Khaled Qasim

To my knowledge, no one related to me by blood or marriage stands on the street and cries “No More Torture, No More War;” dresses in an orange jumpsuit in public places to remind people that the US holds prisoners in torture camps; nor writes in lucid English prose on the internet for all to read that US policies are unjust and illegal and that the US needs to be charged and investigated for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Even though what I am doing is protected under the US Constitution as exercising my rights to free speech and free assembly and should never cause problems, I would hate for anyone related to me by blood or marriage to be held accountable in this increasingly repressive country for what I do and say.  This would be quilt by association and is clearly illegal in US law, though it is practiced regularly these days.

The US is holding one of the prisoners in the Guantanamo torture camp at least in part because of his relationship to someone who may have committed aggressive acts against the US.

Many of the prisoners at the Guantanamo torture camp have never engaged in any aggression against anyone, the proverbial “I never even killed a chicken” being a true statement for many of these men and boys.  On this blog we have also seen stories of what Andy Worthington called “foot soldiers,” persons who were engaged at low levels, for instance, in the ongoing decades’ long combat among warlords in Afghanistan.  Many of them never committed any aggression against the US.  There are also some men who sought training to defend Muslims against attack by anyone.  Some of these young men were horrified to find the combat among Muslin groups in Afghanistan and refused to take arms against other Muslims.  They wanted to fight for their religion not against others who practice it.  Most of these also never committed any acts of war against the US.

Even a cursory look at the policy of the US will reveal that it can appear to be making war on Muslims, regardless of what it says.  And, there are people in the US, witness the recent Quran burning fundamentalist Christians, who think the US should use its armed forces to fight Muslims.  These sorts of US citizens were cynically exploited by the likes of Karl Rove and continue to be today.  In a disquieting development, there are racist extremists in Europe who are also making themselves known.  The UK and French actions in Libya get the political support of such persons.  A recently passed and very controversial law in France denies women the right to wear in public the kind of burka that completely covers the face.  There is no doubt that some people in the rich countries of the West are anti-Muslim and that rich countries of the West, the US most prominently, but not exclusively, have invaded and occupied Muslim countries.

It is easy for me in my safe and comfortable life in New York to think that the best options for all disputes and conflicts are talking and peaceful resistance.  I do not want, however, to be too judgmental of men who doubt that talking to the US with its bombs, drones, and other arms, and its thousand bases all over the world is even worth trying and who choose to resist armed aggression with armed defense.  My lawyer friend David often calls these people in the Middle East “freedom fighters.”  He remarks that if some entity invaded the US, many here, especially due to the massive numbers of arms in private hands, would feel justified in fighting however they chose to.  Oddly, some of those same people do not have the least understanding and compassion for the Muslims who have been invaded and ARE occupied, who take up arms to resist.

There are prisoners in Guantanamo who appear to be among these last.  Most of them are the “foot soldier” sort.  Few high level organizers of armed resistance have been captured by the US because Dick Cheney allowed many of the higher level persons in this category to be airlifted safely to Pakistan, as Scott Horton described.  You can read his remarks in this post.

In the remainder of this post is another story of a low level soldier in the war to defend his religion and his culture.  It appears that Khaled Qasim from Yemen is the brother of one of the persons apprehended by the Yemenis in connection with the attack on the USS Cole.

I know that US law has failed absolutely to find out the truth about many, many Muslim men and some women whom it has shamefully imprisoned and tortured without due process of law.  What legal procedures some have had access to amount to little more than kangaroo courts.  I know that about the US.  I have no idea what the quality of legal proceedings might be in Yemen, so I can’t say what Khaled Qasim‘s brother might or might not have actually done.  Even if he were guilty of attacking the USS Cole, that does not mean that Khaled has any involvement in aggression of any sort against the US.

According to the excellent report of Andy Worthington, US authorities at the kangaroo courts at Guantanamo allege that Khalid wanted to fight in Kashmir where Muslims were being killed.  He is said to have responded to a “fatwa” or legal opinion of a Muslim scholar who must have urged people to defend the faith in this way.  Khaled traveled to Afghanistan in 1999, may have attended the training at al-Farouq and may have spent time on the Taliban front lines.  It is important once again to remember that the Taliban, always in conflict with other Afghan warlords, were the official government of Afghanistan at the time.

US allegations in those extra legal proceedings at Guantanamo reported by Worthington allege that Khaled was “‘identified as an al-Qaeda instructor,’ who trained fighters at ‘an unidentified location’ near Bagram,'” and “‘was in charge of a group at Tora Bora’ and that he ‘has been identified as somebody who is experienced in explosives.'”  As usual, no evidence to back up such allegations has ever been produced.  And, once again, even if this were true, was Khaled Qasim ever engaged in aggression against the US?  And if he were fighting with the Taliban who had been invaded, does this constitute anything but defending the country where he lived?  Is it not appropriate for the military of an invaded country to respond?

Under the Geneva Conventions, soldiers must be well treated if captured and must be returned to their country when the war ends.  If Khaled Qasim was in fact a soldier of the Taliban, that regime was defeated nearly a decade ago.  He and the others accused of fighting against the US troops which invaded his country should long since have been released.  He should never have been tortured, removed to a foreign country, and held without contact with his family.  He should never have even been humiliated.

That he has been makes the US the perpetrator of war crimes.

I join in demanding that real international justice be done for Khaled Qasim and all the prisoners at Guantanamo.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.