Judge Frees Terrorist Whose Confession Was Tainted By Torture
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The federal judge who made headlines in 2008 for liberating more than a dozen Guantanamo Muslim terrorists in the U.S. has ordered the release of an admitted Al-Qaeda operative because the jihadist’s confessions were tainted by torture.
The self-professed Yemeni terrorist, Saeed Mohammed Saleh Hatim, has been incarcerated at the Guantanamo Bay military prison since 2002. He was an Al-Qaeda operative in Afghanistan who supported Taliban fighters near Bagram, among others. His admissions to U.S. military interrogators closely parallel those of other young Yemeni men recruited by Al-Qaeda to wage jihad, according to military officials.
Hatim trained at the al-Farouq terrorist camp, stayed in Al-Qaeda safe houses and fought against U.S. and coalition forces at the Battle of Tora Bora in Afghanistan in late 2001, according to the government’s complaint. He was captured near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in 2002 and subsequently taken to the military prison in Cuba.
This week U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina in Washington D.C. ordered Hatim be freed, ruling that the terrorist’s confession is unreliable because he now claims it was obtained under torture. “The government’s allegations rest almost entirely upon admissions made by the petitioner—admissions that the petitioner contends he made only because he had previously been tortured while in U.S. custody,” Urbina wrote in his 31-page decision.
The judge further points out that Hatim claims that he was held for six months at a U.S. military base in Kandahar and severely mistreated, repeatedly beaten, kicked in the knees and blindfolded. Only after he was threatened with rape, the judge writes, did Hatim confess to being a member of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The terrorist made an identical confession two years later out of fear that he would be punished for changing his story, the opinion says.
This is the same Clinton-appointed judge who in late 2008 ordered the release of 17 Chinese Muslim Uighur prisoners captured in Afghanistan. The jihadists couldn’t be repatriated to their home country because Beijing considered them terrorists and would torture them and Judge Urbina, determined to liberate them, released them in the United States.
The Chinese Muslims had trained at camps sponsored by the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, a terrorist organization, and military and intelligence officials deemed them a national security threat. The judge insisted they be brought to his chambers in order to liberate them on his courthouse steps and ordered immigration officials to neither question nor detain the group.