Hussein Abebe

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Hussein Abebe
Born 1964 (age 55–56)[1]
Arusha, Tanzania[1]
Nationality Tanzania
Occupation Mine owner

Hussein Abebe is a mine owner from Tanzania who US prosecutors claimed sold hundreds of pounds of TNT to Ahmed Ghailani, which were then used to bomb US embassies in Africa.[1][2][3][4][5][6] Abebe's own capture, and his potential testimony against Ghailani, stirred controversy, as it followed confessions extracted from Ghailani under torture in Central Intelligence Agency black sites.[7][8]

Capture and detention in Tanzania

The New York Times reported that US and Tanzanian officials spent a year trying to find and identify Abebe, based on the information extracted from Ghailani.[1] Ghailani's prosecutor's narrative was that, once located, Abebe acknowledged that he did sell TNT he had access to, for use in mining, and that when he sold TNT to Ghailani he believed it was for use in legitimate mining.

The Guelph Mercury reported that Abede had been working as a taxi driver when authorities found him.[9]

Potential role in Ghailani's trial

US District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan convened hearings to determine whether he should allow Abebe to testify in September 2010.[1]

On September 19, 2010, The New York Times quoted Karen Greenberg, a law professor who specializes in National Security law, as stating the ruling over whether Abebe testimony would be allowed would set the precedent for all future testimony that derived from evidence extracted through torture in any future trials.[1] [10][11]

Courthouse News reported that Valentine Mlowola, the police officer who interrogated Abebe, made mistakes during his interrogation that contributed to Kaplan's decision to bar Abebe's testimony.[12]

