The Guantánamo Files: Website Extras (8) – Captured in Afghanistan

The Guantanamo Files

This article was originally published on November 12, 2008. For updated information, please check out the links (by prisoner name and number) in my four-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, last updated on April 25, 2012.

Chapter 10 of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press/the University of Michigan Press, and available from Amazon here) tells the stories of 30 prisoners — a mixture of foreign stragglers and Afghans, including a handful of Taliban commanders — who were seized in Afghanistan between November 2001 and January 1, 2002. Unlike those discussed in Chapter 9 (and the online chapter here), these prisoners were not held in Sheberghan prison, the bleak and overcrowded prison run by General Dostum, one of the leaders of the Northern Alliance, but were, instead, seized by other Afghans and handed over (or sold) to US forces, or seized by the Americans themselves.

This extra chapter tells the stories of 16 prisoners who were not discussed in Chapter 10 of The Guantánamo Files, either because their stories were not available at the time, or to keep the book at a manageable length. The names of three more are listed at the end of the chapter. They were released before July 2004, and nothing is known about them because the Pentagon has not released any information relating to the 200 prisoners released in this period, and their stories have not surfaced in the media or in reports by human rights groups.

Of the 30 prisoners discussed in Chapter 10, 19 had been released at the time I completed the book (in May 2007), and another six — a Kazakh (Abdulrahim Kerimbakiev), a Saudi (Abdul Hakim Bukhari) and three Afghans (Fizaulla Rahman, Gholam Ruhani and Abdullah Gulam Rasoul) — have been released since. Eleven of the 16 prisoners discussed in this additional chapter have also been released, but the others remain trapped in Guantánamo, mostly cleared for release but unable to return home for a variety of reasons that I explain below. Like many others discussed in The Guantánamo Files and in these online chapters, finding a new home for them will be a priority for Barack Obama if he is to honor his pledge to close Guantánamo.

Cleared for release: an Iraqi, an Uzbek and a Yemeni

One of five Iraqis still in Guantánamo (and one of four who have been cleared for release, but who presumably cannot be repatriated because of the ongoing turmoil in Iraq), Hassan Abdul Said was 25 years old when he “turned himself in” to US forces in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif on January 1, 2002. With the exception of an allegation that he stayed at a Taliban guest house in Mazar-e-Sharif for three months, the US authorities failed to come up with any information to justify holding him as an “enemy combatant.” Instead, the last summary of allegations against him (in November 2005) focused on complicated and often contradictory claims about his life in Iraq and allegations of his involvement in drug smuggling, and stated that he was briefly imprisoned in Uzbekistan for two and a half months for having false documents, and was then “turned over to the Taliban and imprisoned for one month.”

All of the above no doubt explains why he was cleared for release, although it is distressing to note that, nearly three years later, he remains held at the prison, one of at least 50 cleared prisoners who cannot be repatriated — in most cases, because they face the risk of torture or other serious human rights violations.

Also cleared for release for nearly three years is Ali Sher Hamidullah, one of four remaining Uzbeks in Guantánamo, who was 27 years old when he was seized in unknown circumstances. The Uzbeks have also been cleared for release, but in their case cannot be repatriated because of Uzbekistan’s notoriously bleak human rights record.

At Hamidullah’s last military review in Guantánamo (in November 2005), it was alleged that he traveled to Afghanistan via Iran, that he “bribed or paid” a Taliban official to enter Afghanistan, and that the Taliban provided him with “room, board, and a job.” It was also alleged that he had received terrorist training and had fought in Chechnya, that he had met an Azerbaijani in Russia and that “the two talked about travelling to Afghanistan,” that he admitted withholding his true identity from US military debriefers, and that he had stated that he had no personal opinion of the Taliban, but had never witnessed them doing anything wrong.

