has already fired one secretary of defense for failing to act fast enough on his transfer demands and demonstrated a disturbing willingness to trample on the U.S. Constitution to further his goals. For Obama, in his twilight months in office, Guantanamo’s closure is a race against time.