Diary

Sending a terrorist home to the open arms of his country's leader?

No, I’m not talking about Scotland, but rather The Curious Case of Mohammed Jawad.

Does this look like the face of a 19yo kid who was grabbed off the street at random as an innocent 12yo and then tortured and starved for the past 6-1/2 years, or of a 24yo terrorist who survived 6-1/2 years at Gitmo after being nabbed tossing a grenade at US troops when he was 17?

It makes for one of the most interesting cases at Gitmo. The Times (UK) reports on it today. Reuters had this story a few days ago and a longer version in its Indian edition.

The gist of it is this. In December 2002, someone tossed a grenade into a jeep in Kabul, injuring two special forces troops and an interpreter. Jawad was grabbed as the culprit. He claimed to be an innocent 12yo kid. After a short time he was sent to Gitmo, where a bone scan showed him to be 18 – 5-6 years older than he claimed. He eventually confessed, but the US decided the confession couldn’t be trusted and he could never be fairly convicted. He was released and returned to Afghanistan Monday.

As with the Lockerbie bomber who was released to Libya, the Afghan leaders were waiting to greet Jawad when he got home. And his claim to be just a kid did not go unnoticed outside Gitmo.

He has thus become a cause célèbre for human rights activists … and something of a celebrity in Afghanistan. President Karzai even offered to give him a house in Kabul when he met him on Monday night. The Defence Minister, Abdul Rakhim Wardak, offered to pay for him to study overseas.

It looks like there will be a dog and pony show today where we will hear about how horrible the US is. The “152 episodes of mistreatment” is apparently a one-week stretch where he was shackled and moved to a different cell every couple of hours.

Since returning, Mr Jawad has accused his captors of torturing prisoners, depriving them of food and sleep, and insulting Islam and the Koran.

He has described having his hands bound and stretched behind his back, and being forced to eat by bending over and putting his mouth into a plate of food.

Yesterday he was reluctant to go into details, saying that he would describe everything in full at a press conference in Kabul today. “It was a jail and I wasn’t happy there — I didn’t feel very good,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “They threatened me a little. I will tell all of this tomorrow.” Human rights activists say that he was moved around often, and in one seven-day period was subjected to 152 episodes of mistreatment.

He seems to look remarkable good under the circumstances.

“There was a lot of oppression when I was in Guantanamo and these inhumane actions were not for just one day, one week or one month,” Jawad told Reuters, sitting on cushions in his family home in the south of the capital.

“I was oppressed the whole time until I was released. They tortured prisoners very badly and did not allow prisoners to sleep, did not give enough food,” he said.

“They knew I was underage but they did not care about my age,” Jawad said.

“They insulted our religion and our holy Koran, they insulted us and behaved in an inhumane way,” he said.

I’m sure there will be a short break in the 24×7 Teddy Kennedy coverage to show highlights of his news conference today.