Harkat gets bombshell help from declassified U.S. documents – U.S. report says his reputed al-Qaeda associate actually had no ties to terrorist group
OTTAWA-The federal government case against Ottawa terror suspect Mohamed Harkat appears to have suffered a significant blow Wednesday when a document was introduced in court showing that Abu Zubaydah, once considered a master terrorist and 9/11 mastermind, actually had nothing to do with the attacks.
Even more surprising, the document, which quotes U.S court filings declassified last week, shows that Zubaydah, once believed to be one of the top leaders in al-Qaeda, was not even a member of the terrorist group.
One of Harkat’s lawyers, Norm Boxall, said the information is significant because part of the government’s case against Harkat is that he is an associate of Zubaydah.
If Zubaydah has no ties to al-Qaeda, as now appears to be the case, a large chunk of the case against Harkat is under question.
The document, a report under the byline of Jason Leopold, quoted U.S. court documents, which say the American government now admits that Zubaydah did not have “any direct role in or advance knowledge of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,” and was neither a “member” of al-Qaeda nor “formally” identified with the terrorist organization.
Leopold works for Truthout, a non-profit news organization that operates a website and distributes a daily newsletter. The U.S. court documents are also referred to in recent articles on the Guardian website in Britain and the Huffington Post, an online news site.
The document distributed in the Federal Court Wednesday quotes a redacted U.S. Justice Department filing on Zubaydah as saying the U.S. government “does not contend that (Zubaydah) was a ‘member’ of al-Qaeda in the sense of having sworn bavat (allegiance) or having otherwise satisfied any formal criteria that either (Zubaydah) or al-Qaeda may have considered necessary for inclusion in al-Qaeda. Nor is the government detaining (Zubaydah) based on any allegation that (Zubaydah) views himself as part of al-Qaeda as a matter of subjective personal conscience, ideology or worldview.”
Rather, it says Zubaydah’s detention is based on conduct and actions as part of hostile forces in Afghanistan.
The information comes from a Justice Department response to 213 discovery requests by Zubaydah’s attorneys in his habeas corpus case seeking evidence behind the U.S. government’s claim that their client was a top al-Qaeda official.
“The Government’s accounts frequently have been at variance with the actual facts, and the government has generally been loath to provide the facts until forced to do so,” Zubaydah’s attorney, Brent Mickum, is quoted in the article as saying.
“When the government was forced to present the facts in the form of a discovery in Zubaydah’s case, it realized that the game was over and there was no way it could support the Bush administration’s baseless allegations,” he is quoted as saying.
The report, dated March 30, was received by Paul Copeland, one of Harkat’s special advocates. He informed Federal Court Judge Simon Noël, who is presiding over a hearing looking at Harkat’s case, and the judge gave Copeland permission to release it to Harkat’s defence lawyers. Government lawyers, who saw the document for the first time Wednesday, would not comment on the contents or its impact on their case.
But Harkat’s lawyers said this is another in a series of setbacks for the federal case against their client. It follows the February release from U.S. custody of Hadje Wazir, a Harkat associate whom CSIS has characterized as Osama Bin Laden’s “money handler.” Last year, the case was rocked by the revelation that three CSIS witnesses failed to reveal that a key informant failed a lie-detector test.
Tags: Mohamed Harkat
Short URL: http://tinyurl.com/y8grd6g