U.S. releases Algerian national after he spent nearly 20 years at Guantanamo Bay for being involved with terrorist groups

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CLUB GITMO, CUBA- ABC News reports that an Algerian man held at Guantanamo Bay for nearly 20 years was recently released and sent back to his home country.

Saturday, the Defense Department announced that Sufyian Barhoumi was returned to Algeria with assurances from that government that he would be treated in a humane manner and that security measures would be implemented in order to mitigate the risk he could pose a threat in the future.

The Huffington Post said the Pentagon didn’t detail what those security measures entailed; however they may include restrictions on travel.

Barhoumi was taken into custody in Pakistan and delivered to the U.S. base at Club Gitmo, Cuba in 2002. It was eventually determined by the United States that he had been involved with a number of terrorist groups, however he was determined not to be a member of al Qaeda or the Taliban.

That determination was made by a prison review board which had approved him for release during the Obama administration in 2016.

American authorities sought to prosecute Barhoumi in 2008, however those efforts were dropped in the midst of legal challenges to the initial incarnation of the military commission system set up by President George W. Bush.

As the Obama administration wound down in January 20167, a federal judge refused to intervene in a decision by the Pentagon not to repatriate Barhoumi, whose lawyer believed his client would be released. His family began making preparations for his return to Algeria, which included buying him a car and a small restaurant for him to run.

The Department of Justice said Ash Carter, then serving as defense secretary, rejected Barhoumi’s release on January 12, 2017 “based on a variety of substantive concerns, shared by multiple agencies,” without giving further detail.

Barhoumi offered to plead guilty to any charges in 2012, hopeful he could receive a fixed sentence and return home to his elderly mother, according to his attorney, Shayana Kadidal of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

“Our government owes Sufyian and his mother years of their lives back,” Kadidal said. “I’m overjoyed that he will be home with his family, but I will dearly miss his constant good humor and empathy for the suffering of others in the utterly depressing environment of Guantanamo.”

During the Trump administration, efforts to repatriate prisoners stalled given Trump’s hardline approach on suspected terrorists. Now with Biden in office, efforts to reduce the number of men incarcerated at Guantanamo is again underway, part of a larger effort to close the facility.

With Barhoumi’s release, there are now a total of 37 men incarcerated at Gitmo, with 18 who have been deemed eligible for repatriation or resettlement in a third country.

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For more on inmates being released from Club Gitmo, we invite you to read our prior article about inmates released who returned to terror.

DIG DEEPER

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN- Recognize the name Khairullah Khairkhwa? Probably not. But Barack Obama, the 44th president sure does. After all, it was he who had him along with four others released from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for deserter and traitor Bo Bergdahl, according to the Daily Beast.

So who is Khairkhwa? Well according to the New York Post, he is one of the so-called masterminds behind the Taliban’s takeover of the Afghan capital of Kabul.

So much for Obama’s promise that Khairkhwa and the four others released at the same time—the so-called “Gitmo five”—that the five would be sent to Qatar, where he promised their movements would be restricted and where they would be harmless.

To nobody’s surprise, the Taliban turned out to be nothing but lying scumbags.

Like the current occupant of the White House, then Obama vice president Joe Biden, Obama didn’t listen to his military officials when they warned him that Khairkhwa was too dangerous to release.

In fact, all five were considered to be at high risk to launch attacks against the US and our allies at the time. Biden’s pulling of the remaining military troops out of Afghanistan in a hasty exit was reportedly made against the advice of his military commanders. So much for “the adults being back in charge.”

According to The Federalist, Khairkhwa and the other four—Mullah Mohammed Fazl, Mullah Mrullah Noori, Abdul Haq Wasiq and Mohammed Nabi Omari—didn’t exactly grow in their love and appreciation for the United States of America while they were locked up at Gitmo.

Upon being released, the five connected with active Taliban extremist in Afghanistan and promised they would return to fight against America.

The Federalist noted that the Gitmo five were among those allegedly negotiating for peace in Afghanistan, a third world hellhole that has been embroiled in one conflict or another for years.

Those discussions eventually led to the United States removing troops from the region. Khairkhwa has in the past said that the terrorist regime wouldn’t launch any type of military engagement if Biden withdrew troops from Afghanistan.

And Biden apparently believed him, whereby to the surprise of nobody except probably Biden, the Taliban stuck up a giant middle finger to the US after troops were pulled out.

Khairkhwa was accused in 2001 of collaborating with 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden and was subsequently arrested and incarcerated in Gitmo.

After his release by Obama, Khairkhwa vowed to establish strict Islamic rule in Afghanistan and now he is making good on that promise, aided and abetted by the ill-advised move by Biden.

As The Federalist noted, the Obama-Biden administration treated prisoners at Gitmo with kid gloves. When the grown ups were in charge during the Trump administration, the screws were tightened, however Biden returned to Obama’s policy of kicking dangerous prisoners out of lockup.

At the time, the Daily Beast reported the five were not on the same level as 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, however the five were identified as among the worst of those captured in the war on terror.

As the outlet noted speaking off the five, “their release will end up replenishing the diminished leadership ranks of the Afghan Taliban at a moment when the United States is winding down the war there.”

“They are undoubtedly among the most dangerous Taliban commanders held at Guantanamo,” said Thomas Joscelyn, a senior editor at the Long War Journal at the time.

As an example, Fazl was the Taliban’s former deputy defense minister and was wanted by the United Nations for his role in massacres which targeted that country’s Shi’ite Muslim population.  The other three were also high-ranking Taliban officials. Yet Obama let them walk out the door in exchange for a deserter.

As noted by The Federalist, it is unknown what may have happened in the war-torn country had Khairkhwa and his terrorist buddies not been cut loose by Obama, however it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to predict that men with such clear ties to violent extremism would return to it after being released from prison.

