Slimane Hadj Abderrahmane

Slimane Hadj Abderrahmane was a Danish Muslim of Algerian descent and a former inmate at Guantanamo who returned to terrorism following his repatriation to Denmark. He is believed to have been killed on February 16, 2013, while fighting alongside an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, most likely the Nusra Front.Helen Russell, “From techno DJ in Denmark to martyrdom fighting Assad in Syria: the life and death of Slimane Hadj Abderrahmane,” Independent (London), March 25, 2013, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/from-techno-dj-in-denmark-to-martyrdom-fighting-assad-in-syria-the-life-and-death-of-slimane-hadj-8548987.html.

Abderrahmane began his career as a DJ in 1993 and became a rising star in the developing Danish techno scene under the stage name “DJ Hollie.” His ambitions changed in October 1999 when he saw the Russian bombing of Chechen Muslims on the news.Helen Russell, “From techno DJ in Denmark to martyrdom fighting Assad in Syria: the life and death of Slimane Hadj Abderrahmane,” Independent (London), March 25, 2013, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/from-techno-dj-in-denmark-to-martyrdom-fighting-assad-in-syria-the-life-and-death-of-slimane-hadj-8548987.html. He began to frequent a mosque in Grimhojvej, Denmark, where he met Mahiri Uthman, a recruiter for the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), the precursor to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).Thomas Joscelyn, “Ex-Guantanamo detainee reportedly killed in Syria,” Long War Journal, February 20, 2013, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2013/02/ex-guantanamo_detain_1.php.

Abderrahmane became a courier for GSPC and transported equipment, money, and false documents between the United Kingdom, Algeria, Germany, Spain, Mali, and Denmark. He was involved with the senior leadership of GSPC while conducting his courier duties. By August 2001, Abderrahmane had traveled from the United Kingdom to Kabul, Afghanistan, to take part in jihad. He met with an al-Qaeda facilitator who arranged for him to attend terrorist training camps.“The Guantanamo Docket: Slimane Hadj Abderrahmane: JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, accessed February 24, 2016, http://projects.nytimes.com/guantanamo/detainees/323-slimane-hadj-abderrahmane.

Abderrahmane told the Department of Defense’s Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF) that during his training, he fled to the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan upon learning about the 9/11 attacks. He said he feared retaliation by the United States. On December 17, 2001, Abderrahmane crossed the Afghan border into Pakistan and was arrested by Pakistani authorities, who took him to a prison in Kohat. He was later transferred to U.S. custody and transported to Guantanamo on February 9, 2002.“The Guantanamo Docket: Slimane Hadj Abderrahmane: JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, accessed February 24, 2016, http://projects.nytimes.com/guantanamo/detainees/323-slimane-hadj-abderrahmane.

On December 3, 2003, the JTF assessed Abderrahmane as being an al-Qaeda sympathizer and a member of GSPC. He was classified as “of intelligence value” and a high risk to the United States and its interests. The JTF recommended he be retained under Department of Defense control.“The Guantanamo Docket: Slimane Hadj Abderrahmane: JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, accessed February 24, 2016, http://projects.nytimes.com/guantanamo/detainees/323-slimane-hadj-abderrahmane. Before his detention, Abderrahmane was known to associate with a number of notorious jihadists including extremist British preacher Abu Hamza, al-Qaeda facilitator Jaffar al Jazeeri, and Osama bin Laden’s contact in the Balkans, Bensayah Belkacem.“The Guantanamo Docket: Slimane Hadj Abderrahmane: JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, accessed February 17, 2016, http://projects.nytimes.com/guantanamo/detainees/323-slimane-hadj-abderrahmane/documents/11.

Just three months later, counter to the JTF’s recommendation, Abderrahmane was repatriated to Denmark due to legal quarrels between the U.S. and the Danish governments. Various news outlets speculated that the Danes threatened to withdraw their military presence from Afghanistan if Abderrahmane was not released from Guantanamo.Helen Russell, “From techno DJ in Denmark to martyrdom fighting Assad in Syria: the life and death of Slimane Hadj Abderrahmane,” Independent (London), March 25, 2013, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/from-techno-dj-in-denmark-to-martyrdom-fighting-assad-in-syria-the-life-and-death-of-slimane-hadj-8548987.html. The Danish government did not file charges against Abderrahmane upon his return.“Danish detainee ‘to join rebels,’” BBC News, September 30, 2004, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3704176.stm.

Abderrahmane became a high-profile figure in the Danish media following his detention at Guantanamo and used this status to publicly clarify that he still planned to fight in Chechnya, attracting diplomatic pressure from Russia to restrict his ability to travel.Helen Russell, “From techno DJ in Denmark to martyrdom fighting Assad in Syria: the life and death of Slimane Hadj Abderrahmane,” Independent (London), March 25, 2013, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/from-techno-dj-in-denmark-to-martyrdom-fighting-assad-in-syria-the-life-and-death-of-slimane-hadj-8548987.html;
Charlotte Aagaard, “Guantanamo-fange i varetægt,” Dagbladet Information (Copenhagen), October 1, 2004, http://www.information.dk/98071.
He even said Danish Prime Minister Anders Rasmussen and foreign ministers were “legitimate targets” for jihadists due to the politicians’ policies in Iraq. The Danish intelligence service advised Abderrahmane to refrain from speaking out in this manner. Heeding their advice, he kept a low profile and avoided the public spotlight. However, he drew additional attention when he was arrested in 2007 for stealing credit cards while working as a postman, and for later suing the Danish government for failing to prevent his detention at Guantanamo.Helen Russell, “From techno DJ in Denmark to martyrdom fighting Assad in Syria: the life and death of Slimane Hadj Abderrahmane,” Independent (London), March 25, 2013, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/from-techno-dj-in-denmark-to-martyrdom-fighting-assad-in-syria-the-life-and-death-of-slimane-hadj-8548987.html.

Abderrahmane traveled to Syria to join jihadist groups several years later—most likely in the early 2010s. The Facebook page of a Danish-based group called “Islamisk Budskab”—which had as its profile photo an AQI flag—announced on February 17, 2013, that Abderrahmane had died on the front lines the day before.Thomas Joscelyn, “Ex-Guantanamo detainee reportedly killed in Syria,” Long War Journal, February 20, 2013, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2013/02/ex-guantanamo_detain_1.php;
“Danish jihadist reported dead,” CPH Post Online, February 19, 2013, http://cphpost.dk/news14/international-news14/danish-jihadist-reported-dead.html.
The statement read: “[Abderrahmane] was a man who could not stand to see Muslims suppressed, so a few months ago he traveled to Syria to once again perform Jihad and do his duty to fight Allah’s enemies.”Thomas Joscelyn, “Ex-Guantanamo detainee reportedly killed in Syria,” Long War Journal, February 20, 2013, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2013/02/ex-guantanamo_detain_1.php.

Danish intelligence has not been able to confirm his death.“Danish jihadist reported dead,” Copenhagen Post, February 19, 2013, http://cphpost.dk/news14/international-news14/danish-jihadist-reported-dead.html;
Thomas Joscelyn, “Ex-Guantanamo detainee reportedly killed in Syria,” Long War Journal, February 20, 2013, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2013/02/ex-guantanamo_detain_1.php.
Several reports suggest Abderrahmane belonged to the Nusra Front, or another al-Qaeda affiliated group in Syria.Thomas Joscelyn, “Ex-Guantanamo detainee reportedly killed in Syria,” Long War Journal, February 20, 2013, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2013/02/ex-guantanamo_detain_1.php.

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