Eight years ago, I began working full-time on exposing the truth about Guantánamo (essentially, as an illegal interrogation center using various forms of torture and abuse) and researching and telling the stories of the men — and boys — held there, first for my book The Guantánamo Files, and, since May 2007, as an independent investigative journalist and commentator writing about Guantánamo and related issues on an almost daily basis. I have published 2,175 articles since May 2007, and over 1,500 of those articles are about Guantánamo.
Five years ago, I decided that it would be useful to list the 779 prisoners who have been held at Guantánamo since it opened on January 11, 2002, and to provide links to articles in which I told their stories — and also references to where I told their stories in The Guantánamo Files (about 450 stories in total) or in in 12 additional online chapters I wrote between 2007 and 2009.
I updated the list in January 2010, in July 2010, in May 2011, and in April 2012, on the first anniversary of the release, by WikiLeaks, of “The Guantánamo Files,” classified military files relating to almost all of the 779 prisoners who have been held at Guantánamo since it opened. I worked as a media partner on the release of these files, and, as I noted in April 2012, when my update to the list coincided with the 1st anniversary of the release of those files, “We had the eyes of the world on us for just a week until — whether by coincidence or design — US Special Forces assassinated Osama bin Laden, and Guantánamo disappeared from the headlines once more, leaving advocates of torture and arbitrary detention free to resume their cynical maneuvering with renewed lies about the efficacy of torture and the necessity for Guantánamo to continue to exist.”
This latest update to the list is published almost five years to the day since my first four-part list, and, to accommodate all the information it contains, I have expanded it from four parts to six parts, and also included more photos than were previously available. Please note that Part 1 covers ISN numbers (prisoner numbers) 1-133, Part 2 covers 134-268, Part 3 covers 269-496, Part 4 covers 497-661, Part 5 covers 662-928 and Part 6 covers 929-10029.
Two years ago, when this list was last updated, I had begun an unprecedented project, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a projected 70-part, million-word series, in which I analyzed the information in the WikiLeaks files, adding it to what was already known about the prisoners, to create what I hoped at the time would be “a lasting indictment of the lies and distortions used by the Bush administration to justify holding the men and boys imprisoned at Guantánamo.” As I also noted:
For the most part, despite the hyperbole about the prisoners being “the worst of the worst,” the captives were people that the US had largely bought from its Afghan and Pakistani allies, or had rounded up randomly, and had then tortured or otherwise coerced — or in some cases bribed — into telling lies about themselves and their fellow prisoners to create a giant house of cards built largely on violence and involving very little actual intelligence.
I still hope to continue with “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” which, currently, features 422 profiles in 34 articles, but to do so I need to secure further funding. In the meantime, however, I have spent the last two years continuing to research and write about the prisoners, here on my website, on the “Close Guantánamo” website, and for other publications, as well as visiting the US to campaign for the prison’s closure, regularly attending events in the UK, and undertaking TV and radio interviews on a regular basis.
Since my last update in April 2012, securing any kind of progress towards the closure of Guantánamo has been a slow and difficult process. Just 13 prisoners have been freed in the last two years, even though 77 of the remaining 155 prisoners have been cleared for release — all but one since President Obama’s high-level, inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force published its report in January 2010 recommending who to charge or release — or, alarmingly, to continue to hold without charge or trial — after a year spent reviewing the prisoners’ cases.
Cynically, Congress tied President Obama’s hands in releasing prisoners from Guantánamo, setting up an onerous (if not impossible) set of demands if any prisoners were to be released, and although the president possessed the power to override Congress, he chose not to do so for reasons of political expediency.
In addition, the Supreme Court also washed its hands of responsibility for the prisoners, leaving it up to the men themselves to force the world to pay attention to their plight and their despair. which they did by embarking on a major hunger strike in 2013. This led President Obama to promise to resume releasing prisoners, and as a result eleven men were released between August and December 2013, compared to just five men in the previous three years.
With Congress now having been persuaded to ease its restrictions on the release of prisoners, President Obama needs to push ahead with the release of the 77 men cleared for release — overcoming fears of instability in Yemen, the home of the majority of the cleared prisoners — and he also needs to speed up the review process for 71 other prisoners, and proceed to trials for the only other men — just eight in total — who have been charged and will face trials.
In addition, important information about the status of the 155 prisoners still held has been released in the last two years. This came from (a) a list of 56 cleared prisoners released by the Justice Department in September 2012, based on the recommendations of the task force, and (b) a complete list of the task force’s recommendations, released by the DoJ in June 2013, which also identifies the 46 men recommended for indefinite detention without charge or trial, and the 33 recommended for trials. There are also 30 additional Yemenis listed who were recommended for “conditional detention,” to be freed when it was decided that the security situation in Yemen had improved.
I have also included some additional information about the 71 men who were put forward for Periodic Review Boards in April 2013 — the 46 men recommended for indefinite detention without charge or trial, and 25 of the 33 recommended for trials — after the list was secured through FOIA legislation by Jason Leopold in February 2014.
My list is not, of course, the only online database that is publicly available. The New York Times, for example, has made all the publicly available information about the prisoners, from the Bush-era Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) and annual Administrative Review Boards (ARBs), available on its Guantánamo Docket (and the original source material remains available on the US Department of Defense’s website), although these only cover the stories of around three-quarters of the 779 prisoners held in total, and, most importantly, none of these documents provide contextual analysis of the men’s stories.
