Swedish terror suspect once held at Gitmo:
ISLAMABAD: A terror suspect recently detained in Pakistan is the same Swedish national once held by the US at Guantanamo Bay, police said Monday. He and others in his group were allegedly trying to join al-Qaeda in the country's lawless tribal areas.
The development appeared to underscore the difficulty with predicting the path Guantanamo detainees will take upon their release, with the Pentagon having acknowledged that a small but notable percentage of one-time inmates have joined, or rejoined, militant groups.
Dera Ghazi Khan police chief Mohammad Rizwan told The Associated Press that authorities made the identification after interrogating the man, Mehdi-Muhammed Ghezali.
A copy of his Swedish passport obtained by the AP showed that his face matched that of previously published photos of the man held at Guantanamo.
'I do confirm that he is the same person. He is a very dangerous man,' Rizwan said. Ghezali was arrested on the outskirts of Dera Ghazi Khan, a southern Pakistani town, on Aug. 28 along with a group of foreigners including seven Turks and three other Swedes who lacked proper immigration stamps.
A Swedish man with the same name was arrested in Pakistan in 2001 and held for two years at Guantanamo. The US released him in 2004.
Ghezali, born in Sweden to a Finnish mother and Algerian father, was reportedly part of a group of 156 suspected al-Qaida fighters arrested in 2001 by Pakistani authorities while fleeing Afghanistan's Tora Bora mountains. He has denied ties to al-Qaida and said he was in the region only to learn more about Islam.
He is believed to be about 30 years old now. The other Swedes arrested were identified as Munir Awad and Safia Benaouda and a young boy who was apparently their son, according to a police report obtained by the AP through the Interior Ministry.
Benaouda and Awad are the same names of two people who also have been in the news before. A Swede named Safia Benaouda, then 17 years old, was held by Ethiopian authorities after being taken into custody along the Somali-Kenyan border in 2007.
She told a Swedish newspaper that she was interrogated for weeks by white foreigners and asked about extremism in Sweden. A man named Munir Awad was identified as her fiance.
The Benaouda who was held in Ethiopia is the daughter of Helena Benaouda, chairwoman of the Swedish Muslim Council.
In Sweden, where the arrests have made headlines, Helena Benaouda told the tabloid Expressen over the weekend that she had not been able to reach her daughter, whom she thought was in Saudi Arabia.
'She is supposed to be in Mecca to celebrate Ramadan. But now I haven't been able to reach her by telephone and as a mother and grandmother I am now very worried,' she was quoted as saying. 'If it turns out that this is my daughter I will obviously seek an explanation to this.'
The police report obtained by the AP says the detained group had entered Pakistan from Iran and had planned to travel to North Waziristan, a lawless, militant-riddled tribal area along the Afghan border, to join al-Qaida operatives hiding there.
The Swedish Foreign Ministry declined to offer immediate comment on Monday, though Sweden has confirmed that three of its citizens were arrested in August by Pakistani police.
Swedish lawyer Peter Althin, who represented Ghezali and his family during his time in Guantanamo, said Ghezali's father had once again asked him to represent his son if the identification pans out.
'My assignment will be the same as last time. I will assist the family with contacts with the foreign ministry and make sure that he is either released or given a trial and a legal representative in Pakistan,' he told AP. 'The important thing is that he is given a lawyer and a chance to defend himself in a fair way.'
The Pentagon said it was working on issuing a comment. In May, the Pentagon said 5 per cent of Guantanamo Bay detainees were believed to have participated in terrorist activities since their release and an additional 9 per cent are believed to have joined, or rejoined, the fight against the US and its allies.
The Defense Department said 74 of approximately 540 detainees who had been released at that point had taken up the fight, or were suspected of doing so.
The Pentagon said it had fingerprints, DNA, photos or reliable intelligence to link 27 detainees to the fight since their release.
The other 47 detainees were believed to be involved with terrorist activity because of what the Pentagon described as significant reporting or analysis, or unverified but plausible information from a single source. -APhttp://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/daw ... lice-rs-09