Every six months or so, I ask people to write to the prisoners in Guantánamo, to let them — and the US authorities — know that they have not been forgotten. In President Obama’s last year in office, there seems to be some hope that — finally — he will fulfil the promise he made on his second day in office in January 2009, to close the prison for good, but as with all things to do with this wretched prison outside the law, any potential good news about Guantánamo can only be celebrated when it has actually happened, and there are, still, reasons to fear that it may not happen — obstruction from Congress, for example, or the president’s inability to act unilaterally if Congress refuses to cooperate with him.
The letter-writing campaign was started nearly six years ago by two Facebook friends, Shahrina J. Ahmed and Mahfuja Bint Ammu, and, as I mentioned above, it has been repeated every six months, more or less (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here for my articles encouraging people to write to the prisoners).
Since last July, when I last encouraged people to write to the prisoners, there has been significant progress in working towards the closure of the prison, as 25 men have been freed. The prison now holds 91 men, and 36 of these men have been approved for release — 24 in January 2010 by the high-level, inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force that President Obama established when he took office in 2009, and 12 others approved for release in the last two years by a new review process, the Periodic Review Boards, which started in 2013.
In the list below, I have divided the remaining 91 prisoners into those cleared for release (36), those eligible for Periodic Review Boards, awaiting reviews or awaiting the results of reviews (45) and those charged or tried in the military commissions system (10). Please note that I have largely kept the spelling used by the US authorities in the “Final Dispositions” of the Guantánamo Review Task Force, which was released through FOIA legislation in June 2013. Even though these names are often inaccurate, they are the names by which the men are officially known in Guantánamo — although, primarily, it should be noted, those held are not referred to by any name at all, but are instead identified solely by their prisoner numbers (ISNs, which stands for “internment serial numbers”).
Writing to the prisoners
If you are an Arabic speaker, or speak any other languages spoken by the prisoners besides English, feel free to write in those languages. Do please note that any messages that can be construed as political should be avoided, as they may lead to the letters not making it past the Pentagon’s censors, but be aware that your messages may not get through anyway — although please don’t let that put you off.
When writing to the prisoners please ensure you include their full name and ISN (internment serial number) below (these are the numbers before their names, i.e. hunger striker Tariq Ba Odah is ISN 178).
Please address all letters to:
U.S. Naval Station
Washington, D.C. 20355
United States of America
Please also include a return address on the envelope.
Below are the names of the 36 prisoners in Guantánamo — out of the remaining 91 — who have been cleared for release — or “approved for transfer,” as the authorities prefer. The phrase used by the task force to describe the recommendations for the first seven of these men was “[t]ransfer to a country outside the United States that will implement appropriate security measures.” Their identities were first revealed in September 2012. See below for 17 other Yemenis recommended for “conditional detention,” and also for the 12 men recommended for release since January 2014 by Periodic Review Boards but still held (seven others have been freed).
The 4 non-Yemeni prisoners approved for release since 2010
ISN 038 Ridah Bin Saleh al Yazidi (Tunisia)
ISN 189 Salem Abdu Salam Ghereby (Libya)
ISN 257 Imar Hamzayavich Abdulayev (Tajikistan) aka Umar Abdulayev
ISN 309 Mjuayn Al-Din Jamal Al-Din Abd Al Fadhil Abd Al-Sattar (UAE)
The 3 Yemeni prisoners approved for release since 2010
ISN 153 Fayiz Ahmad Yahia Suleiman (Yemen)
ISN 249 Muhammed Abdullah Al Hamiri (Yemen)
ISN 566 Mansour Mohamed Mutaya Ali (Yemen)
The 17 Yemeni prisoners approved for release since 2010 but designated for “conditional detention”
These men were cleared for release by the task force, although the task force members conjured up a new category for them, “conditional detention,” which it described as being “based on the current security environment in that country.” The task force added, “They are not approved for repatriation to Yemen at this time, but may be transferred to third countries, or repatriated to Yemen in the future if the current moratorium on transfers to Yemen is lifted and other security conditions are met.” 13 of the 30 have been released since the fall of 2015.
