Robert Burns – The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — A Somali accused by U.S. officials of belonging to a
terrorist group affiliated with al-Qaida acknowledged to a U.S. military tribunal
that he trained in Afghanistan for holy war in his homeland but denied any
link to al-Qaida.
Hassan Dourad, allegedly a member of al-Ittihad al-Islami, an organization
listed by the United States as a terrorist group linked to al-Qaida, is one
of 14 so-called high-value detainees transferred to the U.S. prison at Guantanamo
Bay last September after being held by the CIA in secret prisons abroad.
All 14 have had
military hearings, called Combatant Status Review Tribunals, at Guantanamo
to determine if they are correctly classified as an enemy combatant eligible
to be tried for war crimes by a military commission. Reporters were not allowed
access to any of the hearings; censored transcripts of 13 of the hearings
have been released by the Pentagon.
Late last month
the Pentagon announced that a 15th such high-value detainee — Abdul Hadi
al-Iraqi, captured late last year and formerly held by the CIA — had arrived
at Guantanamo. He has not yet had his hearing.
In his hearing on
April 28, Dourad declined to appear but had a statement read on his behalf
by a representative assigned to him.
« I am not a
member of any al-Ittihad al-Islami jihadist faction, » he said in the
statement. « However, I did fight jihad alongside al-Ittihad against Ethiopians. »
In a summary of
unclassified evidence against him, the U.S. military said Dourad had been
recruited by an unidentified senior al-Qaida operative who participated in
the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya.
denied the U.S. allegation that he was an al-Qaida Djibouti cell leader and
« senior facilitator. »
training was solely for the purpose of fighting in Somalia, but not against
Americans, » he said.