Have a nice stay

I wrote here about Abdullah Saleh al-Ajmi, “a former Guantanamo detainee who carried out a recent suicide bombing in Mosul.” There are two main theories as to why he did this: (1) he was a terrorist all along and naturally reverted to terrorism upon his release or (2) he was not a terrorist before and conditions at Gitmo drove him into being one.

It’s pretty clear which theory the Washington Post favors. The first sentence of its story gives it away:

A Kuwaiti man who complained about maltreatment during a three-year stay in the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was involved in a deadly suicide bombing in northern Iraq last month, the U.S. military confirmed yesterday.

In the Post’s telling, the man’s complaint gets first billing. In fact, he’s not even referred to as a detainee (the neutral, factual term I employed above and in my original post); he’s just a Kuwaiti man on a “stay.”

The Post’s story also turns over four paragraphs to al-Ajmi’s Washington, D.C. lawyer, who talks about how his client became increasingly “distraught about the way he was treated [at Gitmo] and how he couldn’t do anything about it.” The Post also reports, through the lawyer, that al-Ajmi sustained a broken arm in a scuffle with guards. The lawyer considers this “abuse.” The possibility that al-Ajmi started the scuffle and that the guards were simply defending themselves is not entertained.

The thesis that abusive conditions at Gitmo are turning peaceable men into suicide bombers strikes me as dubious. But suppose conditions there really have been that bad. In that scenario, if we’re still serious about fighting terrorism and saving innocent lives we’d be crazy to release any of the detainees, regardless of whether we have evidence of prior involvement with terrorism, and certainly crazy to release any who have “scuffled” with guards.


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