I was looking at the Wikileaks cables [To/From Washington & Embassy Tripoli, 2007-2009] and it appears the late US Ambassador Chris Stevens was aware of Ben Qumu Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamouda. Since his name appears on a few cables. Most of the cables expressed concern about Hamouda’s welfare and family contact. It seems the State Department was overly concerned about the welfare of a known terrorist (and apparently a sufferer of rheumatism) being held in solitary. Apart from being an accused and acquitted terrorist, Hamouda is a twice convicted drug trafficker. Funny but isn’t the Egyptian Coptic filmmaker Nakoula Besselley Nakoula (Innocence of Muslims) also a convicted drug dealer? Is it coincidence or conspiracy? (It wouldn’t surprise me if the Innocence of Muslims film was paid for by the Muslim Brotherhood or some other similar group.)
A tidbit from a US Embassy cable (02/09/2009) re Ben Hamouda (aka Abu Sufian Qumu), the man Fox News calls the mastermind behind the killing of Ambassador Stevens in Libya. It seems Hamouda was acquitted of terrorism but convicted on drug charges. That may explain why he was given amnesty and released in
Stressing that he had been found innocent – “I love everybody and do not hate anybody” – he [Hamouda] expressed frustration that he remained in prison and complained that he was “psychologically exhausted and not sleeping”. “I want my rights and I want to be let go”, he said. He complained that a gold necklace and USD 2,000 in cash had been confiscated by Pakistani authorities at the time of his detention and asked for help in getting them back.
Fox News reports that the seasoned Libyan terrorist Abu Sufian bin Qumu [Hamouda] is believed to have led, if not planned, the bloody assault. According to Fox News, the Libyan government called him a “dangerous man with no qualms about committing terrorist acts.” And the United States considered him “likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies” if he were ever released from Gitmo.
Fox News appears to have erroneously reported that in 2008, Libyan dictator Moammar Khadafy released him in a blanket amnesty for Libyan terrorists. However, in a December 2, 2009 cable, US Embassy Tripoli reported that after the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) leadership renounced violent jihad against the Khadafy government, Muammar al-Qadhafi pardoned and released 134 LIFG prisoners in two rounds of amnesty: August 23 and again, in mid-October 2009. There is nothing in the cables that indicate when Hamouda was released.
¶7. (S/NF) On August 23, to mark the beginning of Ramadan and the Libyan leader’s 40th anniversary in power, LIFG leadership issued another press statement, this time apologizing to Muammar al-Qadhafi for their past acts of violence against him. The first of two rounds of prison releases took place shortly after the statement was published, with 91 LIFG prisoners pardoned and released. A second amnesty was announced in mid-October, with another 43 LIFG members reportedly being released. According to Salah, these releases constitute approximately half of the imprisoned LIFG members, all of whom were imprisoned at Abu Salim prison. (Saif al-Islam has publicly stated his intention to demolish the facility, infamous for a 1996 uprising that left 1200 prisoners dead, after the last prisoners have been released.) Salah reported that another round of amnesties would take place in the coming weeks, with Saif’s ultimate goal being 100-percent prisoner release. In a separate effort, Salah said that the GOL has released some 62 members of other “jihadist groups” from Abu Salim prison based on their recantations of violent jihad.
Fox News wants us to believe that a rheumatism sufferer plotted to kill the very person who looked after his welfare when he was imprisoned. If true, Americans are certainly naive as a people.
In reviewing the WikiLeaks cables, I’ve uncovered a discrepancy about when in 2007 Hamouda was released from Gitmo and repatriated to Libya. Fox News and Investors Business Daily say September 28, 2007. A State Department cable dated 09/25/2007, under Secretary Rice’s name, recommends that the Defense Department transfer Hamouda to Libya on September 26, 2007. But one year later, on September 2, 2008, cable from Chris Stevens notes that Hamouda was returned to Libya in August 2007.
September 25, 2007 – This is an action cable; please see paragraph six. ¶2. (S) Summary: The Deputies Committee (DC) concluded on August 23 that DoD should transfer Guantanamo detainee Ben Qumu Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamouda (ISN-557) to Libya on the next Detainee Movement Operation (DMO), which is scheduled to occur on or about September 26. The decision to transfer Hamouda is based, in part, on a USG interagency assessment that he is returning to Libya voluntarily. The decision to transfer Hamouda does not override the ref A request for additional information regarding detainee Muhammad Abdallah Mansur al-Rimi’s (ISN-194) possible left hand/arm injury and tooth loss. DoD supports a GOL request to visit the Libyan national detainees remaining at Guantanamo for law enforcement and/or intelligence collection purposes. See action requests at paragraph six. End summary.
