Former Guantanamo detainees convicted in Morocco

Monday, November 13, 2006

Three Moroccans, who were formerly held in extrajudicial detention in the United States Guantanamo Bay detainee camps, in Cuba, Mohamed Souleymani Laalami, Najib Lahssini and Mohammed Ouali, were sentenced on Friday November 10.

Laalami's Moroccan conviction was for creating a "criminal group". He was sentenced to five years imprisonment.

Najib Lahssini and Mohammed Ouali were convicted of falsifying documents, and were sentenced to three years imprisonment.

The three men's extrajudicial detention in Guantanamo was based on a secret determination that they were "enemy combatants". The US Supreme Court forced the US Department of Defense to conduct Combatant Status Review Tribunals, between July of 2004 and March of 2005.

Al Jazeera reports that the three men's transfer to Morocco occurred prior to February 2006, and that their trial was unrelated to their Guantanamo detention. Al Jazeera reports that the USA had allowed seven other Moroccans to be repatriated.

Maroo Annonces reported that FBI director Mueller had visited Morocco in early February, to negotiate the repatriation of the detainees to Moroccan anti-terrorism Police; that a February 12 visit from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld coincided with the men's transfer; and that the Moroccan counter-terrorism police had finished their investigation on February 22nd.

During Mohamed Souleymani Laalami's Tribunal he was accused of attending the al Farouq training camp, a military training camp that is alleged to have trained terrorists, including 9-11 hijackers, Richard Reid, "the shoe bomber", Ahmed Ressam, "the millennium bomber". Souleymani denied attending the camp. Souleymani was also accused of being captured in the Tora Bora mountains. Laalami, in turn, alleged that he had beaten, and threatened with death, during his interrogations in Afghanistan, to force him to falsely confess to please his interrogators.

Lahssini chose not to participate in his Combatant Status Review Tribunal.

The US Department of Defense was forced to release an official list of the names of all the Guantanamo detainees who had been held in military custody. Although all the press reports describe Mohammed Ouali as a former Guantanamo detainee, there is no detainee named Mohammed Ouali on the official list of detainee names.