The Complete Guantánamo Files: WikiLeaks and the Prisoners Released in 2007 (Part Four of Ten)

22.5.12

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Freelance investigative journalist Andy Worthington continues his 70-part, million-word series telling, for the first time, the stories of 776 of the 779 prisoners held at Guantánamo since the prison opened on January 11, 2002. Adding information released by WikiLeaks in April 2011 to the existing documentation about the prisoners, much of which was already covered in Andy’s book The Guantánamo Files and in the archive of articles on his website, the project will hopefully be completed by 2013, although that is contingent on finding new funding.

This is Part 34 of the 70-part series. 422 stories have now been told. See the entire archive here.

In late April last year, I worked with WikiLeaks as a media partner for the publication of thousands of pages of classified military documents — the Detainee Assessment Briefs — relating to almost all of the 779 prisoners held at Guantánamo since the prison opened on January 11, 2002. These documents drew heavily on the testimony of the prisoners themselves, and also on the testimony of their fellow inmates (either in Guantánamo, or in secret prisons run by or on behalf of the CIA), whose statements are unreliable, either because they were subjected to torture or other forms of coercion, or because they provided false statements in the hope of securing better treatment in Guantánamo.

The documents were compiled by the Joint Task Force at Guantánamo (JTF GTMO), which operates the prison, and were based on assessments and reports made by interrogators and analysts whose primary concern was to “exploit” the prisoners for their intelligence value. They also include input from the Criminal Investigative Task Force, created by the DoD in 2002 to conduct interrogations on a law enforcement basis, rather than for “actionable intelligence.”

My ongoing analysis of the documents began in May, with a five-part series, “WikiLeaks: The Unknown Prisoners of Guantánamo,” telling the stories of 84 prisoners, released between 2002 and 2004, whose stories had never been told before. This was followed by a ten-part series, “WikiLeaks and the Guantánamo Prisoners Released from 2002 to 2004,” in which I revisited the stories of 114 other prisoners released in this period, adding information from the Detainee Assessment Briefs to what was already known about these men and boys from press reports and other sources. This was followed by another five-part series, “WikiLeaks and the Guantánamo Prisoners Released After the Tribunals, 2004 to 2005,” dealing with the period from September 2004 to the end of 2005, when 62 prisoners were released.

This, as I explained, was the period in which, after the prisoners won a spectacular victory in the Supreme Court in June 2004, in Rasul v. Bush, when the Supreme Court granted them habeas corpus rights (in other words, the right to ask an impartial judge why they were being held), lawyers were allowed to meet the prisoners for the first time, and the secrecy that was required for Guantánamo to function as an interrogation center beyond the law was finally broken.

However, although the Bush administration allowed habeas petitions to proceed, Congress attempted to strip the prisoners of their habeas rights in the Detainee Treatment Act in 2005, and the administration also responded to the Supreme Court’s ruling with its own inferior version of habeas, the Combatant Status Review Tribunals, a sham process designed to rubber-stamp their designation as “enemy combatants” who could be held indefinitely.

With just 38 prisoners cleared for release after the CSRTs, another review process — the annual Administrative Review Boards — took over, reviewing whether prisoners still had ongoing intelligence value, and whether they still posed a threat to the US. These were essentially the decisions being taken by JTF GTMO and CITF, and they reveal how, in the “War on Terror,” prosecuting criminals (the few genuine terror suspects in Guantánamo) and holding soldiers off the battlefield until the end of hostilities had largely given way to the strange mixture of threat assessments and intelligence assessments that fill the Detainee Assessment Briefs.

With 260 prisoners profiled in the first 20 parts of this project, the next ten-part series, “WikiLeaks and the Guantanamo Prisoners Released in 2006,” covered the stories of the 111 prisoners released in 2006 (and the three who died at the prison in June 2006), almost all of whom were freed because of political maneuvering rather than anything to do with justice, as is the case with this latest ten-part series, dealing with the 124 prisoners released in 2007, including two more who died without ever having been charged or tried.

I also hope that readers will reflect on the problems of over-classification that have been thoroughly chronicled in the preceding series analyzing the Detainee Assessment Briefs. My analysis to date has established repeatedly that even patently innocent prisoners seized by mistake were regarded as a “low risk,” rather than as no risk at all, and it is important for readers to bear in mind that the entire process of detaining and processing prisoners and exploiting them for their supposed intelligence was shot through with a drive to conclude that they were all a threat, and to overlook the distressing fact that most of them were seized in a largely random manner, mostly by America’s Afghan and Pakistan allies, at a time when substantial bounty payments were widespread, and were never subjected to anything that resembled an adequate screening process.

And then, of course, as I have outlined above, and as is revealed extensively in the files, they were trapped in a prison where officials, in their ill-conceived desire for “actionable intelligence,” ended up attempting to justifying their detention either by coercing or bribing the prisoners themselves, or their fellow prisoners, to come up with allegations that could be passed off as plausible, whether or not there was any substance to them at all.

The Complete Guantánamo Files: WikiLeaks and the Prisoners Released in 2007 (Part Four of Ten)

Abdul Rahman Al Amri (ISN 199, Saudi Arabia) Died in Guantánamo May 2007

In my book The Guantánamo Files, the story of Abdul Rahman al-Amri was not included, as I had to cut a number of stories to keep the book at a manageable length. However, it was clear from my research that he was nothing more than a foot soldier for the Taliban in the civil war with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, who served in the Saudi army for nine years, traveled to Afghanistan in September 2001, allegedly undertook military training at a “school for jihad” in Kandahar and then moved on to the front lines. In December 2001, he passed through the Tora Bora region, crossed the border into Pakistan, and surrendered to the Pakistani police.

In a statement prepared for his tribunal at Guantánamo, he “admitted it was his duty to fight jihad and that he continues to admit to that today. He says it is all Muslims’ responsibility to fight for jihad when called upon by a Muslim government (in this case, and at that time, it was the Taliban).” He also pointed out that “Americans trained him during periods of his service” with the Saudi army, and insisted that, “had his desire been to fight and kill Americans, he could have done that while he was side by side with them in Saudi Arabia. His intent was to go and fight for a cause that he believed in as a Muslim toward jihad, not to go and fight against the Americans.”

Unfortunately, the first opportunity I had to report al-Amri’s story came after I finished the manuscript for my book, when, sadly, he died in Guantánamo on May 30, 2007. According to the US authorities, who used the opportunity of his death, when he was unable to counter the allegations that had accumulated over the previous five and a half years, he was “a mid-level al-Qaeda operative” and had committed suicide, and I took exception to both claims in a second article on June 2, 2007, in part because, like three other prisoners who died in June 2006 in dubious circumstances, al-Amri was a long-term hunger striker, and therefore someone who had been troublesome to the authorities. I also followed up on his story on the first, second and third anniversaries of his death, and, on March 1, 2012, my colleague Jeffrey Kaye, having discovered previously unscrutinized autopsy reports for al-Amri and another man, Muhammad Salih, who died in 2009, wrote an article for Truthout (which I cross-posted here) questioning the official accounts that both men had committed suicide, and pointing out that, in al-Amri’s case, he was found hanged with his hands tied behind his back, which would have been impossible had he killed himself.

In the documents released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, the file relating to al-Amri was a “Recommendation for Continued Detention Under DoD Control (CD),” dated May 5, 2006, in which it was noted that his full name was Abd al-Rahman Maadha Dhafir al-Hilala al-Umari, and that he was born in April 1973 and was “in good health,” although that was contradicted by the list of ailments that followed. It was noted that he had chronic Hepatitis B, chronic low back pain, and chronic heartburn. It was also noted that he had “a history of bursitis of the right shoulder,” and “a history of intermittent musculo-skeletal pain involving the knees bilaterally, the left foot and the left ankle.” It was also noted that he “participated in hunger strikes in July 2003 and July 2005.”

In telling his story, based largely on his own account, the Joint Task Force noted that, as he said, he “served approximately nine years as an enlisted member in the Saudi military,” and it was also noted that he “claimed his brother was a colonel in the Saudi military, which was confirmed by the Saudi government.”

Apparently persuaded to travel to Afghanistan to fight because of fatwas issued by a number of influential religious figures, he traveled via Iran, and “met with an Afghan Taliban commander in Herat, AF, named Mullah Abdoun al-Hanan,” who “wrote a small note and gave it to detainee and told [him] to go to the Jihad School in Kandahar, AF, and to give the note to the people there.”

In Kandahar, three men “questioned detainee as to his motive for being in Afghanistan and to find out if he was a spy,” and then “asked him if he needed any training,” to which he replied that he had already received training in the Saudi military.” Two days later, he took a taxi to to a guesthouse in Kabul, where he left his passport and traveled to the front lines. According to the file, this was “on 31 January 2001, five to six days after he entered Afghanistan.” He reportedly “stayed on the front line until it started to break approximately six months later,” when his group dispersed, with some going north to Kunduz, and others going to Bagram.  He said that he “was with 130-150 people that went to Bagram in pickup trucks,” that his commander was Abu Ubaydah al-Masri, who he “believed to be an Al-Qaida member,” and that he was there “when the US began to bomb Kabul.”

He then “fled Bagram when the Taliban began to withdraw,” and “joined a group of 17-18 other individuals who were retreating in the direction of Pakistan.” On the way, they “passed numerous groups of Arabs who told them that they were consolidating forces at Tora Bora, where there was an estimated 4,500 fighters.” His group apparently traveled to a mountain in Tora Bora — where there was a showdown between al-Qaeda/the Taliban and US-backed Afghan proxy fighters in from mid-November to mid-December 2001 — staying for approximately 18 days. He reportedly saw Osama bin Laden on two occasions — on a mule surrounded by guards, and “on approximately the 19th day of Ramadan (5 December 2001),” when he saw bin Laden “meeting with Al-Qaida spokesman Suleyman Bil Gaith” (otherwise known as Suleiman Abu Ghaith, a Kuwaiti).

For his departure from Tora Bora, al-Amri “joined a group of approximately twenty people that decided to flee to the Pakistani border,” led by an Afghan guide, who “told the group that he had made arrangements with villagers across the Pakistani border to assist the group with their escape if they surrendered their weapons.” In the end, however, this did not happen. The group “spent approximately five days walking from Tora Bora to the Pakistani border” and “crossed in the Nangarhar Region of the Afghan-Pakistani border on 14 December 2001,” but although they “felt secure enough with their Pakistani host that they were convinced to surrender their weapons,” and the host “then informed the group that the Pakistani forces were aware of their presence so they had to move fast,” they were then betrayed.

After they gathered in a mosque, “they were immediately surrounded by Pakistani forces and hauled away in large trucks.” An analyst claimed that an individual then “attacked a guard leading to a struggle in which six Pakistani guards were killed and some prisoners were able to escape,” although, as I have noted in previous articles, this actually took place after their initial capture, when they were being moved from one Pakistani jail to another.

Al-Amri was “turned over to US forces” on December 31, 2001 at Kohat prison, and was sent to Guantánamo on February 9, 2002, allegedly to “provide information on the following: The six Taliban units located North of Kabul, AF, and their specialties/weapons. All locations were 65 kilometers north of Kabul at the Taliban front lines. The six units were Omar Saif, Tulha, Al-Nimi, Marwan, Khalid, and Said centers.” However, as I explained in my article, “How to Read WikiLeaks’ Guantánamo Files” (originally published on WikiLeaks’ website when the Guantánamo files were first published, as part of my work liaising between WikiLeaks and its media partners):

[T]he “Reasons for Transfer” included in the documents, which have been repeatedly cited by media outlets as an explanation of why the prisoners were transferred to Guantánamo, are, in fact, lies that were grafted onto the prisoners’ files after their arrival at Guantánamo. This is because, contrary to the impression given in the files, no significant screening process took place before the prisoners’ transfer. As Chris Mackey, a senior interrogator who worked in Afghanistan, explained in a book that he wrote about his experiences (The Interrogators), every prisoner who ended up in US custody had to be sent to Guantánamo, even though the majority were not even seized by US forces, but were seized by their Afghan and Pakistani allies at a time when substantial bounty payments for “Al-Qaida and Taliban suspects” were widespread.

Despite the fact that his timeline was regarded as “plausible,” and he was regarded as “fairly consistent with the information he ha[d] provided,” the Task Force also noted that he was “assessed to be an Al-Qaida member with knowledge about and connections to many high-level Al-Qaida members and operations.” Absurdly, it was claimed that he “had prior knowledge of attacks on the US and was recruited by one of the 11 September 2001 hijackers.”

What this meant was that, during an interrogation, al-Amri had said that, approximately three weeks before the 9/11 attacks, he had been told, by a man identified as an Osama bin Laden supporter, that “Al-Qaida operative Abu Hafs al-Mauritani had a disagreement with [bin Laden] regarding the upcoming attacks against the US” (which was true). Al-Amri, however, did not have “prior knowledge of the attacks,” except to the extent that he “commented that most of the Arab brothers on the front line and in guesthouses knew that an attack was to take place, but were unaware of [the] nature of the action.”

