State to High Court: al-Qaida agent too dangerous to release from administrative detention

Al-Barak's lawyer: IDF closed case against him for lack of public interest, so why detain him indefinitely?

Samer Al-Barak (photo credit: Screenshot Channel 10)
Samer Al-Barak
(photo credit: Screenshot Channel 10)
The state told the High Court of Justice on Monday that it should grant an additional six-month extension to Samer Abed a-Latif al-Barak’s administrative detention, as he was too dangerous to go free.
The state has said that Barak is an al-Qaida terrorist with roots in global jihad, that he had been recruited by current al-Qaida leader Ayman al- Zawahiri and that he had training relating to the use of biological weapons.
Barak, of Palestinian origin, has been held for three years under administrative detention, meaning that although he has periodically appeared before military judges to review his situation, he is being held indefinitely without charges or expectation of a trial.
Muhammad Salah, Barak’s attorney, argued that the suspected terrorist had been in contact with al-Qaida but was not remotely a senior or important operative.
He added that the IDF had considered bringing charges against him but had closed the criminal case against him without any indictment, on the basis of a lack of a public interest.
Salah said that if the IDF viewed charging Barak as not important to the public interest, it was absurd to keep him indefinitely in administrative detention.
Salah said in Barak’s defense that both the US and Jordan had detained him and that both had released him, suggesting he was no arch-terrorist.
Salah argued that the last IDF judge who extended his detention said he was doing so with a heavy and an unsure heart, and that the IDF appeals court had misused its authority, 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 was detained in the US for a couple of years after September 11, 2001, and was then detained by Jordan from 2003 to 2008.
In 2010, Barak was expelled from Jordan directly to Israel, under disputed circumstances regarding whether he was intentionally handed over to Israeli security forces, and he has been administratively detained ever since.
Late Sunday night, the state filed a response to Barak’s petition to be released.
The state argued that releasing the prisoner would be a point of no return for the establishment of a significant global jihad infrastructure in the region.
The response identifies the prisoner as a resident of the region who was born in 1974. It says that he left the region in 1997 to study microbiology in Pakistan.
He then purportedly went to Afghanistan in 1998 for military training, and apparently persuaded others from the region to do the same. This was, the state said, with the intention of returning to the region to train others.
Furthermore, the state said, the man was involved in planning terrorist attacks against Israelis and Jews in Jordan throughout 2001. He agreed to train Palestinian terrorists in the production of poisons, in order to carry out attacks against Israelis.
The state said the key point was that the lower IDF court had extended Barak’s detention and that at most, Barak could complain he should get a rehearing before the IDF appeals court, following the dispute over his refusal to stand, but that there was still no basis for the High Court to order his release.
Toward the end of the hearing, the court reviewed aspects of the secret intelligence regarding Barak’s alleged dangerous activities, in a closeddoor session.
According to B’Tselem – The Israel Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, the Prisons Service provided information indicating that at the end of September, 135 Palestinians were held in administrative detention.
B’Tselem speculated that Barak is currently the longest-held administrative detainee.
The Prisons Service figures include four Palestinians detained from two- to two-and-a-half years, and four held between a year-and-a-half and two years, said B’Tselem.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.