In response, he denied fighting or receiving training in Chechnya, and denied bribing the Taliban to enter Afghanistan, saying that he paid money for a visa. He also said that the Taliban had neither asked him to fight nor offered him training, but accepted that they provided for him, saying, “Those things are a necessity in life.” He added that, if released, he “would attempt to find work as a chef or a liquor storeowner, which he has done in the past,” but stressed that he didn’t want to return to Uzbekistan, because three years before an Uzbek representative, who visited him in Guantánamo, “told me the only thing that waits for me in Uzbekistan is a bullet in my head.” He then refused to answer questions put to him by the Board, and asked to leave.

Abdul Rahman al-Qyati, a Yemeni, has also been cleared for release, but remains imprisoned because of tension between the US and Yemeni governments regarding the conditions of the Yemenis’ release. Of the 108 Yemenis held at Guantánamo, only 13 have been released, whereas the majority of the 130 or so Saudis, whose circumstances were similar — a mixture of Taliban foot soldiers, unconnected to al-Qaeda, and humanitarian aid workers and missionaries — have been repatriated and supported through a rehabilitation program.

Al-Qyati, who was 25 years old when he was seized, was apparently captured in or around Kandahar, but has refused to take part in any of the military reviews at Guantánamo to contest the allegations against him. In the Summary of Evidence for his last review (in February 2005), it was alleged that traveled to Afghanistan in May 2001, and that he then trained at al-Farouq (the main training camp for Arabs). It was also claimed that he traveled extensively with his unit throughout eastern Afghanistan after his training, and that he was a guard “for 39 high-level Taliban personnel” at Kandahar airport, where he was captured by anti-Taliban forces, presumably in November 2001.

Whether or not there is any truth to these allegations is impossible to ascertain, but the fact that he has been cleared for release suggests that either there was doubt about some of the allegations, or that, despite the mention of “high-level Taliban personnel,” al-Qyati, as a mere guard, knew nothing about anything worthwhile.

Kabul, AfghanistanCaptured in Kabul

Two other prisoners — Mohammed al-Harbi, a 22-year old Saudi mechanic, and Mahmud Mutlak al-Ali, a 27-year old Syrian who had been living in Kuwait — were captured in Kabul. In his tribunal at Guantánamo, al-Harbi (who was repatriated in February 2007) explained that he was captured shortly after the city fell to the Northern Alliance in November 2001. He denied an allegation that he went to Afghanistan for jihad, saying that he went “for religious duties and to fast,” and he explained that the training “was faster in Afghanistan because it was the purest Islamic state”’ He added that he and another man — whom he knew only as “Mohammed” — were captured by Afghans who wanted them to pay a bribe to release them, and who sold them to the Americans when they couldn’t pay. “After we were captured in Afghanistan,” he said, “they put us in a place and brought a translator. The translator asked if we had any money we could offer. If so, they would let us go.” Noticeably, this was twisted by the US authorities into an allegation that al-Harbi was “a Taliban fundraiser who offered Northern Alliance forces a bribe for his freedom.”

Al-Ali did not take part in his tribunal, in which it was alleged that that he “had a desire to join the jihad after viewing videos depicting the situation in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya,” and that he answered a fatwa and traveled to Afghanistan in late October 2001. Allegedly frustrated in his attempts to train at al-Farouq, because the camp had closed after the 9/11 attacks, he was apparently captured at a clinic in Kabul, “where he was being treated for an illness.” Despite the fact that his only association with the Taliban was an allegation that he stayed at a Taliban guest house on arrival in Afghanistan, this, as with many other prisoners, was sufficient for his tribunal to declared that he was “associated with al-Qaeda and the Taliban,” and to declare that he had been correctly designated as an “enemy combatant.” He is one of nine Syrians in Guantánamo, none of whom have been released, nor, to my knowledge, have even been cleared for release.

Captured in hospitals

Three other prisoners — Abdul Raham Houari, a 21-year old Algerian (repatriated in July 2008), Majid al-Joudi, a 34-year old Saudi (repatriated in February 2007), and Adham Mohammed Ali Awad, a 19-year old Yemeni — were captured in hospitals.

