The Courier as a "High-Value" Detainee: More Than Meets the Eye?
By Zachary Abuza
The public case against Mohammad Farik bin Amin Zubair (ISN10021) in his Combatant Status Review Trial held in Guantanamo Bay, on 13 and 17 March, was noticeable in its Elliott Ness mentality. The public case against Zubair, a Malaysian national, is based mainly on the fact that the Malaysian national brought in $50,000 dollars from Pakistan to Thailand, which was used for the August 2003 bombing of the J.W. Marriott in Jakarta, Indonesia. While he was also indicted for being part of "al Qaeda suicide team" that planned to attack a building in the United States, little information was laid out. The entire public evidence was on his role as a courier; hardly worthy of the importance the Bush administration has placed on him as one of the 14 “high-value” terrorists transferred from “black-rendition sites” to Guantanamo Bay. What’s going on?
One would hope that the private case against him will go into greater detail about the network of front companies that he helped to establish in Malaysia (and likely Cambodia and Thailand) for Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah. The Malaysian government has never shut these down though assert that they are no longer being used by terrorist suspects. Zubair laundered money through a network of Islamist nursery schools and other madrassas, including a Kuwaiti-funded charity in Cambodia. Interestingly, the indictment against him does mention that he transferred $3,100 and bomb-making instructions to a Cambodian-Muslim terrorist, who may also be tied in with one of the groups involved in the current southern Thai insurgency.
The government obviously is aware of this. They may not be raising the broader financing issues in public session for diplomatic reasons, or they may simply go for the easiest conviction they can get. It could also reflect the difficulty of going after complex terrorist financing and money laundering cases through the courts.
Unlike Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who used the chance to make a brash public statement to rally Muslims around the world, Zubair declined, only asking several procedural questions.