Like other former Guantanamo detainees who have rejoined al-Qaida in Yemen, al-Shihri, 36, won his release despite jihadist credentials such as, in his case, urban warfare training in Afghanistan.
He later goaded the United States, saying Guantanamo only strengthened his anti-American convictions.
“By God, our imprisonment has only increased our persistence and adherence to our principles,” he said in a speech when al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula formed in Yemen in January 2009. It was included in a propaganda film for the group.
I would caution believers that Guantanamo has made things worse to look at that quote in the frame of chestbeating. In other words, just because he said our policy radicalized him doesn't make it true, and certainly doesn't mean that shutting down the facility would help.
After all, this blockbuster piece of investigative journalism also offers this juicy tidbit: Terrorists lie. Voila:
At Guantanamo, some of the men had played down their links to terrorism.
Said al-Shihri, who is now formally known as the secretary general of the al-Qaida branch, told American investigators that he traveled to Afghanistan two weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks to aid refugees, according to documents released by the Pentagon.
The file also says he received weapons training at a camp north of Kabul and was hospitalized in Pakistan for a month and a half after he was wounded by an airstrike.
Although he allegedly met with extremists in Iran and helped them get into Afghanistan, he claimed he went to Iran to buy carpets for his store. He said that if released, he wanted to see a daughter born while he was at Guantanamo and try to work at the family store in Riyadh, according to the documents.
It's not so much a war on terror as it is a whitewashing campaign.