JUNE 20, 2014
In a story unlikely to receive attention from the mainstream media in the United States, a former Guantanamo Bay captive has been arrested in Spain for operating what authorities there say is a sophisticated jihadist recruitment network.
Spanish media is reporting that the one-time Gitmo prisoner is a 46-year-old Moroccan named Lahcen Ikassrien, who heads an Islamic cell that recruits fighters for the Syrian and Iraqi-based terror group known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Ikassrien and seven others were arrested in Madrid recently as part of a dozen raids on terrorism cells in the Spanish capital, Madrid.
The ISIL has received global attention recently for its terrorist activities in Iraq, where the extremist group seized the country’s second-largest city of Mosul. A number of international press reports have revealed that ISIL militants have massacred and captured Iraqi soldiers during the raid. Ikassrien, who spent four years at the U.S. Military prison in southeastern Cuba, recruited and sent jihadists to Iraq via Turkey, according to Spanish authorities cited in the news story.
After leaving Gitmo Ikassrien embarked on a sob tour for the leftist human rights group Amnesty International, mostly offering lectures throughout Spain recounting how he was mistreated by the evil Americans from the time he was arrested in Afghanistan until he was released from Gitmo years later. Here are some tidbits from one of the Spanish-language lectures delivered by Ikassrien; the prisoners at Guantanamo are all “suffering” he says, confirming that “everyone knows that Americans are the biggest assassins and torturers.” He goes into detail about how he was chained and tortured by U.S. forces, that he and his comrades were stripped and left without food and water for lengthy periods at Gitmo.
In the video Ikassrien seems like a regular guy, with short-cropped hair, a neatly trimmed beard and a stylish sweater with a matching scarf. The audience clearly sympathizes with him as he delivers the lecture almost matter-of-factly, in a soft tone sprinkled with smiles. Ikassrien proceeds to trash the United States and mentions, almost enthusiastically, that there could be positive changes under President Obama. How proud the commander-in-chief must be to have this type of endorsement.
The timing of this terrorist’s arrest couldn’t be worse for Obama because he’s in the process of emptying out Gitmo to fulfill a campaign promise of closing the prison. The world’s most dangerous terrorists—including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) and USS Cole bomber Bad al-Rahim al-Nassir—remain at the maximum security compound. At its peak the facility had 770 captives and now the number is down to 154 as the president works to empty it out.
Many former Gitmo captives return to terrorist causes after getting released, according to government, press and independent think-tank reports. Judicial Watch, which has traveled to Gitmo multiple times to monitor the terrorists’ Military Commission proceedings, has reported this for years. The Pentagon and various intelligence agencies have also documented that many Gitmo captives rejoin terrorist missions after leaving the military compound.
In a report to Congress a few years ago, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) revealed that of 598 detainees released up to that point, 150 were confirmed or suspected of “reengaging in terrorist or insurgent activities after transfer.” In fact, a one-time Gitmo captive became an Al Qaeda chief who masterminded a U.S. Embassy bombing after getting released, according to a mainstream newspaper. His name is Said Ali al-Shihri and after leaving Gitmo he became an Al Qaeda deputy chief in Yemen and he organized a deadly bombing of the United States Embassy in Yemen’s capital. The former captive was also involved in car bombings outside the American Embassy that killed 16 people. That was about five years ago and the recidivism among former Gitmo captives is still in full force today.
Just a few weeks ago a mainstream newspaper published an alarming story about three hardened Moroccan militants released from Gitmo to the Moroccan government under the assumption that they wouldn’t commit terrorist acts. Instead they wound up leading one of the most violent Islamist groups fighting in Syria’s civil war. Pointing out that this is hardly an isolated case, the article cites recent DNI figures that confirm 29% of 614 detainees released from Gitmo have returned to violence.
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