One of the men accused of planning and carrying out the Sept. 11 terror attacks watched his torturers suffer as they did their jobs -- and as a result "does not hold any grudges" toward those who inflicted pain on him, his attorneys said today.
Lawyers for Ammar al Baluchi (also known as Ali Abdul Aziz Ali) issued a statement in response to the searing Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA's so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” employed soon after the Twin Towers were destroyed.
"The CIA and its defenders are using Mr. al Baluchi as a scapegoat for its illegal and reprehensible use of torture," said James Connell, lead attorney for al Baluchi. "The United States spent incredible amounts of money, energy, and American credibility, and now the CIA is pointing at Mr. al Baluchi to justify its massive torture infrastructure."
The nephew of self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al Baluchi is being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he is to be tried by military commission for his alleged role in orchestrating the 9/11 attacks.
Like KSM, he could face the death penalty if convicted.
Al Baluchi was arrested in April 2003 and held by the CIA at “black sites” until his transfer to Gitmo in late 2006. The CIA has said al Baluchi provided invaluable information to interrogators who subjected him to freezing baths and beatings while in custody. Defenders of the so-called “torture program” said it was al Baluchi who revealed information that disrupted a planned terror attack in Pakistan.
The Senate committee concluded that the critical intelligence about al Kuwaiti had been obtained before interrogators got it out of al Baluchi and it was not the product of “torture.”
"Despite the pain he endured, and the CIA's use of Mr. al Baluchi to retroactively justify its torture program, Mr. al Baluchi does not hold any grudges against the CIA,” Connell said. “He saw the humanity, and the suffering, of those who tortured him.”
The military tribunal designated to try al Baluchi, KSM and three others is scheduled to return to session for pretrial motions at Guantanamo Bay on Monday. Except for procedural matters, the case has been halted since January 2013, when CIA minders stopped the proceedings out of concern that one defense attorney was poised to discuss classified information concerning the enhanced interrogation program.
Arraignments in the case were held in May 2012. There is no telling when the five could stand trial.
Lawyers for the five defendants have repeatedly asked for permission to discuss the enhanced interrogation program in court only to be rebuffed by government officials who say they cannot because the information was classified. It is not clear how the release of the Senate report could affect court procedures at Guantanamo.