Houari, a refugee from Algeria, who had spent some time working in a factory in the UK that was run by a Christian publishing firm, appears to be one of countless impressionable young men fired up by false hopes that Afghanistan would be an inspirational place for a young Muslim to visit, as I explained in an article following his release. At a military review board hearing in December 2005, he denied an allegation that his travel had been funded by al-Qaeda, and explained that his journey to Pakistan had been facilitated by a Pakistani youth mosque, and that he had paid for his own travel. He also explained that, although he had stayed in a guest house in Bagram, where he had been taught how to use a Kalashnikov, he had not engaged in hostilities against either the Northern Alliance or the United States. He added that he was injured while sleeping, when someone accidentally detonated a grenade, and that when he awoke he was in a vehicle near a hospital, and was then taken to the hospital, where he was later seized and transferred to Guantánamo.

All that can be gleaned of his behavior in Guantánamo comes from this same transcript, in which it was alleged that his “overall behavior has been generally non-compliant and aggressive,” and that he “has failed to comply with guards’ instructions on a number of occasions. He has been informed to keep his clothes on and has repeatedly ignored those orders and has stood in his cell naked.” A sign that this may have been less to do with deliberate insubordination, and more to do with a head injury and unaddressed mental health issues can be found in Houari’s reply. “I have never misbehaved while being a Detainee,” he said. “I am under medication for my head injury and I removed my clothes because I had a headache.”

In Guantánamo, as I explained in The Guantánamo Files, Majid al-Joudi was a long-term hunger striker. At the time of writing, however, I knew nothing else about his story, as the documents relating to his case were not released by the Pentagon until September 2007.

In his one and only appearance at any of the hearings, in November 2006, al-Joudi said that, in October 2001, he was invited to join the humanitarian aid effort in Afghanistan that followed the US-led invasion of October 2001, and that he subsequently took a break from his work — in two family-run fabric stores — and traveled to Afghanistan in mid-November to work for a month for the charity al-Wafa. He added that, over a two-week period, he distributed food and clothing to villages near Kandahar until he was wounded in the leg. According to the allegation in his last Unclassified Summary of Evidence, he “stated he was hit by a car and taken to a hospital that was taken over by al-Qaeda,” and that he told the men, who “initially thought he was mujahideen and was in Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban,” that “he was volunteering with al-Wafa.”

Working for al-Wafa was enough to be regarded as a terrorist in Guantánamo. Dozens of prisoners (including al-Wafa’s founder) were held for years because the charity was regarded as a terrorist organization by the United States, even though it was clear that, whether or not it was used for “terrorist” funding by some of its members, the majority of those who worked for the organization were involved in legitimate humanitarian aid. However, the US authorities insisted, despite protests to the contrary from al-Joudi, that documents in his possession when he was captured suggested “he was closely involved with al-Qaeda and that he was either a trainer or a trainee on an anti-surveillance course” — even though this was highly improbable if he had arrived in Afghanistan just a month before he was seized.

Less is known about Adham Mohammed Ali Awad, as he has not taken part in any review boards, and has not spoken about the allegations against him. The core of these are that he arrived in Afghanistan in mid-September 2001 and that he “stated he went to Afghanistan to become a fighter,” but other elements have changed over the years. In his tribunal in 2004, for example, it was alleged that he received injuries “in a two-car collision, involving ten individuals, while trying to avoid coalition air strikes,” and that he, “along with seven other Arabs suspected of being al-Qaeda, were reportedly armed with weapons and used a hospital as a safe haven to elude coalition forces.” By the time of his most recent publicly available review, in April 2006, these allegations had been dropped, and it was reported instead that he was “captured on 2 November 2001 when he was injured near the airport in Kandahar.” Less plausible, certainly, is a claim that an unidentified “senior al-Qaeda lieutenant” identified him as “possibly being at the al-Zubayr guest house and also perhaps at the front lines on Kabul,” although these kinds of claims, extracted under unknown circumstances, turn up in numerous Summaries of Evidence.

