Attorney: Gitmo plea deal pledge broken

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The attorney for a former al-Qaida cook said Monday that the government did not deliver on a promise that led him to plead guilty to supporting terrorism, and she said that could discourage other inmates at Guantanamo from reaching deals with prosecutors.

Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al-Qosi of Sudan was removed from a communal-living compound over the weekend, and placed in more isolated confinement, despite a recommendation in the plea agreement that he stay, a Pentagon official said.

His defense attorney, Navy Cmdr. Suzanne Lachelier, said the move could make other detainees reluctant to accept plea deals.

“The prosecutors put themselves out on a limb by promising something that they didn’t have the power to grant,” she said. “Is it going to have a chilling effect? Possibly.”

There was no guarantee that al-Qosi would stay in the prison camp reserved for the most cooperative detainees, but that was the recommendation of the Pentagon official who oversees the tribunal system and prosecutors made personal pledges to ensure that it happened.

However, the joint military task force running the detention center insisted that prisoners held as punishment for crimes must be kept apart from detainees held only as enemy combatants.

“As has been the practice with previous detainees convicted by a military commission and serving punitive sentences, al-Qosi is no longer housed with detainees held solely as a function of the law of war,” said Army Maj. Tanya Bradsher, a Pentagon spokeswoman. She declined further comment.

Al-Qosi, 50, had been held in Camp 4, a section of the prison where detainees live in communal, dorm-like units and can spend the day outdoors.

Lachelier said the only information she received Monday from Joint Task Force Guantanamo about her client’s new whereabouts is that he was locked up with the only other convict at Guantanamo — al-Qaida media chief Ali Hamza al-Bahlul.

Al-Qosi, she said, would prefer not to be confined with al-Bahlul, an unrepentant militant who was sentenced in 2008 to life in prison after boycotting his own trial.

“To the extent that he doesn’t want to socialize with somebody who’s that militant, he’s going to end up isolated,” she said.

Al-Qosi was only the fourth Guantanamo detainee to be convicted. He acknowledged in the plea agreement that he followed Osama bin Laden after the al-Qaida leader’s expulsion from Sudan in 1996 and worked as a cook for his entourage in Afghanistan.

He also had been accused of acting as accountant, paymaster, and supply chief for al-Qaida during the 1990s when the terror network was centered in Sudan and Afghanistan.

The sealed part of the agreement covers even his sentence, so it is unclear how much longer he will remain in custody.

At the time of his sentencing on Aug. 11, the judge granted 60 days for officials to determine where he might be held. Lachelier said she was hoping to negotiate opportunities for al-Qosi to socialize with detainees in Camp 4.

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