Who Are The Two Syrians Released From Guantánamo To Portugal?

3.9.09

The Portuguese ParliamentOn August 28, in the first indication that European countries are prepared to help the Obama administration fulfill its promise to close Guantánamo by accepting prisoners who have been cleared for release, but who cannot be repatriated because of fears that they will face torture on their return, the Portuguese interior ministry announced that two Syrian prisoners had arrived from Guantánamo and had been released on their arrival in Portugal. Officials added that they are “not subject to any charge, they are free people and are living in homes provided by the state.”

Last December, Portugal took the lead in offering to rehouse cleared prisoners from Guantánamo, when, in a letter to other EU leaders, Luís Amado, the Portuguese Foreign Minister, declared, “The time has come for the European Union to step forward. As a matter of principle and coherence, we should send a clear signal of our willingness to help the US government in that regard, namely through the resettlement of detainees. As far as the Portuguese government is concerned, we will be available to participate.”

The deal was apparently sealed in June, when the government announced that it was ready to take “two or three” prisoners from Guantánamo, following a visit by US Special Envoy Daniel Fried. On arrival in Portugal, the men’s identities were not known, but on Monday, court documents released by the Justice Department (PDF) revealed that the two men are 27-year old Mohammed al-Tumani (identified by the Pentagon as Muhammed Khan Tumani), and 37-year old Moammar Badawi Dokhan.

In a press release issued on Friday, the US Justice Department explained the circumstances of the men’s release, stressing that the final say in approving their transfer had been taken by Congress. “As directed by the President’s Jan. 22, 2009 Executive Order, the interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force conducted a comprehensive review of these cases,” the DoJ announced, adding, “As a result of that review, the detainees were approved for transfer from Guantánamo Bay. On Aug. 6, 2009, in accordance with Congressionally-mandated reporting requirements, the Administration informed Congress of its intent to transfer these two detainees.”

The Justice Department was also keen to allay any fears that the men might pose any threat in future. “The transfers were carried out under an arrangement between the United States and the government of Portugal,” the press release stated, adding, “The United States has coordinated with the government of Portugal to ensure the transfers take place under appropriate security measures and will continue to consult with the government of Portugal regarding these detainees.”

To be honest, these caveats were unnecessary, as the Portuguese government would not have taken the men in the first place, and would certainly not have announced that they “are free people and are living in homes provided by the state,” if there had been any doubts about their insignificance. Moreover, their stories, as revealed in publicly available documents from Guantánamo, also reveal that neither man had any connection whatsoever to international terrorism, revealing, as so often before, that right-wing hysteria about those still held in the prison is largely hyperbole of a kind that, on close inspection, reveals more about the cowardice and xenophobia of those making the claims than it does about the majority of the prisoners themselves.

Mohammed al-Tumani: a story of persistent abuse

The younger of the two released men, Mohammed al-Tumani, who was just 18 years old when he arrived in Afghanistan in June 2001, has always maintained that he arrived as an immigrant with his entire family, and was seized by mistake with his father, Abdul Nasir al-Tumani, who is still held in Guantánamo. As I explained in my book The Guantánamo Files, based on the men’s accounts in their military tribunals:

The father had traveled to Afghanistan in1999 in search of work, finding a job in a restaurant in Kabul and bringing ten members of his family over in June 2001, including Mohammed, his grandmother and an eight-month old baby. Another six family members — his uncle’s family — arrived a week before 9/11, but after hearing about the attack on America the family fled to Jalalabad, where they stayed for a month, and then made their way on foot to Pakistan. On the way, their guide advised al-Tumani to let the women and children travel by car, to make them less of a target for highway robbers, but when he and his son arrived in Pakistan the local villagers handed them over to the Pakistani army.

Mohammed also said that, while in Pakistani custody, in three separate prisons, he and his father were “subjected to beatings and harsh torture,” and his nose was broken. He added that throughout this ordeal “there were Americans present,” and this account was echoed by his father, who said that the Pakistanis “were torturing us really hard,” and the Americans “were looking and standing right there. The Americans were present. I am sure about that because they were the ones who interrogated us.”

