Military jury members condemn treatment of convicted al Qaeda terrorist, urge clemency

by mcardinal

Chris Lange, FISM News


Seven members of an eight-member military jury condemned the United States’ treatment of a former Guantánamo Bay detainee in a hand-written letter addressed to the case’s reviewing officer, according to a report by The New York Times. The letter’s signatories decried the harsh interrogation methods that were described by 41-year-old Baltimore resident-turned al Qaeda courier Majid Khan during court proceedings last week, calling them a “a stain on the moral fiber of America” and a “shame for the U.S. government.” 

“Mr. Khan was subjected to physical and psychological abuse well-beyond approved enhanced interrogation techniques, instead being closer to torture performed by the most abusive regimes in modern history,” read the letter addressed to the Arkansas National Guard’s Col. Jeffrey D. Wood, who serves as the military commission’s convening authority.

The letter goes on to cite Khan’s harsh treatment at the hands of the U.S. government as yielding “no practical value in terms of intelligence, or any other tangible benefit to U.S. interests.”

Khan, who previously pled guilty to terrorism charges, told a military jury on Friday that he endured forced feedings, forced enemas, waterboarding, and other physical torture, including sexual abuse, at “black sites” in the CIA’s overseas prison network between 2003 and 2006. Khan described interrogators as being unrelenting in their abuse, even when he tried to cooperate. “Instead, the more I cooperated, the more I was tortured,” he said. Friday’s proceedings, which took place at a Guantánamo Bay Naval base, were held to determine Khan’s sentence. 

The jurors in their letter downplayed Khan’s culpability in joining the terrorist group, claiming despair over the death of his mother at the time made him a “vulnerable target for extremist recruiting.” They also argue that Khan is no longer an extremist threat and is remorseful for his prior actions. 

“It is the view of the panel members below that clemency be granted based on the points above, as well as Mr. Khan’s continued cooperation with U.S. efforts in other, more critical prosecutions,” they wrote.

Friday’s proceedings culminated in a 26-year sentence for Khan, the lightest allowed under the court’s instructions. He is scheduled for release in February of 2022 in accordance with a prior deal.