[JURIST] A confirmed al Qaeda member and Osama bin Laden [JURIST news archives] associate was released [DOD press release] from Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] and returned to his native Sudan on Wednesday after more than a decade of detention. Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi [DOD materials; JURIST news archive], 50, was released under the terms of a 2010 plea arrangement [JURIST report] in which he admitted to supporting al Qaeda since 1996 in their hostilities against the US, acting as the terrorist group’s cook and accountant in the 1990s and as a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden in later years. Al Qosi was also accused of being Bin Laden’s driver and helping him escape to the mountains of Afghanistan after the US invasion in 2001. Al Qosi is well known as the first Guantanamo detainee to be tried by military tribunal under revised rules [AFP report] introduced by the administration of President Barack Obama. His original 14-year sentence was reduced as a result of the plea arrangement in 2010, and al Qosi reportedly arrived in Khartoum via US military aircraft early Wednesday morning. The US imposed sanctions on Sudan in 1997, partly for its support of international terrorism.
Al Qosi was detained at Guantanamo since he was transferred there from Afghanistan in 2002. In 2010 Andrea Prasow, senior counter-terrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch [advocacy website], used the al Qosi trial to point out flaws in the military commission system [JURIST op-ed], writing that the players constituting the tribunal that tried al Qosi in Guantanamo had created their own “mini-justice system” to replace the broken system they had originally been handed. In December 2009 a military judge ruled that the US government could partially amend the charges [JURIST report] against al Qosi by changing his jurisdictional basis but could not include four additional years of alleged activities under the charges. In October of that year military judges granted continuances [JURIST report] for prosecutors in the case.