Report: Biden administration approves release of prisoners previously tied to Al-Qaeda

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WASHINGTON, DC — Three prisoners with alleged connections with the terror network Al-Qaeda will be released from Guantánamo Bay, although a specific timeline has not been given.

The prisoners include Uthman Abdul Rahim Mohammed Uthman, Abdul Rabbani and Saifullah Abdullah Paracha.

Uthman was an alleged bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, and Rabbani, an alleged member of an Al-Qaeda cell plotting car bomb attacks against Americans, according to investigative journalist Daniel Greenfield.

Paracha, a 73-year-old Pakistani, had suspected ties to Al-Qaeda and will be released after being incarcerated for more than 16 years and avoiding a recommended prosecution.

The three prisoners waited and watched how their freedom was secured under the new Biden administration, which frequently touts social justice issues. Yet, are these prisoners really innocent and harmless?

For example, Paracha is alleged to have plotted to smuggle into the U.S. C4 explosives, chemicals from Chinese sources, possible biological agents and even radiological or nuclear items, according to Greenfield, who questions the timing of the prisoners’ releases.

Greenfield reported that Paracha “expressed strong anti-U.S. sentiment” and allegedly “stated that nuclear weapons should be used against U.S. troops, as thousands of the troops would be killed at once.”

Greenfield mentioned a dossier was discovered that detailed plans of further terrorism against the U.S. after 9/11 that involved Paracha:

“The dossier describes the 9/11 mastermind’s associate and Paracha chatting about Al-Qaeda getting some ‘radiological or nuclear items several times’ because Paracha wanted to help Al-Qaeda ‘do something big against the U.S.’

“Paracha ‘also discussed nuclear attacks and attacks against nuclear power plants’ and had an idea for ‘Al-Qaeda to attack a nuclear power plant.’”

On May 17, Paracha was notified he was approved for release after more than 16 years in custody at the U.S. base in Cuba, his lawyer, Shelby Sullivan-Bennis, said.

Last November, Sullivan-Bennis had told Military Times via a phone call from the base:

“I am more hopeful now simply because we have an administration to look forward to that isn’t dead set on ignoring the existing review process. The simple existence of that on the horizon I think is hope for all of us.”

President Donald Trump had ended the Obama administration’s practice of reviewing the cases of men held at Guantánamo and releasing them if imprisonment was no longer deemed necessary. However, under Biden’s administration, Obama’s policy will likely resume.

Greenfield criticized the decision to release the prisoners, especially Paracha:

“So you can see why Joe Biden is letting him go.

“Why settle for helping Iran nuke America, when you can also help Al-Qaeda nuke America?”

Greenfield suggested Paracha’s release puts Great Britain at risk as well:

“Releasing Paracha might also be a concern for the Brits as the dossier also states that he had discussed with [Ammar] Al-Baluchi ‘how to smuggle explosives and chemicals into England.’

“When Paracha wasn’t exploring the exciting possibilities of nuclear weapons, he met Osama bin Laden on a trip to Afghanistan and ‘offered to let UBL and Al-Qaeda use his media broadcasting business to film and distribute propaganda and training films’ that would include ‘depicting UBL quoting Koranic verses.’

“While a lot of Paracha’s other plots were theoretical, the dossier indicates that Al-Qaeda used Paracha’s ‘video broadcasting facility’ to make a movie featuring ‘a senior Saudi Al-Qaeda facilitator associated with a cell targeting Americans in Saudi Arabia.’”

Now that Biden is president, there seems to be a renewed focus on shutting down Guantánamo Bay.

Last November, Military Times reported:

“Guantánamo was once a source of global outrage and a symbol of U.S. excess in response to terrorism. But it largely faded from the headlines after President Barack Obama failed to close it, even as 40 men continue to be detained there.

“Those pushing for its closure now see a window of opportunity, hoping Biden’s administration will find a way to prosecute those who can be prosecuted and release the rest, extricating the U.S. from a detention center that costs more than $445 million per year.

