The Gitmo Files: Al Qaeda’s emir of Zahedan, Iran commits suicide

An Afghan Guantanamo detainee named Inayatullah (Internment Serial Number 10028) committed suicide yesterday morning, according to the Department of Defense. I have been waiting for some time to see what the Gitmo files have to say about Inayatullah. His story, or at least the little we know of it, is especially intriguing. My wait has not paid off.

Although this post is tilted “The Gitmo Files…,” there are no declassified or leaked documents pertaining to Inayatullah. But in its press release announcement of Inayatullah’s apparent suicide, US Southern Command describes him as follows:

Inayatullah was an admitted planner for al Qaida terrorist operations, and attested to facilitating the movement of foreign fighters, significantly contributing to transnational terrorism across multiple borders. Inayatullah met with local operatives, developed travel routes and coordinated documentation, accommodation and vehicles for smuggling al Qaida belligerents through Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Iraq.

This is generally consistent with the Department of Defense’s description of Inayatullah in 2007, when he was captured and shipped to Guantanamo, with one important exception. At the time, DoD said that Inayatullah was al Qaeda’s emir of Zahedan, Iran. Here is how the DoD’s Sept. 12, 2007 press release describes him [emphasis added]:

Inayatullah, an Afghan national, was captured as a result of ongoing DoD operations in the struggle against violent extremists in Afghanistan. He has admitted that he was the Al Qaeda Emir of Zahedan, Iran, and planned and directed Al Qaeda terrorist operations. Inayatullah collaborated with numerous Al Qaeda senior leaders, to include Abu Ubaydah al-Masri and Azzam, executing their instructions and personally supporting global terrorist efforts.

The next paragraph of the DoD’s 2007 press release is nearly identical to the description provided by US Southern Command. The latest release, however, doesn’t note that Inayatullah “admitted that he was the Al Qaeda Emir of Zahedan, Iran,” nor does it mention his putative ties to Abu Ubaydah al Masri. This doesn’t mean the military doesn’t think this is still true. It is just an interesting omission. Zahedan, by the way, is a common transit point for al Qaeda operatives.

And al Masri, who died of disease in 2008, is the same senior al Qaeda terrorist who reportedly helped plan both the July 7, 2005 bombings in London and the thwarted 2006 Heathrow airliner plot.

So, you can see why the files on Inayatullah may be especially interesting to read.

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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