Potential 9/11 hijacker released from Guantanamo Bay, returned to Saudi Arabia for mental treatment

Families of 9/11 victims and Republicans expressed outrage when the so-called “20th 9/11 hijacker” was released from Guantanamo Bay prison and returned to Saudi Arabia for psychiatric treatment.

Potential terrorist Mohammed Ahmad al-Qahtani, 46, who allegedly missed boarding a plane to the World Trade Center because he was being held by authorities on immigration charges, has been returned to his native country, Pentagon officials said Monday.

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who sent a letter last week to President Joe Biden urging him not to go through with the release, said it was a “massive mistake that poses a risk serious for our national security”.

“Al-Qahtani is a terrorist who has made it his goal to kill Americans,” Rubio said. “I believe he remains committed to jihad and the destruction of the United States.”

“Now, because of the Biden administration’s misguided policies, he has the opportunity to return to the battlefield once again.” The decision to transfer al-Qahtani is not just an error in judgment, it is a massive mistake that poses a serious risk to our national security and the security of our allies.

Al-Qahtani’s release, which was approved last month by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, comes as the Biden administration pressures Saudi Arabia to release more oil amid the crisis in Ukraine.

Angela Mistrulli, whose father Joseph died at the World Trade Center on September 11, said she was frustrated by the lack of due process.

“I think it’s said very well to be a child of someone who was killed on 9/11 not to have a day in court for my father and the other 3,000 people who were murdered,” he said. she declared. “I find more and more that they take away their ability to pursue and get to the truth.”

In August 2001, al-Qahtani was turned away from the United States at Orlando airport by immigration officials who were suspicious of his trip. The main 9/11 hijacker, Mohammed Atta, was going to seek him out to participate in the plot, according to previously released documents.

US forces then captured him in Afghanistan and sent him to Guantanamo, where he was subjected to brutal interrogations that the Pentagon legal officer in charge of war crimes commissions says amounted to torture .

Mohammed al-Qahtani was released by US authorities and returned to Saudi Arabia for psychiatric treatment

He has been at Guantanamo for 20 years, but the charges against him were dropped years ago.

“After two decades without a trial in custody in the United States, Mohammed will now receive the psychiatric care he longs for in Saudi Arabia, with the support of his family,” said Ramzi Kassem, a law professor at City University of New York. York who represented al-Qahtani with the help of students for more than a decade. “Keeping him in Guantanamo, where he was tortured and then repeatedly attempted suicide, would have been a probable death sentence.”

Joseph Mistrulli, who was a union carpenter working for Windows on the World on 9/11, was killed in the attack.  Daughter Angela says Biden is taking away her ability to know the truth about what happened

Joseph Mistrulli, who was a union carpenter working for Windows on the World on 9/11, was killed in the attack. Daughter Angela says Biden is taking away her ability to know the truth about what happened

This treatment included beatings, exposure to extreme temperatures and noise, sleep deprivation and prolonged solitary confinement. In 2002, an FBI official observed al-Qahtani talking to nonexistent people, hearing voices, and squatting in a corner of his cell while covering himself with a sheet for hours at a time.

Al-Qahtani, who is the second Guantanamo Bay prisoner released by President Joe Biden, has suffered from schizophrenia and other mental illnesses since childhood, according to medical records.

There are now 38 prisoners still in custody at US military installations in Cuba.

However, only half of the men held there have been released and no decision has been made on what to do with the others, including those still on trial by military commission.

“It worries me that the administration is fertilizing the ground for another terrorist attack,” Mistrulli said.

The Department of Defense notified Congress of its intention to transfer al-Qahtani in February, sparking outrage among some Republicans.

Rubio and fellow Republican Senators Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Jim Risch of Indiana sent Biden a letter last week urging him not to let the Saudis go.

“We are concerned that he may attempt to resume his terrorist activities once released from US custody,” they said in their letter.

“The individuals who remain at Guantanamo are among the most dangerous terrorists in the world and have dedicated their lives to attacking Americans and our allies,” the trio wrote. “As such, they should not be given the opportunity to return to the battlefield in any role.”

Al-Qahtani was believed to have been on one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center before being arrested by immigration authorities

Al-Qahtani was believed to have been on one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center before being arrested by immigration authorities

There are now 38 prisoners still in custody at US military installations in Cuba.

There are now 38 prisoners still in custody at US military installations in Cuba.

Al-Qahtani’s lawyers won a federal court order in 2020 requiring a medical examination of the prisoner by an independent medical panel, which could have ordered his repatriation under army regulations if his doctors’ diagnosis was confirmed. . The Trump administration challenged the order, a legal fight that was dropped under Biden.

The 38 remaining prisoners at Guantanamo include 19 who have been approved for repatriation or resettlement by the review board. There are 7 others that can be reviewed. Ten prisoners are being tried by military commission, five of whom are accused of having taken part in the attacks of September 11, 2001. Their death penalty case has been stalled for years in the preliminary phase.

The other two prisoners at the base have been sentenced, one of whom, former Maryland resident Majid Khan, is set to complete his sentence under a plea deal.

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