While the nation was preoccupied with holiday celebrations, an Al Qaeda operative incarcerated at the U.S. military jail in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as a “forever prisoner” was cleared to be released. His name is Said Salih Said Nashir and a Department of Defense (DOD) file says he has ties to 9/11 conspirator Walid Bin Attash and trained at the infamous al-Faruq camp in Afghanistan to participate in terrorist operations against U.S. forces in Karachi, Pakistan and inside the U.S. The document labels Nashir a high risk likely to pose a threat to the U.S. and of high intelligence value. He has been locked up at the compound on the U.S. Naval station in southeast Cuba for nearly two decades. A few years ago the Office of Military Commission’s parole board denied the Yemen national release, determining that “continued law of war detention of the detainee remains necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.”
The ruling was issued because his terrorist connections run deep. Nashir, who is in his 40s, served in the 55th Arab Brigade under the leadership of Al Qaeda commander Nashwan Abd al-Razzaq Abd al-Baqi, his DOD file reveals. He was deployed with other Al Qaeda personnel to attack U.S. and coalition forces and has admitted training and living at Al Qaeda facilities. An Al Qaeda facilitator named Marwan Mughil recruited Nashir to train in Afghanistan for two months then return to Yemen. “Detainee gave Mughil his passport and sometime later, Mughil sent detainee to Sanaa, YM to meet Mughil’s associate, Abu Muad,” the military file states. In June 2001 Nashir traveled to an Al Qaeda safe house in Kandahar known as the al-Nibras Guesthouse via the United Arab Emirates and Karachi with three other men from Yemen. Al Qaeda leadership at al-Nibras “issued detainee an AK-47 assault rifle and deployed him to guard an airport located 30 minutes south of Kandahar,” the U.S. military document says. After completing his terrorist training at al-Faruq, Nashir returned to the al-Nibras Guesthouse where he remained until September 2001.
Once considered too dangerous to ever be released, the Gitmo “forever prisoner” also hid in caves along with fellow jihadists in an Afghan valley for 10 days and received $1,000 from an Al Qaeda official before trying to head back to Yemen via Iran. However, Nashir returned to Karachi because he was afraid Iranian police would capture him. He was arrested in 2002 when police and intelligence agencies in Pakistan raided three Al Qaeda residences in Karachi. After a lengthy “firefight” with Pakistani security forces five Arabs—including Nashir—were captured. All were members of a special terrorist team deployed to attack targets in Karachi, including hotels frequented by American soldiers. The terrorists were turned over to U.S. forces at the Karachi Airport before being transferred to Bagram Airfield, the largest American base in Afghanistan. The reasons listed for Nashir’s transfer to Guantanamo are to provide information on the al-Faruq camp where he trained for several months, various safe houses in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran and Al Qaeda recruiter Marwan Mughil. The file also reveals that a laptop hard drive recovered from the safe house that Nashir shared with other terrorists “contained information that could have been used in targeting aircraft, to support hijacking and other terrorist operations.”
Nashir’s extensive record explains why the Military Commission’s parole board, known as the Periodic Review Secretariat (PRS), refused his release appeal a few years ago. In a document posted on the commission’s website, the PRS writes this: “In making this determination, the Board considered the detainee’s past ties with al-Qaida’s external operations planners and senior leadership, including 9/11 conspirator Walid Bin Attash.” The PRS also lists the detainee’s lack of credibility, candor, and inconsistency in responses. “His recent expressions of continued support for jihad against legitimate military or government targets and his statements celebrating the idea of Muslims killing invaders, including continued interest in seeing footage of past al Qaida attacks, were also considered by the Board, as well as his lack of detail regarding a plan for the future and his susceptibility to recruitment.”
It is not clear what changed in the last few years while the Al Qaeda fighter sat in a maximum-security cell at Gitmo, but the PRS did an about face. In the latest assessment granting Nashir release, the military parole board writes that continued detention is no longer necessary to protect against the significant threat he once posed to the security of the United States. Here is why: “Detainee’s low level of training and lack of leadership in Al Qaeda or the Taliban” as well as “his efforts to improve himself while in detention, to include taking numerous courses at Guantanamo.” The panel also found that Nashir has family support and a “credible plan for supporting himself in the event of transfer.” The board recommends “robust security assurances to include monitoring, travel restrictions and integration support.” That is unlikely. Judicial Watch has for years reported on the long list of prisoners released from Gitmo who return to terrorist causes. Among them is an Al Qaeda leader that the U.S. government put on a global terrorist list with a $5 million reward for information on his whereabouts after releasing him.