WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Ex-Gitmo Detainees Edition
Much ado has been made about the five Taliban commanders released from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for prisoner of war Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
The 10 facts you need to know about each one of “The Five” are out there. But you may be wondering: Whatever happened to the other prisoners who traded a cell in Gitmo for a life on the outside?
The Daily Caller investigates.
Abdallah Saleh al-Ajmi first came to Gitmo in 2002, after he was arrested in Pakistan in late 2001. Just 23, al-Ajmi had not yet distinguished himself. His career at Gitmo was also unremarkable, although he did sustain a broken arm along the way in a scuffle with the guards.
In late 2005, he traded Guantanamo for the custody of the Kuwaiti government, and in 2006 stood trial in a Kuwaiti court. He was subsequently released and apparently spent at least one night fathering a child before heading to Iraq by way of Syria to take up terrorism and enter the nest of apostasy.
Al-Ajmi’s long-fomenting plot to blow himself up and kill a bunch of people was finally realized in 2008.
On March 23 — Easter Sunday — al-Ajmi drove a pickup with 5,000 to 10,000 pounds of explosives onto an Iraqi army base outside Mosul and blew himself up, killing 13 Iraqi soldiers and wounding 42 others.
Al-Ajmi’s remains are scattered in Iraq.
Said Mohammad Alim Shah, aka Abdullah Mahsud, first came onto the Gitmo scene after surrendering to U.S. forces in Afghanistan in December 2001. He hung out in a cell for a few years, and was fitted with a prosthetic leg, before making his way back to Afghanistan in 2004.
A few months later, he kidnapped two Chinese engineers, claimed responsibility for an Islamabad hotel bombing, and then retreated into relative obscurity for a few years. But he burst back onto the scene in April, 2007, when he directed a suicide bombing in Pakistan that killed 31 people.
Later that year he made his exit, when he blew himself up to avoid capture by Pakistani forces.
Mahsud’s remains are scattered in Pakistan.
Abu Sufyan al-Azdi al-Shihri, aka Abu Sufyan al-Azdi, had a relatively long career at Gitmo. He spent six years there before returning to Saudi Arabia in late 2007.
He opted to join the Yemen branch of al-Qaida, which apparently went pretty well until he came into contact with a U.S. drone in 2013. Al-Azdi was not able to survive the injuries he sustained in the meeting, which was his second and final interaction with a U.S. drone.
Al-Azdi’s remains are scatted in Yemen.
Mazin Salih Musaid al-Alawi al-Awfi’s career got off to a rough start.
He apparently quit high school after failing a bunch of mid-term exams in 1998. He messed around for a year, joined the Saudi police force, and then quit that too. He finally found his place when he joined the Taliban, but was soon captured by Pakistani forces and transferred to U.S. custody in 2001.
While at Gitmo, he threw an orange at a guard and scribbled out some words in a library book.
In 2007, he returned to Saudi Arabia, and connected with fellow ex-detainee Abu Sufyan al-Azdi al-Shihri. The pair announced their leadership within a newly established al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
Today, al-Awfi is leading an al-Qaida group in the Arabian Peninsula, which is seemingly the first successful thing he’s done in his life.
Ibrahim Shafir Sen left Turkey for Afghanistan in search of business opportunities and a wife, but changing circumstances led him to Gitmo. He was captured in 2002, when he attempted to flee Afghanistan before the Taliban government fell.
In 2003, Sen managed to convince his captors he did not pose a future threat, and returned to Turkey. In the next five years, Sen became a leader of al-Qaida cells there. He recruited and trained new members, provided illegal weapons to the group, and helped jihadists move around.
In 2008, Sen was arrested and indicted in Turkey.
Today, Sen is sitting in a cell somewhere plotting his next move.
8. Yousef Muhammed Yaaqoub, aka Mullah Shahzada’s early life and capture are shrouded in relative obscurity, but when he left Gitmo in May 2003, he was definitely able to make his mark.
He became a Taliban commander in southern Afghanistan and successfully organized a jailbreak in Kandahah. His career was short-lived, as he died fighting U.S. forces in 2004, but his memorial in Pakistan drew many Taliban leaders.
Today, Shahzada is dead.
Mohammed bin Ahmad Mizouz has kept a low profile in his career so far. He left Gitmo behind in July 2004 for his home country of Morocco, where he linked up with another former detainee Ibrahim bin Shakaran to recruit for al-Qaida in Iraq.
The pair were convicted for their recruiting actions in September 2007, and Mizouz served a two-year sentence and was then released.
Today, Mizouz is presumably somewhere recruiting someone to do something.
Ibrahim Bin Shakaran appeared at Gitmo after fighting on the front lines against the U.S. in Afghanistan in 2001. Despite his status as a high-risk detainee, he managed to secure his release to Moroccan custody in 2004.
He immediately returned to the fight with his buddy Mizouz, but his plan to establish a jihadist organization within Morocco was cut short when he, too, was convicted in 2007. He served six years of his 10-year sentence in a Moroccan prison.
Shortly after his release, Shakaran was killed while waging jihad alongside al-Qaida and its allies in Syria. His death sparked an outpouring of grief on the Internet, disproportionate to his status as the leader of just a few hundred.
Today, Shakaran is dead, but remains a hero to lot of terrible people.
Moazzam Begg drifted toward radical Islam as a young man growing up in Birmingham, England, and eventually began financially supporting Muslim fighters and the Taliban. He first appeared at Gitmo in 2002. His career there was relatively lackluster, but he did write a poem about his experience titled “Homeward Bound.”
In 2005, Begg overcame the concerns of the FBI, CIA and the Pentagon, and was released to the U.K. Post-prison. There, his writing and activist career really took off.
From 2006 to 2012, he wrote periodically for the Guardian, and as director of prisoner rights organization, Cageprisoners, he has lectured around the U,K, on important issues, such as imprisonment without trial. In 2006, he published a book titled, “Enemy Combatant,” which received some critical acclaim.
In 2009, he planned to star in an Xbox game, but the project failed, because enough people were upset about it. In the game, the player would have had to shoot his way out of the prison to bring down his captors, or be subjected to torture and scientific experiments.
Begg’s career took another turn in February of this year, when British police counter-terrorism forces announced his arrest. His next hearing is set for July in London, where he will face charges of helping terrorists in Syria.
Today, Begg is sitting in a cell in the U.K., possibly writing a poem and definitely planning his next book.