So how did an overweight, 43-year-old Kuwaiti man with bad knees and no real military training or experience suddenly become a logistics expert helping al Qaeda leaders organize the defense of Tora Bora in 2001?
That’s the question a U.S. federal judge said the government failed to adequately answer in trying to justify the indefinite detention of Fouad Al Rabiah at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Kuwait Airways engineer’s confessions to those charges, extracted with the use of extreme interrogation methods, “defy belief,” wrote Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in a decision issued today.
“If there exists a basis for Al Rabiah’s indefinite detention, it most certainly has not been presented to this court,” Kollar-Kotelly wrote in a 65-page decision, noting that his petition to the court for release under habeas corpus is the oldest pending. So far, 30 detainees have won their freedom from the court, while seven have been denied.
The government had accused Al Rabiah of providing money to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden during a July trip to Afghanistan and helping to coordinate and support Taliban fighters in the mountainous Tora Bora region in the country during a subsequent October trip. Bin Laden is believed to have escaped capture via that route.
However, the judge shredded the government’s case, meticulously going through Al Rabiah’s history and the evidence presented noting that he had only had two weeks of military training — a requirement in Kuwait — but he was discharged because of a knee injury and that he had a long history of doing charity work without any ties to terrorism.