Fact sheet: Former GTMO Detainee Terrorism Trends

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FACT SHEET: Former GTMO Detainee Terrorism Trends[edit]

A DIA report dated May 12, 2008 cites the figure of 36 ex-GTMO men "confirmed or suspected" of having returned to terrorism... with Kuwaiti ex-detainee Abdallah Salih Al-Ajmi's confirmation of suicide bombing in Iraq, the figure is 37.

The number of former Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) detainees confirmed or suspected of returning to terrorist activities is about 7 percent of those transferred from U.S. custody. The identified rate of re-engagement over three years of tracking has remained relatively constant between 5 and 8 percent.

General Trends[edit]

Of former detainees known or suspected of returning to terrorist activities, those transferred to Afghanistan and Pakistan generally have reengaged in local, tactical-level, anti-coalition activity. Alternately, those former detainees known or suspected of reengaging in terrorism who were transferred to Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa have more often reconnected with terrorist networks associated with transnational terrorist activity, usually the same networks they were associated with prior to capture. Those returning to the transnational networks are assessed as more likely to be involved in future major transnational acts of terrorism.

In most cases, the time lapse between release and subsequent indications of post-transfer terrorist activity is approximately a year and a half, with reporting of such activity often lagging actual events by months or even years. Upon return, many detainees are held for varying lengths of time ranging from less than 24 hours up to several years. Due to the reporting delay and a general lack of information regarding former detainees, additional former GTMO detainees are likely to have been involved in subsequent terrorist activities.

Former detainees have participated in terrorist activities ranging from small-scale attacks to transnational facilitation and attack planning. However, the former GTMO detainees known or suspected to have returned to terrorism represent a small proportion of the total transferred/released.

Open-Source Reporting Identifies Detainees Reengaging in Terrorism[edit]

Ibrahim Shafir Sen was transferred to Turkey in November 2003. In January 2008, Sen was arrested in Van, Turkey, and charged as the leader of an active al-Qaida cell.

Ibrahim Bin Shakaran and Mohammed Bin Ahmad Mizouz were transferred to Morocco in July 2004. In September 2007, they were convicted for their post-release involvement in a terrorist network recruiting Moroccans to fight for Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi’s al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI). Recruits were to receive weapons and explosives training in Algeria from the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, which has since become al-Qaida in the Lands of the Maghreb, before going to fight in Iraq or returning to Morocco as sleeper cells. The organizers of the group reportedly intended to create an al-Qaida-affiliated network in the Maghreb similar to AQI. According to testimony presented at the trial, Bin Shakaran had already recruited other jihadists when Moroccan authorities broke up the plot in November 2005. Bin Shakaran received a 10-year sentence for his role in the plot, while Mizouz received a two-year sentence.

Abdullah Mahsud blew himself up to avoid capture by Pakistani forces in July 2007. According to a Pakistani government official, Mahsud directed a suicide attack in April 2007 that killed 31 people. After being transferred to Afghanistan in March 2004, Mahsud sought several media interviews and became well known for his attacks in Pakistan. In October 2004, he kidnapped two Chinese engineers and claimed responsibility for an Islamabad hotel bombing.

Ruslan Anatolivich Odishev, transferred to Russia in March 2004, was killed in a June 2007 gun battle with Russia’s Federal Security Service. Russian authorities stated that Odijev had taken part in several terrorist acts including an October 2005 attack in the Caucasus region that killed and injured several police officers. Odijev was found with pistols, a grenade, and homemade explosive devices on his body.

Ravil Shafeyavich Gumarov and Timur Ravilich Ishmurat were transferred to Russia in March 2004 and quickly released. Russian authorities arrested them in January 2005 for involvement in a gas line bombing. In May 2006 a Russian court convicted both, sentencing Gumarov to 13 years in prison and Ishmurat to 11 years.

Mohammed Ismail was one of the “juveniles” released from GTMO in 2004. During a press interview after his release, he described the Americans saying, “They gave me a good time in Cuba. They were very nice to me, giving me English lessons.” He concluded his interview saying he would have to find work once he finished visiting all his relatives. He was recaptured four months later in May 2004, participating in an attack on U.S. forces near Kandahar. At the time of his recapture, Ismail carried a letter confirming his status as a Taliban member in good standing.

Maulvi Abdul Ghaffar was captured in early 2002 and held at GTMO for eight months. After his release, Ghaffar reportedly became the Taliban’s regional commander in Uruzgan and Helmand provinces, carrying out attacks on U.S. and Afghan forces. On 25 September 2004, while planning an attack against Afghan police, Ghaffar and two of his men were killed in a raid by Afghan security forces.

Yousef Muhammed Yaaqoub, better known as Mullah Shazada, was released from GTMO in May 2003. Shazada quickly rejoined the Taliban as a commander in southern Afghanistan. In this role, his activities reportedly included the organization and execution of a jailbreak in Kandahar, and a nearly successful capture of the border town of Spin Boldak. Shazada was killed on 7 May 2004 fighting U.S. forces. His memorial in Quetta, Pakistan, drew many Taliban leaders wanted by U.S. forces. At the time of his release, there was no indication he was a member of any terrorist organization or posed a risk to U.S. or Allied interests.

Mohammed Nayim Farouq: After his release from U.S. custody in July 2003, Farouq quickly renewed his association with Taliban and al-Qaida members and has since become re-involved in anti-coalition militant activity.

Abdul Rahman Noor: Noor was released in July of 2003, and has since participated in fighting against US forces near Kandahar. After his release, Noor was identified as the person in an October 7, 2001, video interview with al-Jazeerah TV network, wherein he is identified as the “deputy defense minister of the Taliban.” In this interview, he described the defensive position of the mujahideen and claimed they had recently downed an airplane.

Abdallah Salih al-Ajmi: Was transferred to Kuwait in 2005 and subsequently conducted a suicide bombing attack in Mosul, Iraq in April 2008. Three suicide bombers struck in Mosul on April 26, 2008, killing 7 people. Al-Ajmi had returned to Kuwait following his release from Guantanamo Bay and traveled to Iraq via Syria. He was apparently living a productive life in Kuwait prior to his traveling to Iraq to be a suicide bomber. It is unknown what motivated him to leave Kuwait and go to Iraq. His family members were reportedly shocked to hear he had conducted a suicide bombing.

Definitions for Confirmed and Suspected Cases[edit]

Definition of “Confirmed” — A preponderance of evidence—fingerprints, DNA, conclusive photographic match, or reliable, verified, or well-corroborated intelligence reporting—identifies a specific former Defense Department detainee as directly involved in terrorist activities.

Definition of “Suspected” — Significant reporting indicates a former Defense Department detainee is involved in terrorist activities, and analysis indicates the detainee most likely is associated with a specific former detainee or unverified or single-source, but plausible, reporting indicates a specific former detainee is involved in terrorist activities. �