It was also claimed that he “revealed that he had information on a planned Al-Qaida terrorist attack against the US or its interests in Yemen,” and had “stated that he received information on the planned attack from a Yemeni national detainee in Afghanistan named ‘Salman’ around 1 February 2002.” Salman apparently “told detainee that his brother Furqan was present in Yemen and intended to carry out a terrorist operation around 12 February 2002, and was on his way to take part in operations against the US.” This seems distinctly unlikely, as al-Amri was a Saudi and there was no indication of why “Salman” — apparently Salman [al-]Rabeii (ISN 508, still held) — would have trusted him. Dubiously, the Task Force claimed that Furqan al-Rabeii, who, as of 2003, “was being held and interrogated by the Yemeni government,” was identified by al-Amri in a photo, even though this ridiculous story didn’t even involve al-Amri ever having met Furqan in order to be able to identify him.

The claim that he was recruited by a 9/11 hijacker came from an allegation that al-Amri had reported that a man named Abu Abbas al-Janoubi had “advised [him] to go to Afghanistan for jihad, and provided names and contact information,” and an analyst’s ensuing claim that Abu Abbas al-Janoubi was an alias for Abdul Aziz al-Omari, a hijacker on American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center” — a claim that seems extremely unlikely.

In addition, and presumably under dubious circumstances, one of al-Amri’s fellow prisoners, Abd al-Aziz al-Baddah (ISN 264, released in June 2006) reported that he “had a lot of information about operations in Afghanistan,” although that claim, which was presumably groundless, had never been followed up. Al-Baddah also claimed that he “overheard detainee say that he knew UBL [Osama bin Laden] and other members of the Al-Qaida hierarchy in Afghanistan.”

Others who supposedly provided information that al-Amri was well-connected in Al-Qaida (instead of being, as he appeared to be, a simple foot soldier) included Yasim Basardah (ISN 252, released), a Yemeni who was well known as the most notoriously unreliable informant in Guantánamo, who “believed detainee worked for UBL [Osama bin Laden],” and claimed that al-Amri “operated the media center in Kandahar, AF and would make movies and pictures for Al-Qaida.” Another victim of torture, Moulana Gulam Rabbani (ISN 1460, still held), a Pakistani held in secret prisons in Afghanistan, whose testimony is, therefore, also unreliable, said he “recognized a photo of detainee but could not remember his name. [He] claimed he saw detainee three or four times at the Kandahar media office, [but] said he didn’t know anything about him or his responsibilities, but did remember seeing detainee practicing karate.”

Yasim Basardah, meanwhile, also claimed that al-Amri “made a movie of the USS Cole bombing and the 11 September 2001 attacks,” which was ridiculous, as al-Amri himself pointed out. The file noted that he “denied any role in the Al-Qaida propaganda effort. He highlighted his middle school education and claimed that another detainee with the same name was responsible for the videos.” This was indeed the case, although an analyst, noting that Ali Hamza al-Bahlul (ISN 39, still held), who actually made the films, also had the alias Abu Anas, noted only that this was “possibly a case of mistaken identity” in al-Amri’s case, even though al-Bahlul stated “that he worked alone,” and Basardah “never admitted direct access to the media center, but rather claimed he had heard that an Abu Anas was involved with Al-Qaida propaganda efforts.”

Other allegations purporting to prove that al-Amri had a role in Al-Qaida involved Walid bin Attash, aka Khallad (ISN 10014, still held), a “high-value detainee” held and tortured in secret CIA prisons, who al-Amri reported seeing “in Kabul and near Jalalabad,” and who, moreover, he identified “as a friend of Furqan,” the brother of Salman Rabeii, even though, as established above, there is no reason to presume that he had ever met Furqan.

The other associations were very weak — claims that he “saw Abu Hafs at least twice at the religious center in Kandahar, where Abu Hafs gave lectures,” that he “reported that [Mohammed] Atef, an Egyptian national and the military chief of Al-Qaida visited the troops on the Kabul front lines,” that “he saw KSM [the "high-value detainee" Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, ISN 10024] in Tora Bora,” and that he “saw [Ibn al-Shaykh] al-Libi at a command center in Tora Bora,” and “was also arrested with al-Libi in Pakistan.” While these claims are so inconsequential as to be meaningless when listed as reasons for believing that al-Amri was well-connected within Al-Qaida, the claims about al-Libi are even more troubling.

Identified as ISN 212, although he was never held at Guantánamo (unless it was as a “high-value detainee” in a prison-within-a-prison run by the CIA, and known as Strawberry Fields, between September 2003 and March 2004), al-Libi had been the emir of Khaldan, a training camp that was closed down by the Taliban in 2000 when he refused to let it come under Osama bin Laden’s control. After his capture, al-Libi was rendered by the CIA to Egypt, where he was tortured until he falsely confessed that Al-Qaida operatives had been meeting Saddam Hussein to discuss obtaining chemical and biological weapons (a confession was later used to justify the invasion of Iraq), and, after being sent to other secret prisons by the CIA, he was returned to Libya, where he died, in mysterious circumstances, in a prison in May 2009.

In al-Amri’s context, the reference to him being captured with al-Libi not only depends on believing that al-Libi had become the military commander in Tora Bora, personally appointed by bin Laden (which is dubious in itself, because of the hostility between the men, and also because al-Libi personally made this statement, and his statements are unreliable because of the torture he suffered), but also that he had been captured with a very flexible number of prisoners after leaving the Afghan mountains for Pakistan. The files frequently mention a hundred prisoners as being captured with him, although in al-Amri’s case, 100 conveniently became 20 instead.

It was also claimed that other “high-level Al-Qaida members” recognized al-Amri, although the supposed recognition proved nothing. Abu Faraj al-Libi (ISN 10017, a “high-value detainee” who is still held) apparently “recognized detainee’s photo who [sic] he referred to as Abu Anas.” Abu Faraj al-Libi’s statements are also unreliable because he too was held and tortured in secret CIA prisons, although his comments about al-Amri were, above all, inconsequential. He said he “saw detainee twice in 2000: first [at] the Kabul guesthouse run by Abu Faraj, and later in a guesthouse in Kandahar. Abu Faraj commented that detainee appeared to be a new mujahid in Afghanistan for training.”

In addition, Ammar al-Baluchi aka Abd al-Aziz Ali [ISN 10018, still held], another “high-value detainee,” apparently “identified Abu Anas Nayjiri (detainee’s alias) as a driver at Khallad [Walid] Bin Attash and Hamza al-Ghamdi’s camp in Tora Bora,” who “also drove from Tora Bora to Jalalabad to pick up supplies and food” — in other words, a driver as well as a foot soldier. Most ridiculously of all, Abdu Ali al-Haj Sharqawi (ISN 1457, still held), another prisoner subjected to rendition and torture (in Jordan, where he complained that he was made to identify people from photos, even though he didn’t know most of them) reportedly “photo-identified detainee as an individual who he probably saw in Kabul” — which would appear to be a case in point.

Despite the weakness of all of the above, al-Amri — though only regarded as being  “of medium intelligence value” — was assessed as posing “a high risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the US,its interests and allies.” He was also “assessed as a high threat from a detention perspective,” because his “overall behavior ha[d] been non-compliant and hostile to the guard force and staff.” As a result, Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., the commander of Guantánamo at the time, following a recommendation that should be retained in DoD control (dated August 1, 2005) repeated that recommendation. Al-Amri died 13 months later.

Said Al Zahrani (ISN 204, Saudi Arabia) Released July 2007

In “The Guantánamo Files: Website Extras (1) – The Qala-i-Janghi Massacre,” I explained how Said al-Zahrani (also identified as Saad al-Zahrani) was a Taliban recruit. Having traveled to Afghanistan in April 2001, he attended al-Farouq, the main training camp for Arab recruits, and was then apparently drafted into the 55th Arab Brigade, Osama bin Laden’s “primary formation supporting Taliban objectives.” In reported statements at Guantánamo, al-Zahrani said that he only trained at al-Farouq “for a short amount of time because every time he started to train he would get ill and have to stop.” The most frustratingly vague allegation against al-Zahrani was that he apparently claimed that he had met Osama bin Laden in Kandahar “at an unknown mosque located at an unidentified training camp.”

Al-Zahrani also explained that he was shot in the leg in the Qala-i-Janghi  massacre, and “could not get away because he was tied up.” The massacre took place after 450 or so prisoners who had surrendered or were captured after the fall of Kunduz had been taken to the fort, run by the warlord General Rashid Dostum, and, fearing that they would be shot, staged an uprising, which was savagely suppressed by the Northern Alliance, with the support of US and UK Special Forces, and American bombers. The survivors — 86 in total — managed to stay alive for a week in the basement of the castle, where they were bombed and electrocuted, and, finally, the basement was flooded so that many people drowned.

In the documents released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, the file relating to al-Zahrani was a “Recommendation for Continued Detention Under DoD Control (CD),” dated May 26, 2007, in which it was noted that he was born in June 1979 and was “in good health.” Disturbingly, one of the names under which he was listed was Mazin Salih Musa’id al-Alawi al-Awfi, which is not him at all, but another Saudi prisoner (ISN 154), who was released in July 2007.

In telling his story, based largely on his own account, the Joint Task Force noted that he “did not graduate from high school,” and, after dropping out, “worked in an audiotape store in Taif for about five months and then at an Islamic bookstore for about one month.” It was also noted that he “never served in the military.” After listening to various sheikhs, he “felt it was a religious duty to go on jihad,” and, after being given advice by friends and neighbors, traveled to Kandahar in March 2001, via Karachi and Quetta.

There, he attended the Al-Farouq training camp — the main training camp for Arabs in the years before 9/11 — where, he said, he trained “for three or four weeks but heard that it took three months to complete all the training,” and also explained that the meeting with bin Laden was with many other people. As was noted in the file, “UBL [Osama bin Laden] met with approximately 90 to 100 mujahideen for approximately two hours.” Al-Zahrani then “traveled to Kabul, AF, in about May 2001 and remained there for about two months before heading to the front lines at Kunduz.” In this period, he apparently “was treated for illnesses twice … once at the Military Hospital of Mullah Omar in Kandahar, and once in a clinic in Kunduz.”

He also claimed that, when he began fighting for the Taliban, he didn’t know that “the US supported the Northern Alliance (NA) or that the Taliban supported al-Qaida,” and “stated he neither fired his weapon nor threw a grenade while on the frontline, but would have returned fire if fired upon.” His job, he said, was “to alert the soldiers if he saw the enemy coming,” but he “never saw any Americans during the fighting,” although he “knew when bombs started falling that Americans were dropping them.”

Describing the circumstances of his capture, al-Zahrani apparently said that a man named Gharib al-Sanani, described as the second in command of the Arab fighters, “gave the order for all Arabs to convoy back to Kandahar and surrender to General Dostum’s forces.” This seems highly unlikely, as Kandahar was still in Taliban control at the time. The plan to surrender, however, is well-documented, especially for those held in Qala-i-Janghi, althrough as al-Zahrani explained, when his group “arrived at Mazar-e-Sharif, Dostum’s forces surrounded them. They were ordered to surrender their weapons and all Arabs were escorted to the Qala-i-Janghi fortress near Mazar-e-Sharif.” Al-Zahrani also “claimed he had only approximately 50 rupees, which were taken from him when he was captured, along with a radio receiver, a Casio digital watch, clothes, an AK-47, an ammunition belt, and two hand grenades.”

He also explained, “The next morning, 25 November 2001, they were all taken into the courtyard and searched for money and valuables. [He] heard an explosion and the Arab prisoners overpowered the guards and took their weapons. Guards began shooting into the courtyard, where [he] claimed he was wounded. [He] and others retreated to a basement where they remained for eight days. [He] and others then surrendered to the NA.”

Afterwards, he was taken to the dirty and overcrowded Sheberghan prison, run by General Dostum, and was then transferred to Kandahar. He was sent to Guantánamo on January 21, 2002, on the spurious basis that it was to “provide information on the following: The prisoner uprising in Mazar-e-Sharif, Extremist recruitment in Medina, SA, Taliban tactics and techniques, Information on organization, composition,and equipment of Arab fighting elements in Afghanistan: and to “[p]rovide general biographic data of commanders in detainee’s chainof command, to include: General Mullah Zaker (aka Thaker), overall northern Taliban commander, Amir Omar Haded, commander of Arab company [and] FNU Khaled, assistant commander of Arab company.”

This was, in essence, the whole of al-Zahrani’s story, although there were attempts to dress it up. He apparently “stated it was his duty to participate in jihad in Afghanistan” and he “believe[d] he would have gone to heaven if he died fighting for that cause.” He also apparently “wished he would have died as a result of fighting jihad.” This led an analyst to note, “Detainee’s previous exposure to jihad and his desire for martyrdom increase the likelihood that he would rejoin the jihadist fight if given the opportunity.”

