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US transfers Guantanamo Bay detainee to Belize

<i>SYLVIE LANTEAUME/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>The US has transferred a Guantanamo Bay detainee who was convicted of terrorism offenses in 2012 to Belize
AFP via Getty Images
SYLVIE LANTEAUME/AFP/Getty Images
The US has transferred a Guantanamo Bay detainee who was convicted of terrorism offenses in 2012 to Belize

By Haley Britzky, CNN

The US has transferred a Guantanamo Bay detainee who was convicted of terrorism offenses in 2012 to Belize, the Pentagon announced on Thursday.

Majid Khan, a Pakistani citizen and US resident, who went to high school in Baltimore, was captured in 2003 and was held for more than three years at secret CIA prisons known as “black sites.” He was transferred to the US military prison in Cuba in 2006.

“Majid Khan pled guilty before a Military Commission in February 2012. Pursuant to the terms of the plea agreement, Khan pledged to cooperate with the U.S. Government and honored his cooperation commitment,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “He was sentenced in 2021 to a term of confinement for over 10 years with credit for the years he spent cooperating with U.S. personnel. He has subsequently completed his sentence.”

The Biden administration has promised to close the prison which currently holds 34 detainees, 20 of whom are eligible for transfer, according to the Pentagon’s Thursday statement.

Khan lived in the US from 1996 to early 2002 and was suspected of assisting al Qaeda in planning attacks on the US and elsewhere. Authorities believed he joined al Qaeda after the attacks on September 11, 2001.

He was accused of working for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has been called the mastermind behind 9/11, and conspiring with him to blow up underground storage tanks at gas stations in the US; traveling to Pakistan from Baltimore with fraudulently obtained travel documents; traveling to Thailand to give $50,000 of al Qaeda funds to an affiliate group, which was later used to fund a 2003 bombing of the J.W. Marriot Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia; and recording a martyr video and preparing to bomb a mosque where Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was anticipated to be. The plan ultimately failed.

In 2012, Khan was found guilty of conspiracy, spying, murder in violation of the law of war, attempted murder in violation of the law of war, and providing material for terrorism.

In 2021 a US military panel asked for clemency in his case, saying in a letter obtained by CNN that the treatment Khan has experienced while in US custody over the past almost two decades was “an affront to American values and concept of justice.”

“Although designated an ‘alien unprivileged enemy belligerent,’ not technically afforded the rights of US citizens, the complete disregard for the foundational concepts upon which the Constitution was founded is an affront to American values and concepts of justice,” the letter said.

According to the Defense Department release, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin notified Congress of his intent to transfer Khan to Belize on December 22.

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