The State Department Thursday added a freed Guantánamo detainee to its list of government-sanctioned terrorists, saying the Saudi Arabian soldier is now a fundraiser for the Yemeni offshoot Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula.
The Obama administration has been deeply concerned that turmoil in Yemen stirred by anti-government protests has created a vacuum that could strengthen the influence of the al Qaeda franchise there. The United States blames AQAP for training the so-called “Underwear Bomber,” now in federal custody after failing to blow up an Amsterdam-Detroit plane on Christmas Day 2009.
Othman Ahmed al Ghamdi, 37 or 38, was among the earliest captives brought to Guantánamo from Afghanistan in the prison camp’s first week. He arrived on Jan. 14, 2002. More than three years later, a secret U.S. military intelligence assessment declared him a medium risk to the United States and its allies, and of low intelligence value.
A State Department announcement Thursday said that, in addition to his fundraising activities, he had “worked with other AQAP members to plan and stockpile weapons for future attacks.”
In May 2010, the statement said, he appeared in a video that publicly identified him as the Yemeni terror group’s “operational commander.”
The Long War Journal wrote about that video more than a year ago in May 2010, Former Gitmo detainee featured as commander in al Qaeda tape.
In the tape, AQAP threatens America with further terrorist attacks. The AQAP leaders also celebrate previous AQAP-linked terrorist plots. Both Major Nidal Malik Hasan (who killed 13 Americans during a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas last year) and Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab (who attempted to bomb a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day 2009) are celebrated as heroes.
The tape includes a short segment in which Abdulmutallab calls on Muslims to wage jihad.