The Obama administration has released one of al Qaeda’s most skilled explosives experts, a man personally praised by Osama bin Laden and who created the shoe-bomb design that was used unsuccessfully to bring down an airliner in 2001.
The Pentagon said on Thursday that Egyptian Tariq Mahmoud Ahmed Al Sawah, who may have known of the September 11, 2001 plot, was transferred from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the government of Bosnia.
Like other members of al Qaeda, al-Sawah began his terrorism career as a member of the secretive Muslim Brotherhood, which is present in the U.S.
Al Sawah’s Guantanamo file reveals a number of chronic medical problems in 2008, when secret profile was created by Joint Task Force Guantanamo. Now, 58, he was listed as “morbidly obese,” and suffered at the time from diabetes, fatty liver disease and chronic pain from spinal cord compression. Prison doctors urged him to get more exercise.
In his terrorism career, he was close to bin Laden and tough classes in explosives at the al Qaeda leader’s Tarnak Farms training camp.
In Afghanistan, al-Sawah developed a mine to sink U.S. ships and the shoe-bomb prototype that Richard Reid attempted to ignite while on a flight from Paris to Miami in December 2001.
“Detainee also associated with the planners and perpetrators of international terrorist attacks and other senior al-Qaida members, and may have had advanced knowledge of the 11 September 2001 attacks,” states his secret file, which was published by Wikileaks along with hundred of other Gitmo dossiers. “Detainee participated in hostilities against U.S. and Coalition forces, and is a veteran extremist combatant.”
Joint Task Force Guantanamo judged al-Sawah to be a “medium” risk to U.S. troops and recommended him for transfer.
The publicized file may prove a problem for al-Sawah on the outside. He became an “exceptional” intelligence source, his file says, which could cause a terrorist to seek revenge.
“He has been compliant over the last four years,” the file says. “He continues to be a highly prolific source and has provided invaluable intelligence regarding explosives, al-Qaida, affiliated entities and their activities. If released, detainee will possibly reestablish extremist associations, but is unlikely to do so as his cooperation with the U.S. government may serve to identify detainee as a target for revenge by those associates.”
His released brings the prison population, once at over 700, to 92, including Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
Much more at Long War Journal, including this:
…he allegedly designed a shoe bomb that “technically matches the designs of the shoe bomb used by failed suicide operative Richard Reid” in December 2001, according to a leaked Sept. 30, 2008 Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) threat assessment. He also constructed a limpet mine that could sink a US naval vessel.
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