With the clock ticking on his final year in office, President Obama is making a fresh push to make good on the campaign promise to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. Among other things, the president argues the prison serves as a “recruiting tool” for terrorists and that “careful” transfers of remaining detainees to other locations overseas should alleviate our concerns about these terrorists doing us harm once released.
Even if you were buying any of what the president was selling, our superlative Secretary of State John Kerry’s comments on one notable former GITMO detainee should destroy any shred of credibility in the administration’s plan for ensuring these detainees don’t return to the lives of terrorism they had before entering GITMO.
Appearing before the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Kerry made the statement while testifying about the State Department’s budget request for the fiscal year 2017.
During the hearing, Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) asked Kerry for his thoughts on Ibrahim al Qosi, the former Guantanamo detainee who is now a prominent al Qaeda leader, and had staffers hold up a picture of the terrorist for Kerry to see.“Let me just ask one question,” Kirk said to Kerry. “I want to show you a picture of Ibrahim al Qosi, who was recently released by the administration to the Sudanese, and he appeared on some al Qaeda videos recruiting people for AQAP [al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula].”
Kirk went on to say, “Now that he’s out, I would hope we would end the policy of issuing terrorists to terrorist nations, and where they can get out.”Sudan, where al Qosi was released, has a long history of terrorist activity with Sunni jihadist groups and individuals like al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden as well as with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Sudanese government has also been internationally accused of committing genocide in Darfur.
Kerry paused for a moment before saying to Kirk, “Well, Senator, he’s not supposed to be doing that. And there are consequences for that, and there will be. But apart from that, the fact is that we’ve got people who’ve been held without charges for 13 years, 14 years in some cases. That’s not American, that’s not how we operate.”
Al Qosi was an aide to Osama bin Laden when he was taken to Guantanamo in 2002. He was released 10 years later after pleading guilty to war crimes in 2010 and was sent to his native Sudan. Upon the terrorist’s release, his lawyer, Paul Reichler, said al Qosi was looking forward to a quiet life of freedom, but the two never had contact after al Qosi left Guantanamo.
Al Qosi remerged this month as a prominent figure in AQAP propaganda videos calling for the takeover of Saudi Arabia and an end to the U.S.-Saudi alliance.
So, I guess this is what the “careful” transfer of GITMO detainees to other countries, that President Obama touted yesterday, looks like. We “carefully” transfer the detainees, then they freely turn around and do whatever the heck they choose — and our administration decries that “they’re not supposed to do that,” while promising unnamed “consequences.”
Kinda reminds me of the nuclear “deal” we struck with the Iranians, which they violate on a regular basis. Iran violates the agreement by, say, test firing a ballistic missile. We acknowledge they’re not supposed to be doing that — and turn around and dole out the “consequences” of billions of dollars in sanctions relief.
Can’t wait to see what Secretary of State John Kerry’s “consequences” are for this former GITMO detainee who’s now back recruiting for al-Qaida.
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]