(photo credit: Screenshot Channel 10)
The High Court of Justice on Tuesday rejected a request from an alleged al-
Qaida arch-terrorist to be freed from administrative detention after over three
The court accepted the state’s arguments that Samer Abed a-Latif
al-Barak was an arch-terrorist who had training in and headed al-Qaida’s
biological weapons program, had recruited many violent followers and had
significant contact with top al- Qaida leaders such as its current chief Ayman
A three-justice panel of Daphna Barak-Erez, Edna Arbel and
Uzi Vogelman said that being kept in administrative detention for more than
three years with no definite end in sight was “not a situation to be accepted
lightly,” but that in light of how dangerous Barak was, “at this time there is
no less harmful method” for preventing him from returning to carrying out
Noting what it called new intelligence regarding
Barak, the court said there was no basis to argue that he had become less
dangerous over time.
Also, the court said its decision could be supported
solely based on publicly presented evidence regarding Barak’s background as a
terrorist, without a need to rely on secret evidence presented to the court
behind closed doors on Monday.
The court addressed a main argument of
Barak’s lawyer, that the IDF had closed the criminal case against him without
filing an indictment.
It said that the IDF had decided there was no
public interest in pursuing the matter, not because it doubted that Barak had
committed the crimes he was accused of, but because the crimes dated to 1998 and
there might be issues with violating the statute of limitations for how soon a
criminal case must be brought after the date of the alleged crime in
The court seemed to imply, however, that the delay in bringing
the case was a technicality that was not Israel’s fault, since for most of 2001
to 2010, Barak was in US or Jordanian custody.
is indefinite detention without trial, in this case based on the idea that
though criminal charges cannot be brought, Barak is too dangerous to be
released. It is a controversial concept that few countries use as much as
Israel, though Israel says that it has more dire security issues than many of
Other arguments made by Barak’s lawyer, such as that the US
and Jordan had released Barak after detaining him, proving that he was no
arch-terrorist, were dismissed by the court without any specific
The court also did not engage Barak’s argument that the last
IDF judge who extended his detention said he was doing so with a heavy and
unsure heart. Nor did the court address his argument that the IDF appeals court
had misused its authority by denying Barak’s appeal with no substantive
arguments, simply because he would not stand up in court when it demanded he do
so to recognize the court.
Barak, of Palestinian origin, was born in
1974, but left the region in 1997 to study microbiology in Pakistan.
state has said he was involved in planning terrorist attacks against Israelis
and Jews in Jordan throughout 2001.
Barak will have another chance to
challenge his detention every six months going forward, though now that his case
is public, Israel’s efforts to send him to a third country may get expedited to
avoid further headlines on the issue.
B’Tselem – The Israel Information
Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories said on Monday that
information in its possession indicated that there are currently eight detainees
who have been held in administrative detention for close to as long as Barak,
but that he has been held longer than any of the others.