The Task Force also noted a claim that he had “admitted to Bahraini authorities that he had been to Afghanistan for training at sometime in probably late 2000,” which must have come from Bahraini intelligence, as al-Zahrani himself “never mentioned his arrest in Bahrain to debriefers at JTF-GTMO.” Bahraini Customs apparently arrested him and Yusef Khalil Abdullah Nur (ISN 73, released in June 2006), on February 16, 2001 “when they were returning from Pakistan.” According to this account, al-Zahrani told the Bahraini authorities that “he had traveled to Afghanistan, where he received two months of unspecified training in weapons and jihad.” Nur apparently “stated the Bahraini Customs officer advised [him] not to involve himself in “dangerous activities,” and to be wary of men like the detainee.”

The only other prisoners who mentioned al-Zahrani were untrustworthy. Adel al-Zamel (ISN 568, a Kuwaiti released in November 2005), who has admitted that he made up stories about everyone he was asked about, worked briefly for al-Wafa, a Saudi charity providing humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, but he said al-Zahrani “told him that al-Wafa distributed dates and $200 US to every individual on the front lines” — something that, if true, he would have known himself.

It was also claimed that John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban” (ISN 1, although he was never held at Guantánamo) identified al-Zahrani, and that, in turn, al-Zahrani “remarked that he spent two months with Lindh on the front lines,” but this is not necessarily credible, as Lindh was tortured, and he also claimed that al-Zahrani “traveled to Afghanistan with a Pakistani group rather than an Arab group,” which he apparently thought “unusual,” although in fact it does not appear to be true at all.

Another fundamentally unreliable witness was Abu Zubaydah (ISN 10016, still held), whose real name is Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn. The first official victim of torture in the Bush administration’s torture program, he was held in secret CIA torture prisons for four and half years prior to his transfer to Guantánamo in September 2006, and was waterboarded 83 times. Zubaydah “stated he believed he saw detainee in 1997 or 1998 at the al-Qaida affiliated Khaldan Camp ,which Abu Zubaydah ran.” It was not true that Khaldan was “al-Qaida affiliated,” or that Zubydah “ran” it, but in al-Zahrani’s case, it is also almost certain that he was never there. The US authorities noted that “Abu Zubaydah was unsure of this identification,” and although an analyst leapt on this feeble identification, to claim, “If Abu Zubaydah’s identification is correct, it would indicate that detainee has been involved in al-Qaida activities for much longer than detainee has acknowledged,” the more reliable interpretation would be that Zubaydah had no idea who al-Zahrani was, but, as in so many other cases when he was shown photos in the “family album” of prisoner photos, he said that perhaps he did.

Most significantly, it was noted that, “In July 2002,a delegation from Saudi Arabia visited JTF-GTMO and interviewed detainee. He was identified as of low intelligence and law enforcement value to the US, and unlikely to pose a terrorist threat to the US or its interests. Further, the Saudi delegation indicated that the Government of Saudi Arabia would be willing to take custody of detainee for possible prosecution as soon as the US determined it no longer wanted to hold him.” This should have been an influential evaluation, but a US analyst stated, “JTF-GTMO does not concur with the Saudi assessment, specially in light of the indications that detainee has a longer history of jihadist activities than he is admitting” — in other words, the vaguest of allegations made by a victim of prolonged torture (Abu Zubaydah) was preferred to the sober assessment of the Saudi government.

Al-Zahrani was assessed as being “of medium intelligence value,” and of posing “a high risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies.” It was also noted that he was “assessed to be a low threat from a detention perspective,” because his “overall behavior ha[d] been compliant and rarely hostile to the guard force and staff,” However, given the fears based on Abu Zubaydah’s tortured identification of al-Zahrani, Rear Adm. Mark H. Buzby, the commander of Guantánamo at the time, updated a recommendation for his continued detention “with transfer language” (dated April 28, 2006), and recommended him for continued detention, although he was released just two months later, to be put though the Saudi government’s extensive rehabilitation program.

Muhammad Al Qurashi (ISN 214, Saudi Arabia) Released July 2007

In “The Guantánamo Files: Website Extras (4) – Escape to Pakistan (The Saudis),” and in an article at the time of his release, I explained how Mohammed al-Qurashi (identified by the US authorities as Muhammad al-Kurash), who was 24 years old at the time of his capture, did not take part in any hearings at Guantánamo, but was accused in his absence of traveling to fight with the Taliban after his high school graduation in May 2001, and of training at “a facility used to train and house Taliban soldiers who fought on the Bagram front lines.” It was also alleged that his name was found “on an undated letter which listed probable al-Qaida members incarcerated in Pakistan, along with materials linked to al-Qaida,” and this was supplemented by claims relating to his behavior in Guantánamo: that he had “struck guard force personnel on multiple occasions,” had threatened an officer by saying, “I will cut your throat,” and had “encouraged other detainees to harass guard force” — which, as I noted when he was freed, is not exactly an excessive response to what, at the time, five and a half year’s incommunicado imprisonment without charge or trial.

In the documents released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, the file relating to al-Qurashi was a “Recommendation for Continued Detention Under DoD Control (CD),” dated February 14, 2007, in which it was noted that he was born in 1977 and was “in good health.”

In telling his story, based largely on his own account, the Joint Task Force noted that, after graduating from high school in May 2001, he responded to fatwas issued by influential sheikhs, and, as he said, “intended to fight against the Northern Alliance (NA), but denied his trip to Afghanistan had anything to do with Osama bin Laden.” In early August 2001, he met someone who facilitated his trip, and he then followed a well-worn route, traveling to Kabul via Karachi, Quetta and Kandahar.

In Kabul, he received “one month of light arms training at an unidentified location, and then traveled to Bagram, where he joined a Taliban unit and received further training, until, in early November 2001, he and the other fighters were ordered to withdraw to Jalalabad, where he “discovered many of the fighters had retreated to Tora Bora.”

He and others then traveled to Tora Bora, and it was “assessed that [he] fled Afghanistan with a group of Al-Qaida and Taliban fighters” led by Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi (ISN 212, but never held at Guantánamo unless it was as a “high-value detainee” in a prison-within-a-prison run by the CIA, and known as Strawberry Fields, between September 2003 and March 2004). Al-Libi, regarded as an important “high-value detainee,” was the emir of the Khaldan training camp until it was closed by the Taliban in 2000, after he refused to allow it to be taken over by Osama bin Laden. After his capture, his torture in Egypt in 2002 led to a false confession that Al-Qaida operatives had been meeting with Saddam Hussein to discuss obtaining chemical and biological weapons, which was then used to justify the invasion of Iraq, even though al-Libi retracted it. Sent back to Libya after several years in secret CIA prisons, al-Libi died in Gaddafi’s Abu Salim prison in May 2009, reportedly by committing suicide, although observers believed that he had been killed.

Despite his conflict with bin Laden, al-Libi was described as “the former UBL-appointed military commander in Tora Bora” in al-Qurashi’s file, in which it was also claimed that his group “crossed the Afghani-Pakistani border in the Nangarhar, AF, region in mid-December 2001,” and their Pakistani hosts then “convinced them to surrender their weapons [and] gathered the group in a mosque where Pakistani forces immediately arrested them.” The circumstances of their capture were true, although the claim that all the men were fighters is untrustworthy, as is the Task Force’s claim that, “During the transit to the prison, one of the detainees attacked a guard leading to a struggle in which six Pakistani guards were killed and some of the prisoners escaped.” This happened, but other reports state that it happened not after capture, but while the prisoners were being moved from one Pakistani jail to another (from Peshawar to Kohat).

Al-Qurashi was sent to Guantánamo on January 16, 2002, on the spurious basis that it was to “provide information on the following: Location of unidentified training camp between Kabul and Bagram [and] Methods of training and weapons systems utilized for training.”

At the time of his assessment, it was noted that he was “currently refusing to answer intelligence questions,” which was regarded as “demonstrat[ing] continued support to the fighters in Afghanistan, his associated detainees, and the al-Qaida network,” although there was actually no reason to suppose that he was anything more than a lowly foot soldier, as two of his fellow prisoners — Fahd al-Jutayli (ISN 177, a Saudi released in May 2006) and Yasim Basardah (ISN 252), a Yemeni who has been released, but who is generally known as the most notoriously unreliable informant in Guantánamo — explained, noting that he had trained at Al-Farouq. That, however, was far different from a claim made by Richard Belmar (ISN 817, a British prisoner released in January 2005), who “identified detainee as a trainer at al-Farouq,” which, it is clear, was a lie, probably extracted under duress, as there was no way that al-Qurashi could have been a trainer at al-Farouq, as he was too insignificant.

Three other prisoners also made allegations about al-Qurashi. One was Fahd al-Sharif (ISN 215, a Saudi released in November 2007 — see below), who stated that he “met detainee in an unidentified guesthouse.” In order to identify the guesthouse, the “high-value detainee” and notorious torture victim Abu Zubaydah (ISN 1016, still held) apparently identified al-Sharif  — not al-Qurashi — “as an al-Qaida member in Kandahar, and thought [he] stayed at the Abu Zubayr al-Haili Guesthouse before [he] traveled to Tora Bora,” with the inference being that al-Qurashi stayed here too, although that is a tenuous connection to say the least. Another prisoner, Tareq Baada (ISN 178, a Yemeni still held) “identified detainee’s alias, Julaybib al-Taifi, as a member of a group of twelve Arabs who defended Saznur Mountain in Tora Bora,” which may be true, as al-Qurashi did not deny being in Tora Bora.

The other prisoner who spoke about al-Qurashi was Ali al-Tayeea (ISN 111, an Iraqi released in January 2009), who was well-known in Guantánamo for telling lies about his fellow prisoners. Al-Tayeea “claimed detainee threatened to kill him and Abdul Majid Muhammad [ISN 555, an Iranian released in October 2006] because they were cooperating with their interrogators,” and he “also claimed detainee wanted to have a fatwa declared to kill Shiites.” This, again, may be true, but it has no bearing on al-Qurashi’s status as a foot soldier.

In conclusion, the Task Force assessed al-Qurashi as being “of medium intelligence value,” and of posing “a high risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies.” It was also noted that he was “assessed to be a high threat from a detention perspective,” because his “overall behavior ha[d] been non-compliant and hostile to the guard force and staff,” As a result, Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., the commander of Guantánamo at the time, updated a recommendation for his continued detention (dated December 9, 2005), and made the same recommendation, although he was released just five months later, to be put though the Saudi government’s extensive rehabilitation program.

Fahd Al Sharif (ISN 215, Saudi Arabia) Released November 2007

In Chapter 6 of my book The Guantánamo Files, and in an article after his release, I explained how Fahd al-Sharif, who was 25 years old at the time of his capture, had been a policeman in Mecca, had been recruited for jihad in his homeland, and apparently remained convinced by the jihadist fantasies that had been used to recruit him. He told his review board in Guantánamo that he traveled to Afghanistan in 2000 “for the purpose of jihad with the Taliban government” and that he hoped to become a martyr, but added that he went only to fight the Northern Alliance, “to help thousands of millions of Afghan Muslims to return their hopes, their countries and their lives.”

In the documents released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, the file relating to al-Sharif was a “Recommendation for Continued Detention Under DoD Control (CD),” dated September 1, 2006, in which it was noted that he was born in March 1976 and was “in good health.”

In telling his story, based largely on his own account, the Joint Task Force noted that, from 1994 to 1998, he worked for the Saudi policies in Jeddah and Mecca, in the passport office, in “the Holy Place” (assessed to be the area near the Grand Mosque in Mecca), and in the trafficking office. He also “earned money as a cab driver.” In 1994, someone he met — and one of his cousins — spoke to him about “joining the mujahideen in Afghanistan,” and showed him “several relevant articles and videos,” after which he “seriously considered participating in jihad.” In late 1998, with the help of a facilitator, he apparently traveled to Pakistan, where he “resided at Abu Zubaydah’s home for approximately a week” before Abu Zubaydah (ISN 10016, a “high-value detainee” and torture victim and the former gatekeeper of the Khaldan training camp) directed an unidentified individual to take al-Sharif and his brother to the camp.

At Khaldan, apparently, an al-Qaida member recruited him to join Osama bin Laden’s organisation, and he then “traveled to the al-Ansar Guesthouse in Kandahar, AF, where he joined al-Qaida and swore bayat to UBL [bin Laden],” noting that “the reason he swore an oath was to demonstrate he was ready to give his life for Islam and UBL [bin Laden].” This may be true, although it may also have been exactly what his interrogators wanted to hear, as there was no sign of what his alleged pledge of allegiance signified.

After returning to Saudi Arabia, al-Sharif apparently “planned to travel to Chechnya, but he could not gain entrance,so he returned to Afghanistan,” where he reportedly “participated in a poisons course at the Khabab Camp in Derunta,” another training camp. However, while waiting to start the course, he “contracted malaria, so he had to return to the Khaldan Guesthouse to recover. In 1999, he apparently “completed the two-week poisons course, and then attended al-Farouq in 2000, “received one to two months of mountain and wilderness training,” and, in 2000 and into 2001, “served on the front lines near Kabul.”

