Bin Laden henchman rejoins al-Qaeda after Guantanamo release

Printed from:

WASHINGTON At least one released Guantanamo Bay detainee has returned to a leadership role with al-Qaeda, as a member of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, according to a website that focuses on the global war against Islamic extremists. The man was once one of Osama bin Laden’s personal body guards.

In a video, “Guardians of Sharia,” that the brought to light, reporter Thomas Jocelyn says Ibrahim Qosi, also known as Sheikh Khubayb al Sudani, appears in a long discussion with other leaders of the Yemen group. They talk about their involvement in the jihadist movement and commend those who attacked the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris, an action Qosi’s group sanctioned. A dozen people died in that January 2015 attack.

Qosi was labeled as a “high-risk” threat to the U.S. during his nine years in the Guantanamo Bay detention center, where he was brought after being captured in Pakistan as he fled the U.S. assault on Tora Bora in 2001, the website reported. It said Qosi pleaded guilty in 2010 to charges of conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors while in custody. Two years later, he was released to his native Sudan.

The site didn’t say why Qosi was released. It said Qosi, who had been a bin Laden loyalist since at least 1991, took on a leadership role with the Yemen-based terror group last year. In the video, which the site posted Dec. 9, Qosi talks about encouraging “lone wolf” style attacks in America and the West.

During a Monday interview with Yahoo News, President Barack Obama told reporter Olivier Knox that closing Guantanamo Bay will outweigh the potential threats from released prisoners, who he described as “low level.”

“And so the bottom line is that the strategic gains we make by closing Guantanamo will outweigh you know, those low-level individuals who, you know, have been released so far,” Obama said, according to Yahoo. He also said that the detainment center is a “recruitment tool” for organizations like the Islamic State, which he referred to by the acronym, ISIS.

“If we want to fight them, we can’t give them these kinds of excuses,” Obama said, adding that the administration is constantly considering who is the most dangerous among those held captive. Yahoo said he added that it comes as no surprise that “a handful” of those released would rejoin terror organizations.

Qosi’s reasons for following bin Laden for more than a decade are discussed in a leaked Joint Task Force Guantanamo document, according to the Long War Journal site, which is a project of the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

In 2003, Qosi responded to a question about his loyalty to bin Laden by saying it was his “religious duty to defend Islam and fulfill the obligation of jihad and that the war between America and al-Qaeda is a war between Islam and aggression of the infidels.” The Journal reported that based on what he says in the video, Qosi’s position has not wavered.

Contact Kara Bettis at [email protected] or on Twitter @karabettis.