Saturday, August 25, 2007

AP Frets Over Al-Jazeera Inmate at Club Gitmo

He may have been "working" for Al-Jazeera when he was picked up in Pakistan, but there's a reason this guy is residing at Club Gitmo.

Still, the Associated Press shows concern for Sami al-Hajj, who purportedly has been on a hunger strike.

Gitmo Chief: Al - Jazeera Detainee Is Fine
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- The commander of detention operations at Guantanamo Bay denied reports that the physical and mental health of a detained Al-Jazeera cameraman is deteriorating.

A defense attorney earlier this week said Sami al-Hajj, one of the highest-profile detainees at the U.S. naval base in southeastern Cuba, has lost 40 pounds since late last year and developed intestinal problems. Al-Hajj has been on hunger strike, lawyer Clive Stafford Smith said.

But in an e-mail sent late Friday to The Associated Press, U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Mark H. Buzby said al-Hajj is actually 20 pounds heavier than when he arrived at the U.S. military prison in June 2002.

''Contrary to allegations, there have been no indications that he developed intestinal problems and no indications that his mental health has recently deteriorated,'' Buzby said.

Buzby insisted al-Hajj is currently at ''103 percent of his ideal body weight'' and is seen by medical personnel daily at Guantanamo Bay, where the U.S. holds about 355 men on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaida or the Taliban.
Of course, al-Hajj has a history with terror groups and charities going back to the 1990's and doesn't appear to be some hapless innocent who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Al-Hajj was detained by Pakistani forces in December 2001 while attempting to cross the border into Afghanistan to cover the U.S.-led offensive against the Taliban. He was turned over to U.S. forces and taken six months later to Guantanamo.

The U.S. military says that in the 1990s, al-Hajj was an executive assistant at a Qatar-based drink company that provided support to Muslim fighters in Bosnia and Chechnya. The U.S. says he also traveled to Azerbaijan to carry money on behalf of his employer to the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, a now defunct charity that authorities say funded militant groups.

It was also during this period that he allegedly ''met'' Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, a senior lieutenant to Osama bin Laden who was arrested in Germany in 1998 and extradited to the United States.
I don't quite understand the use of quotes around the word met.

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