Rabat - In a seemingly rare admission of the failure of its intelligence services, the US government has publicly conceded that its central allegation against a former Moroccan Guantanamo prisoner turned out to be unreliable and was withdrawn in 2011.
Rabat – In a seemingly rare admission of the failure of its intelligence services, the US government has publicly conceded that its central allegation against a former Moroccan Guantanamo prisoner turned out to be unreliable and was withdrawn in 2011.
Younous Chekkouri was held without charge or trial in Guantanamo for 14 years before being transferred to Morocco last month. He is currently detained in Sale prison, near Rabat, awaiting his release.
But a letter released on Wednesday by the US Justice Department and published by CNN Arabia, said the Justice Department decided to drop almost every allegation it had originally made against Younous Chekkouri.
In the letter, the US Department of State concedes that several years ago the US “withdrew all reliance” on “all evidence identifying Chekkouri with the group known as Group Islamique Combatant Maroc, GICM.”
Known in English as the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, the group is designated a terrorist organization by Washington and is said to have supported Al-Qaeda’s war against the West.
The concession, which was made during a US habeas corpus case brought by Chekkouri with the help of the human rights organization Reprieve, confirms that the evidence used to make the allegation was unreliable.
During those proceedings, Chekkouri explained in federal court that the information resulted from a mixture of the torture of himself and other prisoners, as well as stories fabricated by informers within Guantanamo who concocted false stories about hundreds of other prisoners in order to win better treatment in the prison.
“The US government hates to admit it made a mistake holding Younous Chekkouri for 14 years without charge on the basis of a false allegation, but that’s just what this letter means,” said Cori Crider, a director at Reprieve and lawyer for Chekkouri.
“The core of their case against him for years was that he was a founder of this Moroccan group – and, as the government now admits, we knocked that falsehood back years ago,” Cori Crider concluded.
Chekkouri was captured by Pakistani police in December 2001 as he fled Afghanistan with other suspected al-Qaida fighters, and was turned over to the United States.