The Biden administration on Thursday resettled a terrorist from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who served as a direct subordinate to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Al Qaeda terrorist who was the principal architect of the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Majid Khan was sent to Belize; he is the first detainee resettled by the Biden administration. He joined Al Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks and was later arrested in Karachi in March 2003. After he was captured, he revealed information about an Al Qaeda plot to hijack an airplane and fly it into the Library Tower in Los Angeles, the tallest building on the West Coast at the time. In 2012, Khan was charged with conspiracy, murder, and attempted murder in violation of the law of war, providing material support for terrorism, and spying. He pled guilty in February 2012 to conspiracy, murder in violation of the law of war, attempted murder in violation of the law of war, providing material support for terrorism, and spying and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
In June 2022, Khan’s lawyers filed a petition to force the Biden administration to release him as his sentence had ended in March 2022, claiming any place but his native Pakistan would be acceptable, writing that because he had cooperated with the American government the “risk of harm is so great that Petitioner can never return to Pakistan where he would face persecution.”
“Petitioner has repeatedly, publicly expressed regret for his actions, apologized to the victims of his offenses and their families, and explained his decision to cooperate with U.S. authorities against Al Qaeda for more than a decade as an effort to atone for his offenses,” the petition stated.
“In October 2021, after a sentencing hearing at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a panel of military officers sitting as a military commission sentenced Mr. Khan to 26 years of confinement,” the U.S. Defense Department noted. “The panel also recommended Mr. Khan receive clemency.”
A senior State Department official commented on the willingness of Belize to accept Khan, saying, “This is a political ask. Belize was a great choice because, ultimately, we have a lot of things to do with them. … They asked all the right questions when this process started,” and did a “terrific job of trying to evaluate” whether they were making the correct decision.
“We are very satisfied the things we asked of them they can do and will do,” the official concluded.