WASHINGTON – A Somali man held as a high-value detainee at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has denied through a representative fighting or training against U.S. forces in the Horn of Africa, according to a transcript released by the Pentagon on Friday.

Guleed Hassan Ahmed, who was born in 1974, skipped his 17-minute status review tribunal on April 28 before a panel of military officers that was assigned to review whether he was properly classified as an enemy combatant, according to the transcript.

The U.S. alleges he had joined an al-Qaida faction named al-Ittihad al-Islami by 2002 and fought in the Somali capital of Mogadishu against Ethiopians and their collaborators. Later, the U.S. alleges, he was named an al-Qaida cell leader in neighboring Djibouti, where the U.S. has a military base. He was arrested in 2004 at an undisclosed location.

Speaking through a U.S. military representative, Ahmed acknowledged that he trained in Afghanistan for holy war in his homeland. But he denied any links to al-Qaida. The United States lists al-Ittihad al-Islami as a terrorist group.

The hearing failed to mention any of the more serious allegations that the White House made against Ahmed when he was brought to Guantanamo in September as one of 14 so-called high-value detainees.

The White House released intelligence reports on all 14 detainees and claimed that Ahmed, in September and October 2003, cased the U.S. military base at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, for a possible suicide truck bomb attack.

Ahmed was also reportedly “privy to several terrorist plots under consideration by his AIAI (al-Ittihad al-Islami) cell, including shooting down an Ethiopian jetliner landing at an airport in Somalia in 2003 and kidnapping Western workers of nongovernmental organizations in Hargeysa, Somalia, in 2002,” according to the White House report.

The three-officer panel gets to examine classified information in considering the U.S. military’s case against a captive, and it wasn’t clear whether those allegations might have been classified. Classified materials aren’t available to the public and weren’t released with the transcript Friday.

The transcript was the 13th of 14 hearings held so far for the high-value detainees. The 14 arrived at the remote U.S. Navy base in September after years in secret CIA prisons. Among them is former Baltimore-area high school student Majid Khan, whose transcript has yet to be released.

A 15th high-value detainee, Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi, arrived late last month, after likewise being secretly held by the CIA.

Ahmed earlier had been identified by intelligence agencies as Gouled Hassan Dourad. He acknowledged taking paramilitary training in Afghanistan, but denied he’d also trained at Lugh, Somalia.

“My training was solely for the purpose of fighting in Somalia, but not against Americans,” he’s quoted as saying.

He denied being a member of al-Ittihad, but said, “I did fight jihad alongside al-Ittihad against Ethiopians, which is my right to do.”

The hearing didn’t specify what militant action Ahmed took part in, although in 2002 Mogadishu was awash in violence between Somali police forces and a loose network of clan-based militias, some of which were supported by Ethiopian forces.

According to the White House report, Ahmed was born in Mogadishu. When civil war broke out in 1991, his family sent him to Germany, where he lived in a refugee camp before gaining asylum in Sweden.

In 1994 he attempted to travel to the United States but was denied because of a fraudulent passport, the White House said.

(Rosenberg, of The Miami Herald, reported from Miami. Bengali reported from Washington.)

(c) 2007, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-05-04-07 1919EDT

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