By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
March 30, 2007 – An alleged al Qaeda leader being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, said he admitted to involvement in the attack on the USS Cole only because he was being tortured, according to a transcript of his hearing released today. Meanwhile, another detainee admitted that he helped transfer the funds used to bomb the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta in August 2003, but said he had no idea how the money was to be used.
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, alleged to be the mastermind and local manager of the 2000 Cole bombing, spoke through a translator during his March 14 combat status review tribunal hearing at the detention facility.
Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep, known as "Lillie," opted not to attend his March 20 hearing, but issued a written statement denying the allegations against him.
Both tribunals were administrative hearings to determine only if the detainees could be designated as enemy combatants.
Evidence was presented against Narshiri, alleged to be a former al Qaeda operations chief on the Arabian Peninsula who led terror cells in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
During his hearing, Nashiri said he had confessed under torture to playing a role in several terrorist incidents, including the USS Cole bombing and the October 2002 ramming of the French oil tanker MV Limberg Aden Harbor, Yemen. However, he insisted that he made the confessions only because he was coerced.
Nashiri denied any involvement with al Qaeda, although he admitted to knowing people who were involved in the Cole and other attacks.
He told the tribunal he had confessed to involvement in plans to bomb U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf and to hijack a plane and crash it into a ship, and claimed that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has a nuclear bomb.
"The detainee states that he was tortured into confession, and once he made a confession, his captors were happy and they stopped torturing him," Nashiri's translator told the tribunal president.
Nashiri "made up stories during the torture in order to get it to stop," the translator told the tribunal president.
"From the time I was arrested five years ago, they have been torturing me," Nashiri said, according to the transcript. "I just said those things to make the people happy. They were very happy when I told them those things."
Nashiri acknowledged frequent meetings with bin Laden and said he received big sums of cash from him, some of it meant to buy explosives for the Cole attack. However, Nashiri said, he spent it in other ways or gave it to friends.
Nashiri said he doesn't consider Americans his enemies, but he said he does want the United States to leave the Persian Gulf.
Lillie said in a written statement he had no knowledge of the Jakarta Marriott bombing.
Evidence presented against him during the tribunal showed Lillie was slated to be a suicide bomber for an al Qaeda attack targeting Los Angeles. He also allegedly was involved in a plot against the British High Commission in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and cased targets in Thailand in mid-2002.
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.
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