He and others then traveled to Tora Bora, and it was “assessed that [he] fled Afghanistan with a group of Al-Qaida and Taliban fighters” led by Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi (ISN 212, but never held at Guantánamo unless it was as a “high-value detainee” in a prison-within-a-prison run by the CIA, and known as Strawberry Fields, between September 2003 and March 2004). Al-Libi, regarded as an important “high-value detainee,” was the emir of the Khaldan training camp until it was closed by the Taliban in 2000, after he refused to allow it to be taken over by Osama bin Laden. After his capture, his torture in Egypt in 2002 led to a false confession that Al-Qaida operatives had been meeting with Saddam Hussein to discuss obtaining chemical and biological weapons, which was then used to justify the invasion of Iraq, even though al-Libi retracted it. Sent back to Libya after several years in secret CIA prisons, al-Libi died in Gaddafi’s Abu Salim prison in May 2009, reportedly by committing suicide, although observers believed that he had been killed.

Despite his conflict with bin Laden, al-Libi was described as “the former UBL-appointed military commander in Tora Bora” in al-Sharif’s file, in which it was also claimed that his group “crossed the Afghani-Pakistani border in the Nangarhar, AF, region around 14 December 2001,” and their Pakistani hosts then “convinced them to surrender their weapons [and] gathered the group in a mosque where Pakistani forces immediately arrested them.” The circumstances of their capture were true, although the claim that all the men were fighters is untrustworthy, as is the Task Force’s claim that, “During the transit to the prison, one of the detainees attacked a guard leading to a struggle in which six Pakistani guards were killed and some of the prisoners escaped.” This happened, but other reports state that it happened not after capture, but while the prisoners were being moved from one Pakistani jail to another (from Peshawar to Kohat).

Transferred to US custody on January 2, 2002, he was sent to Guantánamo on January 16, 2002, although no information was given as to why he had been transferred. Feebly, the Task Force noted, “Detainee’s file does not indicate why he was sent to JTF-GTMO; however, it is highly likely his transfer was due to suspicions of detainee being a member of al-Qaida.”

Despite this embarrassing admission, al-Sharif’s confession that he swore bayat to bin Laden, plus his long stay in Afghanistan, meant that he was bound to be considered a threat, especially as he also apparently stated, “If the Americans let me go, I will go back to al-Qaida,” and also “said if UBL had chosen him to participate in the events of 11 September 2001,he would have done so.” It was also noted that, although he “claimed he was not personally involved with the 9/11 operations,” he “photo-identified between 9 and 15 of the known and potentially unknown 9/11 hijackers,” which may be true, as he also “acknowledged having a close association with Nibras, assessed to be one of the suicide bombers who attacked the USS COLE” in 2000, although it is equally possible that he was subjected to huge pressure to make confessions because of his alleged pledge of allegiance to bin Laden.

It was, however, also noted that he “stated he associated with al-Qaida operative, Ali Hamza [al-Bahlul, ISN 39, still held], in Kandahar,” who “worked at the Media Center making videos for al-Qaida,” and Abu Zubaydah also corroborated his meeting with al-Sharif in 1998, noting that al-Sharif “traveled from Saudi Arabia to Peshawar, PK, with [his] brother in 1998,” and stating that “he sent both detainee and his brother to Afghanistan for training at Khaldan Camp following the East Africa bombings.” Abu Zubaydah also said he “saw detainee on the front lines and noted that, by 2001, [he] was with al-Qaida all the time in Kandahar.”

These were not the only allegations made by supposedly significant prisoners. The “high-value detainee” Walid bin Attash (ISN 10014) knew his name and “recalled seeing [him] at the Hasan Guesthouse in Kandahar on a frequent basis in 2000 and 2001, noting that [he] provided administrative assistance to cover his room and board.” Another “high-value detainee,” Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani (ISN 10012, tried and convicted in a US federal court in New York in 2010) “photo-identified” al-Sharif, and said he saw him “for the first time on the front lines in Kabul during 1999 and 2000,” and, in 2000 or 2001, “saw [him] again at the airport village and guesthouse in Kandahar.” he also said al-Sharif “worked in Kabul with Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi” (ISN 10026, another “high-value detainee,” who is still held), one of al-Qaida’s military commanders in Afghanistan.

Another alleged “senior al-Qaida facilitator,” Abu Yasir al-Jazairi, claimed to recognise al-Sharif, although al-Jazairi, possibly a moneyman for al-Qaida, who was captured in Lahore on March 15, 2003, two weeks after Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was never held at Guantánamo, and his current whereabouts are unknown. He apparently “photo-identified” al-Sharif — from an unidentified secret prison — “and noted that he last saw [him] in the latter half of 2000, at the Abu Suhaib Guesthouse in Kandahar,” and “recalled that [he] was popular at the guesthouse,” although it is impossible to know if his comments are at all trustworthy.

Two other prisoners also apparently identified al-Sharif. El-Sawah (ISN 535, an Egyptian who is still held and was identified here as Tariq Mahmood Ahmad) “stated detainee might have been at al-Farouq around December 2000,” and Yasim Basardah (ISN 252), a Yemeni who has been released, but who is generally known as the most notoriously unreliable informant in Guantánamo, “stated that he was a childhood friend of detainee and knew that [he] had attended training at al-Farouq and the Airport Camp.” He also said that al-Sharif had attended advanced training in tactics and operations, and added that he and al-Sharif “served in Taloqan, AF, and at Tora Bora.” In a quietly disturbing challenge to these claims, al-Sharif “stated that he did not meet YM-252 until after his capture”; in other words, that Basardah was lying outrageously when he described himself and al-Sharif as childhood friends.

It was also noted that, in 2002, prior to a visit by a Saudi delegation, “the Saudi Mabahith (intelligence service) provided information on 37 detainees whom they had designated as high priority. Detainee was 26th on that list. This listing indicated that the Saudi government previously investigated the detainee for terrorist activity.”

Given all of the above, it is unsurprising that the Task Force assessed al-Sharif as being “of high intelligence value,” and of posing “a high risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies.” It was also noted that he was “assessed to be a high threat from a detention perspective,” because his “overall behavior ha[d] been rarely compliant and sometimes hostile to the guard force and staff,” As a result, Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., the commander of Guantánamo at the time, updated a recommendation for his continued detention (dated September 27, 2005), and made the same recommendation. 14 months later, however, he was released, to be put though the Saudi government’s extensive rehabilitation program.

Jamil Al Kabi (ISN 216, Saudi Arabia) Released December 2007

In “The Guantánamo Files: Website Extras (4) – Escape to Pakistan (The Saudis),” and in an article at the time of his release, I explained how Jamal al-Kabi, a taxi driver who was 28 years old when he was captured, explained in Guantánamo that, in 2000, he “sold his taxi and decided to devote more time to the Dawa, or ‘the call.’” After starting his mission in Mecca, by “going out and finding young Muslims who were not following the word of Islam and trying to get them to the mosque,” he then spent six months in Lahore, the home of Jamaat al-Tablighi, the vast, worldwide missionary organization whose annual meetings in Pakistan and Bangladesh attract millions of followers.

Despite the size of the organization and its avowedly non-political manifesto, the US authorities persistently maintained, in relation to the Guantánamo prisoners, that it was actually “used as a cover to mask travel and activities of terrorists, including members of al-Qaida.” In al-Kabi’s case, his subsequent missionary ventures in Indonesia and Malaysia attracted equally tangential allegations that Tablighi “recruits” from both countries traveled to militant training camps in Pakistan.

Describing the circumstances of his capture, al-Kabi said that, after traveling to Karachi, where he stayed at the Tablighi mosque for a month, he met four men and traveled with them to Kabul, where he stayed for four months at the Wazir Akbar Khan mosque and continued the Dawa, with the help of one of the men he had traveled with, who “helped him translate with people who did not speak Arabic.” When Kabul fell to the Northern Alliance, in early November 2001, he said that “word began to spread” that the Alliance soldiers “were killing all of the Arabs.” He and his companions fled to the eastern city of Jalalabad, where they stayed for a month before walking through the mountains to the Pakistani border, where he was captured.

In the documents released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, the file relating to al-Kabi was a “Recommendation for Continued Detention Under DoD Control (CD),” dated July 18, 2007, in which it was noted that he was born in 1973 and was “in good health.”

In telling his story, based largely on his own account, the Joint Task Force noted that he quit his high school in Mecca in approximately 1989, when he would have been 16, and for the next three years was unemployed. He then began working as a police officer, but “quit after three years because it was such demanding work.” He then “began his own taxi service,” but, in 2000, “sold his vehicle to devote more time to dawa.” During this time, he said, he “supported himself with money from his savings and family.” He added that he had never been a member of the Saudi military and had received no weapons training.

In June 2000, al-Kabi “decided to travel to Lahore, Pakistan (PK), for dawa,” and said that he was given the phone number of a contact in Lahore who would be able to help him by someone he met en route to the Pakistani Embassy. In late November 2000, after five months in Lahore, he briefly “returned to Mecca for Ramadan and to visit with his family,” and then traveled to Jakarta, Indonesia, where he stayed in a mosque run by Jamaat al-Tabligli. There he met a man named Luqman, “who agreed to translate for him,” and stayed with him for seven months, occasionally traveling to nearby islands within Indonesia. In mid to late July 2001, he traveled to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he stayed in another Jamaat al-Tablighi mosque for approximately one month, and there met an individual who suggested that he should visit Pakistan again.

In August 2001, he traveled to Karachi, staying at a Jamaat al-Tablighi mosque for a week and then traveling to Kabul, via Quetta and Kandahar, with four men he met in the mosque in Karachi. In Kabul, he said, he stayed in a mosque in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood until November 2001, “when he heard that the Northern Alliance was approaching Kabul and slaughtering Arabs,” and at that point he and his companions fled Kabul for Pakistan. The Task Force stated that, when the Pakistani authorities seized him, he “was traveling with the commander of al-Qaida fighters at Tora Bora, Ali Muhammad Abdul Aziz al-Fakhri, aka Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi [ISN 212, although he was never held at Guantánamo], and a group of 82 other armed al-Qaida fighters fleeing Tora Bora,” who “crossed the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in the Nangarhar, AF, region and arrived on 14 December 2001 at a Pakistani village, where their host convinced them to surrender their weapons [and] then gathered the group in a mosque where Pakistani forces arrested them on 20 December 2001.” It was also noted that al-Kabi “was held by Pakistani authorities for about fifteen days before he was transferred to US custody on 2 January 2002 in Kohat, PK.”

The account of his capture sounds like a coherent story, but in fact there is no objective confirmation that any of it is true. It is not clear that all the men who the US authorities stated were captured with al-Libi were actually captured with him, or if this was invented after they were all imprisoned together, and it is not clear that al-Libi was, as alleged, “the commander of al-Qaida fighters at Tora Bora.” Al-Libi was the emir of the Khaldan training camp until it was closed by the Taliban in 2000, after he refused to allow it to be taken over by Osama bin Laden, and the claim that about him being the military commander appears to have been a confession made by al-Libi himself, even though his confessions are notoriously unreliable, as are all confessions made by victims of torture. In al-Libi’s case, after his capture he was sent to be tortured in Egypt, where he produced a false confession that Al-Qaida operatives had been meeting with Saddam Hussein to discuss obtaining chemical and biological weapons. This was then used to justify the invasion of Iraq, even though al-Libi retracted it. Sent back to Libya after several years in secret CIA prisons, he died in Gaddafi’s Abu Salim prison in May 2009, reportedly by committing suicide, although observers believed that he had been killed.

Al-Kabi, meanwhile, was sent to Guantánamo on February 9, 2002, on the spurious basis that it was to “provide information on the following: Escape routes and tactics used by al-Qaida fighters evacuating from Afghanistan to Pakistan, Use of dawa by Muslim extremists as a cover for terrorism-related travel, Passport forgery networks in Saudi Arabia [and] JT [Jamaat al-Tablighi] support to terrorist activities.”

In assessing his story, the Task Force claimed that he was “an associate of multiple known or assessed al-Qaida members, including senior al-Qaida leaders,” and inferred from his travels that he “probably worked as a courier for al-Qaida operatives, using dawa as a cover for his activities.” However, the evidence for this was thin to non-existent. Only two alleged al-Qaida leaders were cited in the file, and the testimony of one, the torture victim Abu Zubaydah (ISN 10016, still held), had been removed by the time this report was compiled. A note explained that the Task Force had ”deleted [a] report, now assessed to have been erroneous, that detainee was an associate of Zayn al-Abidin Muhamad Husayn, aka Abu Zubaydah.”