Even his lawyer, Mike Trinh, is in the dark about what his client is supposed to have done. In an interview in June 2007 he explained how offerings of chocolate had enabled him to establish some sort of rapport with Awad, but he complained, as all the lawyers have, about the almost intolerable obstructions they face in establishing an open and trusting relationship with their clients, and was unable to explain much beyond the fact that Awad is just over five feet tall, that he comes from a small fishing village outside Aden, that his father died when he was young, and that he has ten or 11 siblings.

According to Awad’s own account, as Trinh explained, he went to Afghanistan in early to mid-2001, and was picked up by US forces from a hospital in Kandahar. Trinh said that he believed Awad “wasn’t in battle or caught carrying a weapon,” and explained that he was “fairly certain” of this because of the way he had been treated, meaning that he “wasn’t put in solitary confinement or otherwise punished in the way ‘high-value’ prisoners have been.”

Trinh also explained that Awad “was recovering from losing his right foot when US forces carted him off. He’d been injured in an explosion from an air raid attack on a market where he was shopping and was brought to the hospital unconscious with other victims. Initially, Afghan doctors removed only his foot, but after infection set in, an amputation in Guantánamo took most of his calf. He now has an artificial limb, but because it’s not the right height he generally uses a walker.”

When asked why Awad went to Afghanistan, Trinh said that he didn’t know, but speculated that “He was a young, listless kid working odd construction jobs. There were madrassas (religious schools) in Afghanistan that were willing to teach him, and it was a way to get away from this small town and from his family and see something different. Growing up in a large family is not easy in any culture.” He also explained that, although he didn’t contend that all the prisoners in Guantánamo were innocent, they were all entitled to a day in court. “It’s a bedrock of our legal system that you get due process,” he said. “Whatever the charge is — from petty theft to murder one — you get a hearing, you know the facts against you, you see your accuser.”

Five Afghans

Of the seven Afghans seized at this time but not mentioned in The Guantánamo Files, only five stories are known. The first two, Abdul Hanan and Ehsanullah (known to the Pentagon as Ehssanullah) were released in May 2003. What little is known of Hanan, who was 44 years old when he was seized, comes from a report in the Chicago Tribune, “Third Detainee Dies in US Custody in Afghanistan,” published on June 24, 2003, which does not appear to be available online. He explained that the time he spent imprisoned at Bagram and Kandahar before being transferred to Guantánamo was the worst part of his detention. “In five months in Kandahar, we didn’t wash our faces with water, and our nails were growing very long,” he said. “We didn’t have a right to talk to many people, and if we talked too much, we were forced to sit on our knees for 20 minutes or a half hour.”

More is known about Ehsanullah, a farmer who was 24 years old when he was seized, because he is one of 66 former prisoners who spoke to a reporter from McClatchy Newspapers for a major report on Guantánamo in June 2008. In a phone interview from Helmand province, where, he said, “Taliban militants would kill him if he met with a Westerner,” he explained that the Taliban had “made a lot of trouble for him during his life.”

Forcibly recruited as a conscript, like many others who ended up at Guantánamo, Ehsanullah said that he was sent to northern Afghanistan to fight the Northern Alliance without any training. “There was no training,” he explained. “They said, ‘This is the trigger; pull it.’” Describing the circumstances of his capture, he said that, as soon as he heard, in November 2001, that the Taliban government in Kabul had fallen, he tried to return home, but Alliance soldiers “stopped him in the capital and arrested him with a group of other fighters, some of them Pakistani militants who were trying to flee the country,” kept them “in a small room in a mud house for about three months,” and then sold them to US forces. “The commander told the Americans that he had arrested high-ranking Taliban and got $5000 for each of us,” he added.

They were then flown to the US prison at Bagram airbase for a week, and then on to Kandahar where, he said, things were “rough.” “When the guards took me to interrogation they hit or kicked me,” he explained. “And when they searched our tent, they punched us.” He also said, like many other prisoners, that he had seen a soldier throw a Koran into a bucket that was used as a toilet, and that this was a transgression that infuriated him. “I was thinking,” he said, “that if I could arrest one of these soldiers I would cut a gram of flesh off his body every day.”

