WASHINGTON– The case of a mentally ill detainee at Guantánamo Bay, Mohammed al-Qahtani, has actually long puzzled the United States federal government. Thought of being Al Qaeda’s designated 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he was tortured by military interrogators early in his detention at the American marine base in Cuba.A senior Pentagon official later on figured out that, due to the fact that of how Mr. Qahtani was initially treated, he might not be prosecuted. Security authorities also considered him too dangerous to launch, so he has actually stayed apprehended for two decades.On Friday, the Pentagon said that a parole-like board had recommended repatriating Mr. Qahtani to Saudi Arabia to a custodial rehabilitation and psychological healthcare program for extremists. The Biden administration is expected to send him there as early as March.The relocation followed a report last spring by a Navy physician who concluded that Mr. Qahtani, who is in his 40s, should be transferred due to the fact that he could not get the medical treatment he needed at Guantánamo and was too impaired to position a future hazard– specifically if he was sent to inpatient mental care, according to individuals briefed on that report.In June, the Periodic Evaluation Board, a six-agency panel that evaluates the cases of uncharged Guantánamo prisoners, all embraced that suggestion, according to officials. However the Biden administration, obviously while it worked out a security agreement with Saudi Arabia for Mr. Qahtani’s repatriation, only decided public on Friday.”The board recognizes the detainee presents some level of hazard due to his past activities and associations, “the panel stated, describing why it believed that danger could be”adequately alleviated, “making his ongoing indefinite detention unnecessary.Among them,
it cited Mr. Qahtani’s” substantially jeopardized mental health condition.”It also cited his “readily available family assistance” and Saudi Arabia’s ability to offer “extensive psychological healthcare,”in addition to its capability to monitor him and limit his travel if he finishes treatment.Ramzi Kassem, a legal representative for Mr. Qahtani and a teacher at the City University of New York City Law School, called the decision to recommend his client’s transfer “long overdue.” He cited his customer’s severe mental disorder, consisting of repeated recent suicide attempts.” Regardless of the severity of his disease, Mohammed doesn’t posture a threat to anyone however himself,”Mr. Kassem said.”He requires psychiatric treatment in Saudi Arabia, not continued imprisonment in Cuba.”Mr. Qahtani is one of 39 detainees left at the wartime prison, and is one of 19 who have been recommended for transfer subject to security arrangements. By law, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III need to tell Congress 30 days prior to any such transfer that he is satisfied with the agreement.But most of those 19 detainees can not be sent house due to the fact that they come from unsteady countries like Yemen and Somalia, which by law can not receive Guantánamo detainees. So the Biden administration should discover other countries going to take them. Due to the fact that Mr. Qahtani can be repatriated, he might be the first to leave.Mr. Qahtani’s prestige is connected to his attempt to enter the United States on Aug. 4, 2001, when a migration inspector at the Orlando airport turned him away. The authorities later discovered that Mohamed Atta– a ringleader of the attack carried out by 19 hijackers that killed nearly 3,000 individuals the next month– had concerned meet him there.The circumstances led the authorities to believe that Al Qaeda had sent Mr. Qahtani to act as a member of the group that hijacked United Airlines Flight 93. Travelers on the flight resisted and triggered the aircraft to crash into a Pennsylvania field instead of its likely designated target, the U.S. Capitol.(Mr. Qahtani has never been tried or founded guilty of being part of that conspiracy. Even if he had been, it is not clear whether Mr. Qahtani, who sustained a distressing brain injury as a youth and was identified with schizophrenia prior to he attempted to get in the United States, had any particular understanding of what the government suspects Mr. Atta was preparing for him.)By the time the United States attacked Afghanistan in response to the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Qahtani had drifted into jihadi circles and was recorded along the Pakistani frontier in December 2001 with a group of foreign fighters. He and those thought to be bodyguards to Osama bin Laden were sent out to Guantánamo in early 2002. Later that year, the U.S. military acknowledged that he may be no regular detainee. With authorization from Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, he was forced to undergo two months of constant, brutal interrogation by the U.S. military inside a wooden hut at Camp X-Ray in late 2002 and early 2003.Hour-by-hour logs dripped to Time magazine revealed military interrogators put Mr. Qahtani in singular confinement, removed him naked, forcibly shaved him, and subjected him to prolonged sleep deprivation, dehydration, exposure to cold, and various mental and sexual embarrassments like making him bark like a pet, dance with a man and wear females’s underclothing on his head. They drew out a confession, which he later on recanted.Mr. Qahtani’s treatment was so degrading and abusive that the Bush administration official overseeing military
commissions, Susan J. Crawford, concluded in 2008 that he might not be prosecuted. Since”we tortured “him, she told The Washington Post that year, she refused to license his capital prosecution with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the attacks, and four other detainees implicated of helping them.Mr. Mohammed and the 4 other men– whose case at the military commissions system has actually been in pretrial hearings for almost a years– were likewise tortured in American custody. But that happened in the overseas jails of the C.I.A., with graphic descriptions emerging years after Ms. Crawford’s choice about Mr. Qahtani. Their torture by the C.I.A. has been a major issue because case.As early as 2009, then Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. acknowledged the quandary surrounding Mr. Qahtani.”We’re inheriting an extremely tight spot,”he said days before assuming workplace.”Not all of it is clear cut.”As vice president, previous administration officials recall, Mr. Biden was devoted to President Barack Obama’s dedication to ending detention operations at Guantánamo, consisting of personally asking foreign leaders to help resettle detainees who might not go home. While Congress enacted a law that warded off Mr. Obama’s plan to close the prison by moving some detainees to a different facility in the United States, the administration still managed to greatly winnow down the variety of detainees there.The just detainee to leave the jail under President Donald J. Trump was likewise transferred to detention in Saudi Arabia. A year into Mr. Biden’s presidency, his administration has moved simply another out. Mr. Biden has explained closing the facility as a policy objective, but he has not pushed Congress to rescind the law that avoids bringing any detainees to high-security prisons on domestic soil or designated a special envoy to negotiate transfer offers, as the Obama administration had.Mr. Qahtani’s approval for repatriation follows lawsuits by his defense attorney, Ramzi Kassem and Shayana Kadidal, who have actually argued that he deserves to be released to Saudi Arabia on medical grounds under both the Geneva Conventions and a U.S. Army regulation.Mohammed al-Qahtani Credit … Department of Defense His attorneys employed a psychiatrist who deals with U.S. military veterans for post-traumatic stress, Emily Keram, to assess Mr. Qahtani throughout the years, starting in 2015. Dr. Keram likewise got his records from Saudi Arabia showing that he had actually gone through a severe psychotic break there credited to schizophrenia long before he arrived at Guantánamo.The abuse only made him sicker, the psychiatrist composed in a series of reports to the court
, and Mr. Qahtani suspects American military health service providers, most likely because military medics were utilized at his interrogations. He refused psychotropic medication and recently consistently tried to eliminate himself, including by hanging, cutting and swallowing broken glass, court files show.In 2020, based on Dr. Keram’s work, a federal judge ordered an independent assessment by a three-doctor panel, two of them immigrants. Legal representatives from the Trump and Biden administrations have resisted that order, which would have been the very first foreign medical intervention in detainee operations.Instead, Congress developed a position of a Navy medical professional who would be appointed to the base however who would work independently. Mr. Qahtani’s legal representatives consented to postpone dealing with the lawsuit while that official inspected the armed force’s medical records and Dr. Keram’s findings
family where his psychological health could be better resolved.