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A sad tale...
Three years ago, Abdullah Saleh al-Ajmi, a Kuwaiti soldier who deserted to fight in Afghanistan alongside the Taliban, sat in a detention cell at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, while lawyers argued whether he was an "enemy combatant."But his lawyers won the day...
U.S. counterterrorism analysts argued in a review of al-Ajmi's activities that he should not be released or returned to Kuwait based on the following:
— That he deserted from the Kuwaiti army to participate in a jihad in Afghanistan;
— The Taliban supplied him with arms, including grenades;
— He admitted fighting with the Taliban, including engaging in two or three firefights;
— He was captured by coalition forces in the Tora Bora region, an area once thought to be a hideout of Usama bin Laden;
Al-Ajmi denied all charges that he was an enemy combatant and a jihadist, and that documented statements were untrue.And now...
He was repatriated to Kuwaiti authorities on Nov. 3, 2005.
Last week, a Dubai-based television channel reported that al-Ajmi was killed carrying out a homicide bombing in Mosul, Iraq.That's an interesting way to put it.
It might have been one of these incidents
Three suicide bombers and a car bomb have struck the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, killing at least nine people and wounding 31 others, police said.Or perhaps this one:
Iraqi soldiers foil suicide bomb attack in MosulHow, you might ask, could such a thing happen?
MOSUL, Iraq, April 29 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi soldiers at a military base in Mosul, the capital of the northern province of Nineveh, foiled a suicide tanker bomb attack on their base, said the provincial police.
The incident occurred at about 7 a.m. (0400 GMT) when a suicide bomber tried to drive his booby-trapped tanker into the army base in the al-Tanak area in western Mosul, Brigadier Khalid Abdul-Sattar, spokesman of the provincial security operations office told Xinhua.
The soldiers at the entrance of the base ordered the tanker driver to stop before they opened fire with rocket propelled grenades and machinguns, causing a powerful explosion in the tanker which was heard on all over the city of Mosul, Sattar said.
Only one soldier was injured by the blast because the soldiers blew up the tanker before reaching the fortified entrance of the base, added the spokesman.
How did Shearman & Sterling get tapped for this historic assignment? Speaking at Seton Hall Law School in fall of 2006, Mr. Wilner recounted that he visited the facility at Guantanamo Bay in 2002, months before he met the Kuwaiti 12’s families. What was Mr. Wilner doing at Gitmo more than two years before Rasul established the legal basis for lawyers getting access to detainees inside the camp? One of his Gitmo legal colleagues has said that Mr. Wilner was brought into the case by an oil industry client.And al-Ajmi was one of the "Kuwait 12" - read the whole thing.
It turns out that Shearman & Sterling, a 1,000-lawyer firm with offices in 19 cities all over the world, has substantial business dealings on six continents. Indeed, Shearman’s client care for Middle Eastern matters has established a new industry standard: The firm’s Abu Dhabi office states that it has pioneered the concept of “Shariah-compliant” financing. In Kuwait, the firm has represented the government on a wide variety of matters involving billions of dollars worth of assets. So the party underwriting the litigation on behalf of the Kuwaiti 12–from which all of the detainees have benefited–is one of Shearman & Sterling’s most lucrative OPEC accounts.
Shearman & Sterling did far more than just write legal briefs and shuttle down to Gitmo to conduct interviews about alleged torture for the BBC. In addition to its legal services, the firm registered as an agent of a foreign principal under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA) as well as the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (LDA) to press the Kuwaiti detainees’ cause on Capitol Hill. Shearman reported $749,980 in lobbying fees under FARA for one six-month period in 2005 and another $200,000 under the LDA over a one-year period between 2005 and 2006. Those are the precise time periods when Congress was engaged in intense debates over the Detainee Treatment Act and the Military Commissions Act, legislation which Shearman & Sterling and its Kuwaiti paymasters hoped would pave the way for shutting down Guantanamo permanently and setting their clients free.
Mr. Wilner, a media-savvy lawyer who immediately realized that the detainee cases posed a tremendous PR challenge in the wake of September 11, hired high-stakes media guru Richard Levick to change public perception about the Kuwaiti 12. Mr. Levick, a former attorney whose Washington, D.C.-based “crisis PR” firm has carved out a niche in litigation-related issues, has represented clients as varied as Rosie O’Donnell, Napster, and the Roman Catholic Church. Mr. Levick’s firm is also registered under FARA as an agent of a foreign principal for the “Kuwaiti Detainees Committee,” reporting $774,000 in fees in a one year period. After the U.S. Supreme Court heard the first consolidated case, the PR campaign went into high gear, Mr. Levick wrote, to “turn the Guantanamo tide.”
In numerous published articles and interviews, Mr. Levick has laid out the essence of the entire Kuwaiti PR campaign. The strategy sought to accomplish two things: put a sympathetic “human face” on the detainees and convince the public that it had a stake in their plight. In other words, the militant Islamists who traveled to Afghanistan to become a part of al Qaeda’s jihad on America had to be reinvented as innocent charity workers swept up in the war after 9/11. The committed Islamist who admitted firing an AK-47 in a Taliban training camp became a “teacher on vacation” who went to Afghanistan in 2001 “to help refugees.” The member of an Islamist street gang who opened three al-Wafa offices with Suliman Abu Ghaith (Osama Bin Laden’s chief spokesman) to raise al Qaeda funds became a charity worker whose eight children were left destitute in his absence. All 12 Kuwaitis became the innocent victims of “bounty hunters.”
