Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, January 18, 2017:
The Defense Department has released a list of ten now former Guantanamo detainees who were transferred to Oman earlier this week. One of them is Mohammed Al Ansi, a Yemeni who was captured in northern Pakistan in late 2001 and transferred to the detention facility in Cuba in Jan. 2002.
US authorities repeatedly found that Ansi (seen on the right) may have been selected to take part in an aborted part of the 9/11 hijackings.
Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) concluded in a leaked threat assessment, dated May 17, 2008, that Ansi “swore bayat (oath of allegiance) to” Osama bin Laden “and received specialized close combat training for his role as a suicide operative in an aborted component of the 11 September 2001 al Qaeda attacks.”
Another version of the allegation was included in a summary prepared by the Obama administration for the Periodic Review Board (PRB) process at Guantanamo.
“Judging from other detainee statements and corroborating information,” the Oct. 14, 2015 summary reads, Ansi “participated in advanced combat training and may have met with al Qaeda external operations chief Khalid Shaykh Mohammed … in Karachi and been considered for participation in a suicide attack or deployment in the West.”
Al Qaeda originally considered hijacking US airliners leaving from airports in Southeast Asia as part of the 9/11 plot. But bin Laden reportedly canceled this part of the operation because he thought it would be difficult to coordinate the additional hijackings.
According to the US government’s files, one of the ringleaders for the canceled 9/11 hijackings was Walid Bin Attash, a senior al Qaeda operative who helped plot the Oct. 2000 USS Cole bombing. Bin Attash allegedly performed surveillance on American airliners operating in Southeast Asia. After his part of the plot was called off, Bin Attash turned his attention to other al Qaeda plans.
Bin Attash, who is currently held at Guantanamo, fingered Ansi and three other detainees as would-be participants in the airliner plot. Leaked threat assessments prepared by JTF-GTMO, as well as files prepared for the detainees’ PRB hearings, link all four of them to the initial plan. Two of them were previously transferred by the Obama administration. Abdul Rahman Shalabi, a Saudi, was transferred to his home country on Sept. 22, 2015. Abd al Malik Abd al Wahab, a Yemeni, was transferred to Montenegro on June 22, 2016.
Only the fourth detainee identified by Bin Attash as being part of the plot, a Yemeni named Zuhail Abdo Anam Said al Sharabi, remains in US custody at Guantanamo. A summary prepared for Sharabi’s PRB hearing notes that he traveled to Malaysia, where he stayed with Bin Attash and two of the 9/11 hijackers. Sharabi apparently denied this allegation during questioning, but also described the pair of 9/11 hijackers as “martyrs.” JTF-GTMO’s analysts found that Sharabi’s trip to Malaysia with Bin Attash was ordered by Osama bin Laden himself as “part of the pre-planning for the hijacking plot.” The pair stayed at the home of Hambali, a notorious al Qaeda leader in Southeast Asia who is also still detained at Guantanamo.
Bin Attash told authorities that, just two months prior to 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) took the four (including Ansi), as well as two others, “to Karachi to teach them English language and American culture.”
- US transferring 4 Gitmo detainees to UAE and Saudi Arabia, officials say (foxnews.com) After the transfers are complete, 41 detainees will remain at the detention camp. It is not immediately known if any more transfers will take place before Obama leaves office Friday, though it is clear the outgoing president will not achieve his 2008 campaign goal of shuttering the camp.