Counter-Terrorism: Catch and Release Doesn't Work


July 30, 2007: In the past week, a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay blew himself up rather than be captured by Pakistani security police. This was the latest released detainee to have returned to combat on the side of al Qaeda, and been caught in the act. In essence, this incident is just the latest example of why these detainees should not have access to normal courts, and it also should refute claims from many human rights groups about the detainees.

In the past, over a dozen other released detainees have returned to fight for al Qaeda. One of the most notable was Rasul Kudayev, detained by Russian security forces for his part in planning attacks on police in the Kabardino-Balkariya region in the Northern Caucasus, which killed 45 people (not counting the 94 attackers). The U.S. Department of Defense is aware of at least a dozen other terror suspects who have been re-captured, having re-joined al Qaeda in its fight against coalition forces in the war on terror.

This is something often ignored in the media, which has pushed the "prisoner abuse" issue at Guantanamo Bay and in Iraq (most notably the Abu Ghraib scandal). Human rights groups will probably not discuss the 45 deaths that a former detainee is responsible for, nor will they even admit that there is another side to the issue of detainees. In fact, they will continue to work to get these terrorists access to courts, which now forces the U.S. to make a decision. Do they withhold evidence, and risk the terrorists going free - possibly to carry out more attacks, or do they put them on trial, and risk aiding al-Qaeda's counterintelligence efforts?

Another detainee of note was an Iraqi who was captured in Pakistan in 2002. This was an al Qaeda operative, who, according to an evidence summary released after a Freedom of Information Act request in 2005, was supposed to work with an Iraqi intelligence officer in carrying out a chemical mortar attack on the U.S. and British embassies in Pakistan in August 1998.

Guards at Guantanamo Bay have also been attacked over 400 times - often with bodily fluids. Many abuse reports have been generally discredited (in the isolated cases where mistreatment did occur, corrective action was taken). For instance, a detainee was responsible for the Koran-flushing incident that led to riots in 2005. The media and human rights groups also failed to mention that in some of the cases where abuse was alleged, there was provocation (in one instance, a detainee spat on a female interrogator).

The media campaign against Guantanamo Bay waged by human rights groups is one that has been remarkably resilient in the face of facts, and seems to take the word of terrorists at face value - despite the fact that al-Qaeda manuals instruct captured members to falsely claim torture. Given that detainees have returned to the fight, the results of Amnesty International's campaign for the rights of terrorists could have a profoundly negative effect on the human rights of innocent people. - Harold C. Hutchison (


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