State Department: former Gitmo detainee led terror cell in Jordan

A former Guantanamo detainee named Usama Abu Kabir led a terror cell in Jordan that was broken up in 2009, according to a new report by the US State Department. On Thursday, the State Department released its Country Reports on Terrorism for 2009. “In April [2009],” the report notes, “four men were arrested and charged with plotting attacks in Israel in retaliation for the Israeli incursion into Gaza.” Kabir was one of the four. A fifth member of the cell was arrested in May 2009.

Kabir’s arrest was previously reported in the Israeli and Jordanian press. But the State Department’s latest report adds a new detail, saying that Kabir is suspected of being the cell’s leader.

The “alleged leader of the cell,” the State Department reports, was Kabir, a Jordanian who “had been released from US custody at Guantanamo Bay in November 2007.” Kabir’s terror cell was “reportedly in possession of firearms at the time of their apprehension.”

In February of this year, a Jordanian court sentenced Kabir and two other cell members to 15 years in prison. An additional two plotters were sentenced to 5 years in prison. A sixth member of the cell, who remains at large, was sentenced in absentia to life in prison. All of the cell members’ prison sentences require hard labor, according to an account in Haaretz.

“I hate Americans ”

Kabir traveled from Jordan to Pakistan in October 2001 and then to Afghanistan in November 2001 to fight for the Taliban. He was subsequently captured by the Northern Alliance and turned over to American authorities. At Guantanamo, Kabir was given the internment serial number 651.

On Dec. 2, 2001, the Sunday Telegraph (UK) published an article detailing a visit by its reporters to a detention facility in Kabul. Kabir was one of the inmates the Telegraph interviewed.

Kabir explained that, along with a man from Singapore, he met an Afghan who “invited them” to his country. “This man said he would put me in contact with some Arabs; I thought maybe I could help Muslims by fighting,” Kabir said. “I hate Americans – in the last 10 years they’ve shown what’s in their hearts towards Islam.”

Kabir continued: “I don’t think the World Trade Towers are any different from bombing in Afghanistan or Iraq, although I’m sorry for the citizens; but if it makes America’s economy weak, it’s good.”

Declassified files prepared at Gitmo provide more details about Kabir’s career prior to capture. Kabir, and his friend from Singapore, were members of Jamaat Tablighi (JT), an Islamic missionary organization that frequently serves a dual purpose. Intelligence officials at Gitmo found that it “is being used as a cover to mask travel and activities of terrorists including members of al Qaeda.”

Kabir’s traveling companion from Singapore was also allegedly a member of Jemaah Islamiya, an al Qaeda affiliate in Southeast Asia. According to memos prepared at Guantanamo, the two were proficient in the use of small arms (Kabir is a veteran of the Jordanian military), so they “requested and were sent to the front lines to fight.” They allegedly “set up an ambush on Northern Alliance fighters” before being captured.

A Gitmo “poet”

During hearings at Guantanamo, Kabir tried to portray himself in a different light. He conceded that he was a member of Jamaat Tablighi, but claimed it was merely a religious organization that was not interested in jihad.

While in Pakistan in late 2001, Kabir said he read a fatwa calling on Muslims to join the jihad in Afghanistan. Kabir agreed to go. “I traveled to Afghanistan to help the Afghani people. They were exposed to a lot of murdering and injustice. I went to help the government of Taliban. The Northern Alliance and the groups of Massoud attacked them. By me helping them, this is in compliance with fatwa. These are the rules of fatwa.”

Despite admitting that he wanted to help the Taliban, and that he intended to fight the Northern Alliance, Kabir claimed that he never got a chance to do so. Kabir also claimed that he never met any Taliban or al Qaeda members. “My intentions were to meet with [jihadists] but I didn’t meet with any of them,” Kabir said during his combatant status review tribunal (CSRT).

Kabir’s claims were disputed in the files prepared by US officials at Gitmo. Kabir not only traveled to Afghanistan with a member of an al Qaeda affiliate, he also allegedly took part in an ambush.

During his Gitmo hearings, Kabir cast himself as a man of peace who only wanted to go home to see his family. “I have never done any belligerent act against the United States or it’s [sic] allies. I will never do anything in the future against them,” Kabir said, according to a transcript of his CSRT. “I have no intention to hurt any of the Americans or anybody else. I definitely know I do not pose a threat to anybody.”

Kabir also expressed his disapproval of the September 11 attacks: “I can’t imagine the suffering of the United States.” Of course, Kabir said exactly the opposite during his interview with the Telegraph.

Kabir composed a short poem while he was detained at Guantanamo. The poem was published by a detainee lawyer as part of a short collection titled “poems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak” in 2007. Kabir wrote that he dreamed of being with his children, wife, and parents. “I dream to be home, to be free from this cage.”

Instead of staying home with his family after he was repatriated to Jordan in 2007, however, Kabir joined the jihad once again. He is currently imprisoned in Jordan, serving a 15-year prison sentence with hard labor.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Nic says:

    Once again closing Gitmo has proven to have been a bad idea. Perhaps it is now time for a Gitmo Alumni Club section in LWJ. The first article can be entitled “Where are They Now”.

  • SomeGuy says:

    Nic, I think you’re on to something there.


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