In addition, Mohammed explained that, in the US prison at Kandahar airport (where the prisoners were processed for Guantánamo), his father’s forehead was fractured “and the Red Cross saw this and wrote a report,” and he added that he received a fracture to his left hand, as well as suffering “many diseases” and “other methods of psychological torture,” including sleep deprivation.

He also explained, as Carol Rosenberg described it in the Miami Herald, that during interrogation at Camp X-Ray (the rudimentary first prison at Guantánamo, which was closed in June 2002), “one of the interrogators brought two wires connected to electricity and said that if you do not say that you and your father are from al-Qaeda or Taliban, I will place these in your neck,’” and that the abuse continued in Camp Delta (Camp X-Ray’s more permanent replacement), where he said that he was “threatened with violence,” and that “an interrogator threatened to send him to torture in a foreign country.”

Beyond these alarming examples of abuse, which cannot be independently confirmed (but which certainly accord with claims made by many other prisoners), Mohammed al-Tumani’s story is also notable for a startling example of how allegations made by other prisoners were regarded as reliable evidence by the authorities at Guantánamo, even when, as in al-Tumani’s case, the veracity of these claims was undermined by military officers who had chosen to investigate the quality of the supposed evidence rather than accepting it at face value.

The baleful effects of Guantánamo’s notorious liar

As Corine Hegland explained in two ground-breaking articles for the National Journal in 2006 (“Guantánamo’s Grip” and “Empty Evidence”), Mohammed al-Tumani was one of two prisoners whose protestations regarding what they claimed were false allegations made against them by other prisoners were investigated by their enterprising Personal Representative. The Representatives were military officers appointed in place of lawyers in the Combatant Status Review Tribunals, the review boards established in 2004, which, as one former insider, Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham has explained, were designed primarily to rubberstamp the prisoners’ prior designation as “enemy combatants” who could be held without charge or trial.

In the case of Farouq Saif (identified by the Pentagon as Farouq Ali Ahmed), a Yemeni who was accused of guarding Osama bin Laden’s private airport in Kandahar by another Yemeni prisoner, his Personal Representative (a principled but unidentified Air Force Lieutenant Colonel) submitted a written protest after looking at Saif’s file and discovering that the government’s sole evidence that he had been at bin Laden’s airport was the statement of another prisoner, who, according to an FBI memo that he presented to the tribunal, was a notorious liar. According to the FBI, he “had lied, not only about Farouq, but about other Yemeni detainees as well. The other detainee claimed he had seen the Yemenis at times and in places where they simply could not have been.” Despite this, Saif was judged to be an “enemy combatant,” and is still held at Guantánamo.

In addition, Hegland also discussed how Mohammed al-Tumani had been ensnared by the informer’s lies, as I explained in an article in 2007:

In his tribunal, [al-Tumani] denied an allegation that he had attended the al-Farouq training camp [the main training camp for Arabs, associated with Osama bin Laden in the years before 9/11] with such vigor that his Personal Representative decided to investigate the matter further. When he looked at the classified evidence, however, he found that only one man — the same detainee mentioned above — claimed to have seen him at al-Farouq, and had identified him as being there three months before he arrived in Afghanistan. As Corine Hegland described it, “The curious US officer pulled the classified file of the accuser, saw that he had accused 60 men, and, suddenly skeptical, pulled the files of every detainee the accuser had placed at the one training camp. None of the men had been in Afghanistan at the time the accuser said he saw them at the camp.”

As with Farouq Saif, however, the Personal Representative’s protestations were in vain, because Mohammed al-Tumani was also judged to be an “enemy combatant,” and had to wait for nearly five years before President Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force finally “conducted a comprehensive review” of his case, and, presumably, established that the evidence against him was unreliable. What has not been explained, however, is what happened in the cases of the other 58 men who were accused by the notorious liar, or why Mohammed’s father — whose circumstances seem to have been no different — was not cleared for release as well.

A Taliban foot soldier?

