July 23, 2010 | The Weekly Standard

Al Qaeda’s Matchmaking Service

How many Gitmo detainees traveled to Afghanistan to find a wife? A fair number, if you accept their cover stories at face value, something only a fool would do.

Abdul Rahman Abdul Abu Ghityh Sulayman (ISN # 223) claimed during his hearings at Gitmo that a recruiter in his native Yemen convinced him to travel to Afghanistan to find a wife and live in a house supplied by the Taliban. Earlier this week, a district judge rejected his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. As I’ve written before, the district judges’ rulings in habeas proceedings suffer from many deficiencies. But in this case the judge didn’t fall for Abdul Sulayman’s transparently absurd cover story.

Here is an excerpt from the transcript of Abdul Sulayman’s Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) at Gitmo:

Q: Why would you want to go all the way to Afghanistan to find a wife, if you could find one in your home country?A: Because of poverty. They say that you can go to certain countries and they’ll give you a house, even though it’s an old house, and some financial assistance to get married. That’s without having to contribute anything at all. It’s a charity type of thing from these people. If you put yourself in my shoes, what would you do?

That’s not what Abdul Sulayman was really doing in Afghanistan, of course. The declassified files released from Gitmo indicate he received weapons training and fought on the front lines before retreating to the Tora Bora Mountains in late 2001. During his CSRT, Abdul Sulayman conceded that he was on the rear lines of fighting (denying that he was on the front lines) and offered a lame excuse for his weapons training. The CSRT read this allegation out loud: “The Detainee was reportedly trained on the PK machine gun and the 82mm mortar.” Abdul Sulayman replied (emphasis added):

When you say trained, this is a huge word that means a lot of things. My intention was not to get trained to get ready for something. I was there for 7 days, wasting some time. I just moved the mortar left and right; I never had any training on it. If my intention was to get trained, there were so many weapons there, I could have trained on any of them. My intention was not to get trained.

From trying to find a wife to playing with a mortar, Abdul Sulayman’s story just doesn’t add up.

Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.