Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri
|Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri
Arabic: عبد الرحيم النشيري
|Born||January 5, 1965|
|Detained at||CIA black sites
|Charge(s)||Charges dropped in February 2009, reinstated in 2011|
|Status||Still held in Guantanamo Bay pending trial|
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri (Arabic: عبد الرحيم النشيري; pronunction (help·info) AH-bihd al rah-HEEM al nah-SHIH-ree[needs IPA] born January 5, 1965) is a Saudi Arabian citizen alleged to be the mastermind of the bombing of the USS Cole and other terrorist attacks. He is alleged to have headed al-Qaeda operations in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf states prior to his capture in November 2002 by the CIA's Special Activities Division.
Al-Nashiri was captured in Dubai in 2002 and held for four years in secret CIA prisons in Afghanistan, Thailand, Poland, Morocco, and Romania, before later being transferred to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. While being interrogated, al-Nashiri has been waterboarded twice. In 2005 the CIA destroyed the tapes of Nashiri's waterboarding. In another incident he was naked and hooded and threatened with a gun and a power drill to scare him into talking. Al-Nashiri was granted victim status in 2010 by the Polish government and a Polish prosecutor began "investigating the possible abuse of power by Polish public officials with regard to a CIA black site" in 2008.
In December 2008, al-Nashiri was charged before a Guantanamo Military Commission. The charges were dropped in February 2009 and reinstated in 2011. Al-Nashiri is currently on trial before a military tribunal in Guantanamo on charges that carry the death penalty. As it is extremely unlikely he would be freed if found not guilty, his lawyers have called the proceeding a show trial.
- 1 Background
- 2 Allegedly joined al-Qaeda
- 3 Arrest
- 4 Combatant Status Review
- 5 Interrogation
- 6 USA v. Al Nashiri
- 7 Mental health examination
- 8 Military Commission
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Born in Saudi Arabia, al-Nashiri travelled to Afghanistan to participate in attacks against the Russians in the region. In 1996, he travelled to Tajikistan and then Jalalabad, Afghanistan, where he first met Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden attempted to convince al-Nashiri to join al-Qaeda at this point, but he refused because he found the idea of swearing a loyalty oath to bin Laden to be distasteful. Still, after al-Nashiri travelled to Yemen, he began to consider committing terrorist actions against United States interests.
When he returned to Afghanistan in 1997, he again met bin Laden, but again declined to join in the terrorist group. Instead, he fought with the Taliban against the Afghan Northern Alliance. Still, he assisted in the smuggling of four anti-tank missiles into Saudi Arabia, and helped arrange for a terrorist to get a Yemeni passport. His cousin, Jihad Mohammad Ali al-Makki, was one of the suicide bombers in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya.
Allegedly joined al-Qaeda
Finally, probably in 1998, al-Nashiri joined al-Qaeda, reporting directly to bin Laden. In late 1998, he conceived of a plot to attack a U.S. vessel using a boat full of explosives. Bin Laden personally approved of the plan, and provided money for it. First, al-Nashiri allegedly attempted to attack the USS The Sullivans as a part of the 2000 millennium attack plots, but the boat he used was overloaded with explosives and began to sink.
The next attempt, however, the USS Cole bombing, was successful. 17 U.S. sailors were killed, and many more were injured. This terrorist attack made him infamous within al-Qaeda, and al-Nashiri allegedly became the chief of operations for the Arabian Peninsula. He organized the Limburg tanker bombing in 2002, and he may have planned other attacks as well.
In November 2002, al-Nashiri was captured in the United Arab Emirates. He is currently in American military custody in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, having previously been held at some secret location. On September 29, 2004, he was sentenced to death in absentia in a Yemeni court for his role in the USS Cole bombing.
The U.S. military put al-Rahim al-Nashiri in prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Beforehand, he was held by the CIA at black sites in Thailand and Poland for an undisclosed amount of time. CIA officials disagreed on al-Nashiri's role in planning the Cole bombing. Said one CIA official of al-Nashiri, "He was an idiot. He couldn't read or comprehend a comic book."
