KARACHI: Abdul Rabbani Abu Rahman aka Abdul Rahim Ghulam Rabbani is alleged to have admitted to US investigators that he had been directly working for Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, one of the masterminds of the 9/11 attacks, and that one of the sons of Osama bin Laden had been living in Karachi with his wife and son in 2002. According to around 800 secret files released this week by WikiLeaks, the whistleblower website, Rabbani had been in detention at the Guantanamo Bay camp since Sept 19, 2004, — two years after his arrest in Karachi. He continues to be under detention as US officials consider him to be a high risk detainee.
The Wikileaks files contain secret US documents about detainees from various countries at Guantanamo Bay — from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan and from Palestine to Kenya. The highest number of detainees are from Afghanistan.
The files include reports on interrogation of 69 Pakistani detainees, some of whom were assessed to have no links with Al Qaida or Taliban and were recommended for release. However, it is not clear whether they have been released or not.
In some cases, an earlier recommendation about release of a detainee was reversed, indicating that the recommendation had not been implemented.
The interrogation report about Rabbani is ostensibly based on the detainee’s own account “These statements are included [in the report] without consideration of veracity, accuracy or reliability,” the report prepared on June 9, 2008, said.
Rabbani, according to the report, admitted that he was an Al Qaeda facilitator from early 2002 to Sept 2002. During this period he managed a number of safe houses in Karachi and had direct to many senior Al Qaeda members, including Osama bin Laden, Ayman Al Zawahiri and others.
These safe houses provided logistical support to most of the Sept 11, 2001, hijackers, the investigation report said. He was directly involved with terrorist plans and operations.
In late 1998 or 1999, Rabbani’s brother, Ahmad Ghulam Rabbani, who is also detained in Guantanamo Bay, allegedly recruited him for extremist activities. He travelled to Afghanistan to receive training in the use of firearms with an intent to fight in Myanmar.
Rabbani travelled from Karachi to Khost, Afghanistan, attending a training centre _ the Khaldan training camp. Here he received training in the use of different weapons, including the AK-47 assault rifle, PK machinegun, mortars, and rocket propelled grenades (RPGS), but was expelled after three months for smoking.
After staying in Bagram (Afghanistan) for three months, Rabbani returned to Karachi and was instructed by his brother to go to a hospital on Tariq Road in order to help care for wounded Al Qaeda fighters.
Almost one year later, Rabbani met Umar Sheikh. The latter asked him if he had been to Al Qaeda training camps. The detainee replied he had, but was removed for a minor violation.
Sheikh was initially sceptical, but later asked Rabbani to work for him as a cook in safe houses in Karachi. In addition to cooking and cleaning, the detainee transported goods to Afghanistan for Al Qaeda personnel. The goods included computers, electronic components and some unspecified unknown items. He was also responsible for renting guesthouses frequented by Al Qaeda operatives and members of their families.
On Sept 0 and 11 of 2002, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), the Rangers and police conducted raids against three Al Qaeda hideouts in two quarters of Karachi.
Abdul Rabbani, Hassan Muhammad Ali Bin Attash and senior Al Qaida functionary Ramzi Bin al-Shibh were arrested during these raids.
Rabbani was kept in Pakistan for two months, but later shifted to Kabul. He stayed there for seven months and then moved to another prison before being given in the custody of US forces in Bagram.
The document said that he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay to keep the tabs on Al Qaeda members, especially Osama bin Laden, Aiman Al Zawahiri and Saed Bin Laden.
According to the evaluation by US officials of Rabbani’s account, he has shared a wealth of information about his activities in Pakistan. He has been forthcoming in the past about his role as a facilitator and his association with the top echelons of the Al Qaeda network. Other detainees are said to have corroborated Rabbani’s account.
But the assessment was not enough to win freedom for Rabbani as, he was adjudged to be a “high risk prisoner who is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies”.
The reason for his continued detention, according to US army officials, was that he had admitted to working directly for for Al Qaeda from early 2000 to Sept 2002.
He was alleged to have run several safe houses in Karachi. While working for Khalid Sheikh, he had direct access to a number of senior Al Qaeda members and helped facilitate the movement of most of the Sept 2001 hijackers.
He had met Osama bin Laden on numerous occasions, including twice at the Kandahar airport. Osama had been living at the Kandahar airport when Rabbani delivered a number of items sent to him by Khalid Sheikh.
THE SON ALSO ROSE Rabbani reported that Osama’s son, Saed Bin Laden, lived in Karachi with his wife and son, from Jan 2002 through at least June 2002. Sheikh provided a safe haven for Saed in Karachi. While Saed was there, he would occasionally come with Sheikh to one of the detainee’s safe houses at house number D-255, Block 13 D, Gulshan-i-Iqbal.
During a raid on the detainee’s safe house on Tariq Road, Pakistani authorities discovered over 20 individually wrapped passports, most of which were valid documents belonging to the wives and children of Osama, stored next to remotely-activated electronic detonators.
Al Masri was the military chief of Al Qaida and engineered the attacks on US forces in Somalia in 1993. He was wanted by the US government for the 1998 US embassy bombings in Africa.
Rabbani admitted he managed the Gulshan-i-Iqbal guesthouse. Other guesthouses were on Tariq Road and in Defence Society.
His guesthouses were frequented by a clutch of senior Al Qaeda members, such as Osama’s security chief, Hamza al-Ghamdi; Al Qaeda’s military operations supreme commander Muhammad Salah al-Din Abd al-Halim Zaydan aka (Sayf al-Adil); USS Cole bombing mastermind Abd al-Rahim Hussayn Muhammad al-Nashiri aka (Mullah Bilal), senior al-Qaida operative, Walid Muhammad Salih Bin Attash, aka (Khallad Bin Attash), Ammar al-Baluchi, and Sheikh.
According to the report, Rabbani helped facilitate the movement in Pakistan of 17 of the 19 individuals who conducted the Sept 11 attacks. He did not admit having knowledge of their mission, but did admit picking up some of them up at airports, arranging a safe house, and transporting some of them to their next destination.
He maintained that all the hijackers were members of Al Qaeda and would not allow him to speak to visitors.
He reported many of the hijackers stayed at a safe house in the Rabia City complex, Block 13. Mohammad Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Hani Hanjour, however, stayed at the “Defence View” safe house.
An unidentified Al Qaida detainee stated that Rabbani helped several of the hijackers transit Pakistan on their way to Afghanistan and back again. He was arrested on a road in Pakistan along with hijacker Ahmad al-Ghamdi, but won freedom through bribery.