Witness: I quit al Qaeda over lack of health benefits
It seems that even in the world of Islamic terrorism, offering a comprehensive health care package can make all the difference to retaining talent.
In a Manhattan courtroom Wednesday, a witness in the first civilian trial of a Guantanamo detainee testified that he left al Qaeda in 1991 because they wouldn’t cover the cost of a cesarean section.
When [L’Houssaine] Kherchtou testified in 2001 at the first trial of four co-defendants charged in the bombings, he testified he was appalled to discover when he returned from a trip to Nairobi, Kenya, that his wife, who needed $500 for a cesarean section, was begging for money on the streets to pay for her care at a Sudanese hospital…
Kherchtou testified that he asked al-Qaeda to pay the medical bills and it refused. He testified he decided to leave the group after that dispute.
Bloomberg reports that Kherchtou “started to cry” when the prosecutor asked him about the ordeal.
He is testifying this week in a Manhattan federal courtroom against Ahmed Khailani, the first Gitmo inmate to be tried in a civilian court. Khaifani has been charged with helping al Qaeda carry out the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Those attacks killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.
Earlier this month, the judge in Ghailani’s trial blocked a witness from testifying for the prosecution because investigators found out about his existence through the use of torture.
US District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan blocked the government from calling a man who authorities said sold explosives to the defendant, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani. Defense lawyers say investigators only learned about the witness after Ghailani underwent harsh interrogation at a secret CIA-run camp overseas between 2004 and 2006.
Federal prosecutors decided to go forward with the trial, regardless of the absence of their “star witness.”
According to his courtroom testimony, Kherchtou has pleaded guilty to aiding Osama bin Laden, but hasn’t been sentenced yet. He said if he continues to cooperate with US prosecutors, he may avoid jail time altogether.