Guantanamo inmate to be released

Abdulrahim Al Janko, a Guantanamo detainee, was picked up by the U.S. military in 2002 in an Afghan prison renowned for its extremely grim conditions. He was allegedly suspected by the Taliban and Al Qaeda of being an American spy and for 18 months was subjected to severe interrogation and torture in Afghanistan.

It is said that Mr. Janko – the name by which he is now known – was eager to share his nightmarish stories of Al Qaeda with the Americans, but he wasn’t given much of a chance. Instead, he was shipped off to Guantanamo because the Americans had him pegged as an Al Qaeda operative. At Guantanamo, he went through another round of severe interrogations, this time at the hands of the very folk he was previously accused of spying for.

But after 7+ years in Guantanamo, Mr. Janko may finally be released from the nightmare in which he’s been accused of being an enemy of both Al Qaeda and the U.S. – not an enviable position.

Last Monday, a Washington federal judge ruled in favor of Mr. Janko’s release, stating that the U.S. government should “take all necessary and appropriate diplomatic steps to facilitate his release forthwith.”

It was unclear whether Mr. Janko had gotten word of the ruling as even though he was supposed to be listening to it in real-time via telephone, the line apparently went dead just before the crucial news was delivered.

Janko is originally from Syria but was living with his family in the UAE when an argument with his dad prompted him towards Afghanistan, where he spent 18 days in an Al Qaeda training camp before having the misfortune of being taken for a U.S. spy. But if this twist of fate hadn’t occurred, wouldn’t he now be a bona fide anti-American member of Al Qaeda…?

Al Qaeda training camp cartoon

The battle to win his freedom from Guantanamo has been a long one, and his lawyers have argued that he cannot be an enemy combatant of both the U.S. and Al Qaeda. U.S. government lawyers, meanwhile,  maintain that the 2.5 weeks spent in an Al Qaeda training camp constitute sufficient reason for Janko’s continued detention.

Given that these 18 days were followed by 18 months of torture at the hands of Al Qaeda, the judge said that the government’s argument “defies common sense.” Ouch.

In fact, in a 13-page order, the judge wrote that the evidence “overwhelmingly leads this court to conclude that the relationship that existed in 2000 – such as it was – no longer existed whatsoever in 2002 when Janko was taken into [US] custody.”

image courtesy of cagle cartoons

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