July 25, 2010
District Court Grants Another Habeas Petition
The government failed to show by a preponderance of evidence that another Yemeni detainee at Guantanamo Bay was part of al Qaeda and therefore detainable, Judge Friedman (D.D.C.) ruled in an early July opinion released on Friday. The case, Almerfedi v. Obama is notable only for the government's shockingly weak case in support of detention--a feature of at least one other recent Guantanamo case involving a Yemeni.
The government in Almerfedi argued that Almerfedi was detainable because while staying at a guesthouse in Iran he acted as an al Qaeda facilitator helping foreign fighters infiltrate Afghanistan. The government also claimed that he actively associated with Jama'at al-Tablighi, an Islamic missionary organization that provided support to terrorist organizations and foreign fighters fleeing Afghanistan--an association that "was consistent" with the government's theory that Almerfedi was an al Qaeda facilitator, the government said.
But the government failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence that Almerfedi was even in Iran at the time, much less at a guesthouse, and much less at one affiliated with al Qaeda. And the government failed to show that Jama'at al-Tablighi, as an organization, provided support to al Qaeda or the Taliban.
The government's "guesthouse theory" fell short in another recent case, Abdah v. Obama, also involving a Yemeni. (The guesthouse in Abdah was alleged to be in Pakistan.) The government's case was equally thin there, and the government engaged in extraordinary footdragging, to boot.
At the same time, the government in Almerfedi adopted the higher "part of" standard (as in part of al Qaeda, and not merely providing support to al Qaeda)--the standard it switched to in yet another recent case out of the D.C. Circuit, Bensayah v. Obama--oddly raising the bar for itself while continuing to provide only the most spurious evidence against detainees.
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