Hassan Ghul

Hassan Ghul

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Allegedly an al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

 agent, Hassan Ghul has also been identified as a member of Ansar al-Islam
Ansar al-Islam
Ansar al-Islam is a Sunni Islamist group of Iraqis, promoting a radical interpretation of Islam, close to the official Saudi ideology of Wahhabism with strict application of Sharia. The group was formed in the northern provinces of Iraq near the Iranian border, and previously had established...

. His nationality has been reported as Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

i, Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

i or Egyptian
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...


Captured by Kurdish Military and turned over to American forces in 2004, Ghul was stated to have been as lowly as a "courier" who ran packages and delivered letters for al-Qaeda members. Ghul held such high ranks as "top lieutenant", "second-in-command" or "trusted emissary" of everyone from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi ; October 30, 1966 – June 7, 2006), born Ahmad Fadeel al-Nazal al-Khalayleh was a Jordanian militant Islamist who ran a paramilitary training camp in Afghanistan...

 to Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

 to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

He was held at a CIA
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 black site
Black site
In military terminology, a black site is a location at which an unacknowledged black project is conducted. Recently, the term has gained notoriety in describing secret prisons operated by the United States Central Intelligence Agency , generally outside of U.S. territory and legal jurisdiction. It...

 for two years, before being turned over to a Pakistani prison system. It was during this time of detainment by the CIA that Ghul surrendered the nickname al-Kuwaiti as a key piece of intelligence. The name al-Kuwaiti was questionable but the information supplied by Ghul gave intelligence operatives some interesting insight and raised speculation as to why no captured enemy combatant ever revealed the real name of Osama bin Laden's courier. The questions surrounding al-Kuwaiti are still unanswered, however, intelligence agents intercepted a satellite phone call made by Osama bin Laden's bodyguard in 2010 which led to the surveillance of a courier that in turn led intelligence operatives to Osama bin Laden's compound.


Ghul was first mentioned in the 9/11 Commission
9/11 Commission
The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, also known as the 9/11 Commission, was set up on November 27, 2002, "to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 attacks", including preparedness for and the immediate response to...

, where he was stated to have led three people, including Mushabib al-Hamlan
Mushabib al-Hamlan
An original candidate in the September 11 attacks, Mushabib al-Hamlan became involved with militancy at secondary-school in December 1999, where he attended gatherings to watch videos about the glory of Jihad and detailing the atrocities of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Yugoslav wars...

, to a waypoint controlled by Abu Zubaydah
Abu Zubaydah
Abu Zubaydah is a Saudi Arabian citizen, sentenced to death in Jordan and currently held in U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.Not neutral: Arrested in Pakistan in March 2002, he has been in US custody for more than eight years, four-and-a-half of them spent incommunicado in solitary confinement...


He was captured on January 23, 2004 by Kurdish police forces, possibly associated with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan is a Kurdish political party in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan was founded on June 1, 1975, by coordinations between Jalal Talabani and Nawshirwan Mustafa...

, at a checkpoint near Kalar
Kalar, Iraq
Kalar is a town in Iraqi Kurdistan located on Sirwan river, and to the east of Kifri and to the west of Qasri Shirin and Sarpol Zahab in Kermanshah Province in western Iran. Part of the twin towns of Smud-Kalar, Smud was renamed Rizgari after the 1991 Kurdish uprising against the Ba'ath party...

, at the Iranian border after police sent a fax
Fax , sometimes called telecopying, is the telephonic transmission of scanned printed material , normally to a telephone number connected to a printer or other output device...

 to American CIA officials to confirm his photograph. There are contradicting claims that he was caught entering Iraq to bring al-Zarqawi money and bomb schematics or that he was caught leaving Iraq bringing al-Zarqawi's progress report on successful suicide bombings into Iran.

Ghul was carrying a USB flash drive
USB flash drive
A flash drive is a data storage device that consists of flash memory with an integrated Universal Serial Bus interface. flash drives are typically removable and rewritable, and physically much smaller than a floppy disk. Most weigh less than 30 g...

 and two CDs, one allegedly including a 17-page progress report believed to have been written by al-Zarqawi, claiming responsibility for suicide attacks in Iraq. US Intelligence officials have contradicted the accepted story, stating that the progress report was instead found in an abandoned safehouse in Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

. In addition, the US military provided the media with "photocopies of the original handwritten Arabic letter" which were then translated, muddying the claim that it had been a computer document.
A notebook in his satchel also revealed a number of names and phone numbers of suspected associates.

Kurdish forces immediately turned Ghul over to the American military, and he was interrogated while still in the country.
Although he may have been cooperative with the military interrogation, his questioning revealed little.