After five or six months, he was flown to Guantánamo, where, he said, life was “much easier,” as he was not physically abused, and was rarely interrogated. He added that his interrogators “seemed uninterested.” “They kept asking me why I was arrested,” he said. “They told me that the (Northern Alliance) commander had sold me to them, and they were trying to figure out what the truth was.” On his return to Afghanistan, Red Cross representatives in Kabul “gave him about $12 worth of Afghan currency, which got him to Kandahar but not all the way to his house in Helmand province,” and he explained that “Some strangers at a bus stop gave him enough for the rest of the trip.” He added that he was now living as he had before his bizarre ordeal, growing wheat and opium poppies. “My only concern,” he said, “is how to feed my family.”

The third Afghan, Dawd Gul (released in September 2004), was nothing more than an unwilling Taliban conscript, whose presence in Guantánamo was completely meaningless. In his tribunal, Gul said that he came from a small village, where he helped his father raise sheep, and that the Taliban drafted him into service while he was shopping, tying his hands with a sheet and taking him to fight. When they discovered that he did not know how to use a Kalashnikov, he said that they gave him a job as an assistant cook.

A rather confusing story was told by Haji Noorallah (released in August 2006), who was 30 years old at the time of his capture. An ethnic Uzbek from northern Afghanistan, he refuted a ludicrous allegation that he joined the Taliban at the age of 16, seven years before they came into existence, and also refuted an allegation that he was a commander in charge of a hundred Taliban soldiers. He explained that, in order to protect his village, he had actually been required to recruit soldiers for the Taliban, and had recruited a total of 42 men. He also said that he had worked as a spy for the Northern Alliance, and was rewarded by General Dostum after the Taliban fell, but his story became rather incomprehensible when he attempted to explain that he was in jail when he was captured by the Americans, having agreed to act as a kind of hostage while his brother raised the money to pay off a business debt.

25-year old Mohammed Sharif, a member of one of northern Afghanistan’s semi-settled nomadic tribes, said that he was captured by Afghan soldiers in a mall in Pul-i-Khumri district with some Hazaras and Tajiks. He said that he was offered the opportunity to bribe his way to freedom, but that when he refused he was handed over to the Americans. Accused of working for the Taliban, he said that he too had been a conscript. “Either they wanted bribery of they were going to force you,” he said. “We couldn’t pay them all the time to bribe our way out.” He denied allegations that he served as an informer, that he helped track down deserters as a guide and that he was an intelligence chief, and said that he was working for the Karzai government at the time of his capture.

Sharif was finally released from Guantánamo in August 2007, but was in the first batch of Afghan prisoners who, instead of being freed on their return, were imprisoned in Block “D,” a wing of Kabul’s main prison, Pol-i-Charki, which had recently been refurbished by US forces. He has subsequently been released, but grave doubts remain about who is actually in charge of Block “D,” and about the quality of the evidence used to determine whether the returned prisoners should be held or released, as much of it appears to have come directly from Guantánamo. Given everything that is now known about the quality of the intelligence-gathering at Guantánamo, it would be hard to conceive of a situation that more aptly expressed the meaning of the saying, “Out of the frying pan and into the fire.”

Three Pakistanis

Also captured at this time were three Pakistanis, whose stories were unknown until they were interviewed by reporters from McClatchy Newspapers. The first, Israr Ul Haq, who was 21 years old at the time of his capture, came up with an unlikely-sounding story that he “went to Afghanistan in August of 2001 because he was having breathing problems, and a doctor suggested that he visit religious shrines to seek a cure,” although as the reporter, Tom Lasseter noted, “stranger things have happened in the lawless corners of Afghanistan.”

Whatever the truth, he was seized and then held by the Northern Alliance, along with Ehsanullah, the Afghan mentioned above, and around a dozen other men, “in a small room in a mud house for about three months,” before being sold to the Americans. Given the doubts about his story, Lasseter asked why he should be believed when he stated that the guards at Bagram “hit and kicked him, and picked him up several times and body-slammed him to the ground,” that the guards at Kandahar “often kicked the Koran across the floor of his tent, and at other times pressed their knees into his back as they pummeled him with their fists,” and that, in Guantánamo, when he protested about abuse of the Koran, the guards “sprayed him in the face with pepper spray, dragged him out, slapped and kicked him, then tied him to a chair and shaved his beard to humiliate him”?

