A Former Guantanamo Detainee Is Now the Head of an al-Qaeda Branch

Ibrahim Qoosi served on bin Laden’s elite security detail. Now, he’s a back in the fight. 

A former Guantanamo Bay detainee has just resurfaced in a propaganda video released by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a branch of the infamous terror network. The man is Ibrahim Qoosi, a career jihadist who once served on Osama bin Laden’s elite security detail.  

Qoosi had spent nearly a decade in Guantanamo Bay by the time he was transferred to his native Sudan in 2012. Two years prior, he pled guilty to charges of conspiracy and material support for terrorism before a military commission after agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors.

According to The Long War Journal, Qoosi joined AQAP in 2014 and became one of its leaders. In the video, titled “Guardians of Sharia,” Qoosi and other commanders discuss their experiences waging jihad. 

Qoosi’s history is detailed at length in a leaked Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) threat assessment and other declassified files. According to those documents, his first stint with al-Qaeda began in Afghanistan in 1990 and ended in 2001, when he was captured by Pakistani authorities while fleeing the Battle of Tora Bora during the height of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan. 

During that time, Qoosi served in a variety of roles within bin Laden’s inner circle, including as one of his personal bodyguards. At the time of his capture, he was on a list of high-profile targets referred to as the “Dirty 30” by U.S. intelligence officials. 

The leaked JTF-GTMO documents also describe how, upon being transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2003, Qoosi explained it was “religious duty to defend Islam and fulfill the obligation of jihad and that the war between America and al Qaeda is a war between Islam and aggression of the infidels.”

Apparently, nothing has changed.