DoD Releases More Tribunal Transcripts
By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 23, 2007 After hearing the allegations against them, one detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, claimed ignorance of his alleged role in two U.S. embassy bombings, and another, accused of financing terrorist attacks in Southeast Asia, said nothing.
The Defense Department today released the transcripts of the combat status review tribunal hearings for Ahmed Khalafan Ghailani and Mohamed Farik bin Amin Zubair. The tribunals, held at the Guantanamo detention facility, were administrative hearings to determine only if the detainees could be designated enemy combatants.
In his March 17 hearing, Ghailani was accused of purchasing and supplying TNT, detonators and the vehicle used to hold a bomb that exploded near the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing 12 and wounding 85.
Ghailani claimed he assisted the attack planners unintentionally.
“I brought the TNT and the gas cylinders to the Ilala house (where the bomb was assembled). … I gave the detonators to Fahad at a different location," he said. “It was without my knowledge what they were doing, but I helped them."
Ghailani claims he was present when attack planners purchased the 1987 Nissan Atlas truck they later used to conceal the explosives. He denied paying for the vehicle and claimed he didn’t know its ultimate purpose.
Additionally, Ghailani is accused of providing a cell phone used to coordinate a near-simultaneous attack on the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, that killed 213 people, including 12 Americans, and wounded more than 4,500.
The detainee said he purchased the phone and frequently lent it to a friend. Ghailani claimed he was unaware it was being used to communicate terrorists in Kenya, as the tribunal has alleged.
“I bought the phone for Mustaffa under my name … but Mustaffa kept borrowing it,” Ghailani said. “He never told me who he called, when, why, or who called him. I never asked him for this information.”
Expressing remorse for what he portrayed as his ignorant role in the terrorist attacks, Ghailani said, “I apologize to the United States government for what I did. And I'm sorry for what happened to those families who lost, who lost their friends and their beloved ones."
Ghailani confessed that after the embassy bombings he attended the al Fouruq terrorist training camp in Afghanistan for three months in 1998, where he learned how to detonate explosives and handle an AK-47 assault rifle.
“I wanted this for self defense,” he said, furthering his plea of ignorance.
While in Afghanistan, Ghailani met al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. One of the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists, Ghailani was working for al Qaeda as a passport and document forger in Pakistan when he was captured in 2004.
Ghailani and Zubair are two of 14 high-value detainees who were transferred Sept. 6 to Guantanamo Bay from CIA custody. The CSRT hearings for these detainees are not open to media because of national security concerns, DoD officials said.
During his March 13 hearing, Zubair was accused of personally transporting $50,000 in U.S. currency, a portion of which was used to finance terrorists safe houses and obtain explosive materials for the Aug. 5, 2003, bombing of the J.W. Marriott hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, that killed 12 and injured 140, including two U.S. citizens.
Zubair also was linked to Jemaah Islamiya, a terrorist network associated with al Qaeda, allegedly responsible for the bombings in Bali, Indonesia, on Oct. 12, 2002, that killed nearly 200 and wounded 300.
When the tribunal President asked Zubair if he wished to make an oral statement, the detainee turned his head side to side, and in a low voice answered, ‘no.’
The U.S. government established the CSRT process at Guantanamo Bay as a result of a June 2004 Supreme Court decision in the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden, who challenged his detention at Guantanamo Bay. Between July 2004 and March 2005, DoD conducted 558 CSRTs at Guantanamo Bay. At the time, 38 detainees were determined to no longer meet the definition of enemy combatant, and 520 detainees were found to be enemy combatants.