May 12, 2008 -- ABDULLAH Saleh al-Ajmi was a Kuwaiti soldier who deserted to fight with the Taliban in Afghanistan after the United States invaded that country in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Coalition forces captured him in the Tora Bora region - believed to be the hideout of Osama bin Laden - designated him an "enemy combatant" and shipped him out to the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
There he remained until Nov. 3, 2005 - when, despite substantial evidence of his terrorist ties and a history of aggressive behavior at Gitmo, he was sent back to Kuwait.
Al-Ajmi could have crawled back under the rock from which he'd emerged. Instead, he made his way illegally to Syria, then crossed the border into Iraq.
Now comes word from Al Arabiya television news in Dubai that he blew himself up in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul - one of a series of three suicide bombings that killed at least seven people in the last week of April.
Al-Ajmi's life was one of fanaticism, defeat, treachery and bumbling idiocy - a microcosm, in other words, of the Arab experience in the Middle East over the last century. But his death underscores the intractable dilemma posed by prisoners at Gitmo.
What's to be done with captured enemy combatants who fight for no flag in particular, recognize no fixed chain of command . . . who are, in effect, conducting their own private wars against America? What collective peace agreement will ever be binding on the likes of al-Ajmi?
The thought of holding hundreds of prisoners at Gitmo indefinitely, without ever charging them, runs counter to the American ideal of justice. But providing them with open hearings and formal public trials, which would necessarily include discovery and presentation of classified material, is a practical impossibility.
So until someone comes up with a better solution, Gitmo is what we've got.