Combatant Status Review
The Department of Defense announced on August 9, 2007 that all fourteen of the "high-value detainees" who had been transferred to Guantanamo from the CIA's black sites, had been officially classified as "enemy combatants". Although judges Peter Brownback and Keith J. Allred had ruled two months earlier that only "illegal enemy combatants" could face military commissions, the Department of Defense waived the qualifier and said that all fourteen men could now face charges before Guantanamo military commissions.
Through Freedom of Information Act requests the American Civil Liberties Union was able to acquire less redacted versions of the transcripts from Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri's Combatant Status Review Tribunal, and those of three other captives.
In his opening statement, al-Nashiri listed seven false confessions he had been coerced to make while being waterboarded.
- The French Merchant Vessel Limburg incident.
- The USS Cole bombing.
- The rockets in Saudi Arabia.
- The plan to bomb American ships in the gulf.
- Relationship with people committing bombings in Saudi Arabia.
- Osama Bin Laden having a nuclear bomb.
- A plan to hijack a plane and crash it into a ship.
During the course of his tribunal he claimed additional confessions he had made, while being tortured. He was ostensibly the last of the al-Qaeda suspects to be videotaped, as he was waterboarded in Thailand by CIA officers who questioned him. Shortly after, when a prisoner died in CIA custody in Iraq, it was decided that all such interrogations would not be videotaped, as it provided criminal "evidence". All the tapes showing detainees being waterboarded were destroyed in 2005.
In May 2011 al-Nashiri's lawyers filed a case against Poland with the European Court of Human Rights. Al-Nashiri was held and allegedly tortured in a secret CIA "black site" prison "north of Warsaw" (OSAW) from December 2002 to June 2003.
USA v. Al Nashiri
On January 29, 2009, an order from Obama's new White House administration to suspend all Guantanamo military commission hearings for 120 days was overruled by military judge Army Colonel James Pohl in al-Nashiri's case.
On February 5, 2009, al-Nashiri's charges were withdrawn without prejudice.
The prosecution planned to request the death penalty for Al Nashiri. The decision lies with the Convening authority, retired Admiral Bruce MacDonald. In April 2011 the Department of Defense allowed Richard Kammen, a civilian lawyer with a background in defending suspects against death penalty cases, is allowed to join Al Nashiri's defense team.
Al Nashiri became the first Guantanamo captive to face the death penalty.
Request to end the prosecution
In a letter in July 2011, al-Nashiri's legal team said:
"Through the infliction of physical and psychological abuse, the government has essentially already killed the man it seized almost 10 years ago." and "By torturing Mr. Al-Nashiri and subjecting him to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, the United States has forfeited its right to try him and certainly to kill him,"
Questioning whether Al Nashiri will continue to be detained if he is acquitted
On October 24, 2011 Lieutenant Commander Stephen Reyes filed legal motion requesting that jurors in his case be informed that he can continue to be detained in Guantanamo, even if he was acquitted of all charges. Al Nashiri's formal charges are scheduled to be announced at the Tribunal on November 9, 2011.
Legal scholar Robert M. Chesney, of Lawfare, speculated Al Nashiri would be detained, if acquitted, for at least several more years. Chesney argued that it would not be unjust to continue to detain Al Nashiri, even if he were acquitted, because conviction requires a higher standard of evidence than a habeas corpus petition.
"Eligibility for military detention, according to a now-substantial body of habeas caselaw, turns on the preponderance of the evidence standard, as applied to a substantive test inquiring whether the person was a member of al Qaeda at the time of capture. One can satisfy that standard consistent with a military commission acquittal."
Defense motions filed in April 2012
Presiding Officer James L. Pohl considered several motions during a pre-trial hearing on April 11, 2012.  He deferred rulings on many of them. He did rule to unshackle Nashiri for meetings with his lawyers who had argued that he was traumatized by being shackled for years in secret CIA prisons and that being shackled during meetings impairs his ability to work with his lawyers.
Jose Rodriguez's dispute over al Nashiri's role
On May 8, 2012, Ali Soufan, Al Nashiri's original FBI interrogator asked whether a recently published book by former CIA official Jose Rodriguez would undermine Al Nashiri's prosecution. Soufan's original FBI interrogation used the time-tested, legal technique of rapport-building. He has argued that the information derived from the suspects using legal techniques, prior to the Bush administration decision to allow the CIA to take over the interrogations and to employ torture, was reliable—where the confessions derived through torture weren't.
