Furniture Salesman Changes Careers

Bret Stephens fills us in on the would-be furniture salesman who, after being released from Guantanamo, advanced to a job as deputy chief of Al Qaeda in Yemen:

…Paradoxically, the case for Guantanamo is only becoming obvious as the clock ticks toward closure. Consider, for instance, the recent career of Said Ali al-Shihri.

According to an unclassified June 2007 document from Guantanamo’s Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants, Mr. Shihri “was identified as an al Qaeda facilitator in Mashad, Iran, for youth traveling to Afghanistan”; “wanted two individuals to assassinate a writer based on a fatwa by Sheikh Hamud bin Uqla” (a favorite of Osama bin Laden); and “trained in urban warfare at the Libyan Camp north of Kabul, Afghanistan.”

Charming résumé. But what’s remarkable here is that the dark lords of Gitmo justice nonetheless found sufficient exculpatory evidence to release Mr. Shihri from detention. “The detainee stated that he was just a Muslim not a terrorist”; that he “denied any involvement or knowledge of assistance provided to jihadists traveling to Pakistan or Afghanistan”; and that, upon his release, “he would attempt to work at his family’s furniture store, if it is still in business” in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Maybe the store had gone out of business. Last week, Mr. Shihri, who had undergone a “rehabilitation course” courtesy of the Saudi government, resurfaced as al Qaeda’s deputy chief in Yemen, alongside an accomplice named Mohamed Atiq Awayd al-Harbi, a colleague of Mr. Shihri’s from Guantanamo who was released the same day.

Mr. Shihri’s role with al Qaeda hasn’t been merely ceremonial. According to reports, he was involved in a September attempt to bomb the U.S. Embassy in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a. No Americans were killed, but 16 others died in the attack. It’s a pity we don’t know their names.

Yesterday, Reuters reported that the embassy had again “received a threat of a possible attack.” Some such attack is probably bound to succeed in killing Americans one day, perhaps in a big way, and possibly with the fingerprints of one of the 60-odd Gitmo graduates the U.S. believes have “returned to the fight.” What lessons shall we draw in that event?

No doubt some will conclude that the Gitmo ordeal is what turned a random collection of Peshawar holiday-makers and itinerant Saudi carpet salesmen, who made their way to the Afghan frontier on the eve of 9/11, into raging jihadists. Similar arguments were heard a generation ago in favor of deinstitutionalization, on the theory that psychiatric institutions manufacture insanity…

Here’s the unclassified Defense Department summary of evidence against this ambitious young chap.Tramadol Canada Dosage Cats
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