Less is known of the second man, Moammar Dokhan, who was 29 when he was captured on the Pakistani border, as he did not take part in any tribunals or review boards at Guantánamo. According to the Pentagon, he “traveled from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan with the stated intention of joining the Taliban,” “served as a rear-echelon guard and manned an observation post” near Bagram, and “carried a rifle while on duty at the observation post.”

With nothing else to rely on, the authorities tried to spice up this meager list with claims that “his name was contained on a list of incarcerated associates found on a computer used by suspected al-Qaeda members in Pakistan in early 2002,” and that his name “was contained on a list of captured mujahideen found in Pakistan on a hard drive associated with a high-ranking al-Qaeda operative,” although as I explained in a brief profile of Dokhan’s case last year:

It is not known if these two claims in fact refer to the same computer file, but neither provides proof of anything other than the fact that he was caught and imprisoned as a suspected militant. The “list,” as in the cases of many other prisoners, may have been nothing more than a report of the prisoners’ names, mentioned in the media or leaked by the men’s jailers, and it appears to be no more useful as evidence than the Bush administration’s claims that those in Guantánamo are “enemy combatants,” because the President decided, without the need for evidence, that that was the case.

Nevertheless, although the Taliban allegations indicate that Dokhan was, at best, nothing more than one of the lowliest Taliban recruits in an inter-Muslim civil war that predated the 9/11 attacks and had nothing to do with al-Qaeda (although Dokhan himself “denie[d] ever having been in Afghanistan”), it is surprising that Obama’s Task Force allowed him to be released, as, elsewhere, the Justice Department has been working overtime to prevent judges in the District Courts from granting the habeas corpus appeals of other prisoners whose connections to the Taliban have been no more pronounced, and, just last week, scored what appeared to be a rare victory when Judge Kollar-Kotelly ruled that a Kuwaiti prisoner, Fawzi al-Odah, could continue to be detained because the government had established, “by a preponderance of the evidence,” that he was probably involved with the Taliban and/or al-Qaeda.

Logic dictates that those who traveled to Afghanistan to serve with the Taliban are a different type of prisoner from those who were members of al-Qaeda, and were committed to plotting and pursuing terrorist attacks against the US and its allies, but logic was a rare commodity in the Bush administration, which chose instead to conflate al-Qaeda with the Taliban and to pack Guantánamo with men who knew nothing about Osama bin Laden or the 9/11 attacks, and had no involvement with terrorism. Moreover, the effects of this confusion linger to this day, as the Obama administration has chosen to maintain the same fiction that al-Qaeda and the Taliban are interchangeable, and the District Courts are also bound by this ludicrous lack of distinction.

We may never discover what the government’s secretive Guantánamo Review Task Force concluded about Moammar Dokhan (or, for that matter, about Mohammed al-Tumani), but by cutting through the hyperbole and granting these two men their freedom, the Portuguese government has just established that it has a clarity of vision that, with just four months to go until President Obama’s deadline for closing Guantánamo, remains sorely lacking in the United States.

Note: The photo of the Portuguese Parliament is by Rui Nogueira. Please also note that Mohammed al-Tumani was also identified in Guantánamo as Muhammed Khantumani, and his father as Abdul Nasser Khantumani, or Abd al-Nisr Khantumani.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed, and also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009.

As published on the Huffington Post, CounterPunch, Antiwar.com and ZNet. Cross-posted on Common Dreams and The Public Record.