That left Umar Faruq al-Kuwaiti (aka Omar al-Farouq or Umar al-Faruq), identified by the ISN number KU-1206, as the only al-Qaida leader to have identified al-Kabi. Described as being al-Qaida’s operations director in Southeast Asia at the time of his capture in Indonesia in 2002, Omar al-Farouq “escaped from the Bagram Joint Interrogation Facility in July 2005 [with three other men] and was killed by British troops in Iraq on 25 September 2006.” During his time in a secret prison — or a number of secret prisons — al-Faruq apparently “photo-identified detainee as a person he knew as Sufian,” and also “claimed he had seen Sufian in Indonesia and stated that Sufian came to Indonesia for jihad.” He also apparently said that he “believed Sufian was from Saudi Arabia, and stated that he had asked Sufian to do chores for him.” No other source mentioned this alleged relationship, which was not mentioned by al-Kabi either, but an analyst noted that al-Farouq “was a key jihadist facilitator and fundraiser in Indonesia during the time detainee was there.”

The Task Force may have had some justification for believing that al-Kabi’s dawa account was a cover story, if, as they claimed, his name was found on lists recovered from computers in various raids on houses associated with al-Qaida, but the more serious allegations — like the claims made by Omar al-Farouq — were not backed up by anything resembling evidence. For example, in the section listing him as “an associate of several known or assessed al-Qaida members, including senior al-Qaida leaders,” in which Omar al-Farouq was mentioned, one of the men listed was Abdul Rahman al-Amri (ISN 199, who died in Guantánamo in May 2007 — see above), who was nothing more than a foot soldier, and, who, in addition, had only “photo-identified detainee as being from the al-Taif area of Saudi Arabia.” Another foot soldier, Fahd al-Sharif (ISN 215, see above) apparently “stated that a Saudi named Sufian (probably detainee) was in the trenches on the Bargam front line” with him, and allegedly “had detainee’s name and phone number in his pocket when [he] was captured. It was also claimed that al-Kabi’s phone number was “in the pocket litter” of Mohammed El-Gharani (ISN 269, released in June 2009), but Abd al-Hadi al-Sharikh (ISN 231, see below) stated that several prisoners — including himself, Fahd al-Sharif and Mohammed El-Gharani had each other’s numbers because “they exchanged information when they first met in Pakistani prison so that whoever was released first could contact the other’s family,” which made more sense than any suspicious interpretation, as there has never been any proof that El-Gharani, seized in a raid on mosque in Karachi, had ever set foot in Afghanistan.

The most scandalous attempt to ramp up al-Kabi’s significance came via a claim that he was was “linked to the planners of the 2004 Madrid train bombing through his recruiter, Abu al-Barra al-Hijazi,” whereas what this meant in reality was that the Task Force believed that the man who arranged his travel, Abu al-Barra, was “probably Abu al-Barra al-Hijazi,” and, according to Humoud al-Jadani (ISN 230, released in July 2007, see below), al-Hijazi “was involved in a foiled 2001 attack in Morocco and the 2004 Madrid train bombings,” as “an associate of Zubair al-Halil [actually Abu Zubair al-Haili], the mastermind of both attacks.” As an attempt to tie al-Kabi to the Madrid train bombing, this is so weak as to imply a sense of desperation in the work of the analysts at Guantánamo.

Nevertheless, when it came to assessing al-Kabi, the Task Force concluded that he was “of high intelligence value,” and posed “a high risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies.” It was also noted that he was “assessed to be a high threat from a detention perspective,” because his “overall behavior ha[d] been semi-compliant and sometimes hostile to the guard force and staff,” As a result, Rear Adm. Mark H. Buzby, the commander of Guantánamo at the time, updated a recommendation for his continued detention (dated July 21, 2006), and made the same recommendation. Five months later, however, he was released, to be put though the Saudi government’s extensive rehabilitation program.

Fahd Al Fawzan (ISN 218, Saudi Arabia) Released September 2007

In “The Guantánamo Files: Website Extras (4) – Escape to Pakistan (The Saudis),” and in an article at the time of his release, I explained how Fahd al-Fawzan (known to the US authorities as Fahd al-Fouzan), who had just turned 18 when he was captured, had been working for the al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, a vast Saudi-based international charity, which was blacklisted by the US because of alleged terrorist connections, and closed down by the Saudi government as a result of US pressure in 2004. Al-Fawzan was tarred as a terrorist because of this association, but what counted against him more was probably an allegation that he had been “identified by a senior al-Qaida member,” and another claim that he had trained at a military camp, and that he had previously been in Afghanistan for ten months in 1999, when he was only 15 years old. In his defense, at Guantánamo, al-Fawzan stated that he wished to return to Saudi Arabia “to continue his laundry business and raise his family,” that Osama bin Laden was a “bad man,” and that “those types of attacks [9/11] are not a good reflection on Muslims.”

In the documents released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, the file relating to al-Kabi was a “Recommendation for Continued Detention Under DoD Control (CD),” dated July 18, 2007, in which it was noted that he was born in September 1983 and was “in good health.”

In telling his story, based largely on his own account, the Joint Task Force noted that he dropped out of school, and then worked at a dessert shop for a year, and than at a laundromat, with five other individuals. Just before the 9/11 attacks, he apparently traveled to Karachi, Pakistan, “with $15,000 USD to purchase laundry machines for his business,” and met up with a friend and fellow employee. However, although they stayed for up to two weeks “shopping for laundering equipment,” al-Fawzan said that “he was unable to locate the equipment they desired,” and, instead, his friend convinced him “to travel to Afghanistan to purchase inexpensive leather goods.”

The two of them then traveled to Kabul, via Quetta and Kandahar, and stayed with an Afghan in the Wazir Akbar Khan district for up to to two weeks “while shopping for leather goods,”and then moved on to Khost, where they stayed for another week. It was at these time that “the coalition bombing began and [al-Fawzan] expressed a desire to leave Afghanistan.” However, his companion “told him the Pakistani Army would be harsh to Arabs,” and, instead, took him to Jalalabad, where they “hid in a pump house waiting for the bombing to cease.” After another two-week period, al-Fawzan “insisted on leaving,” and an Afghan who had been helping them in Afghanistan found them a guide “who charged $1,000 USD to take [al-Fawzan] to Pakistan.”

Al-Fawzan claimed that the guide advised him to allow him to carry his papers, passport and money, but that, on arrival at the Pakistani border, the guide fled with his belongings. he added that he “was advised to report to the nearest Pakistani police station, where [he] was summarily taken into custody.” The Task Force, however, assessed that he “fled Afghanistan with a group of al-Qaida and Taliban fighters led by Osama bin Laden’s (UBL) appointed military commander in Tora Bora, [Ali] Muhammad Abdul Aziz al-Fakhri, aka Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi” (ISN 212, although he was never held at Guantánamo,” It was assessed that this group “crossed the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in the Nangarhar region, reaching a small Pakistani village around 14 December 2001,” where their host “convinced them to surrender their weapons [and] then gathered the group in a mosque where Pakistani forces immediately arrested them on 20 December 2001.”

Al-Libi, regarded as an important “high-value detainee,” was the emir of the Khaldan training camp until it was closed by the Taliban in 2000, after he refused to allow it to be taken over by Osama bin Laden. After his capture, he was sent to Egypt, where, under torture, he made a false confession that Al-Qaida operatives had been meeting with Saddam Hussein to discuss obtaining chemical and biological weapons, which was then used to justify the invasion of Iraq, even though he retracted it. Sent back to Libya after several years in secret CIA prisons, he died in Gaddafi’s Abu Salim prison in May 2009, reportedly by committing suicide, although observers believed that he had been killed.

Al-Libi’s status as a military commander in Tora Bora is, therefore, disputed, as is al-Fawzan’s inclusion in a group of fighters, because it is possible that this story was invented after a large number of prisoners, seized in a variety of locations and under different circumstances, were gathered together in a Pakistani prison. Also untrustworthy is the Task Force’s claim that, “During the transit to the prison, one of the detainees attacked a guard leading to a struggle in which six Pakistani guards were killed and some of the prisoners escaped.” This happened, but other reports state that it happened not after capture, but while the prisoners were being moved from one Pakistani jail to another (from Peshawar to Kohat).

Al-Fawzan was sent to Guantánamo on February 13, 2002, on the spurious basis that it was to “provide information on the following: Low-level operations involving the theft or confiscation of passports in order to trap people in Afghanistan.”

In assessing his story, the Task Force noted that it was “assessed to be an elaborate cover story,” and that he was assessed to be “a member of al-Qaida who probably served as a recruiter and fundraiser,” who “traveled to Afghanistan with $15,000 USD shortly after 11 September 2001, probably to support Arabs attempting to flee Afghanistan,” and who “probably fought at Tora Bora against US and coalition forces,” and was “probably affiliated with senior members of the Taliban and known members of al-Qaida.”

The repetition of the word “probably” rather undermines any notion of certainty, however, and this is reinforced by an evaluation of the alleged witnesses who provided information about him. Yasim Basardah (ISN 252), a Yemeni who has been released, but who is generally known as the most notoriously unreliable informant in Guantánamo, identified him as “an individual who helped raise money for al-Qaida and the Taliban in Saudi Arabia,” and also claim that he “helped recruit fighters to travel to Afghanistan.” In addition, the torture victim Abu Zubaydah, held in secret CIA torture prisons for four and a half years before his transfer to Guantánamo in September 2006, “photo-identified detainee and stated [he] was close to the individual known as the ‘Filipino,’” identified as Khalid al-Hubayshi (a Saudi released in July 2005), and, in addition, an analyst claimed that al-Fawzan “probably associated with [al-Hubayshi's] twin brother,Yasir Sulayman al-Hubayshi al-Jihani, who taught the use of remote control devices and explosives to small groups of Arabs while he lived in Kabul during the summer of 2001,” although it is uncertain whose interrogation this information came from.

There was, perhaps, more substance to claims that information about al-Fawzan was found on documents recovered from computers seized during raids on houses associated with al-Qaida, and even that he was in Tora Bora, as he was reportedly identified in a photo held by the US military, along with Humoud al-Jadani (ISN 230, a Saudi released in July 2007, see below) “who was turned over to US custody with detainee,” and who claimed al-Fawzan was “lying to interrogators about [his] cover story.” However, through my analysis of the military files released by WikiLeaks, I have established that al-Jadani appears to be an unreliable witness, and the only other person to place al-Fawzan at Tora Bora was Yasim Basardah, who “identified detainee as a member of al-Sulami’s unit in Tora Bora.” The Task Force assessed that al-Sulami was Yahya al-Sulami (ISN 66, released in July 2007), and it was noted that Basardah also claimed that al-Sulami was “part of a special operations training group at al-Farouq and led a group of ten to fifteen individuals in Tora Bora” — although that is almost certainly a complete fabrication, as an analyst noted that every time Basardah was questioned about al-Sulami, he “changed his story.”

Perhaps the most damaging information about al-Fawzan came from his home government. It was noted that, in 2002, “The Saudi Ministry of Interior, General Directorate of Investigations (aka Mabahith), designated detainee as a high priority detainee,” who “was ranked sixth in a list of thirty-seven high priority detainees held at JTF-GTMO.” It was also noted that the Saudi Ministry of Interior “reported detainee traveled to Afghanistan for ten months in 1999,” which may be true, although, as I noted above, he was only 15 at the time, and did not reach his 16th birthday until September 1999.

In assessing his story, the Task Force concluded that he was “of medium intelligence value,” and posed “a high risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies.” It was also noted that he was “assessed to be a low threat from a detention perspective,” because his “overall behavior ha[d] been compliant and non-hostile to the guard force and staff,” As a result, Rear Adm. Harry H. Harris Jr., the commander of Guantánamo at the time, updated a recommendation for his continued detention (dated January 6, 2006), and made the same recommendation. Seven months later, however, he was released, to be put though the Saudi government’s extensive rehabilitation program.

Ali Mohsen Salih (ISN 221, Yemen) Released June 2007

in “Website Extras 5,” and in an article at the time of his release, I explained how Ali Mohsen Salih was one of four prisoners transferred to Yemeni custody in June 2007. 21 years old at the time of his capture, Salih appears to be one of several young men recruited for jihad by a man named Ibrahim Baalawi (also known as Abu Khulud), who had apparently escaped from the showdown between al-Qaida and the US in Afghanistan’s Tora Bora mountains in December 2001, and would clearly have been a much bigger catch than any of the foot soldiers rounded up by the Pakistani authorities instead. A facilitator who had spent time in Afghanistan, where he had allegedly sworn bayat (an oath of loyalty) to Osama bin Laden, Baalawi was not mentioned by name in Salih’s case, but may well have played a part in his recruitment. In Salih’s tribunal at Guantánamo, in which he was accused of training at al-Farouq and fighting with the Taliban on the front lines at Bagram, he said that he had actually traveled to Afghanistan because he had heard that the Taliban “would provide a home for those who chose to live there.”