It would appear that along with Biden, Obama may have the blood of a number of Afghan citizens on his hands.

Meanwhile, it appears that Khairkhwa and his Taliban terrorist cronies will have plenty of US firepower to play with. According to National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, while the Biden administration doesn’t have “a complete picture” of how many weapons were abandoned in Afghanistan, he admitted it was likely a “fair amount” that were now in possession of the Taliban.

“We don’t have a complete picture, obviously, of where every article of defense materials has gone, but certainly, a fair amount of it has fallen into the hands of the Taliban, and obviously we don’t have a sense that they are going to readily hand it over to us at the airport.”

In other news, grass is green. Clearly the Taliban isn’t going hand over Humvees, high-performance drones, Apache attack helicopters and all manner of weapons to the US.

Amateur hour at the White House continues.

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In case you missed some of our earlier reporting on overseas terrorism, we invite you to:

DIG DEEPER

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Twitter has allowed the Twitter account of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyyeh to remain active while glorifying violence, despite former President Donald Trump’s account being “permanently suspended due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”

Ismail Haniyeh has been permitted to continue the use of Twitter as Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau and de facto head of the Gaza Strip to celebrate and encourage violence against Israel. Haniyeh has even published photographs of dead children he calls “Martyrs.”

As violence between Israel and Palestine flared, Haniyeh posted on May 12 a photograph of a young boy allegedly killed in Gaza by an Israeli rocket. Haniyyeh wrote in the post:

“The innocent Palestinian child Hamza Nassar 11y while he was on his way to buy vegetables to his family to eat it at Iftar time, he was hit by an Israeli rocket and died immediately. He was returned to his blind mother dead; Hamza is a martyr.”

The Gaza leader also posted a tweet celebrating the bombing of an Israeli oil pipeline while attaching a photograph of the resulting conflagration. He wrote (translated):

“The bombing of Tel Aviv and the oil pipeline facility between Ashkelon and Eilat. God is great and glory is to God alone.”

Violence between Israel and the Palestinians escalated this week as riots and confrontations between Israeli Jews and Minority Arabs erupted in several Israeli towns.

The uncommon violence inside Israeli communities came as Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, entered its fifth day.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised the use of “a lot of force” to quell the violence. Yesterday, Israel announced the deployment of ground troops in an assault on Hamas in the Gaza Strip after days of airstrikes aimed at the Palestinian militant group that has fired more than 1,500 rockets into Israel.

With violence threatening to reach the intensity of the 2014 Israeli occupation of Gaza, Haniyeh posted an inciting tweet expressing hope for greater violence against the Israeli state while mocking efforts by European mediators to end the bloodshed:

“European officials contacted us and demanded an end to the short-range missiles, otherwise they would not participate in the reconstruction of Gaza. We told them: God willing, we will stop our short-range missiles and use long-range missiles.”

The tweets expressing hope for increased violence and the celebration of children losing their lives have not resulted in any action or suspension from Twitter, and the account remains active.

In contrast, former President Donald Trump has had his Twitter access permanently banned because of supposed incitement of violence. In January, following the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Twitter said in a statement:

“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.

“In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action. Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly. It is built on a principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open.

“However, we made it clear going back years that these accounts are not above our rules entirely and cannot use Twitter to incite violence, among other things. We will continue to be transparent around our policies and their enforcement.”

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Two tweets by the former president were singled out by Twitter as “inciting violence.” In one, he thanked voters who voted for him:

“The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape, or form!!!”

A second tweet singled out announced he would not be attending President Biden’s inauguration:

“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”

Although neither of the tweets express a call for or support of violent acts, Twitter said it reviewed them in the context of events occurring at the time when making its decision to ban the president:

“Due to the ongoing tensions in the United States, and an uptick in the global conversation in regard to the people who violently stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, these two Tweets must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in recent weeks.

“After assessing the language in these Tweets against our Glorification of Violence policy, we have determined that these Tweets are in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy and the user @realDonaldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service.”

In addition to allowing Palestinian leader Haniyeh to call for more violence against Israel, a U.S. ally, and celebrate the death of a child, the social media outlet has come under fire for permitting other hate speech to be broadcast from its site without suspension or removal.

The Twitter account of Imam Sayyid Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, has also been permitted to continue issuing anti- U.S. propaganda and calling for violence unabated by Twitter’s “Glorification of Violence policy.

Khamenei’s tweets have been so outlandish and dangerous, former FCC Chairman Ajit Pai highlighted some of them in a tweet calling out Twitter:

“Serious question for Twitter: Do these tweets from Supreme Leader of Iran @khamenei_ir violate ‘Twitter Rules about glorifying violence.’”

Twitter has not directly commented on the accounts. In a 2019 blog post, Twitter made a general comment about world leaders and what actions may result in enforcement action:

“We want to make it clear today that the accounts of world leaders are not above our policies entirely. The below areas will result in enforcement action for any account on our service (without consideration of the potential public interest value in allowing the Tweet to remain visible behind a notice):

  • Promotion of terrorism;

  • Clear and direct threats of violence against an individual (context matters: as noted above, direct interactions with fellow public figures and/or commentary on political and foreign policy issues would likely not result in enforcement);

  • Posting private information, such as a home address or non-public personal phone number;

  • Posting or sharing intimate photos or videos of someone that were produced or distributed without their consent;

  • Engaging in behaviors relating to child sexual exploitation; and

  • Encouraging or promoting self-harm.”

In response to the permanent Twitter account ban, former President Trump recently unveiled his own social media platform to communicate with his supporters. The platform, For The Desk of Donald Trump, allows him to broadcast messages he would have previously sent out on Twitter.

 

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