“Biden’s precise intentions for Guantanamo remain unclear.”

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However, keeping things quiet might be a purposeful plan.

Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington director at Human Rights Watch, told Military Times:

“I think it’s more likely to close if it doesn’t become a huge press issue.”

Paracha was held on suspicion of ties to Al-Qaeda, but never charged with a crime despite being recommended for prosecution by the Guantánamo Review Task Force.

The Washington Times reported that the Pakistani citizen was cleared by the prisoner review board along with two other men, according to Shelby Sullivan-Bennis, who represented Paracha at his hearing in November.

Sullivan-Bennis told Washington Times that it is customary that notifications do not provide detailed reasoning for decisions and said Paracha is “not a continuing threat” to the U.S.

The New York Times noted:

“He was taken into custody in Bangkok in July 2003, then held in Afghanistan until he was sent to Guantánamo Bay in September 2004.

“The Guantánamo Review Task Force (2009-10) had recommended he be considered for prosecution, but the case was not pursued.

“The interagency Periodic Review Board approved him for transfer with security assurances in May 2021. Born in 1947, he is the oldest prisoner at Guantánamo Bay.”

While Paracha will be released, it is not known when it will happen. The Military Times reported:

“It does not mean his release his imminent. But it is a crucial step before the U.S. government negotiates a repatriation agreement with Pakistan for his return.

“President Joe Biden’s administration has said it intends to resume efforts to close the detention center, a process that former President Donald Trump halted.” 

Sullivan-Bennis said she thinks Paracha will be returned home in the next several months:

“The Pakistanis want him back, and our understanding is that there are no impediments to his return.”

DAWN Media Group in Pakistan published an article by the Anadolu Agency, which wrote:

“On Monday, a review board established under former US President Barack Obama to try to prevent the release of prisoners who authorities reckoned might re-engage in terrorist activities upon their release, declared Paracha ‘not a continuing threat’ to the US.

“Never charged with a crime, he was accused of financially facilitating at least two of Al-Qaeda members involved in 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.”

The Paracha family is reportedly delighted and excitedly awaiting his return, but reluctant to speak to the media just yet.

Paracha’s daughter, Muneeza Paracha, told Anadolu Agency:

“We don’t want to make any public comment on that at this point. Once we decide to do that, we will let you know.”

However, Nisar A. Mujahid, attorney for Paracha family, and Amna Masood Janjua, a family friend and head of the rights group Defense of Human Rights Council (DHRC), told Anadolu Agency they both welcomed Biden’s plans to shut the Guantánamo Bay prison and called for a serious review of the U.S. justice system.

Janjua said:

“Paracha’s case has raised serious questions about the US justice system. His mere release and acknowledgment that he is not a continuing threat to the US, cannot be the substitute of mental stress and trauma the family has faced.

“Since he has been proved innocent, the US must publicly apologize to the Paracha family and compensate them for their financial losses.

“This will be the least [that can be done] to heal the wounds of the victims of the so-called war against terrorism, although it will not compensate for the pain, stress and trauma of 17 years.”

Attorney Mujahid said the family has the legal right to sue both Pakistani and US governments for damage and said:

“It’s up to the family to take a decision in this connection, once he is back home.

“It’s an unexpectedly pleasant development.”

Greenfield, who does not share their excitement, wrote:

“Even Obama didn’t set Paracha loose, but Biden is determined to out-Obama him.

“The media understandably doesn’t want to trouble Americans with any uncomfortable mentions of nuclear weapons and Chinese chemicals when explaining Biden’s latest gift to Al-Qaeda.

“The New York Times only mentions that Paracha is ‘a former businessman and longtime legal resident of New York’ and that he has ‘heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.’”

Greenfield further noted:

“Biden intends to continue Obama’s work of freeing all the Islamic terrorists of Gitmo.

“Paracha had apparently told American investigators that ‘he did not think meeting with Al-Qaeda was a crime, just business.’

“Biden clearly doesn’t think aiding Islamic terrorists is a crime either. That’s why he’s doing it.”

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