During a radio interview on Sunday, Col. Michael Bumgarner, formerly the commander of the guard force at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, slammed President Obama for “throwing national security out the window” by continuing to release Gitmo detainees.
Bumgarner said he was particularly dumbfounded by the release of Ibrahim al-Qosi, who went on to become one of the top leaders of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al-Qosi last December starred in an audio message urging deadly attacks on New York and Paris.
The ex-warden also dished on al-Qaida expert bomb maker Tariq Mahmoud Ahmed Al Sawah, who reportedly became an important source to the U.S. and was released to the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina last month.
Bumgarner revealed that Sawah had his own private cottage inside Gitmo replete with a private garden. Sawah, described as becoming morbidly obese while in detention, was plied with “nonstop food,” including his favored McDonalds Filet-O-Fish sandwiches. He was also rewarded with videos of Bond, an Australian/British string quartet consisting of scantily clad women, Bumgarner divulged.
Bumgarner was speaking on “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio,” broadcast on New York’s AM 970 The Answer and Philadelphia’s NewsTalk 990 AM. Klein serves as Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter.
He served from April 2005 through June 2006 as commander of the Joint Detention Group, the guard force component of the Joint Task Force at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo.
Bumgarner says he believes Obama will try to achieve his long-stated goal of closing Gitmo before he leaves office but is the former guard leader is not sure whether the president will find countries willing to host the most dangerous of the detainees.
Obama has not excluded the use of executive authority to shut the doors of Gitmo, telling a press conference in December, “We will wait until Congress has definitively said no to a well-thought-out plan with numbers attached to it before we say anything definitive about my executive authority here.”
Bumgarner used al-Qosi as a prime example of the president harming U.S. national security interests with his policy of Gitmo releases. Al-Qosi, a former al-Qaida aide, was transferred to Sudan in July 2012 and has since reemerged as one of the main voices of AQAP.
“How we ever believed this guy is going to be not a threat to the United States and or our allies is just beyond belief to me. Beyond belief,” stated Bumgarber.
“He has thrown national security out the window so he has no reservations about what he’s doing,”Bumgarner said of Obama. “National security interests mean nothing to him. Al-Qosi is just a prime example. I mean, we have seen this with the Taliban Five,” the former Gitmo detainees freed in 2014 in exchanged for U.S. Army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.
Inside Gitmo, Bumgarner had intimate knowledge of both al-Qosi and Tariq Mahmoud Ahmed Al Sawah, the bombmaker who was released by Obama last month.
The leaked Sept. 30, 2008 Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) threat assessment revealed that Sawah became a top source of information for the U.S. government. The document described Sawah as a “highly prolific source,” who “has provided invaluable intelligence regarding explosives, al Qaeda, affiliated entities and their activities.”
The JTF-GTMO assessment also stated Saweh was morbidly obese and had health issues.
In the interview with Klein, Bumbarger revealed that Saweh did not enter Gitmo obese. He says the terrorist gained massive amounts of weight because the guards bribed him with nonstop food and other goodies, including a private cottage and access to Bond band videos.
Tariq had a very secretive but exceptional living circumstance where he had his own little cottage that existed in Camp Echo, where he was cut off from everyone else. He had special privileges. He has his own garden that he maintained… He had a little plot that he maintained just outback of his little house.
He was very exceptional because of his high intelligence value and his willingness to cooperate. We had a very select few number of guards that protected or secured him. It was like a special detail. Very limited access of who was allowed to go in and see him because of the high intelligence he was providing.
Regarding the weight gain, Bumgarner said Saweh “came in around 180 and the last I saw him I would put his weight at easily 350, and he probably was pushing 400. He was huge, huge.”
He said that when it came to food, Saweh would get almost whatever he wanted from the “intelligence guys” who utilized him. “He loved Mcdonalds fish fry sandwiches.”
Bumgarner told Klein about how he learned that Saweh was a Bond fan:
I walked into the chief of intelligence service and he was watching Bond…And I said ‘I didn’t know you were a Bond fan.’ And he goes, ‘Actually this is for Tariq. We are always looking for something to reward him with.’ And so Tariq liked the music and he liked the attractive ladies of Bond.