A Montreal-based marketing firm was hired to create the families’ full-service Web site which fed propaganda–unsourced, unrebutted and uninvestigated by the media–aimed at the media all over the world. Creating what Mr. Levick calls a “war of pictures,” the site is replete with images meant to appeal to Americans: smiling Kuwaiti families wearing T-shirts and baseball caps, cute children passing out yellow ribbons.
In other Gitmo news:
An Al-Jazeera cameraman released from the U.S.-run Guantanamo Bay detention center last week described it Monday as the worst prison mankind has ever seen.Meanwhile, in the New York Times last weekend, Nicholas Kristoff demonstrated why it isn't called the New York Timing:
Sami al-Haj, a Sudanese citizen, was whisked from his hospital bed in a convoy escorted by police cars with flashing lights and wailing sirens to an outdoor event in his neighborhood organized by his family. His speech was broadcast live on Sudanese television.
“After 2,340 days spent in the most heinous prison mankind has ever known, we are honored to be here. Thank you, and thank all those defended us and of our right in freedom,” he told the cheering crowd.
When I started writing about Guantánamo several years ago, I thought the inmates might be lying and the Pentagon telling the truth. No doubt some inmates lie, and some surely are terrorists. But over time — and it’s painful to write this — I’ve found the inmates to be more credible than American officials.Or maybe it's just you.
In reality, it would take an exceptional enemy to damage America’s image and interests as much as President Bush and Mr. Cheney already have with Guantánamo.
UPDATE: MUCH More from 9/11 families here.
A third Kuwaiti, identified as Bader Al-Harbi has reportedly carried out a suicide attack in Iraq according to knowledgeable sources.And here
Released Guantanamo detainee Sami al-Haj faked weakness and the inability to walk off the US Air Force plane once it landed in Khartoum.
Are there actually people who believe that Gitmo is "the most heinous prison mankind has ever known"? Really? I confess, I'm flabbergasted. Hell's bells, I understand that in Britain in the early 20th century, suffragettes were force-fed if they undertook a hunger strike, as this guy did. And he's Sudanese? Wow.Posted by Jamie at May 7, 2008 11:37 AM
Kristoff, while an asshole, is correct. Clearly we should have shot all of them instead of locking them up.Posted by buzz at May 7, 2008 02:40 PM
this is truly sickening. i get a periodic email with clips and links to the recent newspaper and magazine articles published by my law school's professors, and it's highly offensive how reflexively many of them take the enemy's side. to the high-nosed elite caste in this country, anything military or US government force-projection-related (including military tribunals) is de facto wrong, and anything coming from the other side's mouthpieces is taken as gospel. unbelievable that it's come to this, and even more so that we got here so quickly.Posted by vic at May 7, 2008 03:34 PM
Sometimes it helps to put a face on the enemy. Here is Richard Levick:
Click and scroll to the bottom for a picture
Here is Thomas Wilner:
Click to view
Remember this men well. They are the enemy of America.
Someone should tip off the survivors of the bombings that they can sue these folks for a host of things, and that there will be a number of lawyers in the USofA that will step up to the challenge for a 1/3 share of the winnings...
I agree that far too many people have been incarcerated in Guantánamo Bay.
The vast majority of the current inmates should have been shot in the back of the neck on the battlefield after a drumhead court martial.
Amazing how people can get sucked into blaming a few lawyers for the defects of a corrupt system.
The U.S. Government released these Kuwaitis. Do you think it had anything to do with the influence that Kuwait has with the USA, because of all the bases there? Because of the contracting relationships between US contractors, Kuwaiti contractors and the USG?
Anyone who knows anything about Kuwait or the other Gulf countries knows how the citizens get away with almost everything.
These Kuwaitis were released to make the Kuwaiti government (the Al Sabahs and their friends) happy. The lawyers and the PR firm just smoothed the way to make the USG look good. Unfortunately, Al Amji didn't follow the script and went right back to jihad.
This is like when the Australian David Hicks was released early, after John Howard begged Bush.
That is one reason the former Chief Prosecutor at Gitmo, Col. Morris Davis, resigned. He said there were too many political manipulations of the cases.
he said that top military officials went around him when he was chief prosecutor, for example, to negotiate plea agreements, and that politicians forced him to press charges against Australian David Hicks even though he would have rather gone after other suspects first. When Hicks struck a secret plea deal that brought his release, Davis said he was not a party to it.
The whole process is corrupt. These lawyers had very little to do with the release - they only provided cover for the Kuwaitis and the USG.Posted by icus at May 8, 2008 12:35 AM
Some would say the quickest way to victory would be to home in on the real enemy...and shoot all the lawyers first.
Some would say.....
Failing that, it would be nice to force guys like Levick and Wilner to personally meet with the families of the people killed by their former clients. Levick and Wilner obviously think they're merely playing a game, so it's time to disabuse them of that notion once and for all.Posted by MarkJ at May 8, 2008 02:19 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(8) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)