Detainee in Guantanamo makes a case for release.

WASHINGTON : First prisoner tortured by waterboarding says he poses no threat to the U.S.

OVER 16 years in American custody, Abu Zubaydah has come to symbolize, perhaps more than other prisoner, how fear of terrorism after the September 11. 2001, attacks changed the United States.

He was the first detainee to be water-boarded, and his brutal torture was documented in a Senate's report.

He is among those held without charges and with no likelihood of a trial. The government admitted long ago that he was never the top leader of AI Qaeda it claimed he was at the time of his capture in 2002, but-

It insists that he may still be dangerous.

In all that time, Mr. Zubaydah, now 47, was never seen by the outside world. That changed in August, 2016, as his calm face was beamed via video feed from the Guantanamo Bay military prison to a Pentagon conference room. 

In a long-postponed hearing, he argued, through a statement read by a uniformed soldier, that he posed no threat and should be released.

A profile prepared by the Defense Department also read out aloud, concluded with unsettling  ambiguity that he ''probably retains an extremist mind-set''.

The occasion was Mr. Zubaydah's first appearance before a Periodic Review Board, convened under the military detention system to determine whether a prisoner would pose a danger if released.

Under the convoluted rules that govern inmates at Guantanamo, Mr. Zubaydah did not speak during the open part of the hearing. But in the statement summarazing his views, Mr. Zubaydah declared that he ''has no desire or intent to harm the United States or any other country.''

Musing about what appeared to be a still-distinct prospect, he said he wanted to be reunited with his family and ''has some seed money that could be used for start a business.''

A dozen reporters and human rights advocates and activists watched the live video of the 17-minute unclassified part of the proceeding.

No member of the public other than his lawyers had seen Mr. Zubaydah since his March 2002 capture in Pakistan, after a shootout in which he was badly injured.

Mr. Zubaydah may have spoken during the classified part of the hearing that followed an open session and was expected to last for several hours.
A notice posted afterward, at the time, said he had decided he did not want the redacted transcript made public.

The review panel, comparable to a civilian parole board, is composed of representatives of six security agencies who participated in the hearing from an undisclosed location in the Washington area.

But the reality to consider is that when he was shot and taken into American custody six months after  September 11 terrorist attacks, he was the first significant suspect captured in an increasingly desperate global C.I.A. manhunt.

At the time, American intelligence officials wrongly concluded that he was a top ranking leader of AI Qaeda who might have knowledge of coming plots.


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