See the following for articles about the 142 prisoners released from Guantánamo from June 2007 to January 2009, and the 14 prisoners released from February to August 2009, whose stories are covered in more detail than is available anywhere else –- either in print or on the Internet –- although many of them, of course, are also covered in The Guantánamo Files: June 2007 –- 2 Tunisians, 4 Yemenis (here, here and here); July 2007 –- 16 Saudis; August 2007 –- 1 Bahraini, 5 Afghans; September 2007 –- 16 Saudis; September 2007 –- 1 Mauritanian; September 2007 –- 1 Libyan, 1 Yemeni, 6 Afghans; November 2007 –- 3 Jordanians, 8 Afghans; November 2007 –- 14 Saudis; December 2007 –- 2 Sudanese; December 2007 –- 13 Afghans (here and here); December 2007 –- 3 British residents; December 2007 –- 10 Saudis; May 2008 –- 3 Sudanese, 1 Moroccan, 5 Afghans (here, here and here); July 2008 –- 2 Algerians; July 2008 –- 1 Qatari, 1 United Arab Emirati, 1 Afghan; August 2008 –- 2 Algerians; September 2008 –- 1 Pakistani, 2 Afghans (here and here); September 2008 –- 1 Sudanese, 1 Algerian; November 2008 –- 1 Kazakh, 1 Somali, 1 Tajik; November 2008 –- 2 Algerians; November 2008 –- 1 Yemeni (Salim Hamdan) repatriated to serve out the last month of his sentence; December 2008 –- 3 Bosnian Algerians; January 2009 –- 1 Afghan, 1 Algerian, 4 Iraqis; February 2009 — 1 British resident (Binyam Mohamed); May 2009 — 1 Bosnian Algerian (Lakhdar Boumediene); June 2009 — 1 Chadian (Mohammed El-Gharani), 4 Uighurs, 1 Iraqi, 3 Saudis (here and here), August 2009 — 1 Afghan (Mohamed Jawad).

31 Responses

  1. the talking dog says...

    As welcome as these releases are, they point out something that continues to be wrong with this picture: George “Gung Ho for the Whole Gulag Thing” Bush released over 500 men from GTMO, whereas Barack “I’m Going to Close GTMO In a Year” Obama has released just over a dozen, and one of those was in a coffin.

    And the Obama Administration is fighting tooth and nail to prevent courts from releasing any of the 200 plus men remaining, even though, as noted over and over again (including in the recent fabulous interview with Col. Wilkerson here) that no more than 2 or 3 dozen are guilty of anything at all, let alone of having a connection to Al Qaeda or terrorism.

    I think this http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/corpus-delicti-by-digby-former.html from Digby’s Hullaballoo blog sums it up best: that the Obama Administration is behaving in some half-assed way thinking this will insulate them from the eventual retribution (including the mother of all counter-jihads investigations) once Cheney’s allies re-take power, is troubling in every way, including in the absurd naiivite in believing that such retribution will be coming no matter what Obama does. That said, there is just no excuse whatsoever for not doing the right thing, i.e., what Candidate Obama promised to do, and roll-back the whole totalitarian enterprise.

    In the meantime, we can celebrate the trickling out of a detainee or two here and there… but we have to acknowledge that’s all it is, and the big picture remains not a pretty one.

  2. the talking dog says...

    Correction to prior comment: That is to say, the absurd naiivite in believing that such retribution will NOT be coming no matter what Obama does.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi TD,
    Astute, as ever, and thanks for the Digby link, which I hadn’t seen. Off now to begin tackling the absurdity of some of those recent habeas judgements …

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    So here’s an interesting selection of comments from the Huffington Post, which began when fbr79 wrote:

    They are all innocent, always. The piece admits that their claims cannot be substantiated, but we are supposed to believe them anyways. The writer admits that we will probably never know the conclusions of the investigations, but he still implies they are innocent or simply the “lowliest Taliban recruits”.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    This prompted sixtyfivepercentwater to reply:

    Yes, they are “innocent” inasmuch as they cannot be proven guilty and there is no evidence of them committing any crimes. I don’t know how anyone could fail to grasp that concept.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    And I replied:

    Thanks for replying to that, sixtyfivep­ercentwate­r. I’m in complete agreement with you. To be honest, it amazes me that, even if someone were one of the “lowliest Taliban recruits,” some people still consider it appropriate to hold them for longer than the duration of World War II. I maintain that we should have made a strict distinction between Taliban foot soldiers and al-Qaeda terrorists nearly eight years ago, that Obama should have grasped this when he became President, the Supreme Court should have clarified it, and the District Courts shouldn’t still be forced to act on Cheney and Addington’s idiotic notion of who constituted “the enemy.” If foot soldiers had really been held as PoWs according to the Geneva Conventions, I’m pretty sure we’d have had some interesting court cases by now to establish that you can’t actually be engaged in a “war on terror” that goes on forever, but as it is we’re stuck with Guantanamo and only one logical course of action: stop messing about trying to claim that foot soldiers were terrorists, and concentrate on the few dozen who really count …

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    sixtyfivepercentwater added:

    Agreed. In regard to these two, either these two should have been held all this time, or they are completely benign and should never have been held. If a review of their files shows that they aren’t guilty of anything, then why were they captured and held in the first place?