The answer, of course, is that these claims are far from unusual, and are, in fact, so widespread — throughout all the different prisons used in the “War on Terror” — that there is no reason to doubt his story at all. However, what was unusual about his interview was that he complained, above all, that the interrogators at Guantánamo were dishonest. He said that they often told prisoners “that the men in the cells next to them had become informers, that they’d given up detailed information about the militant activities of other prisoners.” “They said the person in the cage next to me said he saw me with al-Qaeda or Taliban leaders,” he explained. ”But the interrogators were lying; no one had told them that. They lied to everybody. They told the men next to me that I had said they were in this battle or that one; but we talked with each other in our cages and realized they were making all of this up.”

The other two Pakistanis, Mohammed Omar (photo, left) and Saji Ur Rahman (known to the Pentagon as Sajin Urayman), were both juveniles when they were seized, and although Rahman was released in July 2003 and Omar in September 2004, there is no evidence that either of them were held separately from the adult prisoners, or treated with appropriate care, as required under the Optional Protocol on the Rights of the Child (on the involvement of children in armed conflict), which demands that juveniles should be rehabilitated rather than punished.

Omar, who was 17 at the time of his capture, told Tom Lasseter that in October 2001 he had become fed up with his madrassa (religious school), which his father had forced him to attend, and that as a result he decided to run away. He claimed that he had told an older man at the madrassa about his plans, and that this man had “offered to take [him] with him to an acting academy,” which, for Omar, who was “always watching Indian movies … sounded like a dream.” He stated, however, that the man had tricked him, and that he was handed over to a group of men who “pushed him into a car and took him to Herat, Afghanistan.” “They said you are in Afghanistan and the Taliban are in charge here,” Omar explained. “I told them I wanted to go home. They had lied to me. They made a fool of me.”

Rahman, who was just 15 at the time of his capture, told Lasseter that he and four friends had decided to go to Afghanistan “as tourists,” to “see what the Taliban regime was like and to visit the graves of Islamic scholars.” “We were very into the adventure of it,” he said. “We had handicams with us; we had cameras. The richer friend had a Thuraya,” a satellite phone. Like Omar, Rahman said that he ended up in Herat, where both added that they were seized and imprisoned in Herat’s central jail for three months, and then transferred to Kandahar for five to six months before Guantánamo.

Despite Omar’s youth, he explained that the interrogators at Kandahar “kept asking me where Mullah Omar was,” and “if I was on a jihad mission, where I got my training.” Rahman’s experiences were similar. “The questions were always the same,” he said. “Why did you come to Afghanistan? Who did you meet in Afghanistan? Where did you hide your weapons?” These were, of course, questions to which every single prisoner was subjected, and it’s impossible to know how long it took the authorities to realize that Omar and Rahman knew nothing whatsoever about the Taliban or al-Qaeda, even as they ignored, or failed to acknowledge the fact that they were too young to be held as “terror suspects” in an insanely novel form of detention without charge or trial.

Notes

Said (ISN 435): CSRB Set 3, p. 127; ARB Factors Sep 07 Set 5, pp. 31-2; Hamidullah (ISN 455): ARB Set 6, pp. 185-92; ARB Factors Sep 07 Set 5, pp. 43-4; al-Qyati (ISN 461): ARB Factors Sep 07 Set 11, pp. 63-4; al-Harbi (ISN 536): CSRT Set 2, pp. 41-50; al-Ali (ISN 537): ARB 2 Factors Set 7, pp. 25-6; Houari (ISN 70): ARB Set 3, pp. 102-6; al-Joudi (ISN 25): ARB 2 Set 1, pp. 13-23; ARB 2 Factors Set 1, pp. 23-5; Awad (ISN 88): ARB 2 Factors Set 2, pp. 64-6; Hanan (ISN 531); Ehssanullah (ISN 523); Gul (ISN 530): CSRT Set 44, pp. 93-9; Noorallah (ISN 494): CSRT Set 51, pp. 13-27; Sharif (ISN 532): CSRT Set 33, pp. 11-20; ARB Set 7, pp. 62-72; Ul Haq (ISN 515); Omar (ISN 540); Rahman (ISN 545).

