The interagency parole board has declared the younger brother of an alleged 9/11 plotter too dangerous to release, essentially rebranding Hassan Bin Attash as Guantánamo’s 24th “forever prisoner.”
“The detainee refused to acknowledge that he was affected by his extremist upbringing and indoctrination at an early age,” the six-agency U.S. government board said in its Oct. 11 decision declaring Bin Attash, 31 or 34, ineligible for release.
Click here to see the Herald’s guide to Periodic Review Board decisions.
“The Periodic Review Board, by consensus, determined that continued law of war detention of the detainee remains necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States,” it also said.
The two-paragraph decision described the Saudi-born Bin Attash as an explosives specialist and an aide to several senior al-Qa’ida members, who was responsible for “supporting numerous plots against the U.S. and other Western targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Middle East, and North Africa.”
Left unsaid was that he is the younger brother of Walid Bin Attash, who is awaiting a death-penalty trial as an alleged deputy in the 9/11 plot. The brothers have never seen each other here, according to their lawyers; they are held in two different prison buildings — the older brother in Camp 7, reserved for “high-value detainees” and Hassan in Camp 6, a medium-security prison building where captives live communally.
Hassan Bin Attash was captured in Pakistan on Sept. 11, 2002, with another alleged Sept. 11 conspirator, Ramzi bin al Shibh, and according to the so-called Senate Torture Report, was held for 120 days or more by the CIA. He was brought to the prison camps in September 2004.
His lawyer, David Remes, calls Bin Attash Guantánamo’s youngest detainee, a man who left home in Saudi Arabia around age 13, was captured in his teens and probably got to the prison in Cuba at age 19. A leaked 2008 prison profile said he was born in 1985. His latest profile put his date of birth at some time in 1982. It also said he was either a Yemeni or Saudi citizen.
The younger Bin Attash was the last of the prison’s eligible captives to get a first hearing before the board President Barack Obama ordered set up in 2011. At his previous review, in 2009, a federal task force recommended he be considered for trial. But he’s never been charged with a crime and a released release 2014 document from the war court prosecutor’s office showed no intention of doing so before 2019.
So the decision essentially declares him an indefinite detainee in the war on terror, a forever prisoner.
But he is not the last to get a decision. The board has yet to decide the fate of seven captives who went before the board before Bin Attash, including a Yemeni who made his plea for freedom April 21.
That means that, as of Thursday, Guantánamo’s total 61 prisoner population breaks down this way:
▪ 20 are cleared for release with security assurances that satisfy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.
▪ 24 indefinite detainees, considered too dangerous to release.
▪ 10 are convicted or in war criminal proceedings by military commission.
▪ 7 have yet to hear from the board.