WASHINGTON — A Justice Department lawyer mentioned in federal court docket on Monday that, even because the Pentagon is withdrawing all troops from Afghanistan, the United States has the authority to proceed to detain a former Afghan militia member at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as a result of of his previous affiliation with members of Al Qaeda.
“We remain at war with Al Qaeda,” the lawyer, Stephen M. Elliott, mentioned at the beginning of listening to in U.S. District Court in Washington in a case introduced by Asadullah Haroon Gul, an Afghan citizen who has been held by the U.S. navy since 2007.
The listening to was the primary in a Guantánamo habeas corpus case for the reason that Biden administration took workplace, and its protection of his detention appeared an identical to the positions taken by earlier administrations, regardless of President Biden’s order to withdraw all U.S. fight troops from Afghanistan and his said ambition to shut the Guantánamo detention operation.
Mr. Elliott mentioned Al Qaeda is “morphing and evolving” and that the U.S. “war on terrorism” continues.
Mr. Haroon, who’s about 40, was captured by Afghan forces whereas serving as a commander of the Hezb-i-Islami militia, generally known as HIG, which fought the American and allied invasion of Afghanistan together with the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
His legal professionals argue that his battle led to 2016 when the militia made peace with the U.S.-allied Afghan authorities of President Ashraf Ghani. The international ministry of Afghanistan has filed a quick within the case looking for his return.
Most of the listening to, anticipated to final 5 to eight days, is closed to each the general public and the detainee as a result of the substance is taken into account categorized. Mr. Haroon was permitted to pay attention to the opening arguments by way of a telephone line from Guantánamo that broke at least as soon as, requiring a prolonged recess.
Before holding a session in open court docket on Monday, Judge Amit P. Mehta left his bench in Washington, D.C., to preside in a closed portion of the listening to at a safe facility in Virginia, with Mr. Haroon addressing the decide by video.
“I am not a terrorist,” he mentioned in an announcement launched by his legal professionals. “I am an Afghan.”
In the closed portion of the hearings, authorities legal professionals intend to make use of U.S. intelligence accounts of Mr. Haroon’s interrogations to defend his persevering with detention. Mr. Elliott mentioned U.S. intelligence studies linked him to 3 Qaeda leaders now held at Guantánamo, beginning along with his attendance at a younger age, apparently within the early Nineteen Nineties, at seminars sponsored by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who’s accused of being the mastermind of the assaults of Sept. 11, 2001.
Proof that Mr. Haroon had engaged in hostilities is just not needed, Mr. Elliott added.
“He is not and has never been a part of Al Qaeda, nor has he provided substantial support for them,” mentioned Tara J. Plochocki, a lawyer for Mr. Haroon. His household fled the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and he grew up in a refugee camp in Pakistan, which was run by the HIG militia. In combating for the militia, she mentioned, he was serving as a commander within the “Afghan national force.”
She referred to as him so “insignificant” that he didn’t handle to get a lawyer to symbolize him at Guantánamo till 2016. As a end result, she mentioned, he “missed out on the last waves of discretionary releases” of the Obama administration.
All however 40 of the 780 males who’ve been held at Guantánamo have been launched, she mentioned, “including many actual members of Al Qaeda. No Taliban are left. No HIG members.”
Federal court docket judges have been listening to illegal detention challenges for the reason that George W. Bush administration, however that is the primary listening to in a Guantánamo case to be dealt with by Judge Mehta, an appointee of President Barack Obama. Under the present timetable, the court docket may reopen the listening to for unclassified closing arguments on May 28.