US to release al Qaeda operative from Guantanamo Bay
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Majid Khan was sentenced by a U.S. military jury last October to serve 26 years in prison, starting from the time he first pleaded guilty to war crimes Feb. 28, 2012. Khan pleaded guilty to delivering $50,000 from Pakistan to an al Qaeda affiliate that used the funds to blow up a Marriott hotel in Indonesia in 2003 and kill an estimated 12 people.
An American flag behind a barbed wire fence at Guantanamo Bay. (Maren Hennemuth/picture alliance via Getty Images)
All of that now changes after Convening Authority for Military Commissions Jeffrey D. Wood followed recommendations from a military panel and reduced Khan's sentence to ten years, meaning his sentence concluded on March 1 and Khan will soon be released from Guantanamo Bay.
"Pursuant to a 2021 modification to the original 2012 pre-trial agreement, the convening authority agreed to reduce the sentence to 11-14 years," the Department of Defense noted. "Additionally, Mr. Khan received one year of credit off his sentence from a military judge in the case."
As for where Khan will end up, that question remains unanswered. He is one of 38 detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay. Under current law, Guantanamo detainees cannot be taken to the United States. A lawyer for Khan, J. Wells Dixon, has urged the Biden administration to "transfer him promptly to a safe third country," according to The New York Times.
Flags fly at half-staff at Camp Justice at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, in honor of the U.S. service members and other victims killed in the terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, (AP)
Khan is also a Pakistani citizen, but his attorneys have concluded that he cannot be sent there because his life could be threatened after his guilty plea made him a U.S. government witness.
"There is no basis left to continue to hold Majid Khan at Guantanamo," Dixon said, according to the Times. "The United States must send him to a safe, third country where he can be reunited with his wife and his daughter, who he never met."
Last October, Khan offered details to military jurors about the treatment he received from the CIA, saying at the time, "I thought I was going to die." Khan alleged that he was suspended from the ceiling nude and doused with cold water so he would stay awake. He also described instances of being close to death, telling the jurors that he had his head held underwater to the point of near-drowning.
Following the allegations, more than half of the jurors who heard Khan's remarks sent a letter to the convening authority and suggested that he receive clemency.
In this April 17, 2019, photo, reviewed by U.S. military officials, the control tower is seen through the razor wire inside the Camp VI detention facility in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
The 38 remaining prisoners at Guantanamo now include 20 who have been approved for repatriation or resettlement by the review board.
Earlier this week, the Defense Department announced that a Saudi prisoner at Guantanamo Bay detention center who was suspected of trying to join the 9/11 hijackers has been sent back to his home country for treatment for mental illness.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.