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Yet another alleged 9/11 terrorist requested permission on Tuesday to leave a Guantanamo Bay courtroom after consuming a meal that he claims made him sick.
Accused terrorist Ramzi Binalshibh’s stomach problems are the latest in a string of purported gastrointestinal issues that have plagued the inmates and delayed a weeklong series of pretrial military hearings at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.
Binalshibh, who was allegedly slated to be one of the 9/11 hijackers before assuming a role as one of its top planners, was the only inmate to actually appear in court on Tuesday.
Fellow inmate Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak bin ‘Attash was forced to take a mid-hearing nap on Monday due to a “gastrointestinal issue.” He did not appear in court on Tuesday.
“I know you’re having some problems with what you had for lunch,” U.S. military judge Col. James Pohl said to Binalshibh on Tuesday afternoon when the hearing reconvened after a meal break.
Binalshibh has a “problem with his lunch today, food that was brought for him,” the inmate’s lawyer told Pohl. “He doesn’t feel well. … He’s claiming that he’s sick. He wants to leave.”
A Guantanamo Bay spokesman denied that Binalshibh was served bad food.
“A freshly-prepared standard detainee halal meal was provided to the defendant by the Joint Task Force during the lunch recess,” U.S. Navy Capt. Robert Durand, the Guantanamo Joint Task Force’s director of public affairs, said in a statement provided to the Washington Free Beacon. ”The defendant complained that his lunch did not include condiments such as olives and honey.”
Binalshibh claimed that he routinely is fed meals that make him sick.
“My absence would be because I cannot remain here,” Binalshibh told the court through a translator. “There are other problems with the food.”
“This is a daily problem, daily politics. … [And] not just me, they pose problems for me and my brothers as well,” he said.
Binalshibh claims that he “wanted to talk to” Guantanamo Bay officials “about this issue,” but they would not listen to him.
Binalshibh’s lawyer said “he feels the conditions have been made intolerable for him. The way that they made him feel, he feels he has to leave.”
Pohl responded that the inmate can “only leave if it’s voluntary leave,” meaning that he actively chooses to return to his prison cell.
“If there’s a condition in the court room that I can solve or rectify if that’s the issue, that’s something else,” Pohl said. “It’s not a voluntary waiver of presence when he says I have to leave.”
“If that’s where we’re at he can’t leave,” Pohl said before holding another recess to personally speak with Binalshibh.
Once the court reconvened, Binalshibh was absent and said to have been taken back to his cell.
Binalshibh’s defense counsel went on to allege that the illness-causing food is part of a larger “retaliation” scheme against the inmate.
Binalshibh has been exposed to “noises and vibrations intentionally to interfere” with his normal routines, the defense argued.
“The report that is coming is that this exact treatment, this exposure to sounds and vibration is continuing,” the defense said, adding that guards have additionally refused “to deliver a proper lunch.”
Defense Attorney James Connell, who represents alleged 9/11 funder Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, claimed over the weekend that the inmates are being treated inhumanely, a charge that the government vehemently denied.