Monday, January 8, 2007

Secret Evidence at New Hearing Tips Scale

By Jerry Crimmins
Law Bulletin staff writer

(Posted with permission from the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin)

The descriptions of Guantanamo detainee Abdullah H.A. Al-Ghizzawi as provided by the U.S. government and by his volunteer lawyer, H. Candace Gorman of Chicago, are contradictory.

Gorman said in an interview that Al-Ghizzawi, 45, is a Libyan national who studied meteorology and learned English in the Philippines as an exchange student.He was drafted into the Libyan Army and fought in a war against Chad for eight months. He left Libya in the 1980s when that country extended his military obligation for another year.He then worked odd jobs and lived in Pakistan and Yemen for four years.

In about 1992, he moved to Afghanistan to seek better opportunities after the Russians left there, Gorman said.Al-Ghizzawi married an Afghan woman and opened a store that sells spices and bakery goods. The couple has a five-year-old daughter, according to Gorman.When the U.S. and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001, villagers north of Jalalabad, who were members of the U.S.-allied Northern Alliance, seized Al-Ghizzawi in order to collect a bounty on captured Arabs, according to Gorman. Al-Ghizzawi was turned over to the U.S. and sent to Guantanamo.

A starkly different view is presented in the unclassified summary of evidence prepared for the tribunals that considered whether Al-Ghizzawi was an illegal ''enemy combatant'' against the U.S.:''… the detainee is a Libyan citizen who has traveled extensively throughout North Africa and the Middle East and is a member of Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), which is a designated foreign terrorist organization. He also possesses substantial historical knowledge, up to the time of his arrest, of LIFG membership and operations. The detainee visited Khaldan and Sada training camps. Afghan intelligence forces arrested the detainee in Konar, Afghanistan, in January 2002.''Khaldan and Sada, according to the U.S., are terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.

The first tribunal of three U.S. military officers to hear Al-Ghizzawi's case on Nov. 23, 2004, said the summary of the evidence against him ''provides only conclusory statements without supporting evidence.''The first tribunal added that ''the classified exhibits did not support the assertions on the unclassified summary.''In a unanimous decision, the tribunal concluded that Al-Ghizzawi ''is not properly classified as an enemy combatant and is not associated with al-Qaida or Taliban.''But higher-ups ordered that a second tribunal be held after a new search was made for information in the government's possession.Four new exhibits, all classified, were placed in evidence.On Jan. 21, 2005, the second tribunal ''determined that this detainee is properly classified as an enemy combatant and is a member of al-Qaida.''

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