In Guantánamo, he was one of around 200 prisoners who took part in a hunger strike in the second half of 2005 to protest about the conditions in which they were held. Although he weighed just 139 pounds (9 stone 13 pounds) when he arrived in Guantánamo in 2002, at one point in December 2005 his weight dropped to just 107 pounds (7 stone 9 pounds), and he was force-fed daily from the end of October 2005 to the end of January 2006, when the authorities largely curtailed the strike after taking delivery of a number of restraint chairs — even though it is illegal to force-feed mentally competent prisoners.

In the documents released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, the file relating to Salih was a “Recommendation to Transfer to the Control of Another Country for Continued Detention (TRCD),” dated September 17, 2004, in which he was also identified as Ali Mahsin Salah Nasser or Ali Muhsin Salih Nasir, and it was noted that he was born in October 1980 in Doha, Qatar (although he is a Yemeni national) and was ”in good health.”

In telling his story, based largely on his own account, the Joint Task Force noted that he finished school in 1999, and worked as a security guard in a mall for six months beginning in November 2000. In June 2001, his friends “advised him that the Taliban would provide a home for those who chose to live in Afghanistan,” and, in July 2001, “with the hope of being provided a home and finding a wife,” he set off for Afghanistan “without informing family or friends.” The Task Force did, however, note that he also said that “local Imams were encouraging Muslims on the television and radio to fight the jihad in Afghanistan, only to admit later that others, during confinement, informed him that this was an effective cover story.” The Task Force also complained that his statement about why he went to Afghanistan, “as well as many others, change[d] on a constant basis due to [his] ever changing and inconsistent accounts.”

After flying to Karachi, and then Quetta, he said he “caught a taxi and was taken across the Pakistan/Afghanistan border alone,” on July 5, 2001, and driven to an unidentified guesthouse in Kandahar. There he met an Afghan who arranged for him to attend Al-Farouq, and gave him his passport and five hundred Qatari dinars, although he “never saw his passport again.” He said that he “received fifty-two days of training at Al-Farouq, but he missed four weeks of training due to illness,” and he also “mentioned several times that he did not like to fire the Kalashnikov rifle, and he found the training to be too difficult.”

He also said that, “During the training, prior to 11 September 2001, Osama bin Laden (UBL) arrived at Al-Farouq and conducted a speech in a mosque claiming a great conflict would be starting soon.” He added that he did not see bin Laden give the speech, but heard him through the carnp’s loudspeakers. He also said that he observed bin Laden “walking with a group of unidentified people after [his] speech and overheard [him] mention that there would be problems with the US in another month or two.” He also said that he “joined the Taliban on 11 September 2001 in Bagram, AF, but became ill and went to a hospital in Kabul, AF, two weeks later.” In early October 2001, he returned to Bagram, and “fought as a foot soldier with the Taliban at the Northern front lines just before Ramadan,” where his “duties included cooking and digging.”

In mid-November 2001, “in fear of being surrounded,” he “fled the front lines and headed toward Jalalabad.” He said he “traveled by truck and foot for three days through the Tora Bora mountains,” and was seized by Pakistani border guards on December 1, 2001, and transferred to US custody at Kohat on January 2, 2002. He was sent to Guantánamo on February 11, 2002, on the spurious basis that it was because of his “ability to provide information on: The Al-Farouq training camp on the east side of Jalalabad, AF, The names of military leaders who met at the camp and at his unit [and] Prior knowledge of the 11 September 2001 attacks.”

In conclusion, the Task Force assessed him as being “of medium intelligence value,” and of posing “a medium risk, as he may possibly pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies,” and also noted that his “overall behavior ha[d] been generally non-compliant and aggressive.” As a result, Brig. Gen. Jay W. Hood, the commander of Guantánamo at the time, recommended his transfer to the control of another country for continued detention. It was also noted that “JTF GTMO notified the Criminal Investigative Task Force (CITF) of this recommendation on 17 September 2004,” and that CITF had “assessed this detainee on 9 April 2004 as a low risk,” but that, “In the interest of national security and pursuant to an agreement between the CITF and JTF GTMO Commanders,” CITF “defer[red] to JTF GTMO’s assessment that the detainee pose[d] a medium risk.”

Because of a fear of releasing Yemenis, given the security situation in Yemen, Salih was not released for another two years and nine months, but he was more fortunate than most of his compatriots. At the time of writing, 58 Yemenis, approved for transfer by President Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force in 2009 (some of whom were cleared by military review boards under President Bush, between 2004 and 2007) are still held, because of a ban on releasing any Yemenis that was imposed by President Obama in January 2010, after it was revealed that the would-be underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian, had been recruited in Yemen.

Umar Al Kunduzi (ISN 222, Afghanistan) Released December 2007

In “The Guantánamo Files: Website Extras (4) – Escape to Pakistan (The Saudis),” and in an article at the time of his release, I explained how Umar al-Kunduzi, who was 20 or 22 years old at the time of his capture, was born in Afghanistan, and was released in Afghanistan. Although he had been living in Saudi Arabia since the Soviet invasion, when he was just one year old, he returned to Afghanistan in September 2001, because, as he told his lawyer, Kent Spriggs, he wanted to fight in Chechnya, and he added that Chechen representatives had told him to undertake military training in Afghanistan. Although he conceded that he had trained at al-Farouq, he insisted that he had a distaste for both the Taliban and al-Qaida on religious grounds, and explained that both groups were responsible for killing Muslims, which he thought was wrong. In this he was not alone, as numerous other prisoners — some of whom stated that they had been tricked by those who had recruited them in their home countries — were appalled to discover that they were involved in an un-Islamic civil war against other Muslims.

In his tribunal at Guantánamo, al-Kunduzi gave some insight into the situation in Afghanistan for a young man with connections to the country who was inevitably caught up in the resistance to the US-led invasion. He said that he was staying at a house in Jalalabad when the city fell in November 2001, and explained that everyone in the house got into a pick-up truck and drove to the Tora Bora mountains, where they stayed in a cave for a month. No mention was made of Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri or any other senior figures in al-Qaida or the Taliban, who were also in Tora Bora at this time, and who all escaped safely to Pakistan. Instead, al-Kunduzi explained that he left for Pakistan with a group of Arabs, Pakistanis and other Afghans, and was arrested on the border, which surprised him. “I did not expect them to hand me over to the Americans,” he said. “I thought they would treat me like an Afghani.”

In the documents released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, the file relating to al-Kunduzi was a “Recommendation for Transfer Out of DoD Control (TRO),” dated December 16, 2006, in which he was identified as Omar A. Abdullah, and it was noted that he was born in September 1981 and was “in good health.”

In telling his story, based largely on his own account, the Joint Task Force noted that al-Kunduzi and his family emigrated to Saudi Arabia, while he was a child, and that he “lived the majority of his life in Medina,” where he “received the equivalent of a third or fourth grade education,” and then worked at his father’s restaurant and at a yarn shop. On approximately September 25, 2001, he left Saudi Arabia to visit his extended family in Kunduz, but traveled first to Karachi via Bahrain and Doha,Qatar, “where he spent twenty days vacationing with his cousin.” In November 2001, he arrived in Jalalabad,where “he met a Saudi named Abu Bakr who invited him to stay at his house along with other Arabs and Afghans.”

Just three days later, apparently, Abu Bakr informed him that the Northern Alliance had captured Jalalabad, and that he “had to leave immediately.” With approximately 15 to 20 men, and with weapons, he traveled to Tora Bora, where he “remained in a Tora Bora camp for approximately thirty days with eighty to ninety other Arab men.” In early December 2001, he and five Arabs “moved to a cave in the middle of the mountains,” taking their weapons, a walkie-talkie, and a short wave radio. It was also noted that “[l]ocal Afghan tribesmen re-supplied the group.”

The Task Force then stated that al-Kunduzi “fled Afghanistan with a group of al-Qaida and Taliban fighters led by Osama bin Laden (UBL) appointed military commander,” Ali Muhammad Abdul Aziz al-Fakhri, aka Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi” (ISN 212, although he was never held at Guantánamo). It was assessed that this group “crossed the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in the Nangarhar region around 14 December 2001,” reaching a village where their host “convinced the group to surrender their weapons [and] then gathered the group in a mosque where Pakistani forces immediately arrested them.”

Al-Libi, regarded as an important “high-value detainee,” was the emir of the Khaldan training camp until it was closed by the Taliban in 2000, after he refused to allow it to be taken over by Osama bin Laden. After his capture, he was sent to Egypt, where, under torture, he made a false confession that Al-Qaida operatives had been meeting with Saddam Hussein to discuss obtaining chemical and biological weapons, which was then used to justify the invasion of Iraq, even though he retracted it. Sent back to Libya after several years in secret CIA prisons, he died in Gaddafi’s Abu Salim prison in May 2009, reportedly by committing suicide, although observers believed that he had been killed.

Al-Libi’s status as a military commander in Tora Bora is, therefore, disputed, even though, in al-Kunduzi’s file, an analyst claimed that bin Laden appointed him as the commander at Tora Bora, and that he “was previously a senior al-Qaida trainer and former manager of the Khaldan Training Camp.” Interestingly, the claims about al-Libi being “an al-Qaida trainer” and “the former manager” of Khaldan have not previously surfaced in any of the files I have studied — largely, I imagine, because al-Libi was the emir of Khaldan, not its manager, and had maintained its independence throughout the whole of the 1990s, never functioning as a trainer for al-Qaida.

Also untrustworthy is the Task Force’s claim that, “During the transit to the prison, one of the detainees attacked a guard leading to a struggle in which six Pakistani guards were killed and some of the prisoners escaped.” This happened, although other reports state that it happened not after capture, but while the prisoners were being moved from one Pakistani jail to another (from Peshawar to Kohat).

From Kohat, al-Kunduzi was transferred to the US prison at Kandahar airport on January 2, 2002, and was sent to Guantánamo on February 11, 2002, on the spurious basis that it was to “provide information on volunteer jihad fighters.”

In assessing his story, the Task Force drew almost entirely on statements made by Yasim Basardah (ISN 252), a Yemeni who has been released, but who is generally known as the most notoriously unreliable informant in Guantánamo, during one interrogation on December 2, 2004. Basardah “photo identified detainee as an al-Qaida facilitator, interrogator,and weapons expert,” and stated he “believed detainee was responsible for facilitating the passage of new recruits from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan. He also “reported detainee traveled to Saudi Arabia approximately every three months returning with new recruits, letters, and approximately $4,000 USD.”

Basardah also “stated detainee admitted to being part of a group that would torture people suspected of spying,” and “described, in detail, torture techniques that had been previously described to him by detainee, used against suspected spies,” which were particular unpleasant lies. He also claimed that he and al-Kunduzi “served together in the same cave at Tora Bora,” and also “identified detainee as an expert in the use of RPGs and mortars,” and “claimed detainee fought alongside Taliban and Arab fighters aligned with UBL [Osama bin Laden] since 1997.”

Basardah also “stated all recruits, including detainee, received training at the Khaldan Camp with follow-on training for urban warfare at Murad Beek,” which was the only one of his wild and groundless allegations that was questioned by an analyst, who noted, “The al-Qaida urban warfare camp was a specialized camp designed to train operatives that would be utilized in urban settings; therefore, [Basardah's] statement that all recruits would attend this training is probably inaccurate.”

The only other prisoner to mention al-Kunduzi was an Egyptian, Rida Fadhil al-Walili, aka Reda Fadel El-Waleeli (ISN 663, released in July 2003), who said he “saw detainee a ‘few years ago’ fighting for Taliban forces against the NA [Northern Alliance].” An analyst noted that El-Waleeli “fought alongside Taliban in 1995 and 1999,” but did not explain why his statement should trusted.

In conclusion, the Task Force assessed al-Kunduzi as being “of medium intelligence value,” and of posing “a medium risk, as he may pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies.” It was also noted that he was “assessed to be a high threat from a detention perspective,” because his “overall behavior ha[d] been non-compliant and hostile to the guard force and staff.” As a result, Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., the commander of Guantánamo at the time, updating a previous recommendation for his “Continued Detention with Transfer Language (dated November 3, 2005), recommended him for for “Transfer Out of DoD Control,” although it took another year for him to be freed.

After his release, he found himself pressurized by the Taliban, even though all he wanted was a quiet life. In 2009, Kim Barker of the Chicago Tribune spoke to him in Kabul, where he was “trying to live a straight life,” although he had no job and only had money that was occasionally sent to him by his brother, who lived outside Afghanistan. During his interview, “he wanted to know how much he could earn selling his laptop,” which was “a gift from his brother.” The Tribune article explained, “No one will hire him, and a stint in Guantánamo — plus the fact that he has plenty of Al-Qaida and Taliban associates — does not bode well for future job prospects.”

After his return, he was imprisoned for four months in a wing of Kabul’s Pol-i-Charki prison, which was refurbished by US forces, and “was freed when an Afghan judicial commission ruled he no longer posed any danger.” However, as the article explained, “now his old associates want him back.”