Rodriguez was in over-all charge of the CIA's torture program. According to Soufan, Rodriquez's account of al Nashiri's role in the Cole bombing differed markedly from that of the prosecution. Rodriguez disputed that Al Nashiri had been the bombing's "mastermind", and agreed with a colleague who characterized him as "the dumbest terrorist I have ever met".
Mental health examination
Presiding Officer James Pohl ruled on February 7, 2013, that an independent panel of mental health experts should examine Al Nashiri, and report back on how the documented torture he was subjected to would affect his ability to assist in his own defense. Pohl called for the director of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to nominate the members of examination team. He called for the team to report back by April 1, 2013. The team is supposed to be given full access to al Nashiri's medical files, including the top secret records from his times in CIA custody. The assessment was requested by the prosecution. Al Nashiri's defense team objected to the assessment, based on their doubts that a team appointed by the Office of Military Commissions could be relied upon. They called for the team to rely on the advice of Dr Vincent Iacopino for how to interview Al Nashiri, without causing additional damage. Iacopino, a renowned expert on torture, had testified before the Military Commission on February 5, 2013 about the possible effects of torture on Al Nashiri.
On February 18, 2014, al Nashiri attempted to fire his counsel, Rick Kammen. Judge Pohl granted a recess until 2/19/14 to allow Kammen to attempt to repair the relationship with his client. If the two are unable to overcome their differences, al Nashiri will be permitted to fire Kammen under current military commission rules. 
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- Neil MacFarquhar, David Johnston (2004-09-30). "Death Sentences in Attack on Cole". Cairo: New York Times. Archived from the original on 2013-02-09. "Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi-born bin Laden associate, and Jamal al-Badawi, a 35-year-old Yemeni, were sentenced to death for their roles in the deaths of 17 United States sailors on board the destroyer, for planning the attack and for organizing an armed gang to carry it out. Mr. Nashiri, in custody at an undisclosed location outside the United States, was tried in absentia."
- Goldman, Adam, "The hidden history of the CIA’s prison in Poland", Washington Post, 23 January 2014
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- "Al-Qaida Suspect Files Human Rights Case Against Poland". Voice of America. 2011-05-09. Archived from the original on 2013-02-09. "The suit also alleges that Poland violated the European Convention of Human Rights by helping transfer al-Nashiri to U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he is currently being held."
- David Dishneau (4 February 2013). "Judge orders mental exam for Cole suspect". Army Times. Associated Press. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
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- Media related to USA v. Al Nashiri -- motion to dismiss -- 2009-01-09 at Wikimedia Commons
- "U.S. drops Guantanamo charges per Obama order". Reuters. 2009-02-05. Archived from the original on 2010-05-17. Retrieved 2010-05-17. "The charges against Abd al Rahim al Nashiri were dropped without prejudice, meaning they could be refiled later, said the spokesman, Navy Commander J.D. Gordon."
- Carol Rosenberg (2011-07-16). "Defenders: USS Cole Bombing Case Too Tainted For Death Penalty Trial". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on 2011-10-26. Retrieved 2011-10-26. "Now it will be up to retired Navy Vice Adm. Bruce MacDonald to decide whether Nashiri, 46, could be subjected to military execution if a Guantánamo jury convicts him for the al Qaida suicide bombing off Yemen. Seventeen American sailors were killed, dozens more wounded and the $1.1 billion warship was crippled in the October 2000 explosion."
- Carol Rosenberg (2011-04-30). "Death-Penalty Expert To Join Defense Team At USS Cole Trial". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on 2011-10-26. Retrieved 2011-10-26. "The Pentagon has moved one step closer to putting the USS Cole bombing suspect before a capital war-crimes trial at Guantanamo, assigning an Indiana attorney with extensive death-penalty experience to help defend a Saudi-born Yemeni captive who was waterboarded by the CIA."