    There are thousands more like them, held in secret locations throughout the world. What is their fate?

    At the very least there should also be massive reparations. I am intensely uncomfortable with people being gathered up secretly, taken to mostly unknown locations without being charged or having benefit of counsel or the rights ensured under the Geneva Conventions, being held for years under terrible conditions while perhaps being tortured, and then just let go without any fanfare. The whole thing is utterly abhorrent. It’s not what civilized people do, and if any other country were doing it all Americans would be outraged. The fact that our country is doing it only makes it worse, because we have always claimed to adhere to higher standards than most of the world.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Another thread began in response to the following comment from TeddySalad:

    They are not US Citizens, why do we treat them as if they should be accorded any rights at all.
    We hit Afghanistan BECAUSE the Taliban would not give up Osama Bin Ladin, therefore even the lowliest Private is our enemy. What we released Italian Prisoners of War because they were not Nazis? That is ridiculous.

    As far as torture goes, none of what you stated is considered torture.

    Also, The Geneva Convention is a Treaty, and is only applied to other nations that have also signed the Treaty with us. We do not have to abide by that Treaty with Al Queda or the Taliban because they are not signatories.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    arcticredriver replied:

    First, because the US Constitution, and the USA’s other founding documents, talk about Universal Human Rights that all human beings are entitled to — not rights that only American citizens are entitled to. In addition to defending those slaves-ship victims in Amistad John Adams once defended extremely unpopular British soldiers charged with firing into a crowd of pre-revolutionary Americans.

    Second, because the safety of the general public is vastly improved if only those who were bona fide terrorists are treated as if they were terrorists. If you torture innocent men long enough they too will confess to involvement in a lot of terrorist plots. We know now that the CIA interrogators went though a training program that was just two weeks long. They were incredibly untrained, and under-qualified. The result is that they inadvertently cast off a lot of clues to what they feared, clues those being interrogated picked up on. This made the public less safe.

    When false confessions and false denunciations were treated as reliable, and our precious counter-terrorism [capacities] are squandered on wild-goose chases, we are all less safe because those counter-terrorism resources weren’t available to guard against real threats.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    arcticredriver added:

    TeddySalad, your comment that the Geneva Convention does not apply to the USA’s treatment of the Taliban and al Qaeda members, because they are not signatories is wildly incorrect.

    Afghanistan IS a signatory to the Geneva Convention. So the Geneva Conventions apply to any military activity the USA engages in in Afghanistan.

    President Bush and President Obama didn’t have to sign all the USA’s international treaties for them to remain in place. They would have had to take active steps to rescind them. Similarly the Geneva Conventions remain in effect in Afghanistan unless an administration recognized as Afghanistan’s legitimate government rescinded them.

    This doesn’t mean that bona fide al Qaeda terrorists would be entitled to POW status. But the Geneva Conventions, and Army Regulation 190-8, both require all captives to be treated as if they qualified for POW status until a “competent tribunal” was convened and individually determined that the captive didn’t qualify for POW status.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    This was a comment by mountclemens:

    Great journalism again by Andy Worthington.

    Following the utterly criminal Bush-Cheney regime, “the Obama administration has chosen to maintain the same fiction that al-Qaeda and the Taliban are interchangeable, and the District Courts are also bound by this ludicrous lack of distinction.” — Andy Worthington.

    Don’t forget, people: Iraq and Afghanistan are Wars of CHOICE by the USA. That’s unconstitutional in the USA. That’s “high crime” against our country, our people. And it’s been a horrible murderous crime against more than a million innocent people in those two countries. The USA continues to kill more innocent bystanders than actual “enemies.”