Al-Kunduzi said, “When I say I am vulnerable, understand this — the policy of those on the other side is, ‘You’re with me, or you’re against me.’ One day, finally, they will come after me. That’s why I want to disappear.” He added, “I don’t want to go someplace where I will be involved in what I was in the past. I could easily go anywhere in Pakistan or Afghanistan and work for my former friends. Maybe they will not ask me to fight. Maybe they would give me an office job. I don’t want even that. I want a peaceful life. I want a quiet life. I just want to be Umar.”

Hani Al Shulan (ISN 225, Yemen) Released June 2007

In “The Guantánamo Files: Website Extras (5) – Escape to Pakistan (The Yemenis),” and in an article at the time of his release, I explained how Hani al-Shulan, who was 22 years old when he was seized, initially said that he was a student who went to Afghanistan to find a job and save money, after being told about the possibilities by a sheikh at his local mosque, and that he subsequently found work as a chef’s assistant north of Kabul. Later, however, he apparently conceded that, after arriving in Afghanistan in July 2001, he spent two months cooking for the Taliban, and “stated that his job was to prepare food that was later transported to soldiers fighting on the front lines.” He insisted that he had never raised arms, and that he “didn’t mind ‘working’ for the Taliban, but didn’t want to fight,” and he also explained that, if the fatwa he answered “had included fighting Americans, he would not have gone to Afghanistan.”

In the documents released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, the file relating to al-Shulan was a “Recommendation to Transfer to the Control of Another Country for Continued Detention (TRCD),” dated October 15, 2004, in which he was also identified as Hani Shoalan, and it was noted that he was born in 1979 and was “in good health.”

In telling his story, based largely on his own account, the Joint Task Force noted that, in May 2001, he attended a where a sheikh “issued a fatwa inspiring him to go to Afghanistan,” which “was a call to help the Taliban fight [Ahmad Shah] Massoud’s forces.” A recruiter assisted him with his travel to Kabul via Pakistan, and he apparently stayed at a Taliban safehouse in Kabul for a month, and was then transferred to Bagram, where he served with the Taliban as a cook for two months. When the bombing campaign began, with the US-led invasion in October 2001, he apparently “feigned illness so he could return to Yemen.”

“[C]onvinced to hide out in the Tora Bora Mountains of Afghanistan, because Arabs were being killed,” he then “left for a small village in Pakistan” with 80 to 90 other Arabs. The Task Force stated that a Pakistani guide “took the group to Pakistani forces where they were arrested and taken to jail in an unknown location,” and that they remained there “for a month before the US government came to question them and take them to the Kandahar, AF, detention facility.” In later accounts, the story of the escape would have centered on Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, but he was not mentioned in this 2004 version of events.

He was sent to Guantánamo on February 9, 2002, on the spurious basis that it was because of his “knowledge of: Specific biographical information on Sheikh Mohommad [sic] al Imam and the Al Imam mosque in Maabar, YM, General to specific biographical information on Taliban personnel at the Taliban office in Quetta, PK [and] General to specific biographical information on Taliban personnel on the front lines at Bagram, AF.”

In assessing his story, the Task Force could not confirm that he had been engaged in any specific military activity against US forces, but it was stated that he had “demonstrated a commitment to jihad,” and it was also noted that he “was captured with a Casio model A159W watch,” and that these watches “have been used in bombings that have been linked to Al-Qaida and radical Islamic terrorist Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).” It was also noted that “26 other JTF GTMO detainees were captured with the same Casio watches,” and an analyst noted, “It is believed this watch was distributed to select recruits during training at Al-Qaida’s terrorist training camp Al-Farouq. It is possible this watch represents that detainee may have received specialized training or may have been recognized for his performance.” Or, of course, this entire focus on the prisoners’ Casio watches might have been a vivid example of the ludicrous paranoia masquerading as intelligence at Guantánamo.

In conclusion, al-Shulan was assessed as being “of low intelligence value,” and of posing “a medium risk, as he may possibly pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies.” It was also noted that his “overall behavior ha[d] been generally compliant, but he [had] shown signs of aggression on occasions.” As a result, Brig. Gen. Jay W. Hood, the commander of Guantánamo at the time, recommended his transfer to the control of another country for continued detention. It was also noted that “JTF GTMO notified the Criminal Investigative Task Force (CITF) of this recommendation on 15 October 2004,” and that CITF had “assessed this detainee on 9 April 2004 as a low risk,” but that, “In the interest of national security and pursuant to an agreement between the CITF and JTF GTMO Commanders,” CITF “defer[red] to JTF GTMO’s assessment that the detainee pose[d] a medium risk.”

Because of a fear of releasing Yemenis, given the security situation in Yemen, al-Shulan was not released for another two years and eight months, but he was more fortunate than most of his compatriots. At the time of writing, 58 Yemenis, approved for transfer by President Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force in 2009 (some of whom were cleared by military review boards under President Bush, between 2004 and 2007) are still held, because of a ban on releasing any Yemenis that was imposed by President Obama in January 2010, after it was revealed that the would-be underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian, had been recruited in Yemen.

Two and a half years after his release, a Yemen Defense Ministry newspaper reported in December 2009 that he was killed in an air strike on December 17, 2009, which targeted suspected militants in Yemen who were involved with al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Humoud Al Jadani (ISN 230, Saudi Arabia) Released July 2007

In “The Guantánamo Files: Website Extras (4) – Escape to Pakistan (The Saudis),” and in an article at the time of his release, I explained how I felt that the case against former airline steward Humoud al-Jadani (also identified as Humud al-Jadan or al-Jad’an), who was 28 years old at the time of his capture, was particularly weak. Al-Jadani explained in Guantánamo that, like several other Guantánamo prisoners, he had traveled to Afghanistan to undertake military training in the hope that it would enable him to fight against the Russians in Chechnya, but that, although he had attended al-Farouq and had attended two lectures by Osama bin Laden, he had been too ill even to complete his training.

In the documents released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, the file relating to al-Jadani was a “Recommendation for Continued Detention Under DoD Control (CD),” dated August 25, 2006, in which he was also identified as Humud al-Jadani and Talut al-Jeddawi, and it was noted that he was born in May 1973 and was “in good health.”

In telling al-Jadani’s story, based largely on his own account, there was a rather more militant narrative than the one he told his tribunal, although it may be that it is exaggerated, as I have noted, in my analysis of the files released by Wikileaks, that al-Jadani turns up regularly in the so-called evidence, making dubious claims about his fellow prisoners. In telling his own account of his activities, the Joint Task Force noted that he left school after the tenth grade, and, from approximately 1997 to 1999, “was employed as a flight attendant for Saudi Arabian Airlines.” It was also noted that, in this period, he “frequently used illegal drugs,” but then, after turning to religion, “freed himself from the influence of drugs and felt financially secure enough to participate in his first militant jihad.”

After his brother, identified as Ismat Hammud al-Juddawi, “returned from the fighting in Ethiopia, he showed [al-Jadani] videotapes depicting attacks against Muslim women, children, and the elderly in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BK) and Chechnya,” and convinced his brother to accompany him to Chechnya. The two men set off for Serzhen-Yurt, in Chechnya, in September or October 1999, traveling via Istanbul, Turkey and Tbilisi, Georgia. On arrival, they “attended an unidentified camp in Serzhen-Yurt for training in physical fitness, weapons and guerilla operations. In June 2000, after nine months in the Chechen region, al-Jadani returned to Saudi Arabia, where he listened to an influential sheikh’s fatwa “encouraging young men to travel to Afghanistan and fight against [Ahmad Shah] Massoud (the Northern Alliance commander), who … was killing Muslims,” according to the sheikh, who also “told his audience that if they did not follow this fatwa, they would go to hell.”

Around July 2000, al-Jadani traveled to Kandahar via Syria and Iran, and on to the al-Farouq training camp, where he undertook training for six weeks and then returned to Saudi Arabia. In March 2001, he returned to Afghanistan, this time traveling via Pakistan, and, in approximately June 2001, undertook three weeks of anti-aircraft and mortar training at the Malik training camp. He then went to the second fighting line near Bagram, where he remained until Ramadan 2001, when, with the US-backed Northern Alliance defeating the Taliban, he joined the general retreat to Jalalabad, and then to Tora Bora, “where he held a position as a cook,” although he also stated that “after the death of his Tora Bora camp leader, Abu Mahjin, [he] assumed the leadership position.”

Al-Jadani claimed that, in order to leave Tora Bora, he “paid an unknown Afghan guide to take him to Pakistan,” where, on arrival, the Pakistani authorities arrested him.” In response, however, the Task Force claimed that his “departure from Afghanistan was, in fact, orchestrated by Osama bin Laden (UBL)-appointed commander Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi (ISN 212, although he was never held at Guantánamo).

Al-Libi, regarded as an important “high-value detainee,” was the emir of the Khaldan training camp until it was closed by the Taliban in 2000, after he refused to allow it to be taken over by Osama bin Laden. After his capture, he was sent to Egypt, where, under torture, he made a false confession that Al-Qaida operatives had been meeting with Saddam Hussein to discuss obtaining chemical and biological weapons, which was then used to justify the invasion of Iraq, even though he retracted it. Sent back to Libya after several years in secret CIA prisons, he died in Gaddafi’s Abu Salim prison in May 2009, reportedly by committing suicide, although observers believed that he had been killed.

In a variation on a persistent theme, the Task Force claimed that, “During a cease fire, al-Libi directed a group of approximately 65 fighters to depart Tora Bora,” and that “US military helicopters are believed to have attacked the group killing many of them.” Al-Libi then, allegedly, “led the remainder of the group and the other fighters in Tora Bora, numbering about 150, to Pakistan where they were subsequently arrested by Pakistani forces.” The numbers of those detained vary in the files, and it is, as I have repeatedly mentioned, by no means clear that all those who ended up in Pakistani custody were seized together, or, indeed, whether al-Libi held the role assigned to him by the US authorities, but in al-Jadani’s case the Task Force was satisfied that “[l]ists of those captured with Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi include the detainee’s name or alias.”

The Pakistani authorities transferred al-Jadani to US custody on January 2, 2002, when he was flown to the prison at Kandahar, and he was sent to Guantánamo on February 11, 2002, on the spurious basis that it was to “provide information on the following: Terrorism related facilities, training conducted, methods of training and trainers, Taliban air defense systems [and] Arab fighting elements in Afghanistan.”

In assessing his story, the US authorities had obviously spent some time focusing on the leadership position he allegedly assumed during the battle of Tora Bora, as  number of alleged witnesses spoke about him. Tariq El-Sawah (ISN 535, identified as Tariq Mahmood Ahmad), an Egyptian who is still held, and has been identified by the US authorities as one of their most helpful informants within Guantánamo, stated that Abu Mahjin “served as the verbal conduit between UBL [bin Laden] and the commanders in Tora Bora.” As a result, an analyst leapt to the logical — but not necessarily correct — conclusion that, “As detainee has acknowledged he assumed Abu Mahjin’s duties when he died, therefore it is probable that detainee also served as UBL’s messenger and would have additional information on the Tora Bora leadership.”

In addition, Abdul Rahman al-Amri (ISN 199, identified as Jabd al-Rahman al-Umari, who died in Guantánamo in May 2007) allegedly “identified detainee as the emir (leader) of [his] 12-man group of fighters,” Abdullah al-Shabli (ISN 240, a Yemeni who is still held, and was identified here as Abdallah al-Shibli) “identified detainee as Talat, a leader of a group in Tora Bora,” and Abdul Latif Nassir (ISN 244, a Moroccan who is still held, identified here as Abdullatif Nasser) “identified detainee as his subordinate in Tora Bora.” Even Moazzam Begg (ISN 558, a British national released in January 2005) “stated that he spent three days at a camp in Tora Bora commanded by detainee,” even though there has never been any credible suggestion that Begg was ever in Tora Bora.

The only other alleged eyewitness account of al-Jadani came from the “high-value detainee” Walid bin Attash (ISN 10014), who, while held in a secret CIA prison in 2003, “described detainee as a veteran of the Chechen Jihad who arrived at the al-Farouq Training Camp already trained.”

Also of relevance was the Saudi government’s opinion of al-Jadani, and it was noted, “The Saudi Ministry of Interior, General Directorate of Investigations (Mabahith) provided information on 37 detainees designated as high priority. Detainee was the fifth name on that list.”

In conclusion, al-Jadani was assessed as being “of medium intelligence value,” and of posing “a high risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies.” It was also noted that he was “assessed to be a moderate threat from a detention perspective,” because his “overall behavior ha[d] been highly compliant and seldom hostile to the guard force and staff.” As a result, Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., the commander of Guantánamo at the time, updated a previous recommendation for his “Continued Detention Under DoD Control (dated September 5, 2005), and repeated that recommendation.

