The story of a former Guantanamo Bay detainee released by President Bush in 2007 serves as a case study warning of the possible consequences of President Obama’s swap of a U.S. soldier for five senior Taliban members.
The five include liaisons between the Taliban and al-Qaida, an opium drug lord and a jihadist warlord responsible for hundreds of deaths. They already have been handed over to Qatar, which has agreed to host them for at least one year. In exchange, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was returned to U.S. Special Forces Saturday.
A closer look at the case of former Gitmo detainee may be instructive.
Qumu, formerly a driver for Osama bin Laden, was released by the U.S. from Guantanamo Bay in 2007. He was transferred to a Libyan prison, where he remained until he was freed in a 2010 amnesty deal.
Qumu went on to become a senior commander in an al-Qaida affiliate in Libya. His group has been accused of participating in the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attack in which four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, were murdered.
The Washington Post reported in January that gunmen under the command of Qumu participated in the Benghazi attack, according to a U.S. official.
The Post identified Qumu as “leader of Ansar al-Sharia in the Libyan city of Darnah.” Ansar al-Sharia operates under the al-Qaida banner.
The Post reported witnesses told American officials that Qumu’s militia arrived in Benghazi before the attack and that the State Department was implicating him in the deadly assault.
That information was used in part to designate Qumu’s branch of Ansar al-Sharia as a terrorist group, along with two other al-Sharia branches, reported the Post.
Qumu’s name was mentioned in an August 2012 document prepared by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress under an inter-agency agreement with the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office’s Irregular Warfare Support Program.
The congressional report documented al-Qaida and affiliated organizations were establishing terrorist training camps and pushing Taliban-style Islamic law in Libya while the new, Western-backed Libyan government incorporated jihadists into its militias.
The report said Qumu became “the leader of the al-Qaida-affiliate Ansar Al-Sharia in Libya,” which espoused anti-Western ideology. The document noted Qumu had increasingly embodied al-Qaida’s presence in Libya.
The report warned Qumu’s group was particularly dangerous “as indicated by its active social-media propaganda, extremist discourse, and hatred of the West, especially the United States.”
The document cited an Arabic interview in which Qumu was said to have “discoursed at length about his resentment of the United States, which he accused of torturing him during his Guantanamo detention, an experience that he said will not go away.”
The document warned Qumu’s views were so extreme that “Darnah’s residents have accused [him] of carrying out attacks, especially targeting former Libyan officials but also people who disagree with al-Qaeda.”
The report revealed Qumu had a vendetta against the U.S., claiming he was tortured in the prison.