A motion filed by Ghailani's defense counsel, seeking a new trial, asserted that prosecutors used Abebe to "dupe" the court.[13]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Benjamin Weiser (2010-09-20). "Witness in 1998 Bombings Is Identified at a Hearing". The New York Times: p. A26. Archived from the original on 2018-05-26. https://web.archive.org/web/20180526061855/https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/20/nyregion/20ghailani.html?_r=3. Retrieved 2020-08-28. "'This is the moment,' said Karen J. Greenberg, executive director of the Center on Law and Security at New York University, who observed the hearing. 'This will establish the standard for how we deal with witnesses and other evidence that’s the result of torture.'" 
  2. Benjamin Weiser (2010-11-18). "Detainee Acquitted on Most Counts in ’98 Bombings". The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/18/nyregion/18ghailani.html. Retrieved 2020-08-28. "In the ruling, the judge, Lewis A. Kaplan of Federal District Court in Manhattan, barred prosecutors from using an important witness against Mr. Ghailani because the government had learned about the man through Mr. Ghailani’s interrogation while he was in C.I.A. custody, where his lawyers say he was tortured." 
  3. Benjamin Weiser (2010-10-06). "Judge Bars Major Witness From Terrorism Trial". The New York Times: p. A1. https://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/07/nyregion/07ghailani.html. Retrieved 2020-08-28. 
  4. Benjamin Weiser (2010-10-11). "No Appeal in Exclusion of Witness in Terror Trial". The New York Times: p. A20. https://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/11/nyregion/11terror.html. Retrieved 2020-08-28. "Judge Kaplan has filed a more complete ruling, but it is going through a declassification process. Still, his brief order last week intensified the debate over whether other detainees, like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the professed mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, should be tried in the civilian system, a goal the Obama administration has advocated." 
  5. Benjamin Weiser (2010-10-15). "Judge Says Key Figure in Embassies Bombing Case Isn’t Credible". The New York Times: p. A28. https://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/15/nyregion/15ghailani.html. Retrieved 2020-08-28. "In a decision made public on Thursday, the judge elaborated on his reasoning. He said he had concluded that Mr. Abebe feared being arrested if he did not cooperate with the authorities." 
  6. Benjamin Weiser (2010-10-01). "Judge Delays Detainee’s Trial Over Issue of Witness". The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/02/nyregion/02ghailani.html. Retrieved 2020-08-28. "Lawyers for Mr. Ghailani contend that he underwent coercive interrogation and torture while in C.I.A. custody, and that any statements or evidence derived from them is tainted and inadmissible. The government has said Mr. Abebe’s decision to cooperate was voluntary and only remotely linked to Mr. Ghailani’s interrogation." 
  7. "Blow to US prosecutors as terror case witness barred". BBC News. 2020-10-06. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-11481343. Retrieved 2020-08-28. "The BBC's Laura Trevelyan in New York says the judge's decision - if it stands - is a major setback for the US government's case." 
  8. Richard L. Abel (2018). Law's Trials: The Performance of Legal Institutions in the US 'War on Terror'. Cambridge University Press. p. 64. ISBN 9781108429757. https://books.google.es/books?id=QrViDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA64&lpg=PA64&dq=%22Hussein+Abebe%22&source=bl&ots=B3l8a3z8bW&sig=ACfU3U2CG_HCKvALumbaJfeIssx--ujBwQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjZ5feskL_rAhUMV80KHSd4B6cQ6AEwDHoECAIQAQ#v=onepage&q=%22Hussein%20Abebe%22&f=false. Retrieved 2020-08-28. "Although the government claimed it would have found Abebe without Ghailani's evidence, Kaplan said "that would have been roughly comparable to finding a particular individual named John or Bill in a stat with a population around the size of Maine or New Hampshire ... while knowing little more about him than that he was regarded as prominent in a significant industry in the state." 
  9. "Tanzanian man who supplied explosives seeks to clear his name, if US judge will let him". Guelph Mercury (New York City). 2010-09-15. https://www.guelphmercury.com/news-story/2690402-tanzanian-man-who-supplied-explosives-seeks-to-clear-his-name-if-us-judge-will-let-him/. Retrieved 2020-08-28. "Abebe was located and questioned in 2006 by Tanzanian law enforcement authorities. At the time, he was a cab driver." 
  10. Karen J. Greenberg (2010-10-15). "Terror Trial Update: Baby Lulu and the Two Ahmeds". Mother Jones magazine. Archived from the original on 2017-06-18. https://web.archive.org/web/20170618103415/https://www.motherjones.com/crime-justice/2010/10/ahmed-ghailani-trial-baby-lulu/. Retrieved 2020-08-28. "The tone for the day, however, was set by Judge Kaplan, who the previous night had released the (redacted) long version of his opinion barring the testimony of a government’s key witness, Hussein Abebe. In an opinion that reasoned backwards to Deuteronomy and forward, in theory, to any future Guantanamo cases where the prosecution might attempt to bring witnesses identified via the torture of the defendant, the judge asserted not just his expertise in legal philosophy and precedent, but confidence in his ability to assess the witness’s credibility. Throughout his opinion, he refers to the testimony of Abebe as “inaccurate,” “incredible,” “inconsistent,” and consisting of “prevarications.”" 
  11. Karen J. Greenberg (2010-10-20). "Terror Trial Update: The Fear Factor". Mother Jones magazine. Archived from the original on 2017-06-17. https://web.archive.org/web/20170617041118/https://www.motherjones.com/crime-justice/2010/10/ahmed-ghailani-trial-update/. Retrieved 2020-08-28. "Judge Lewis Kaplan, who so far in this case has seemed the most adept at coaxing a revealing narrative out of witnesses, once again extracted a telling detail. “Did any FBI agents speak to you in Swahili?” Judge Kaplan asked. “No,” said Mohammed, “only translators, and police officers from Tanzania.” Was Mohammed right to be worried about the Tanzanian authorities? He wouldn’t be the first. In his opinion upholding the suppression of the witness Hussein Abebe (see earlier posts), Judge Kaplan noted that Tanzanian police had warned him, ahead of his own interrogations, “to tell what he knew so that he could go home, in itself an implicit threat…[Abebe] was aware also that the TNP sometimes had been known to detain people without their families knowing where they had been taken and to ‘come and grab you and take you by force.'”" 
  12. Adam Klasfeld (2010-11-02). "Government Wrapping Up Its Case In First Gitmo Detainee Civil Trial". Courthouse News (Manhattan). https://www.courthousenews.com/government-wrapping-up-its-casein-first-gitmo-detainee-civil-trial/. Retrieved 2020-08-28. "Ghailani’s attorney Steve Zissou said Monday that the defense will open its case by calling Valentine Mlowola, former senior superintendent for the Tanzanian National Police. Mlowola’s botched interrogation of prospective government witness Hussein Abebe led U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, before the trial began, to bar prosecutors from calling Abebe to testify." 
  13. Adam Klasfeld (2010-12-30). "Attorneys for Guantanamo Prisoner". Courthouse News (Manhattan). https://www.courthousenews.com/attorneys-for-guantanamo-prisonerahmed-ghailani-seek-new-trial/. Retrieved 2020-08-29. "Farbiarz’s rebuttal summation 'essentially attempted to take the Abebe preclusion order and turn it on its head, capitalizing with disingenuous arguments that it could never have made had Abebe testified at trial,' the motion states. It adds that 'this should not be permitted to stand.'"