A Baltimore schoolboy-turned-terrorist freed from Guantanamo Bay to start a new life in the Caribbean on the US taxpayers’ dime, insists he’s no longer a threat to the West – telling DailyMail.com: ‘My motto is live and let live.’
Majid Khan ran errands for 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, plotted to blow up a Pakistani President and couriered al Qaeda cash to Indonesia for a 2003 hotel bombing that slaughtered a dozen people.
But after two decades in US custody Khan was quietly transferred to Belize on February 2, becoming the first ‘high value detainee’ to be released from the secretive Navy base and the first inmate resettled by the Biden administration.
The 42-year-old is one of the few GTMO prisoners allowed to live in the Western hemisphere thanks to a confidential relocation deal which will pay the Belizean government enough money to fund Khan’s first six months of freedom, DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal.
Exclusive DailyMail.com photos show Majid Khan, 42, living life as a free man in Belize last week after he was quietly released from Guantanamo Bay on February 2
Belizean officials agreed to take in the ex-jihadist, who was the only US legal resident being held at Guantanamo, as a ‘humanitarian gesture’ after an hour-long interview
DailyMail.com can reveal Khan is living in Central America thanks to confidential relocation deal which will pay the Belizean government enough money to fund his first six months of freedom
Worth up to $300,000, the package includes funding for health care, housing, education and ‘seed money’ for the married father-of-one to start a new business in the tiny Central American nation which borders Mexico and is just a day’s drive from the porous southern US border.
Khan, the only legal US resident locked up in Guantanamo Bay, is best known for the harrowing testimony he gave about the brutal beatings, waterboarding and forced feedings meted out by CIA interrogators during the War on Terror.
Belizean officials agreed to take him in after a single interview lasting an hour, we can reveal, hailing the resettlement as a ‘humanitarian gesture’ and using the US funds to buy him a comfortable three-bed house.
When DailyMail.com tracked the ex-Jihadist down to the sun-bleached Belize suburb he now calls home he thanked his hosts and dismissed suggestions he was a threat to anyone.
‘Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemies,’ Khan declared, paraphrasing anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.
‘I will pray for the people who have done me wrong. My motto is live and let live.’
Kahn’s single-story property is basic by the standards of his upbringing in Catonsville, Maryland, where his family settled in 1996 and owned a gas station after leaving Pakistan as asylum seekers.
But it’s typical of an upper-middle class Belizean home and cost the equivalent of $75,000 US, according to local sources who say the location has been kept secret from the public who are anxious about the arrival of a convicted terrorist.
The house is fitted with a battery of CCTV cameras monitored 24/7 by the country’s Special Branch security unit and Khan is ferried around by a police handler because he doesn’t have a Belize driving license.
Kahn’s supporters point to the fact that the resettlement money provided by the Biden administration is dwarfed by the estimated $13million per year it costs to hold each detainee at GTMO.
The former militant will also have to pay for back surgery and ongoing medication for PTSD triggered by the so-called ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques he was subjected to under the George W. Bush administration.
Bouquets of flowers adorn the JW Marriott hotel where Indonesian police hold a reconstruction of the bomb blast in Jakarta in 2003
The body of security guard Edy Sucipto, 31, who died in 2003 bombing at the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta, is laid to rest during his funeral in South Jakarta
Khan spent two decades in US custody at Guantanamo Bay and had famously testified about the brutal beatings, waterboarding and forced feedings meted out by CIA interrogators during the War on Terror
Khan has been ferried around his new neighborhood by a police handler because he doesn’t have a Belize driving license
When DailyMail.com tracked the ex-Jihadist down to the sun-bleached Belize suburb he now calls home he thanked his hosts and dismissed suggestions he was a threat to anyone
Khan, who apologized for his crimes and renounced Islamic extremism during his sentencing in 2021, said he now feels ‘blessed’ to be living in Belize after spending years in custody
‘I’m a modest man, I prefer modest living. Given what I’ve been through I can survive anywhere,’ said Khan, wearing typical western clothes and a pair of Sketchers sneakers.
Under the terms of his resettlement Khan is banned from leaving Belize – a country of 400,000 inhabitants, 600 Muslims and only a handful of mosques – for three years.
But he told DailyMail.com his sole focus is finding work and making arrangements for his wife Rabia and daughter to travel to the Caribbean to join him.
His US-based relatives, including his dad Ali, have already flown to Belize for a tearful reunion.
‘I’m blessed to be here. I’m excited to see my family, my wife and kid, God willing. I’m really thankful to the people of Belize for embracing me with open arms,’ added Khan, a Sunni Muslim.
‘I’d love to be a citizen. I’d love to start a business, to create jobs, to give back to the community here.’
Khan arrived in the US at 16, graduated from Owings Mills High School outside Baltimore in 1999 and went on to land an IT job in Washington, D.C.
According to US court filings, he was drawn to radical Islam after the death of his mother.
