Defense Department Takes Custody of High-Value Al Qaeda Operative
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 14, 2008 The Defense Department has taken custody of a “high-value” al Qaeda operative, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said today.
Whitman said that Muhammad Rahim is now in custody at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Rahim is a high-level member of al Qaeda and a close associate of Osama bin Laden. “Prior to his arrival in Guantanamo, he has been held in CIA custody,” Whitman said.
Rahim is from Afghanistan’s Nangahar province and had close ties to al Qaeda organizations throughout the Middle East. “He is one of (bin Laden’s) most trusted facilitators and procurement specialists,” Whitman said.
Rahim prepared the Tora Bora complex as a hideout for bin Laden, and assisted in al Qaeda’s exodus from the area in late 2001. He joined the terror organization in the mid-1990s, first procuring supplies and later as a courier. He personally carried messages from bin Laden to al Qaeda leaders.
“He had knowledge of or was involved in al Qaeda attacks planned against coalition forces in Afghanistan,” Whitman said. “At the time of his capture, he was providing support to anti-coalition militias, and groups allied with al Qaeda.”
Before 2002, Rahim procured chemicals for an al Qaeda plot targeting U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and he worked with al Qaeda paramilitary commanders to recruit individuals who had access to U.S. military bases.
Rahim will be treated appropriately and humanely, in accordance with policies and procedures for other DoD detainees at Guantanamo, Whitman said. “He will be treated in accordance with U.S. law and international obligations, including the convention against torture, Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, the Detainee Treatment Act, the Military Commissions Act and applicable DoD directives and instructions governing detainees operations,” he said.
This is the first transfer to Guantanamo since August. The last high-value detainee transferred was in April 2007. Sixteen high-value detainees are under DoD control at Guantanamo. There are 280 detainees at the facility.
“It’s always important to remember that intelligence is one of our most important tools in the war on terror,” Whitman said. “It’s been essential in developing our knowledge of al Qaeda’s structures, operations, finances, logistics, criminal activity, safe routes, safe havens and intentions to conduct further attacks.”