Although he was released eleven months later, to be put through the Saudi government’s extensive rehabilitation program, the Pentagon suspected that he subsequently became involved in providing support to terrorists. In April 2009, the Pentagon produced a fact sheet, “Former Guantánamo Detainee Terrorism Trends” (PDF), in which — as Humud al-Jadan — he was listed as a “[s]uspected recidivist because of “association with known terrorists,” although no further information was provided to back up this claim.

Abd Al Hadi Al Sharikh (ISN 231, Saudi Arabia) Released September 2007

In an article at the time of his release, I explained how Abd al-Hadi al-Sharikh (also identified as al-Sharekh or al-Sharakh), who was 19 years old at the time of his capture, said that he “had been in Pakistan for a year, on a mission to help the poor, when he … was seized without setting foot in Afghanistan.” At the time, this was all I knew of his story, but when the Pentagon released another batch of documents relating to the prisoners just after his release in September 2007, al-Sharekh’s story emerged in greater detail, and it became apparent, as I explained in “The Guantánamo Files: Website Extras (4) – Escape to Pakistan (The Saudis),” that he had actually been recruited to “assist the Taliban in jihad against the Northern Alliance,” and that he “claimed that it was his duty to assist the Taliban in preserving the correct form of Islam.” He apparently “stated firmly that the Taliban were correct and the Northern Alliance and its followers were wrong.”

Although there were unsubstantiated allegations from an unidentified “senior al-Qaida operative,” who claimed that al-Sharekh had trained at the Khaldan camp, his own admissions — that he trained in Kabul and also at al-Farouq — and his apparent admission that he was “a committed member of the Taliban regime,” marked him out as, at best, a zealous foot soldier rather than anything more sinister, although it is not known whether he actually participated in combat, as he was only in Afghanistan for three months. He was captured after fleeing from Kabul to Jalalabad, and then crossing the mountains to Pakistan with an Afghan guide.

In the documents released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, the file relating to al-Sharikh was a “Recommendation for Continued Detention Under DoD Control (CD),” dated July 26, 2007, and it was noted that he was born in July 1982 and was “in good health.”

In telling al-Sharikh’s story, based largely on his own account, the Joint Task Force noted that he grew up in Riyadh, and was a student at the time of his travel to Afghanistan. It was also noted that, of his six brothers, two are dead, while a third, Abd al-Razzaq al-Sharikh (ISN 67) was also held at Guantánamo (and was released in September 2007). In explaining how he came to travel to Afghanistan, it was noted that a friend of his deceased elder brother, Abd al-Latif, or Abbad, visited his home numerous times, and “spoke to detainee and his other brothers, Abd al-Rahman and [Abd al-Razzaq], about jihad and the duty of Muslims to join jihad.” As a result, and after also hearing “the urgings of extremist sheikhs,” he “discussed the matter with his father and decided to go to Kabul, AF, to fight.”

In June 2000, he flew to Karachi with a friend, and with $14,000 US given to him by his father. The two spent a week in Karachi, and then traveled to Herat, and from there to Kandahar, where they stayed at a well-known guesthouse associated with the Taliban, and then traveled on to a Taliban guesthouse in Kabul. There, an unidentified Afghan introduced them to a Taliban military commander known as Saznoor, and al-Sharikh told him he “desired to travel to the Bagram front line to begin fighting but was told he had to attend training first.

In September 2001, presumably just before the 9/11 attacks, he traveled to a Libyan camp near Kabul where he trained for a week, after handing over his money and personal possessions to Saznoor, and from there he traveled to Bagram where “he was assigned to a unit under the guidance of Saznoor.” He was with this unit for six to eight weeks until US bombing raids forced the unit to flee to Jalalabad. When Jalalabad came under attack, Saznoor told al-Sharikh that “it had become too dangerous for an Arab like himself to remain in the city,” and drove him “to a place in the Tora Bora Mountains where nine other Arabs, led by Ali Mahmoud, were waiting.” He then spent 15 days with this group before finding an Afghan guide who took them to the Pakistani border, where he and the rest of his group surrendered to the Pakistani police.

He was then taken a prison for two days and was then moved to a second prison, in Kohat, where he remained until he was transferred to US forces on January 2, 2002. He was sent to Guantánamo on January 16, 2002 on the spurious basis that it was to “provide information on the following: Libyan training camp near Kabul.”

In assessing his story, the Task Force described him as “uncooperative,” and noted that he had “refused to talk to interrogators since November 2003,” which was quite an achievement. Nevertheless, others had provided information instead, including some witnesses generally regarded as unreliable, because they were victims of torture, but who may, in al-Sharikh’s case, have actually recalled him, as he and his brothers appeared to have been easy to remember, even if they were often confused with one another.

Abu Zubaydah (ISN 10016, still held), the “high-value detainee” for whom the Bush administration’s torture program was initially developed, “acknowledged he knew detainee and three of his brothers,” and “said he first met detainee and SA-067 in Kabul in 2000 or 2001.” Another “high-value detainee,” Walid bin Attash (ISN 10014, still held) “identified SA-067 as one of four brothers,” and “claimed he had met the other three brothers, including detainee, in mid-2000 at the guesthouse in Kandahar.” The Task Force also claimed that al-Sharikh’s father was “a probable al-Qaida member,” because Abu Zubaydah “stated he saw detainee’s father at the al-Qaida guesthouse in Kabul in 2001,” where he stayed “for approximately one month.”

Another unreliable witness, Mohammed al-Qahtani (ISN 63, a Saudi still held), who was subjected to a specific torture program at Guantánamo, said that he saw al-Sharikh at al-Farouq, even though al-Sharikh did not acknowledge attending al-Farouq. Another unreliable witness was Abdul Hakim Bukhari (ISN 493, a Saudi released in September 2007), who “admitted that he provided information in a deliberately misleading manner in order to receive incentives from his debriefers,” and who “identified detainee and SA-067 as having connections to terrorist cells in the US and the United Kingdom.” This should have been a rather obvious lie, but although an analyst noted, “No further information is available regarding [Bukhari]‘s assertion” it was also noted, suspiciously, that al-Sharikh’s “passport reflects travel to the US.”

Most alarmingly, the Task Force noted that al-Sharikh and his brother “were selected and prepared by top al-Qaida leaders for a special mission to attack US forces at PSAB [Prince Sultan Air Base] in Saudi Arabia. The two brothers were to use SA-7 shoulder-fired SAMs to destroy US aircraft on the base.” An analyst noted, “An SA-7 SAM was fired at PSAB in May 2002, but did not explode,” adding, “This attack was likely the realization of the plot for which detainee and SA-067 had been training,” but he or she did not add that, even if this was the case, the al-Sharikh brothers actually had nothing to do with the failed attack when it eventually took place, as they were already both in US custody.

In further discussion of the supposed special training that the brothers undertook, the Task Force claimed that “Al-Qaida Military Commander Abu Hafs al-Masri (aka (Mohammed Atef [killed in November 2001]), and al-Qaida Security Chief Sayf al-Adel [whereabouts unknown, but possibly in Iran] personally selected detainee and SA-067″ for the special mission to attack Prince Sultan Air Base. It was also claimed that “Al-Adel and senior al-Qaida trainer and commander Ali Muhammad Abdul Aziz al-Fakhri (aka Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, ISN 212) personally oversaw the two brothers’ training for this mission,” and, apparently, that al-Libi “stated that while providing explosives training at al-Farouq in April 2001, he was directed by senior al-Qaida operative Abu Hafs al-Masri to provide specialized SA-7 training” to the al-Sharikh brothers, identified by their aliases Akrima and Hammam. He apparently “provided the training at a special site for three days.”

It was claimed that multiple sources, including the brothers, had “corroborated that the two received extensive and highly specialized training to prepare for this mission, directly supervised by [al-Libi] and Sayf al-Adl,” but in fact, of the five sources cited for this allegation, three are Abd al-Razzaq al-Sharikh, and one other is Humoud al-Jadani (ISN 230, released in July 2007, see above), who “stated detainee and SA-067 attended specialized training at the Tarnak Farm with Osama bin Laden’s (UBL) son, Saad bin Laden,” and “added that detainee and SA-067 received one-on-one training for free because the trainers knew Abbad, detainee’s deceased brother.” He also claimed that “Abbad trained at Khaldan Camp under [Abu Zubaydah] between 1996 and 1998.” It is, however, impossible to discern how much truth, if any, there is to al-Jadani’s claims, although it may well be true that some sort of training took place under Sayf al-Adel, as Abd al-Razzaq himself admitted.

Nevertheless, the sum of the evidence in total rather makes a mockery of the Task Force’s “multiple sources” claim, and casts doubt on the reliability of any of the claims about the “special mission,” especially as no statements are attributed directly to al-Libi, even though he was in US custody — or the US had access to him — for many years after his capture in Afghanistan in December 2001. The emir of the Khaldan training camp until it was closed by the Taliban in 2000, after he refused to allow it to be taken over by Osama bin Laden, he was sent to Egypt after his capture, where, under torture, he made a false confession that Al-Qaida operatives had been meeting with Saddam Hussein to discuss obtaining chemical and biological weapons, which was then used to justify the invasion of Iraq, even though he retracted it. Sent back to Libya after several years in secret CIA prisons, he died in Gaddafi’s Abu Salim prison in May 2009, reportedly by committing suicide, although observers believed that he had been killed.

Perhaps most worryingly for al-Sharikh, it was also noted that, “Prior to the visit of a Saudi government delegation to JTF-GTMO in 2002, the Saudi government provided information about 37 detainees whom they designated as high priority. Detainee was number four on that list.”

As a result of the above, the Task Force assessed him as being “of high intelligence value,” and of posing “a high risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies.” It was also noted that he was “assessed to be a low threat from a detention perspective,” because his “overall behavior ha[d] been mostly compliant and rarely hostile to the guard force and staff.” As a result, Rear Adm. Mark H. Buzby, the commander of Guantánamo at the time, updated a previous recommendation for his “Continued Detention Under DoD Control (dated July 28, 2006), and repeated that recommendation.

Nevertheless, he was released just two months later, to be put through the Saudi government’s extensive rehabilitation program. However, in April 2009, the Pentagon produced a fact sheet, “Former Guantánamo Detainee Terrorism Trends” (PDF), in which he was listed as a “[s]uspected recidivist” because he was apparently “arrested in September 2008 for association with terrorist members, supporting terrorism.” His brother Abd al-Razzaq was also apparently arrested, although there has been no corroboration of this in any English-speaking media that I could find, or any explanation of what the references to “association” with and “support” for terrorists and terrorist activities actually signified.

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) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

9 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Barry Wingard wrote:

    Wow, Andy you are as hardcore as anyone I’ve ever met in any organization.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Barry, for the powerfully supportive words. Someone has to do the job of demonstrating how most of the so-called evidence extracted from prisoners in Guantanamo and elsewhere in the so-called “war on terror” is worthless, extracted from torture victims or from those who caved in, or broke down, and lied every time they were shown photos in the “family album” and asked what they knew about the people in the photos, most of whom – or all of whom – they’d never met before and knew nothing about.
    And six years into this project, it still happens to be me carrying all of these men’s stories and trying to humanize them and show how most of them never had anything to do with terrorism, and I happen – it seems – to be both intelligent and stubborn enough to stick with it.
    Thanks for caring, Barry.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    On Digg, anomaly100 wrote:

    This is why WikiLeaks rocks.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    faceofbo wrote:

    And why Mr. Worthington rocks

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, faceofbo. I am very happy to rock!

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Toia Tutta Jung wrote:

    Thanks for being intelligent and stubborn enough, Andy, and to use it to make us see exactly how sick, unacceptable and dangerous this is, because we are, at an international level, changing our perception of justice, and if we allow it to happen, we’re lost as civilization. Or what’s left of it.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, I agree, Toia, the coarsening of attitudes is everywhere, like a dangerous virus. It infects our notions of justice, and economically, it pushes us further and further into a Darwinian survivalist hell, with no cooperation, no public provision of services, just a class of those who are well-off doing everything in their power to hold onto their comfort at everyone else’s expense. The scapegoats in Guantanamo are a part of all this, and their indefinite detention without charge or trial is something that many in power want to be able to extend to other in case of an “emergency” – like a full-blown rebellion, perhaps …
    These are alarming times we’re living in, but far too many people still don’t seem to have noticed.
    I hope that my telling of the Guantanamo stories will continue to raise awareness – and to help to get that dreadful place closed eventually.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Kevin M Benderman wrote:

    When those innocent people are released, George Bush and Tony Blair and the rest of their administrations, need to inhabit Gitmo, until they die of old age. If we convict and imprison them, maybe our next group of politicians will see that we mean business about truth and justice. If we don’t, they will know we are nothing but bluster and will continue their actions. Andy, thank you for your perseverance in truth.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Great to hear from you, Kevin, and thanks for the kind words. I don’t suppose any of those cruel, egotistical, psychopathic/sociopathic bullies would last ten minutes at Guantanamo, but I agree that it would focus the minds of lawmakers on what their actions actually mean!

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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