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Guantanamo Bay: Six Pakistanis in Camp X-ray face serious charges

08-09-2008

By Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON, (Dawn): The United States has formally informed Pakistan that it is holding six Pakistanis at Guantanamo Bay prison, including a businessman, accused of exporting nuclear weapons to other countries.

The list includes a so-called “high value” detainee, a nephew of the alleged 9-11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and two brothers who initiated a series of hunger strikes against their continued detention without charge.

In a notification to the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, the US administration identified the prisoners as Qari Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni, Ammar Al-Balochi, Majid Khan, Abdul Rabbani, Ahmad Ghulam Rabbani and Saifullah Paracha.

US authorities informed the Pakistan Embassy that a military commission is already trying Ammar Al-Balochi while charges are being framed against the remaining four and they may soon be presented before a military commission at Guantanamo.

The embassy, however, is urging the US administration to release all of them into Pakistan’s custody for trial.

“We are pursuing this vigorously,” said Ambassador Husain Haqqani. “We are trying to persuade US authorities to hand them over to us along with the evidence they have against them.”

One of them -- Qari Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni -- was flown to Chaklala last week for trial in a Pakistani court after the completion of his review process.

Mr Madni is accused of being an Al Qaeda operative who allegedly participated in a plan to kill a US official in Pakistan.

Since 2002, more than 500 Guantanamo detainees have been sent to the countries of their origin. An internal review has determined that 60 detainees still at Guantanamo are eligible for transfer or release.

The United States is still holding 255 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.

Among the six Pakistanis, the most publicised case is that of a 61-year old businessman, Saifullah Paracha, who is listed in Guantanamo as prisoner # 1093.

On July 5, 2003, Saifullah Paracha received a call from his American business partner Charles Antenby to meet him in Thailand for a business meeting but was arrested by US authorities when he arrived there.

Although Mr Paracha has many charges against him, the most significant charge is that he used his textile import and export business to export nuclear weapons to other countries. He has denied all charges.

Mr Paracha’s arrest followed that of his son Uzair Paracha who was held in New York on March 28, 2003. In 2005, Uzair Paracha, now 28, was convicted and is now serving his sentence in a New York prison.

He was accused of obtaining documents for the so-called “high value” detainee Majid Khan to help him blow up gas stations in the United States.

Majid Khan is a Pakistan-born man and legal resident of the United States who immigrated to the US in 1996. On a trip to Pakistan to visit his wife, Mr Khan was detained by Pakistani officials and transferred to one of the CIA’s secret prisons. He is represented by the Centre for Constitutional Rights, a US-based legal rights group, and is the only so-called “high value” detainee to have legal representation.

US officials claim that Mr Khan, under Khalid Shaikh Mohammed’s tutelage, was being trained to blow up gas stations, poison water reservoirs and plotted to assassinate former president General Pervez Musharraf.

US intelligence officials also claim that Mr Khan’s job at the family gas station qualified him to participate in an alleged Al Qaeda plot to blow up parts of the US petroleum infrastructure.

Another Pakistani prisoner in Guantanamo, Ammar Al-Balochi is the nephew of the alleged 9-11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. Ammar was arrested on April 29, 2003, in Karachi.

US officials claimed that he acted as an intermediary between Arab and Pakistani fighters of Al Qaeda. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed also used him as a messenger. Information retrieved from him enabled the FBI and the ISI to make several more arrests in Pakistan.

Abdul Al-Rahim Ghulam Rabbani, 39, is a citizen of Pakistan, held in extrajudicial detention at Guantanamo. Mr Rabbani and his brother, Mohammed Ahmad Ghulam Rabbani, were held at a CIA black site known as the “salt pit” before they were transferred to Guantanamo.

Listed in Guantanamo as prisoner # 1460, Mr Rabbani and his brother were held in Karachi in September 2002.

US authorities claimed that Mr Rabbani was a well known Karachi-based Al Qaeda facilitator who had transported many Al Qaeda members from safe houses to a Karachi apartment and would bring money for them to purchase food and would bring clothes, suitcases and other travel gear for Al Qaeda members preparing to leave.

His brother, Mohammed Ahmad Ghulam Rabbani, 38, was born in 1970 in Madina, Saudi Arabia.

The two brothers participated in a hunger strike that started on August 8, 2005 and forced US officials to improve prison conditions at Guantanamo.


http://www.dawn.com/2008/09/08/top8.htm

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