He appears to have been born to be an al-Qaeda terrorist. The 35-year-old Islamist from Algeria says he fought his first battle at age 11. He is described as a Taliban spy, a remorseless killer and a money runner.
And for a time, the same man may have worked as an overseas intelligence source for Canada's spy agency.
Newly leaked documents from the Guantanamo Bay prison revealed on Tuesday the strange case of Adil Hadi al Jazairi Bin Hamlili. The globetrotting extremist seems to have been regarded by the Canadians and British as a valuable source, even as the United States arrested him as a deadly terrorist. He was held by the U.S. military for seven years in Guantanamo Bay before being mysteriously released.
The Pentagon's information suggests he was "possibly" involved in a series of deadly bombings in Pakistan in 2002, including attacks against two churches and a luxury hotel. This was when Mr. Hamlili "withheld important information from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the British Secret Intelligence Service (BSIS) for whom he served as a [human intelligence]source," according to newly leaked U.S. intelligence documents.
The revelations surface in Guantanamo Bay intelligence assessments that are now appearing via WikiLeaks and the mainstream media, six months after leaked U.S. State Department cables first started shedding light on the inner workings of U.S. diplomacy. The Guardian newspaper first posted the Hamlili document late on Monday.
CSIS must now contend with documents purporting to blow the identity of an overseas source - something that has never happened before. The case raises ethical questions for Ottawa about how Canadian agents dealt with a double, or even triple, agent who had unequivocal ties to al-Qaeda.
Such sources "are always seen as the great prize. And because they are seen as the great prize there is always a temptation to want to believe their bona fides," says Wesley Wark, a professor with the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs. He said it would be "beyond the pale" for CSIS and MI6 to run "a valuable intelligence agent if they knew him to be involved in acts of violence."
There are some reasons to be cautious about U.S. claims of Mr. Hamlili's involvement in bombings. Part of the intelligence implicating him in bombings derives from the tainted admissions of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed - the al-Qaeda planner who was waterboarded 183 times by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
But the U.S. allegations remain stark. "Detainee is assessed to be an al-Qaeda operative, a facilitator, courier, kidnapper and assassin with numerous ties to senior leaders," the assessment says. " Detainee was involved in a plot to attack the U.S. consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan (PK) and was possibly the leader of an extremist cell that carried out a string of bombing attacks against civilian targets in 2002."
Mr. Hamlili appears to be something like an Algerian version of Canadian Omar Khadr. He was born into an al-Qaeda family that moved him to Afghanistan in his youth. He is said to have fought Soviet invaders while still a child and to have lived in Osama bin Laden's compound.
When he was barely 20, Mr. Hamlili is said to have murdered an al-Qaeda member and his wife for not being sufficiently Islamic. Despite making powerful enemies, he is said to have entered the Taliban regime's diplomatic and spy services.
In public Guantanamo documents, Mr. Hamlili appears to have outted himself as a Western spy. "The detainee stated he was introduced to the Canadian Foundation in Kabul, Afghanistan," reads a summary of one of his status review hearings, without further explanation. "They provided the detainee financial support in return for information on the whereabouts and activities of al-Qaeda members."
U.S. documents suggest that his relationship with CSIS and MI6 lasted from 2000 until his 2003 arrest.
The U.S. alleges his connections to al-Qaeda were too close, implicating him in a series of attacks: In March of 2002, terrorists killed five at a Protestant church in Islamabad, including a U.S. diplomat and his daughter. In May, an attack at Karachi's Sheraton hotel killed 11 French nationals and two Pakistanis. In December, three girls were killed in a rural church.
Following his capture in Pakistan, he was sent to Guantanamo Bay. Yet the United States never charged him. In 2010, he was sent back to his native Algeria without explanation.