A Page A01 Washington Post story is titled From Captive To Suicide Bomber, with a subhead: “Accused of Being Little More Than a Low-Level Taliban Fighter, Abdallah al-Ajmi Was Held by the U.S. for Nearly Four Years. After His Release, He Blew Up an Iraqi Army Outpost. Did Guantanamo Propel Him to Do It?”
Here’s my answer after reading the article: no. His lawyer thinks the answer is “yes,” but the answer is no.
I guess this will be the leftist answer if there are future acts of violence by released detainees: it’s all George W. Bush’s fault for holding them there.
The prisoner committed the worst act of violence to date by a released Gitmo detainee. He made a video praising Allah for releasing him from Gitmo and joining him with “the Islamic State of Iraq” and then killed more than a dozen people:
At 6:15 a.m. on March 23, 2008, not long after making the video, Ajmi drove a pickup truck filled with 5,000 to 10,000 pounds of explosives, hidden in what appeared to be white flour sacks, onto an Iraqi army base outside Mosul. He barreled though the entrance checkpoint and past a fusillade of gunfire from the sentries, shielded by bulletproof glass and makeshift armor welded to the cab.
The Easter Sunday blast killed 13 Iraqi soldiers, wounded 42 others and left a 30-foot-wide crater in the ground.
The article suggests that Gitmo was responsible for turning him into a homicidal jihadist. Early in the article, we are given excerpts from two letters to his attorney that supposedly illustrate this transformation. The first letter the attorney received was polite; in it, Ajmi refers to himself as a “happy detainee.” The last letter the attorney received referred to the Jewish attorney as the “descendant of rotten apes and swine” and says: “I greet you with a kick, a spit, and a slap on your lying, rotten, ugly, and sullen face.”
Yet, deeeeeep down in the article, we learn evidence showing it wasn’t Gitmo that did this to him. According to prosecutors, in August 2004, before he had even met with his lawyers, he was talking about how he wanted to kill as many Americans as possible. Near the very end of the lengthy article, we are told that at his tribunal, the prosecutor said: “In August of 2004, Al Ajmi wanted to make sure that when the case went in front of the tribunal, that the tribunal members know that he is now a jihadist, an enemy combatant and that he would kill as many Americans as he possible [sic] can. . . . Upon arrival at the Guantanamo detention facility, Al Ajmi has been constantly in trouble. Al Ajmi’s overall behavior has been aggressive and non-compliant and [he] has resided in the disciplinary blocks throughout his detention.” (Ajmi denied the allegations.)
The article describes how, in his first meeting with his lawyers, he said: “I am here as an enemy combatant, and I will leave here as an enemy combatant. Tell my family that.”
(Two weeks later he told his lawyer that his story was made up. We know from the interview with Stashiu that “deny, deny, deny” is the mantra of many Gitmo inmates — though not all; some proudly proclaim their hostility to the U.S. — as Ajmi himself apparently had.)
The article sets forth Ajmi’s history, which shows that he became radicalized at a Kuwaiti mosque, and followed fatwas to engage in jihad.
Ajmi joined the army in Kuwait, and the article says that “even some of his relatives are convinced that his departure from Kuwait was not entirely for peaceful purposes.” In Kuwait he attended a mosque that” is known among Kuwaitis as a hotbed of radicalism,” where sermons “dwell on the oppression of Muslims and include exhortations to participate in jihad.”
Obeying a fatwa posted at the mosque, Ajmi traveled to Pakistan to fight Russians in Chechnya, but could not travel there. Another fatwa “called for Muslims to fight against Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of the Northern Alliance, which was battling the Taliban in Afghanistan.”
On March 26, Ajmi left Kuwait for Pakistan. Before leaving, he called his mother. “I’m going for jihad,” he said, according to his brother Ahmed. “Count me as a martyr for God.”
Ahmed said their mother yelled at him. He hung up on her.
After his brother left, Ahmed said, he went to the Subhan mosque to inquire about his whereabouts. “They told me, ‘We taught your brother the right things. We set him on the right path.’ “
He fought against the Northern Alliance and was later captured in Afghanistan near the Tora Bora mountains.
At Gitmo, Ajmi was a disciplinary problem. While speaking with his lawyer, with the aid of an interpreter, he “threw a cup of hot tea in the interpreter’s face.”
He sounds like he had mental issues, and I may try to ask our friend Stashiu about him, although I doubt I’ll get anything specific. At one point he grabbed a microphone tied into the camp’s PA system and said: “This is General al-Ajmi and I’m in control now . . . Everyone is going free.” He “developed a propensity for hurling his feces and urine” — again, a common tactic by detainees, as we know from our conversations with Stashiu.
When his attorney told him he was being released, he cursed at him.
Did Gitmo do this to him, as the article suggests? Anyone making that case has to explain why he was engaged in jihad before arriving at Gitmo, why he described himself as an enemy combatant early on in his stay — and why, in August 2004, before he ever met with his attorney, he said he was going to kill as many Americans as possible.
Once you’re done explaining that, explain to me why we let this guy go.