ISN 030 Ahmed Umar Abdullah al-Hikimi (Yemen)
ISN 033 Mohammed Al-Adahi (Yemen)
ISN 040 Abdel Qadir Al-Mudafari (Yemen)
ISN 091 Abdel Al Saleh (Yemen)
ISN 115 Abdul Rahman Mohammed Saleh (Yemen)
ISN 167 Ali Yahya Mahdi (Yemen)
ISN 178 Tariq Ali Abdullah Ba Odah (Yemen)
ISN 223 Abd al-Rahman Sulayman (Yemen)
ISN 240 Abdallah Yahya Yusif Al Shibli (Yemen)
ISN 321 Ahmed Yaslam Said Kuman (Yemen)
ISN 440 Muhammad Ali Abdallah Muhammad Bwazir (Yemen) aka Bawazir
ISN 461 Abd al Rahman al-Qyati (Yemen)
ISN 498 Mohammed Ahmen Said Haider (Yemen)
ISN 509 Mohammed Nasir Yahi Khussrof (Yemen)
ISN 550 Walid Said bin Said Zaid (Yemen)
ISN 728 Abdul Muhammad Nassir al-Muhajari (Yemen)
ISN 893 Tawfiq Nasir Awad Al-Bihani (Yemen)
The 12 prisoners approved for release by Periodic Review Boards (since January 2014)
ISN 031 Mahmud Abd Al Aziz Al Mujahid (Yemen)
ISN 037 Abdel Malik Ahmed Abdel Wahab al Rahabi (Yemen)
ISN 041 Majid Mahmud Abdu Ahmed (Yemen)
ISN 128 Ghaleb Nassar al Bihani (Yemen)
ISN 235 Saeed Ahmed Mohammed Abdullah Sarem Jarabh (Yemen)
ISN 324 Mashur Abdullah Muqbil Ahmed al-Sabri (Yemen)
ISN 434 Mustafa Abd al-Qawi Abd al-Aziz al-Shamiri (Yemen)
ISN 441 Abdul Rahman Ahmed (Yemen) aka Mansoor al-Zahari
ISN 576 Zahar Omar Hamis bin Hamdoun (Yemen)
ISN 695 Omar Khalif Mohammed Abu Baker Mahjour Umar (Libya)
ISN 1045 Mohammed Kamin (Afghanistan)
ISN 1119 Ahmid al Razak (Afghanistan) aka Haji Hamidullah
Of the 45 remaining prisoners notified that they were eligible for Periodic Review Boards in April 2013, the first 23 listed below were recommended for continued imprisonment without charge or trial in January 2010 by President Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force, and the 22 others were recommended for prosecution in the military commissions, but those intended prosecutions were dropped after judges dismissed the convictions against two prisoners on the basis that the war crimes for which they has been tried had actually been invented by Congress and were not legally recognized.
14 prisoners recommended in January 2010 for continued detention (without possible transfer to imprisonment in the US), but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013 (there were originally 33 men in this category; five were released in a prisoner swap, 14 were were approved for release by PRBs, and five of those 14 have been freed)
ISN 028 Moath Hamza Ahmed al-Alwi (Yemen)
ISN 044 Muhammed Rajab Sadiq Abu Ghanim (Yemen)
ISN 131 Salem Ahmad Hadi Bin Kanad (Yemen)
ISN 242 Khalid Ahmed Qasim (Yemen)
ISN 244 Abdul Latif Nasir (Morocco)
ISN 508 Salman Yahya Hassan Mohammad Rabei’i (Yemen)
ISN 708 Ismael Ali Faraj Ali Bakush (Libya)
ISN 836 Ayub Murshid Ali Salih (Yemen)
ISN 837 Bashir Nasir Ali al-Marwalah (Yemen)
ISN 838 Shawqi Awad Balzuhair (Yemen)
ISN 839 Musab Omar Ali al-Mudwani (Yemen)
ISN 840 Hail Aziz Ahmed al-Maythali (Yemen)
ISN 841 Said Salih Said Nashir (Yemen)
ISN 10025 Mohammed Abdul Malik Bajabu (Kenya)
Note: 028, 131 and 242 had their ongoing imprisonment approved by Periodic Review Boards in 2014 and 2015.
