One of the 37 men imprisoned at the Guantánamo Bay detention center has pleaded guilty to four out of five charges brought against him by US authorities, claiming he belonged to al-Qaeda and was responsible for war crimes in Afghanistan.
Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi – who says his real name is Nashwan al-Tamir – was brought to the US-run prison in 2007 after he was captured by the CIA the year prior. He is accused of running an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan before the 9/11 attacks, organizing strikes on American soldiers and civilians in the country after the US invasion, as well as destroying ancient religious sites.
Born in Iraq, the 60-year-old detainee fought in the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s as a major in the Iraqi army. After serving under Saddam Hussein, he traveled to Afghanistan to fight the Soviet occupation as part of the Mujahideen, where US officials say he became a key member of al-Qaeda sometime in the mid-1990s.
Al-Iraqi was identified by Ahmed al-Darbi, a Saudi prisoner at Guantánamo also accused of belonging to al-Qaeda. One of al-Iraqi’s defense lawyers has questioned the authenticity of al-Darbi’s identification, arguing that the man’s statement was made under duress amid brutal treatment at the hands of US authorities, which included being “beaten, sleep-deprived, hung by the wrists, threatened with rape in interrogation then sent to unwanted rectal exams by US military doctors, kept nude and forced to empty other detainees’ feces buckets with his fingers.”
Under the terms of al-Iraqi’s plea deal, reached following a years-long military tribunal, he is expected to be transferred from Gitmo to an unspecified third country, according to the Associated Press. However, al-Iraqi faces serious medical issues due to a spinal condition. He sued the US government for medical neglect and “deliberate indifference” toward his health, which has worsened to the point that he is now paralyzed from the waist down and unable to control his bladder.