The Real Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel

Notorious ‘Dirty 30’ member claims abuse

Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base / AP
April 15, 2013

A Guantanamo Bay detainee who accused the United States of torturing him in a New York Times editorial published on Monday failed to disclose his lengthy rap sheet, which includes efforts to kill Americans while fighting for the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.

Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, who has been held in the Gitmo detention facility for more than 11 years, claims he has been detained and abused by the United States despite his innocence. However, anti-terrorism experts maintain he fought for the terrorist mastermind behind 9/11 and remains a risk to return to the battlefield.

Moqbel, a member of the "Dirty 30" gang of terrorists, went on a hunger strike in February and has been force-fed since.

"I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose," Moqbel told the Times via a translator. "I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. … There was agony in my chest, throat, and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before."

What the Times fails to mention is that Moqbel has a lengthy criminal rap sheet that identifies him as an al Qaeda terrorist who fought "on the front lines" against U.S. forces in Afghanistan, according to his confidential records.

None of this information is provided in Moqbel’s editorial or acknowledged in an editor’s note appended to the piece.

"Detainee admitted fighting on the front lines, is assessed to be a fighter in [Osama bin Laden’s] 55th Arab Brigade, and is assessed to have participated in hostilities against U.S. and coalition forces in [bin Laden’s] Tora Bora Mountain complex," according a Department of Defense intelligence analysis.

Moqbel, who also served on bin Laden’s security detail, was captured following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks along with several other fighters, including a 20th hijacker and other bin Laden body guards, according to the DoD’s intelligence report.

Additionally, Moqbel’s information was listed on multiple al Qaeda documents and he later admitted he was "recruited by [a] known al Qaeda member," according to the report.

U.S. intelligence analysts dubbed Moqbel a "high risk" after he admitted he was a paid terrorist fighter who personally knew bin Laden.

Pakistani authorities captured Moqbel while he was trying to cross the porous Afghan-Pakistan border.

Moqbel claims in his op-ed, "After the American invasion in 2001, I fled to Pakistan like everyone else."

However, the U.S. intelligence assessment Moqbel has repeatedly been deemed "deceptive." He admitted lying to U.S. interrogators at several junctures.

Moqbel claims he is only being held because President Barack Obama refuses to allow him to return to Yemen, his birth nation.

The U.S. intelligence assessment paints a different picture.

"Detainee is a member of al Qaeda," the assessment maintains in a portion explaining his "continued detention."

"Detainee served as a security guard for [bin Laden] and is listed on al Qaeda affiliated documents," according to the report, which also notes Moqbel admitted to being a fighter in Kabul.

"Detainee was captured with a group referred to as the Dirty 30, which includes known [bin Laden] security guards," states the report, which confirms that Moqbel was fingered as an al Qaeda member by other bin Laden confidants.

The only mention of Moqbel’s background comes at the bottom of his op-ed.

"Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, a prisoner at Guantánamo Bay since 2002, told this story, through an Arabic interpreter, to his lawyers at the legal charity Reprieve in an unclassified telephone call," the NYT notes at the bottom of his story.

Terrorism expert Thomas Joscelyn criticized the Times for obfuscating Moqbel’s true backstory.

"Moqbel's claim of innocence certainly doesn't smell right," Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Washington Free Beacon.

"The public has to choose between two contradictory narratives," Joscelyn said. "Moqbel claims that his ‘friend’ tricked him into going to Afghanistan more than one year prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and was simply looking to get back home afterwards."

Joscelyn said the evidence suggests this story is untrue.

"Intelligence professionals at Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) concluded that Moqbel was a member of Osama bin Laden's elite 55th Arab Brigade, which fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan and rose in rank to become a trusted member of bin Laden's security detail," he explained.

"Moqbel writes that ‘no one seriously thinks I am a threat,’" Joscelyn added. "But JTF-GTMO deemed him a ‘high’ risk to the United States and its allies in 2008. And his name does not appear on a list of Gitmo detainees approved for transfer by the Obama administration as of September last year."

"Many ‘high’ risk detainees have been transferred, subject to security protocols being in place," he said. "If Moqbel hasn't been approved for transfer, then that indicates he is not among the group of detainees the Obama administration is willing to gamble on."