Nine prisoners recommended in January 2010 for continued detention (with possible transfer to imprisonment in the US), but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013 (there were originally 13 men in this category; four were approved for release by PRBs, and one of those four has been freed)
ISN 027 Uthman Abd al-Rahim Muhammad Uthman (Yemen)
ISN 029 Mohammed al-Ansi (Yemen)
ISN 522 Yassim Qasim Mohammed Ismail Qasim (Yemen)
ISN 560 Haji Wali Muhammed (Afghanistan)
ISN 975 Karim Bostan (Afghanistan)
ISN 1017 Omar Mohammed Ali al-Rammah (Yemen)
ISN 1463 Abd al-Salam al-Hilah (Yemen)
ISN 10023 Guleed Hassan Ahmed (Somalia)
ISN 10029 Muhammad Rahim (Afghanistan)
The 22 prisoners recommended for prosecution but not charged, who were determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013 (there were originally 23 men in this category; one has been freed as the result of a PRB)
ISN 063 Mohamed Mani Ahmad al Kahtani (Saudi Arabia)
ISN 569 Suhayl Abdul Anam al Sharabi (Yemen)
ISN 682 Abdullah Al Sharbi (Saudi Arabia)
ISN 685 Said bin Brahim bin Umran Bakush (Algeria) aka Abdelrazak Ali
ISN 694 Sufyian Barhoumi (Algeria)
ISN 696 Jabran Al Qahtani (Saudi Arabia)
ISN 702 Ravil Mingazov (Russia)
ISN 753 Abdul Sahir (Afghanistan) aka Zahir
ISN 760 Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Mauritania)
ISN 762 Obaidullah (Afghanistan)
ISN 1094 Saifullah Paracha (Pakistan)
ISN 1453 Sanad Al Kazimi (Yemen)
ISN 1456 Hassan Bin Attash (Saudi Arabia)
ISN 1457 Sharqawi Abdu Ali Al Hajj (Yemen)
ISN 1460 Abdul Rabbani (Pakistan)
ISN 1461 Mohammed Rabbani (Pakistan) aka Ahmad Rabbani
ISN 10016 Zayn al-Ibidin Muhammed Husayn aka Abu Zubaydah
ISN 10017 Mustafa Faraj Muhammed Masud al-Jadid al-Usaybi (Libya) akka Abu Faraj al-Libi
ISN 10019 Encep Nurjaman (Hambali) (Indonesia)
ISN 10021 Mohd Farik bin Amin (Malaysia)
ISN 10022 Bashir bin Lap (Malaysia)
ISN 3148 Haroon al-Afghani (Afghanistan)
The seven prisoners currently facing charges
ISN 10011 Mustafa Ahmad al Hawsawi (Saudi Arabia)
ISN 10013 Ramzi Bin Al Shibh (Yemen)
ISN 10014 Walid Mohammed Bin Attash (Yemen)
ISN 10015 Mohammed al Nashiri (Saudi Arabia) aka Abd al-Rahim al Nashiri
ISN 10018 Ali abd al Aziz Ali (Pakistan)
ISN 10024 Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (Kuwait)
ISN 10026 Nashwan abd al-Razzaq abd al-Baqi (Hadi) (Iraq)
The two prisoners already convicted via plea deal
ISN 768 Ahmed Al-Darbi (Saudi Arabia)
ISN 10020 Majid Khan (Pakistan)
One other prisoner convicted under President Bush
ISN 039 Ali Hamza al-Bahlul (Yemen)
He was not included in the task force’s deliberations, as he had been tried and convicted in a one-sided trial by military commission in October 2008, at which he refused to mount a defense. His conviction was dismissed by an appeals court in January 2013, although the government is appealing that ruling.
Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album, ‘Love and War,’ is available for download or on CD via Bandcamp — also see here). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — 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 six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and 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, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.
When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:
Every six months or so I ask you to write to the remaining Guantanamo prisoners, to let them know they have not been forgotten – and to remind the US government that we are still watching. In my list, the 91 men still held are divided into those approved for release (36), those facing trials (10) and those awaiting Periodic Review Boards, or the results of PRBs (45). I hope you find it useful!
Natalia R Scott wrote:
I have been writing to two, luckily one has been released! But I’ll continue, I hope they get my letters.
Thanks, Natalia. Great to hear that one of the men you were writing to has been freed – and that you will continue to write. We know not everything gets through to them, but we also know that many letters do, and I’m sure it’s important to many of the men to know they haven’t been forgotten.
Thanks to everyone liking and sharing this. It’s greatly appreciated, as I fear the men still held are getting forgotten about again, now that President Obama has delivered to Congress his plan for closing the prison – which, of course, is just that: a plan that may or may not come to fruition before he leaves office next January.
Kai Sanburn wrote:
Thank you, Andy, for giving a push here.
You’re welcome, Kai. Thanks for caring!
How do you write to these inmates .. I really want to write to them and tell them have faith and stay strong and inshallah one day they will be release because God is good and merciful
Good to hear from you. The instructions are in the article. You need to choose a prisoner from the 91 names provided, and also note the identifying number by which they are identified in Guantanamo, and then write to them.
Send your letter to:
U.S. Naval Station
Washington, D.C. 20355
United States of America
Please also include a return address on the envelope.
I am very happy for being a woman calling for the closure of Guantanamo and the end of torture.I cry a lot when I read about the bad conditions there. I believe that the innocent people there will feel the freedom again.” Closing Guntanamo” and many many people around the world are with you.
Thank you, Zina. Very good to hear from you.
Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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