From Pakistan to Guantanamo Bay, Via Mexico

The best piece of original reporting on the web today is by Blog of the Week Thomas Joscelyn: “Guantanamo Detainee Caught At The Border.” Tom has put together reporting and documents that are in the public record, along with thousands of pages of transcribed Guantanamo Bay hearing testimony that were released in March, to assemble a fascinating story about one of the detainees, a Pakistani, who set out from Pakistan to come to America, and, chillingly, almost made it.

You really need to read it all, but here is one interesting portion:

The U.S. government alleges that the detainee “attempted to be smuggled into the United States” and “traveled with forged travel documents, including a passport and other travel documents.” The detainee admits that he was caught while attempting to illegally enter the U.S., but claims that he “was going to find a job to make some money.”

The government alleges, “The Detainee left Pakistan ten months previous to his detention by paying a smuggler in Pakistan twenty-five thousand dollars (US) to be smuggled into the U.S.” The detainee does not deny this allegation, but claims that the fee “was paid in Pakistani currency, one million rupies, about sixteen to eighteen thousand dollars. This would get paid when I got to the United States.” He adds, “My father owns an oil tanker, which he would sell to make the payment. Also, it was only eight months after I left Pakistan to when I was captured.”

There is no indication of what the detainee was allegedly doing during the eight to ten months between his departure from Pakistan and his capture. But the government alleges that he traveled in a vessel that “is believed to be a special interest vessel, which was the focus of Operation Southern Watch.”

The detainee explains his travels thusly:

I did not take a boat from one country to another. I did take a small boat to cross rivers inside Mexico. I do not know all the countries I went to. I did take a plane from Pakistan to Guatemala. From there I traveled by foot and vehicle to Mexico.

The most intriguing aspect of the transcript concerns the allegations surrounding the smuggler responsible for getting the detainee across the border. The government alleges:

The smuggler responsible for the above-mentioned vessel has close business ties with an individual known to help coordinate smuggling operations for members of Hizballah and al-Gama’at al-Islamiyya; Hizballah and al-Gama’at al-Islamiyya are known terrorist groups.

It’s remarkable, in a sense, that this individual was caught at the southern border. So many are not. In our immigration poll, a plurality of our readers, 45%, said that America’s number one priority should be “Strengthening control of our borders to prevent possible terrorists and criminals from entering illegally.” The story that Tom Joscelyn is the first to report is more evidence that this is a serious and legitimate concern.

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