War on Terrorism

Friday, March 30, 2007

Detainee Admits to Receiving Funds from 9/11 Hijackers

By Carmen L. Gleason
American Forces Press Service

March 29, 2007 – A detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has admitted to being one of the financial facilitators for the mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks on the United States. The Defense Department today released the transcript of the March 21 combat status review tribunal hearing held at the detention facility for Mustafa al-Hawsawi. The tribunal was an administrative hearing to determine only if Hawsawi could be designated an enemy combatant.

Hawsawi is one of 14 high-value detainees who were transferred Sept. 6, 2006, to Guantanamo Bay from CIA custody. The CSRT hearings for these detainees are not open to media because of national security concerns, DoD officials said.

The detainee heard evidence against him charging that while in the United Arab Emirates he received nearly $20,000 from the Sept. 11 hijackers Mohamed Atta, Waleed al-Shehri and Marwan al-Shehhi from locations in Maryland and Massachusetts.

Although he did receive the funds, Hawsawi said, speaking through an interpreter, he didn't do anything with the transfers after placing them in his bank account.

The detainee also admitted to having repeated communications with Osama bin Laden and Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, but said he neither worked for them nor claimed allegiance to jihadist or al Qaeda causes.

Hawsawi also said he communicated with four of the hijackers prior to the attacks, but he had no specific knowledge of the operation until afterward.

Both Muhammad and al-Shibh talked to Hawsawi on Sept. 10, 2001, but he said he had no prior knowledge of the attacks.

"(Shibh) told me that (the) next night there would be an operation, and therefore I should go back to Pakistan," Hawsawi said. The detainee said that he returned to Pakistan on Sept. 12, 2001, and from there entered Afghanistan, where he helped to train jihadists to rebel and attack if needed.

Hawsawi also heard evidence charging him with the possession of a laptop computer hard drive containing al Qaeda expense reports and allowance information from 2002 to 2003. Officials also charged him with the possession of detailed operational status and family information of known al Qaeda operatives.

Although the detainee did not deny possessing the computer, through a personal representative he said he didn't have any knowledge of the content. Hawsawi said the information on the laptop was copied from several different personal computer hard drives located in a safe house. The information was copied to several laptops to make it easier to transport, he said.

A 19-page handwritten telephone and address book containing the contact information for numerous al Qaeda operatives was found in a laptop computer case associated with Hawsawi. The document was discovered where a senior al Qaeda operative was captured.

Prior to the hearing, a reproduction of the phone book was made available to the detainee for his review when he said it could not be something he owned since he "didn't know enough people to fill a 19-page phone (book)."

The hearing came to a close when the CSRT president said an assessment would be made as to whether the detainee continued to pose a threat to the United States or coalition partners in the ongoing conflict against terrorist organizations.

The U.S. government established the CSRT process at Guantanamo Bay as a result of a June 2004 Supreme Court decision in the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden who challenged his detention at Guantanamo Bay. Between July 2004 and March 2005, DoD conducted 558 CSRTs at Guantanamo Bay. At the time, 38 detainees were determined to no longer meet the definition of enemy combatant, and 520 detainees were found to be enemy combatants.

Hawsawi's tribunal followed the March 10 proceedings for Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, who admitted to masterminding the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks as well as the World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

Proceedings also were held March 9 for Abu Faraj al-Libi, an alleged senior al Qaeda member, and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who is said to have helped Muhammad plan the Sept. 11 attacks. Neither of the two elected to be present for their tribunals.

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