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Peter Van Buren

After 13 Years in Gitmo, Pentagon Says Detainee is Case of ‘Mistaken Identity’


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Mustafa Abd-al-Qawi Abd-al-Aziz al-Shamiri was captured in 2002 and believed then to be a major al Qaeda facilitator or courier, or maybe a trainer, according to the Department of Defense.

He was interrogated “vigorously” and when he did not admit to those activities and did not supply detailed, high level information on al Qaeda, was thrown away, without charge, into America’s offshore penal colony at Guantanamo Bay.

For 13 years.

Now, desiring after 13 years to reduce the prison population at Gitmo, the Department of Defense says al-Shamiri’s imprisonment was all a simply mistake of confused identity. In the Kafkaesque world America created post-9/11, al-Shamiri could not answer his torturers because he had no knowledge of what they were demanding from him. His silence was taken as insolence, and he was punished accordingly.

For 13 years.

Al-Shamiri is now age 37. He spent about one third of his entire life in Gitmo because of a mistake. And if somehow you are not human enough to be moved by that alone, perhaps you can care about the $2.7 million per prisoner per year it costs the U.S. to keep a person in Guantanamo.
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Stopping ISIS: Follow the Money

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Wars are expensive. The recruitment and sustainment of fighters in the field, the ongoing purchases of weapons and munitions, as well as the myriad other costs of struggle, add up.


So why isn’t the United States going after Islamic State’s funding sources as a way of lessening or eliminating their strength at making war? Follow the money back, cut it off, and you strike a blow much more devastating than an airstrike. But that has not happened. Why?

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Many have long held that Sunni terror groups, ISIS now and al Qaeda before them, are funded via Gulf States, such as Saudi Arabia, who are also long-time American allies. Direct links are difficult to prove, particularly if the United States chooses not to prove them. The issue is exacerbated by suggestions that the money comes from “donors,” not directly from national treasuries, and may be routed through legitimate charitable organizations or front companies.
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Paris: You Don’t Want to Read This

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You don’t want to read this, and I take no pleasure in writing it, and no one really wants to hear it right now. But I believe it needs to be said.

I join the world in grieving for the dead in Paris. I have grieved for the dead from 9/11 forward — the Australians who died in terror attacks on Bali in 2005, Londoners who died in terror attacks in 2005, the French citizens who died in the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January of this year, the Russians whose plane went down over the Sinai a week or so ago. I grieve also for those killed in smaller attacks already smuggled deep into the obscurity of our memory.

And so we Tweet hashtags and phrases in high school French and post GIFs to Facebook. We know what to do; we’ve done this before.

But it has to be said, especially looking at the sick repetition of the same story, that despite fourteen plus years of a war on terror, terror seems to be with us as much as ever, maybe even more. It is time to rethink what we have done and are doing.

Since that day in 2001, the one with those terrible sparkling blue skies in New York, we have spied on the world, Americans at home and foreigners abroad, yet no one detected anything that stopped the Paris attacks. We gave up much to that spying and got nothing in return.
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