As a result, as I explained when I first published the list:
It is my hope that this project will provide an invaluable research tool for those seeking to understand how it came to pass that the government of the United States turned its back on domestic and international law, establishing torture as official US policy, and holding men without charge or trial neither as prisoners of war, protected by the Geneva Conventions, nor as criminal suspects to be put forward for trial in a federal court, but as “illegal enemy combatants.”
I also hope that it provides a compelling explanation of how that same government, under the leadership of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, established a prison in which the overwhelming majority of those held — at least 93 percent of the 779 men and boys imprisoned in total — were either completely innocent people, seized as a result of dubious intelligence or sold for bounty payments, or Taliban foot soldiers, recruited to fight an inter-Muslim civil war that began long before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and that had nothing to do with al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or international terrorism.
With hindsight, the only thing about the above that might need changing is that figure of 93 percent. With just eight men facing charges, six having been convicted (or having reached plea deals), without those convictions subsequently being overturned, and only a handful having been released to engage in, or threaten to engage in terrorism, despite black propaganda from Guantánamo’s defenders claiming otherwise, it may be more accurate to state that the innocents and foot soldiers actually add up to somewhere between 95 and 97 percent of all of those held throughout Guantánamo’s long and dark history.
In conclusion, I hope that this updated six-part list is not only useful from the point of view of historical research, but also that it provides crucial, relevant information that is valuable for those still seeking to close Guantánamo, and to bring to an end this bleak chapter in American history.
As ever, I thank you for your support, and if you’re able to make a donation to help me to continue my work, then I will be very grateful. Please click on the “Donate” button above to make a payment via PayPal. All contributions are welcome, whether it’s $25, $100 or $500.
London, March 7, 2014
Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer and film-maker. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and 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. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here – or here for the US).
To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see ”The Complete Guantánamo Files,” an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.
On Facebook, Leonardo L. Larl wrote:
Dear Andy, you’ve been doing such a great work exposing the “Guantanamo Nightmare” in all these years and I strongly support your action. Sadly enough we will have to wait maybe decades more to finally see Guantanamo Gulag closed down. There is no real Justice around the world, you know.
Thanks, Leonardo, for the supportive words. You may be right about how long it will take to close Guantanamo, but what we’re aiming for is to get Obama to (a) release the 77 cleared prisoners this year, and (b) release most of the remaining prisoners in 2015, as the planned major drawdown of troops in Afghanistan will end the justification for holding the majority of the prisoners. That would leave just the small number of prisoners to be charged – by that time, I would think, just Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the four other men accused of involvement in the 9/11 attacks.
However, after my eight years of working on this, I’m not holding my breath for all this to happen before Obama leaves office, but we can only try. Obama will have a legacy, after all, and the failure to close Guantanamo, as promised, would be a big black mark that he can resolve.
Sara SN wrote:
Thank you for the incredible amount of work and dedication you have put into this. No doubt it has accounted for countless personal sacrifices as well. You are truly an inspiration. I agree with you; I also don’t hold my breath after Obama leaves office. Guantanamo is indeed a black mark and, unfortunately, it is just one of many. The root of this black mark is something far greater and more grave and one can trace it back through examining US history and the countless wars it is directly or indirectly involved in.
Thanks, Sara, for the supportive words, and also for your analysis of Guantanamo’s place in US history. I do, however, think that there are responsible people in high office who understand that allowing indefinite detention without charge or trial to stand as official US policy is a dangerous path to take, and I hope that these forces prevail over the dark forces who like imprisoning people without having to justify why they are doing so. Habeas corpus and the Geneva Conventions are both hugely important bulwarks against tyranny.
Pauline Kiernan wrote:
Thank you for all this. Px Sharing
You’re welcome, Pauline. Thanks for caring.
Naveed Syed wrote:
Thanks, Naveed. Great to hear from you.
Louise Gordon wrote:
When in Christ are they going to release Shaker?
Yes, great question, Louise. Good to hear from you. I ask myself that question every day.
Carol Anne Grayson wrote:
FANTASTIC JOB ANDY… well done… a lot of hard work there… have just tweeted all 6 parts…
Thanks, Carol. That’s great to hear. I hope all is well with you. How is your film-making going?
[…] Update Guantanamo prisoner list (Andy Worthington) With added […]
Leonardo L. Larl wrote:
Yea Andy,…, however I do have doubt as well about US troops leaving Afghanistan.
There needs to be an official drawdown of troops, Leonardo, however many actually stay behind in reality, as in Iraq. But an official agreement between the US and Afghanistan will be enough, I believe, to undermine the continued justification for holding anyone who cannot genuinely be accused of crimes – i.e. terrorism – rather than, for example, just being an insignificant foot soldier for the Taliban.
Leonardo L. Larl wrote:
…, well Andy, I believe if there will be an official agreement it will not include the release of foot soldiers and when it will happen it will not accelerate the closing down of gitmo, sadly this entity has been created and will exist as long the US military will continue to occupy Cuban soil.
You may be right about the continued existence of Guantanamo, Leonardo, but any kind of serious drawdown of troops will remove the legal justification for holding foot soldiers, and there are those in the US government who know this. As for Guantanamo in general, we can at least keep working to get the US to release the men it says it doesn’t want to hold, and then to get the authorities to try to justify holding the majority of the others. There may be a small group of men who will remain deprived of justice – perhaps the alleged 9/11 co-conspirators, whose trial may never happen – but others will be freed if people don’t give up.
[…] be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on […]
[…] he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on […]
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