Al-Qaeda safe house


Al-Qaeda safe house
The ruins of a reported Taliban safehouse in Khost destroyed by American and Afghan troops in December 2009.
A Soldier from Charlie Company 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment sets fire to a Taliban safehouse discovered during Operation Catamount Fury.

American intelligence analysts justify the extrajudicial detention of Guantanamo suspects because they stayed in what they characterized as an Al Qaida safe house.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8] American intelligence analysts also justify the detention of suspects who stayed in an Al Qaida guest house, a Taliban safe house or a Taliban guest house.

In the first Seton Hall report, Mark Denbeaux writes that guest houses and/or safe houses are mentioned in the evidence against 27% of detainees.[9] Denbeaux states that "In the region, the term guest house refers simply to a form of travel accommodation" and "Stopping at such facilities is common for all people traveling in the area."[9] A response to that report written by West Point's Combating Terrorism Center argued that "the Seton Hall report inaccurately defines the term ‘safe-house’ – a well-known tool leveraged by criminals and terrorists to facilitate discrete movement of associates – as an innocuous residence used by American tourists and travel agencies."[10] Denbeaux responded that the Seton Hall study had "used the Department of Defense’s terms objectively and accepted their plain meanings" and that "West Point does not provide any basis for equating guest houses and safe houses other than the obvious problem with detaining an individual in part based on his stay in a 'guest' house."[11]

The CTC report states[12] that:

Safe-houses, sometimes referred to as ‘guest-houses,’ facilitate an individual’s ability to discretely transit from one location to another by providing them with a place to spend the night, acquire resources, obtain false documentation or secure modes of transportation. Organized crime syndicates, terrorist networks and traffickers all rely on safe-houses to move people from place-to-place. They may be houses, apartments, mosques, stores, refugee camps, barracks, or any other type of infrastructure that houses individuals involved in nefarious activities. Al-Qa`ida, the Taliban and their associates have leveraged the safe-house network to great ends, particularly in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Many of these houses and apartments, which had been run for the specific purpose of ensuring safe passage for associates of those movements, have been identified by the United States in its ongoing counterterrorism operations.

Benjamin Wittes and his colleagues at the Brookings Institute noted in January 2010 that different judges reviewing the habeas petitions for different Guantanamo captives had reached conflicting conclusions on the common issue of whether an alleged stay in a suspect guest house indicated terrorist affiliation strongly enough to justify continued detention.[13] Wittes and his colleagues, in their analysis of the documents from the first 558 Combatant Status Review Tribunals, reported that continued detention was found justified for 130 Guantanamo captives at least in part because they "stayed in Al Qaeda, Taliban, or other guest- or safehouses."[14]

Joseph Felter and his colleagues, in "An Assessment of 516 Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) Unclassified Summaries", found that 24 percent of the Summary of Evidence memos, or 122 of the 516 they analyzed, justified the continued detention of a captive due to claims of stays in a suspicious guest house or safe house.[12]

References

  1. ^ Summary of Evidence Memoranda (.pdf), Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants, January 2005
  2. ^ Summary of Evidence Memoranda (.pdf), Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants, February 2005
  3. ^ Summary of Evidence Memoranda (.pdf), Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants, March 2005
  4. ^ Summary of Evidence Memoranda (.pdf), Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants, April 2005
  5. ^ Summary of Evidence Memoranda (.pdf), Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants, May 2005
  6. ^ Factors for and against continued detention (.pdf), Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants, March 3, 2006
  7. ^ Factors for and against continued detention (.pdf), Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants, March 3, 2006
  8. ^ Factors for and against continued detention (.pdf), Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants, March 3, 2006
  9. ^ a b Mark Denbeaux, Joshua Denbeaux (8 February 2006). "Report on Guantanom detainees: A Profile of 517 Detainees through Analysis of Department of Defense Data". Seton Hall University School of Law. p. 20. http://law.shu.edu/publications/guantanamoReports/guantanamo_report_final_2_08_06.pdf. 
  10. ^ Joseph Felter, Jarret Brachman (25 July 2007). "A respoonse to the Seton Hall Study: An Assessment of 516 Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) Unclassified Summaries". Combating Terrorism Center. http://www.ctc.usma.edu/csrt/CTC-CSRT-ANNEX-A.pdf. Retrieved 2010-03-27. 
  11. ^ Cageprisoners.com
  12. ^ a b Joseph Felter, Jarret Brachman (2007-07-25). "CTC Report: An Assessment of 516 Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) Unclassified Summaries". Combating Terrorism Center. Archived from the original on 2009-08-30. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ctc.usma.edu%2Fcsrt%2FCTC-CSRT-Report-072407.pdf&date=2009-08-30. "GUEST HOUSE: Evidence of staying at a guest house known or suspected to be used as a way station for individuals enroute to supporting jihad and other terrorist activities. (24% of the CSRT unclassified summaries)" 
  13. ^ Benjamin Wittes, Robert Chesney, Rabea Benhalim (2010-01-22). "The Emerging Law of Detention The Guantánamo Habeas Cases as Lawmaking*". Brookings Institute. http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/rc/papers/2010/0122_guantanamo_wittes_chesney/0122_guantanamo_wittes_chesney.pdf. Retrieved 2010-03-16. "A second unresolved matter is whether the judges ultimately will splinter more sharply in light of their varying understandings of what it means to be “part of” an AUMF-covered group, given that none of these entities much resembles a hierarchical membership organization. It is one thing to come to a consensus that membership counts to justify detention, but quite another to reach agreement as to the practical indicia of that status. Does attendance at a training camp or lodging at a sponsored guest house count? The majority in Al Bihani goes out of its way, in dicta, to suggest that either, standing alone, might suffice.57 But as noted above in connection with Judge Urbina’s Hatim decision, and as noted below in connection with a variety of other cases, at least some of the district judges insist upon much more than that.58 Moreover, should Al Bihani be reversed on the question of whether the laws of war condition the appropriate interpretation of the AUMF, we may also see significant fragmentation regarding what the laws of war have to say on both this subject and on the question of independent support." 
  14. ^ Benjamin Wittes, Zaahira Wyne (2008-12-16). "The Current Detainee Population of Guantánamo: An Empirical Study -- Executive Summary". The Brookings Institute. Archived from the original on 2010-04-28. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.brookings.edu%2F%7E%2Fmedia%2FFiles%2Frc%2Freports%2F2008%2F1216_detainees_wittes%2F1216_detainees_wittes_exec_sum.pdf&date=2010-04-28. "If the government’s allegations against detainees are uniformly credited, the following picture of the current population emerges ... 130 stayed in Al Qaeda, Taliban, or other guest- or safehouses." 

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