US questioned Kuwait’s ability to deal with Guantanamo detainee for good reason


Click the image to view the slideshow of the suicide truck bombing at Combat Outpost Inman in western Mosul that was carried out by former Kuwaiti Guantanamo Bay detainee Abdullah Salih al Ajmi on March 23, 208. The photographs were taken by Bill Roggio for The Long War Journal.


In Tom Joscelyn’s report on the transfer of former Guantanamo detainee Fayez al Kandari to his home country of Kuwait, he reported that the Periodic Review Board recommended against Kandari’s transfer less than two years ago. In July 2014, the board “noted a lack of history regarding the efficacy of the rehabilitation program Kuwait will implement for a detainee with [Kandari’s] particular mindset.” Yet, in September 2015, the PRB recommended Kandari for transfer and the Defense Department followed through yesterday.

We know of at least one Guantanamo detainee who was transferred to Kuwait and quickly returned to the battlefield: Abdullah Salih al Ajmi. The US captured Ajmi at the Battle of Tora Bora in Afghanistan in 2002, and sent him to Guantanamo. He was transferred to Kuwaiti custody in November 2005, acquitted by a Kuwaiti court in March 2006, and subsequently released. Shortly after he was freed he joined al Qaeda’s branch in Iraq, which at the time was known as the Islamic State of Iraq.

Ajmi subsequently carried out a suicide attack at Combat Outpost Inman in Mosul, Iraq. Thirteen Iraqi soldiers were killed and 42 were wounded after Ajmi drove a makeshift armored truck packed with an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 pounds of explosives through the gate of the outpost and detonated it in a spot between the main buildings of the compound. The blast destroyed the facades of the three buildings, including the structure housing the battalion headquarters.

At the time, I was embedded with a US military training team in Mosul and was at COP Inman just three days prior to the attack. I also arrived at COP Inman within an hour after the bombing and documented the carnage. The result of the massive blast was reminiscent of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

We were only able to confirm Ajmi’s role in the COP Inman suicide attack after al Qaeda released a propaganda video praising his operation. Some of the photographs I took at the devastated base were included in the video. You can view the photographs above.

It is likely that the Periodic Review Board was initially skeptical of Kuwait’s ability to deal with a detainee such as Kandari in part because of Ajmi’s suicide bombing. At least this was the case in 2014.

As Tom reported, Joint Task Force – Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) had previously deemed Kandari a “high risk” who is “likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies.” It is unclear why the PRB changed its tune in just over one year.

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

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  • ulises says:


  • Jim Seltzer says:

    Thank you for your service to our country. I hope our government becomes more realistic about the challenges we face in the Middle East and North Korea. Idealism is fine but realpolitik is a necessity for our leaders. Iran and North Korea are just two examples. Unfortunately, the political dialogue by all the presidential candidates except for Hillary Clinton reflectsa detrimental lack of experience. I don’t particularly like her but at least she is not a demagogue and is realistic.

    Kind regards ,
    Jim Seltzer

  • tyler says:

    Why PRB changed its tune? Politics. Political Pressure from the White House and State Dept… same reasons we traded 5 talibs for Berghdal. A politically driven agenda to empty and close Gitmo


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