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Guantanamo detainee released and resettled in Belize

"I promise all of you, especially the people of Belize that I will be a productive, law-abiding member of society," he said.

Published: February 2, 2023 12:20pm

Updated: February 2, 2023 1:42pm

The U.S. government transferred a Guantanamo Bay detainee, who testified about being tortured by the CIA, to Belize after he finished serving his sentence last year, officials announced Thursday.

Majid Khan, 42, pleaded guilty in 2012 to murder, attempted murder, spying and supporting a terrorist organization. He was allowed to subsequently withdraw his plea to supporting terrism after the court ruled that a military commission could not try him for the offense. 

"I have been given a second chance in life and I intend to make the most of it," Khan said in a statement from his legal team at the Center for Constitutional Rights. "I deeply regret the things that I did many years ago, and I have taken responsibility and tried to make up for them. I continue to ask for forgiveness from God and those I have hurt. I am truly sorry."

The U.S. Embassy in Belize said: "Belize’s commitment to human rights, as evidenced by its generous support in working with the United States to resettle Mr. Khan in a safe and secure setting, is a credit to the people of Belize and its government,"

Khan was born in Pakistan, and his family was granted U.S. asylum in 1998. He graduated from a high school near Baltimore one year later. Following his mother's death in 2001, Khan took on a radicalized view of Islam, The Associated Press previously reported.

He traveled to Pakistan in 2002 where he met with self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, with whom he started working.

Khan reportedly went to a mosque wearing an explosive vest to conduct a suicide attack on former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, who never arrived at the mosque.

The next year, Khan traveled to Bangkok, Thailand, to deliver $50,000 to an al-Qaeda affiliate, who used the money to finance a 2003 suicide bombing that killed 11 people and wounded 81 more at a J.W. Marriott in Indonesia.

The CIA took Khan into custody in 2003.

His attorneys at the Center for Constitutional Rights stated: "There is no serious dispute that he was abducted, imprisoned, and tortured by U.S. officials at secret overseas 'black sites' operated by the Central Intelligence Agency before he was transferred to Guantánamo Bay in September 2006. Nor is there any serious dispute that Khan’s detention and interrogation violated U.S. and international law."

Khan in 2012 was sentenced to 26 years in prison but had his sentence reduced for cooperating with the U.S. government, making him eligible for release in March 2022.

However, the United States struggled with finding a country that would allow Khan and his family to live there, and nearly a dozen countries rejected the proposal before Belize agreed, Politico reported.

The Biden administration has been committed to shutting down Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba, which the State Department reiterated in a statement about Khan's resettlement. 

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