    Both the Republicans and the Democrats have done this, by choice.

    As Bill Moyers said on Bill Maher’s show some days ago, both parties are corporate parties serving a narrow set of corporate interests. And those corporate interests seem to win on every major issue they have an interest in.

    Of course, they have an interest in the huge profits involved in war. That’s why they pay the politicians to over-prepare for war and then make war, and continue war, and now escalate a wrongful war.

    Damn it, people, BE THE CHANGE. Save the next million lives, including thousands of our own. Stand up and stop our Congress and President. Force them to resign now. Their replacements will know that We The People are the boss, not the wealthy corrupt elite.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    And it prompted the following amusing reply from sixtyfivepercentwater:

    I was with you 100% (and wanting to have your children) until I got to “. . .stand up and stop our Congress and President. Force them to resign now. ”

    How does that work? Short of outright revolution in the streets, which isn’t going to happen, how do you recommend we proceed?

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    And this was a comment by Alonso Quijano:

    More confirmation that our side’s torturers are sick, crazy, and illogical. They insist that what these individuals say is the truth only while they are being tortured. After their torture ends, anything they say is a lie.

    With much greater probability the reverse is true. Under torture, people will say anything the torturers want in an often futile attempt to stop or deflect the torture.

    Whom do you believe? The torturers or those torturees who are released because despite the torture nothing substantial against them can be proved?

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    sixtyfivepercentwater wrote:

    These two are just two of many. I wonder how the American public would feel if American citizens were grabbed around the world, imprisoned without benefit of counsel, had their human rights violated repeatedly (“the lawyers said it was okay”) and then at some time in the future were released without apology or compensation.

    I think we’d be pretty upset with anyone who did that, and we’d wonder who the hell they thought they were to treat human beings that way.

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Jannsmoor wrote:

    I remember clearly, on many occasions, hearing Cheney refer to these people as “the worst of the worst.” I do not remember, even one time, a journalist asking how he knew they were the worst of the worst if they did not have any evidence.

    To me it is the same as absolutely knowing Iraq had WMD, but not knowing a single location where that WMD was located.

    I am completely baffled when I attempt to understand these people. How do you know someone is guilty if you have no evidence? We have built an entire legal system on the concept it requires evidence to actually know something. Not only that, the evidence must be convincing, it must have credibility.

    How on earth did America elect such people?

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    In another interesting thread, arcticredriver wrote:

    Something like a million illegal aliens try to sneak into the USA every year. But the USA is not the only nation people want to resettle in. Some people live in horribly repressive countries, where they are unsafe, unsafe due to their religion, their ethnic group, or because they practiced free speech in a country where that wasn’t safe.

    Yes, some people wanted to settle in Afghanistan, because their own country was not safe for them, and immigration to North America, Europe, Australia, were all closed to them. Settling in Afghanistan was easy. And there were innocent bystanders who wanted to settle there to escape repression in their own countries, because no more attractive country was open to them.

    Some of the human rights workers and aid workers who became hostages in Iraq and Afghanistan post 9-11 are Christians, traveled to the trouble zones, because of their religious beliefs. I never believed that being a Muslim was equivalent to being a terrorist. And, after reading the captives testimony, Just as the Christian community contains people so devoted to helping their fellow man that they will travel to unsafe countries to help those most in need, there are a small minority of peaceful Muslims who are similarly devoted to helping their fellow man. Prior to 9-11 some of them traveled to impoverished and illiterate Afghanistan to try to help their fellow man.

    Christians make that kind of sacrifice, and some Muslims make that kind of sacrifice too.

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Texas Aggie added:

    “here are a small minority of peaceful Muslims who are similarly devoted to helping their fellow man. ”

    Given that one of the five pillars of Islam is helping those less fortunate than yourself, I would bet that the “small minority” is quite a bit larger than the same minority of Christians who feel that they should be helping those less fortunate.