Statements about his capture

Following his capture, Fox News reported that he had been an al-Qaeda member since the very beginning of the group, at least ten years earlier, and was widely known as The Gatekeeper "in terrorist circles", although no corroboration or other sources have supported these claims. There have been similarly unreferenced suggestions in the media that Ghul played a role in the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Africa
1998 United States embassy bombings
The 1998 United States embassy bombings were a series of attacks that occurred on August 7, 1998, in which hundreds of people were killed in simultaneous truck bomb explosions at the United States embassies in the East African capitals of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. The date of the...


Three days after his capture, Ghul was mentioned in a speech by President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....


Six days after his capture, General Ricardo Sanchez
Ricardo Sanchez
Ricardo Sanchez is a retired United States Army Lieutenant General and a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for the Senate election in 2012 for the seat of retiring Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.-Early life and education:...

 referred to Ghul stating "The capture of Ghul is pretty strong proof that al-Qaida is trying to gain a foothold [in Iraq] to continue their murderous campaigns" CIA Director George Tenet
George Tenet
George John Tenet was the Director of Central Intelligence for the United States Central Intelligence Agency, and is Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University....

 mentioned Ghul in his testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence as an al-Qaeda member who would "never again threaten the American people", after allegedly being "sent to case Iraq for an expanded al-QA`ida presence there" Columnist William Safire
William Safire
William Lewis Safire was an American author, columnist, journalist and presidential speechwriter....

 claimed it was a "smoking gun" that proved a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda.

Since then, Ghul has been a ghost detainee
Ghost detainee
Ghost detainee is an official term used by the U.S. Government to designate a person held in a detention center, whose identity has been hidden by keeping them unregistered and therefore anonymous. It was also used in the same manner by the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center at the Abu...

, his very existence unacknowledged. In June 2007, he was one of 39 people cited in a joint release by HRW
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

, Cageprisoners
Cageprisoners Ltd is a London-based human rights organization with an Islamic focus, whose stated aim is "to raise awareness of the plight of the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the War on Terror." It campaigns on behalf of Muslim prisoners, including convicted...

, Center for Constitutional Rights
Center for Constitutional Rights
Al Odah v. United States:Al Odah is the latest in a series of habeas corpus petitions on behalf of people imprisoned at the Guantanamo Bay detention center. The case challenges the Military Commissions system’s suitability as a habeas corpus substitute and the legality, in general, of detention at...

 and the New York University School of Law
New York University School of Law
The New York University School of Law is the law school of New York University. Established in 1835, the school offers the J.D., LL.M., and J.S.D. degrees in law, and is located in Greenwich Village, in the New York City borough of Manhattan....

 as prisoners who have not been accounted for, and are likely held in secret CIA Black sites
Black site
In military terminology, a black site is a location at which an unacknowledged black project is conducted. Recently, the term has gained notoriety in describing secret prisons operated by the United States Central Intelligence Agency , generally outside of U.S. territory and legal jurisdiction. It...


Some, including Hani al-Sibai
Hani al-Sibai
Hani al-Sibai , also known as Hani Mohammed Yusuf al-Siba'i and Hani al-Said al-Siba'i Yusuf...

, have suggested that "Hassan Ghul" never really existed as the US administration and military have made it appear, and it was simply a random name on a passport
A passport is a document, issued by a national government, which certifies, for the purpose of international travel, the identity and nationality of its holder. The elements of identity are name, date of birth, sex, and place of birth....


The Al-Hayat newspaper
Al-Hayat newspaper
Al-Hayat is one of the leading daily pan-Arab newspapers, with a circulation estimated over 200,000. It is the newspaper of record for the Arab diaspora and the preferred venue for liberal intellectuals who wish to express themselves to a large public....

 also published a piece, trying to determine who the US was claiming to have captured - quoting an Egyptian expert on al-Zawahiri's grop, that the only known member named Hassan was dead, having been killed in Afghanistan. They also published a piece speculating that the 2004 Irbil bombings
2004 Irbil bombings
The 2004 Irbil bombings was a double suicide attack on the offices of Kurdish political parties in Irbil, Iraq, north of Baghdad on February 2, 2004...

 may have been retribution for the Kurdish role in capturing Ghul.


In 2006, two and a half years after his capture, Ghul was transferred to a secret Pakistani prison system, where he was held alongside British suspect Rangzieb Ahmed
Rangzieb Ahmed
Rangzieb Ahmed is a British Citizen who was allegedly the highest ranking Al-Qaeda operative in the United Kingdom. Ahmed, who was a key link between British recruits and al-Qaeda leaders, was responsible for setting up a terrorist cell in Manchester, and had contacts with one of the terrorists...

. The two spoke to each other, and Ghul told him that he was held at a secret CIA location
Black site
In military terminology, a black site is a location at which an unacknowledged black project is conducted. Recently, the term has gained notoriety in describing secret prisons operated by the United States Central Intelligence Agency , generally outside of U.S. territory and legal jurisdiction. It...

for 2 1/2 years and had also passed through Morocco. He was again transferred to an unknown location in January 2007.

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