Freed Guantanamo Bay Detainee Promotes Jihad in Somalia

PHOTO: Ibrahim al-Qosi, the former cook of Osama bin Laden, speaks during a press conference in Khartoum, July 11, 2012, after he was release from the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. PlayEbrahim Hamid/AFP/Getty Images
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A former detainee at the American military prison in Guantanamo Bay, who once served as Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard and driver, recently released an audio tape in which he promotes jihad in east Africa.

In a message released Thursday on the social media messaging app Telegram and attributed to Ibrahim Qosi, Qosi told fighters in Somalia to “continue the raid with a raid, and light up the ground beneath the feet of the Crusaders and team them that the lands of Islam are a fortress that is not allowed to the disbelievers, and a graveyard for the invaders,” according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group.

“Victory is brought by blood and suffering, not by promises and wishes from every libertine,” he said.

The Guantanamo detainee file on Qosi says he fought or worked for al Qaeda starting in the early 1990s and up until he was captured by Pakistani forces in December 2001. Initially a financial officer for al Qaeda, Qosi was later assigned to bin Laden’s personal protection detail and often worked as the terror leader’s driver. He told interrogators that prior to his capture, he had been with bin Laden in Tora Bora.

Though the detainee file describes Qosi as “high risk” and of “high intelligence value,” he was released from Guantanamo Bay in July 2012 after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy and supporting terrorism. He had originally been sentenced to 14 years, but the sentence was reduced to two -- not including the eight years he had already served in detention -- due to his cooperation with authorities.

PHOTO: An Army captain walks outside unoccupied detainee cells inside Camp 6 at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Feb. 6, 2016. Ben Fox/AP Photo
An Army captain walks outside unoccupied detainee cells inside Camp 6 at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Feb. 6, 2016.

At the time of his release to Sudan, the Pentagon said the U.S. had coordinated with Sudan’s government to ensure “appropriate security and humane treatment measures” for Qosi. But by late 2014, Qosi had reportedly joined al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, AQAP, and shortly thereafter became one of its senior members.

Qosi’s tape comes just days after President Obama announced an aggressive plan to close Guantanamo Bay and transfer dozens of the remaining detainees to other countries. Obama noted that President Bush had already transferred hundreds of detainees from the prison before Obama entered office, and then said that since he took office, his administration has “so far transferred 147 more, each under new, significant restrictions to keep them from returning to the battlefield.”

Earlier this week Secretary of State John Kerry was asked by Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk about Qosi’s return to al Qaeda, to which Kerry responded, “Well, senator, he’s not supposed to be doing that and there are consequences for that.”

Politicians have argued over the rate of “recidivism” -- the percentage of Guantanamo detainees that have rejoined extremist organizations after they were transferred from the prison. Last January, Republican lawmakers alleged that as many as 30 percent of those freed return to the battlefield, but that figure was contested by administration officials, according to The Associated Press.

In December and shortly after the reported revelation about Qosi’s return to battle, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that “90 percent of those who have been transferred from Guantanamo Bay have not reengaged in the fight, but we are certainly paying close attention even if we find unconfirmed reports about those who have.”