- Peter Finn (2011-09-29). "USS Cole Suspect Referred For Trial: Military commission at Guantanamo Bay to hear death penalty case". Washington Post. p. 8. Archived from the original on 2011-10-26. Retrieved 2011-10-26. "One of Nashiri's attorneys, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Reyes, has warned that he intends to call to the stand CIA officials involved in his client's interrogation. Reyes criticized the decision to seek the death penalty. "As currently constituted, the commissions lack the protections required to hold a reliable and trustworthy capital trial," he said."
- "Guantanamo detainee lawyers ask that death penalty case be dropped". CNN. 2011-07-19.
- "Lawyer: Gitmo trial in Cole Attack could be moot". Kansas City Star. 2011-10-24. Retrieved 2011-10-26. "Navy Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Reyes says officials have suggested that prisoners like Abd al-Nashiri will never be released. He says that renders a trial meaningless and that officers who serve as jurors should be told from the start. He says some may choose not to participate." mirror
- "USS Cole bombing suspect seeks release if acquitted". The New Age. 2011-10-25. Retrieved 2011-10-26. "The defense wants a response delivered at the hearing November 9 at which he was supposed to be charged. "In a variety of contexts, officials in the United States, including the president, have suggested that no matter what the outcome of the trials in Guantanamo, individuals such as Mr Al-Nashiri will not be released because he is allegedly a terrorist," the attorneys' statement reads in part."
- Media related to USA v. Al Nashiri -- Defense motion ot allow in camera, ex parte requests for expert assistance with limited notice to the opposing party in compliance with R.M.C. 703 -- October 19, 2011 at Wikimedia Commons
- Media related to USA v. Al Nashiri -- motion for appropriate reliefe to determine if the trial of this case is one from which the defendant may be meaningfully acquitted -- October 19, 2011. at Wikimedia Commons
- Robert M. Chesney (2011-10-24). "Al-Nashiri’s Motion on Potential Post-Acquittal Detention". Lawfare. Retrieved 2011-10-27. "I expect the government will resist the idea that it must tell al-Nashiri now whether it would keep him in military custody following an acquittal, and will certainly deny that any such decision necessarily would require custody for life. Not that I doubt that he would be kept in custody at least for some years following acquittal; an acquittal would prove that the government did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that al-Nashiri committed a crime, but this does not simultaneously require the conclusion that the government lacks the factual and legal grounds to continue to use military detention." mirror
- Jim Garamone (2012-04-13). "More motions filed in al Nashiri case". The Wire (JTF-GTMO). p. 5. Retrieved 2012-05-10. Works related to More motions filed in al Nashiri case at Wikisource
- Ali Soufan (2012-05-08). "Will a CIA Veteran’s Book Save a Terrorist?". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 2012-05-10. "The defense of Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri -- the mastermind in the bombing of the U.S. Navy destroyer Cole in 2000 -- has received a boost from a surprising source: Jose Rodriguez, a former high-ranking CIA official." mirror
- Jane Sutton (2013-02-08). "Doctors to review USS Cole suspect's CIA detention records". Guantanamo: Reuters. Archived from the original on 2013-02-09. Retrieved 2012-11-. "CIA records documenting the waterboarding and interrogation of an alleged al Qaeda chieftain must be shown to the doctors who will decide whether he is mentally competent for trial on charges of conspiring to bomb a U.S. warship, a judge ordered."
- Donna Miles (2013-02-07). "Mental Health Test Delays Cole Bombing Suspect Hearings". American Forces Press Service. Archived from the original on 2013-02-09. "However, that schedule got derailed after the prosecution requested a mental-health assessment, challenging the defense claim that Nashiri suffers from long-term post-traumatic stress allegedly caused by enhanced interrogation techniques the CIA used on him before he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay."
- Carol Rosenberg (2013-02-05). "Torture expert testifies at Guantánamo in USS Cole case". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on 2013-02-06. "A doctor with expertise in torture testified remotely before the war court Tuesday, advising the chief judge how to conduct a no-harm medical examination on an alleged al-Qaida deputy who was waterboarded by the CIA."
- Al-Nashiri case may be dismissed over torture claims April 22, 2011
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- Riz Khan - Secret CIA prisons- Al Jazeera English report about the case of al-Nashiri (video, 22 mins)
- Works related to CSRT Summary of Evidence memo for Abd Al Rahim Hussein Mohammed Al Nashiri at Wikisource