You may have missed this back in August, like we did, from a Buffalo News article. Witness protection for al Qaeda terror camp trainees.


U. S. gives half of Lackawanna Six new identities

By law, the special consideration they were seeking had to be made public.

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The Lackawanna Six. Top row, from left: Faysal Galab, Mukhtar al-Bakri, and Sahim Alwan. Bottom row, from left: Yahya Goba, Shafel Mosed, and Yaseinn Taher. [Source: Associated Press

When three of the Lackawanna Six complete their prison terms, they will have the chance to start new lives under new identities — courtesy of the U. S. government.

That’s because they struck a bargain with the government: their testimony against Osama bin Laden’s media secretary in exchange for a fresh start.

Yahya A. Goba, Sahim Alwan and Yasein A. Taher are, in fact, already living under aliases while finishing out their time behind bars.

But three other members of the Lackawanna Six who also visited bin Laden’s terrorist training camp in Afghanistan prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks have not gotten the same benefit to start anew.

Faysal H. Galab, the first to take a plea deal, received the shortest sentence, seven years, and is now out of federal custody and living in the Detroit area under his own name.

Shafal A. Mosed is out of prison and in a federal halfway house in Rochester working as a day laborer. He plans to move back to Lackawanna and rejoin his wife and child in September, according to members of the Yemenite community in Lackawanna.

His brother, who refused to speak about Mosed’s upcoming return, pointed out that Galab has managed to succeed in quietly moving on with his life.

Mukhtar al-Bakri, the only member of the Lackawanna Six still incarcerated at a highly secure special unit at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., is not expected to be released until early 2011.

At a Guantanamo Bay military tribunal last October, Alwan and Taher said they were testifying against bin Laden’s aide in the hopes that when they complete their prison sentences the government will give them new identities.

By law, the special consideration they were seeking had to be made public.

And all signs indicate they got their wish.

Alwan, Taher and Goba are no longer at Terre Haute. Their names have vanished from the federal Bureau of Prison’s public records and federal officials decline to comment on their whereabouts, though officials in the case say they remain imprisoned.

When they are released, they will have the choice of continuing in the witness protection program or going the route of Galab and Mosed and assimilating back into society under their true identities.

But if they remain under federal protection, it means severing ties with their past, a routine requirement for those in the program in order to help ensure their safety.

U. S. Marshal Peter A. Lawrence would not comment on the Lackawanna Six specifically, but pointed out that the witness protection program, run by the Marshal Service, has remained a success over the decades because of its strict rules.

“The program has never lost anybody so long as they stay within the rules,” Lawrence said. “You need to abide by the conditions that are set.”

When the six were arrested on the one-year anniversary of 9/11, they found themselves at the center of the Bush administration’s domestic efforts to fight terrorism. The result was a storm of unwanted national attention on the Yemenite community in Lackawanna.

Many there expressed frustration over the lack of judgment the young men exercised in going to Afghanistan and one of the men’s fathers told his son’s attorney that he would personally behead the young man if he had any intentions of harming America, a lawyer in the case said.

But times have changed and now the government, barring the unforeseen, will end up launching Alwan, Goba and Taher into new lives when they re-enter society either later this year or next year.

…Goba’s 10-year prison sentence was cut by one year. With accrued good time, he could be free by next year. Taher, sentenced to eight years, could be free later this year. Alwan, sentenced to 9z years, is expected to be free in 2010.

Goba’s Lackawanna relatives say his wife and child will not be joining him when he is freed and that his experiences during incarceration have made him extremely nervous, though they refused to further discuss his case.

Shouldn’t all Americans be nervous? via U. S. gives half of the Lackawanna Six a fresh start – News – The Buffalo News.

Image and case background via History Commons.

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