September 2, 2008 – Hamouda (ISN 557), who was returned to Libya in August 2007, said he remains in detention at the Abu Salim prison, located in the Tripoli suburbs. (Note: He was detained at an ESO detention facility for about three months after his return and was then transferred to the Abu Salim prison. End note.) He remains in solitary detention, his biggest complaint. He is able to speak through the walls with prisoners in adjacent cells, but is not able to leave his cell and interact with other prisoners and is not able to exercise. Hamouda wants to be able to leave his cell. (Note: During our previous meeting on June 10, the security official who facilitated the meeting explained that detention protocols for extremists and terrorists mandate that they be held in solitary detention to preclude the possibility that they could recruit other members of the prison population. End note.) Hamouda complained about the lack of sunlight and fresh air. He is provided with drinking water, tea and three meals a day. He does not have access to books, radio or television. He requested that he be provided with pens, paper and books. Hamouda said he not received a family visit since our last meeting with him on June 10, but conceded that he was unsure whether they had tried to do so. (Note: Our understanding is that Hamouda has had two visits by members of his family since his return: his wife and children visited in late December, and his wife and brother-in-law saw him in January. End note.)
You’ll notice that the Stevens cable mentions Hamouda’s complaints about his lack of sunlight and fresh air. It seems Hamouda lied about when and how often he received visits from his family. Later in the same cable, Stevens notes efforts to ascertain the status of legal proceedings against Hamouda, who was being held on terrorism and drug trafficking charges.
¶10. (S/NF) Despite several requests for information about the legal basis on which the two returned detainees are being held and the status/schedule of any legal proceedings against them, Post has received no response from the GOL to date. The only information we have is from the two detainees. We pressed the GOL to provide information about the detainees’ legal status and the state of play in the legal proceedings against them, stressing that we needed to receive such information directly from the GOL. To date, however, we have not received the requested information from the GOL. STEVENS
The right likes to deride President Obama and his Administration for its concern for due process and having wanted to try Gitmo detainees in US courts. But the February 2008 cable from Washington to US Embassy Tripoli revealed the Bush Administration’s concern for Hamouda’s legal status and access to legal counsel which was a condition of the transfer agreement negotiated with Libya. Washington also wanted the Embassy to encourage additional family visits for Hamouda and detainees.
¶6. (S/NF) The USG also wishes to understand whether the transferred detainees have been detained for criminal acts, and if so whether they have been notified of the charges against them and afforded access to legal counsel in accordance with Article 5 of the USG-GOL detainee transfer framework MOU. If detainees have not had access to counsel because they are being held for reasons that do not relate to alleged criminal acts (e.g., if they are being held as security detainees under a law of war framework) then it would be useful to understand this as well. ¶7. (S/NF) Department was pleased by the GOL’s facilitation of an access visit by Hamouda‘s family on December 27. We recognize that family visits do not fall within the scope of the detainee transfer framework MOU, but believe that such access is appropriate under these circumstances. To this end, Post should encourage additional family member visits.
Certainly, if this were the Obama Administration enforcing the terms of a negotiated agreement and encouraging family visits for “an avowed enemy of America” if would be proof of his unAmericanism. But because it was Bush/Cheney/Rice, not a mumbling word is said.
After reviewing the facts surrounding the release and repatriation of Ben Qumu Abu Hamoud, we must question the judgment of Condoleeza Rice. She dismissed bin Laden as a credible threat, thought it ok to repatriate Hamouda (despite the West Point report detailing the threat posed by him) and approved Libya’s two-year term on the UN Security Council (I wonder what UN Ambassador John Bolton had to say). Considering that Libya was reneging on compensating the families of US victims of the Lockerbie and LaBelle Disco bombings (as well as UK victims of IRA attacks), it made little sense for Dr. Rice to pursue détente with Libya.
Other interesting activities were happening at the same time. Efforts were underway absolving Libya of blame for Lockerbie. The Bush Administration quietly removed Libya from the list of states sponsoring terrorism. And Col. Khaddafy was still insisting that Libya did not sponsor terrorism. Meanwhile, the Libyan foreign minister was making noises about investing in US markets and granting oil concessions to US companies. That sparked a mad rush by many nations to negotiate all sorts of business deals and concessions. This, of course, has Fidel scratching his head. After all, he only offered to make his island a missile platform for the old USSR, fomented revolution in Latin America, and aided liberation movements in southern Africa. He hasn’t kill a single American in his fifty-plus years in power.
Yes, the Obama administration messed up but had Hamouda remained at Gitmo, Ambassador Stevens might be alive today aiding the new Libya. It would be a shame, however, if Ambassador Stevens’ naivete led him to place faith in his Libyan security team rather than travel with a sizable security detail in Benghazi. I believe many Americans would welcome a full-fledged congressional investigative hearing calling in all relevant actors from both administrations, including former VP Dick Cheney.
I’m willing to bet that President Obama’s October surprise will be the death of Ben Qumu Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamouda and those others responsible for the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and his three aides.