    Besides, a man doesn’t bring his whole family along if he’s planning to be a terrorist rather than looking for work. I’ve seen what Syrians will do to just exist. Lebanon has a similar situation with Syrians that we have with Mexicans. There is a surfeit of Syrians willing to do the work that Lebanese don’t want to do and they come “illegally” although Lebanon has a much better system than we do in that as long as the person has some sort of government identification whether Syrian or Lebanese, there isn’t any problem. They just don’t get government services.

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    And I replied:

    Thanks arcticredriver and Texas Aggie for pointing out some shamefully overlooked facts about (a) the reasons why Muslim refugees may have traveled to Afghanistan under the Taliban, and may not have been there because of “terrorism” (as the cases of so many of the men released from Guantanamo have confirmed without a doubt), and (b) for highlighting the charitable obligations of Islam, as one of the five pillars of the faith. An underreported, and disturbing story, concerns the Bush administration’s paranoia about the supposed terrorist connections of Muslim charities (which I’ve previously compared to attempts to shut down the Catholic church because of the activities of the IRA), which were used to justify holding men in Guantanamo (even if the organizations in question were not regarded as “terrorist entities” in the US), and which have also led to some dubious convictions within the United States of individuals attempting to raise money for humanitarian purposes.

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    mmfleming wrote:

    What’s lost in all this are any comments on the courage and basic decency of Portugal to help us unravel this mess.

    It puts to shame the governors of those states crying NIMBY to proposals to transfer any of the prisoners to their solitary confinement high security facilities in response to their loudest chickenhawks. As if these guys have small nuclear devices secreted up some secret Arab orifice that went undiscovered at Gitmo.

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    s1mon wrote:

    The Bush administration’s entire conception of justice was entirely Manichean. To them, crimes weren’t something you DO, they’re something you ARE. Thus, to the president torturing prisoners was OK, because he was on the side of Jesus, and because the tortured had to be on the devil’s side.

    So when they’re deciding who to try to convict, if they’ve decided that so-and-so “is al Qaeda”, then he’s guilty of terrorism, period.

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    And WorkingClass added:

    Bush and Cheney just like to hurt people. It’s not complicated.

  22. Margaret Downs says...

    Mr. Worthington,

    I’ve been keeping up with your Guantanamo reporting and find much interest in the subject since my father, John Downs, is an American geologist currently imprisoned in Qatar for life. My two brothers and I (all in university/high school) recently returned from a trip to Washington, DC where we met with our representatives in the Senate and State Department asking for help on our father’s behalf. Like all previous trips to DC, we returned home with little hope and less support.

    During the past 4 years of my father’s unjust incarceration he’s been writing novels and short stories to occupy his time. We’re currently looking for a reporter/author who finds interest in our story and might be inclined to help us get it published.

    You can find more information on our website at http://www.johnwdowns.com or my blog margaretdowns.blogspot.com. Thank you so much for your time and dedicated reporting.

    Margaret Downs

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    [...] W. Bush arrives in Canada, the four Guantánamo prisoners — Hassan bin Attash, Sami el-Hajj, Muhammed Khan Tumani and Murat Kurnaz (all released, with the exception of bin Attash) — will lodge a private [...]

  29. Rights Groups Call for the Arrest of George W. Bush for Torture as He Arrives in Canada | War On You: Breaking Alternative News says...

    [...] W. Bush arrives in Canada, the four Guantánamo prisoners — Hassan bin Attash, Sami el-Hajj, Muhammed Khan Tumani and Murat Kurnaz (all released, with the exception of bin Attash) — will lodge a private [...]

  30. Pakistani Bounty Claims: Adnan Farhan Abd Al Latif and TD-314/00684-02 | emptywheel says...

    [...] Dokhan, a Libyan who was released in [...]

  31. Accountability for Bush’s Torture « roger hollander says...

    [...] British Columbia, on behalf of four Guantanamo prisoners — Hassan bin Attash, Sami el-Hajj, Muhammed Khan Tumani, and Murat Kurnaz (all released, with the exception of bin Attash) — on the day of [...]

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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The Guantánamo Files book cover

The Guantánamo Files

The Battle of the Beanfield book cover

The Battle of the Beanfield

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Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion

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Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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