The following released prisoners are those about whom nothing is known: Mohammed Nasim (ISN 453), an Afghan; Mohammed Sadiq Adam (ISN 454), an Uzbek released in November 2003; and Hamdullah (ISN 456), another Afghan.

Additional note

This online chapter was published on November 12, 2008. On February 6, 2009, the story of Abdul Hanan (ISN 531) was added. In addition, the stories of four other men — Ehsanullah (ISN 523), Israr Ul Haq (ISN 515), Mohammed Omar (ISN 540) and Saji Ur Rahman (ISN 545) — were added, based on interviews with McClatchy Newspapers.

Abbreviations used in the Notes (amended April 2012)

“CSRT” and “ARB” refer to the Combatant Status Review Tribunals, which were held at Guantánamo from July 2004 to March 2005, and the first round of Administrative Review Boards, annual reviews held from December 2004 onwards. The transcripts of these hearings, released by the Pentagon in March and April 2006, can be found here. In addition to the transcripts of the CSRT and ARB hearings, this page also provides access to the Unclassified Summaries of Evidence for over a hundred ARB hearings.

“CSRB” refers to the Combatant Status Review Boards. These documents, which comprise the Unclassified Summaries of Evidence for 517 of the 558 CSRT hearings, were released by the Pentagon in 2005 under Freedom of Information legislation, although they are no longer online. For these transcripts, I have chosen a numbering system similar to that used for the CSRT and ARB hearings, so that, for example, “March 2005 Release” becomes “CSRB Set 3.”

“ARB 2” refers to the second round of Administrative Review Boards. The transcripts of these hearings, released by the Pentagon in September 2007 (after I completed The Guantánamo Files) can be found on the same Pentagon page as linked to above, under the heading “Administrative Review Board (ARB) Documents –- Round Two” and the sub-heading “Transcripts and Certain Documents from Administrative Review Boards (ARB) Round Two (held at Guantánamo in 2006).” Also included are the Unclassified Summaries for all the second round ARB hearings, under the sub-heading “Summaries of Detention-Release Factors for Administrative Review Boards (ARB) Round Two (held at Guantánamo),” which are referred to in the Notes as “ARB 2 Factors,” and below these are heavily redacted documents explaining decisions relating to the release or transfer of detainees. Also included are links to detailed and very useful indexes.

The documents released in September 2007 also augmented the information contained in previously released documents. This release has now been incorporated into the Pentagon page linked to above, but in the Notes above there are references to all the Unclassified Summaries from the CSRT process (with names and ISN numbers) — only 517 of which had been previously issued without names or numbers (see “CSRB” above) — which were included in this release of documents, and references to these documents are labeled as “CSRT Factors.” This release also included all the Unclassified Summaries from the first round ARBs, instead of the limited number released in 2006 (see “ARB Factors” above), and references to these documents in the Notes are labeled “ARB Factors Sep 07.” Also included are heavily redacted documents explaining decisions relating to the release or transfer of detainees.

“ISN” refers to “Internment Serial Numbers,” the unique number assigned to each prisoner in Guantánamo. A list of the 558 prisoners (identified by name, nationality and ISN) who went through the CSRT process can be found here. A list of 759 prisoners, including the 201 released or transferred before the CSRT process began (identified by name, nationality, date and place of birth and ISN), can be found here.

Some of the references in the Notes will not correspond to the files on the Pentagon’s current CSRT/ARB page, and if this is the case, then readers are directed to the New York Times‘ excellent project, The Guantánamo Docket, where all the CSRT and ARB documents can be searched for using the prisoners’ names or ISN numbers.

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 June 2011, “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.

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