For the better part of the last several years, there has been an ongoing debate over the detainees held by the United States as enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Members of the administration, including Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, have described those being held there as being “the worst of the worst,” while critics have argued that the detainees constitute minimal intelligence value. Now, thanks to several thousand pages of documents released by the Pentagon, it can be safely said that the truth about Guantanamo is somewhere in between. Still, it remains difficult to determine the accuracy of critics’ charges that the United States continues to hold individuals of minimal intelligence value because the documents themselves do not state whether such individuals were released or are still detained at the facility.
The first set of documents helps to illustrate this point. Some detainees profess ignorance when confronted with unclassified U.S. allegations concerning their involvement or association with terrorism. Others attempt to explain away such evidence. Since the majority of the documents consist primarily of U.S. allegations against the detainees and the responses of the detainees, there is no way for the reader to determine whether the detainees’ answers are credible or not. Still, there are indications that there is much more to
Take for instance this account from a detainee who is the son of a Saudi diplomat and was captured not in Afghanistan, but in Indonesia:
. . . I got introduced to terrorists in Indonesia . . . The third person’s name is Habib Rizq. Habib Rizq is the President of an organization, IDF, like, Islamic Defense Front. It is said about him that he has connections with Usama bin Laden. Telephone connections. Habib Rizq and bin Laden talks through the telephone. Habib Rizq is also the guardian of the al Qaida organization in Indonesia.
It is precisely this type of information that is of value to U.S. intelligence. The , usually rendered Islamic Defenders Front or FPI in English, is an Indonesian vigilante group founded in 1998 by Al-Habib Muhammad Rizieq bin Husein Syihab, the “Habib Rizq” referenced by the detainee above. The FPI has actively campaigned for the implementation of in Indonesia and remains active there to this day, most recently organizing protests in response to the cartoons published by in Denmark. If the detainee’s claims about FPI and its leader’s ties to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden are true, then its continued activities in Indonesia would be a matter of grave concern for the U.S. government.Other statements by the same detainee, such as the following, indicate further cause for his continued detention at Guantanamo:
To show I was a such a big person, I talked about Osama bin Laden and they asked me, did I see Osama bin Laden and I told them yes, when I was coming from Pakistan, I heard one of his announcements, in which he announced that the Muslims should not travel on non-Muslim airlines. If Muslims were to travel on non-Muslim airlines, then al Qaida and Osama bin Laden are not responsible for their lives.