Speaking to DailyMail.com, he says his sole focus is finding work and making arrangements for his wife Rabia and daughter to travel to the Caribbean to join him
The 42-year-old said he now hopes to start a new business in the tiny Central American nation which borders Mexico and is just a day’s drive from the porous southern US border
Kahn’s single-story property is basic by the standards of his upbringing in Catonsville, Maryland, but it’s typical of an upper-middle class Belizean home and cost the equivalent of $75,000 US, according to local sources
He decided to seek out al Qaeda after looking out from his office window on 9/11 and watching a plume of smoke rise from the Pentagon after it was struck by American Airlines flight 77.
Within months Khan had returned to Pakistan where he used the cover of looking for a wife to forge connections with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, also known as KSM, the self-proclaimed architect of the attacks.
In 2002 Khan donned a suicide vest packed with explosives and waited at a mosque for the arrival of Pakistan’s then-President Pervez Musharraf, a key US ally, so he could blow him up.
When Musharraf didn’t show, KSM devised a new plan for Khan to return to the US as a ‘sleeper agent’ so he could attack gas stations and poison water supplies.
He was captured by Pakistani security forces in March 2003, however, just as his daughter was about to be born.
For the next three years Khan was held at CIA ‘black sites’ where, according to a 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report, he was subjected to sleep deprivation, dunked in freezing water until he nearly drowned and force fed pureed food via a garden hose inserted into his rectum.
After being transferred to the high-security Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba, Khan turned government cooperator and pleaded guilty in 2012 to couriering $50,000 to al Qaeda operatives in Southeast Asia.
They used the money to launch a devastating 2003 suicide bombing at a Marriott hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, killing 12 people and injuring 150 more, according to prosecutors.
Under the terms of the agreement, Khan must remain in Belize – a country of 600 Muslims and only a handful of mosques, including the Al-Falah Mosque in Belize City – for three years
The country opened its newest mosque, Masjid Noor, in early 2022
When Khan finally came before a military jury for sentencing in 2021 he apologized for his crimes and renounced Islamic extremism, claiming he was a ‘young, impressionable, vulnerable kid’ when he fell under the spell of al Qaeda.
He was given 26 years in prison but seven of eight jurors wrote the court a letter urging clemency, describing his treatment in CIA custody as a ‘stain on the moral fiber of America.’
Under the terms of his cooperation Khan’s sentence ended in March of last year but he feared he’d be killed if he returned to Pakistan.
DailyMail.com can reveal that Khan drew up a list of three European nations where he wanted to go and named the US as an alternative – a request that was dismissed out of hand as it would be illegal under Federal law.
After becoming radicalized as a teenager, Khan became a close personal ally of al Qaeda leader and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (pictured)
Instead, the Biden administration reached out to a dozen countries before Secretary of State Antony Blinken brokered a deal with the government of Belize which sent its Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eamon Courtenay, to Guantanamo Bay to personally interview Kahn.
‘He was asked if he had any ill feelings towards the US for the torture he suffered. He said that he had already forgiven those who had tortured him and paraphrased the saying about holding on to anger being like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die,’ the Belizean delegation remarked in an internal report obtained by DailyMail.com.
‘There are no indications that he harbors violent resentment toward the US government to the extent that he may want to act out against US interests in Belize or (even less likely) against Belizeans.’
Khan was asked for his opinion of Saudi Arabia and Iran and was ‘highly critical’ of both.
He told Courtenay’s team that if he encountered young people interested in radical Islam he would ‘set them straight.’
Khan (pictured left in a 2012 court sketch) started his new life in Belize on February 2, promising to be a law-abiding citizen
‘Khan appears to have abandoned any interest in radical Islam and appears to no longer be interested in jihadism. He is unlikely to be a security threat to Belize,’ the October 14 document concludes.
Announcing Khan’s arrival in Belize, Courtenay confirmed he was arriving a free man, not as a detainee.
‘The government of Belize considers Mr. Khan’s resettlement as a humanitarian act,’ he said, according to 7 News Belize.
‘Though Khan may have contributed to acts of terrorism, he was brutally abused and tortured. He has repudiated his radicalism, cooperated with US authorities in the fight against terrorism and has served his time,’ Courtenay added.
With Khan’s release the number of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, which President Obama promised to close in 2016, has dropped to just 34 from a high of 660.
Neither Khan’s attorney, J. Wells Dixon, nor the US government would disclose the full terms of the resettlement deal when contacted by DailyMail.com.
‘We are grateful to Belize for offering Mr. Khan a new home after he pled guilty and cooperated with US authorities against al Qaeda for more than a decade, but cannot comment on the terms of his resettlement,’ said Dixon.
A statement issued by the Department of Defense said the US ‘appreciates the willingness of the Government of Belize and other partners to support ongoing U.S. efforts focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population and ultimately closing the Guantanamo Bay facility.’