The Guantánamo Files: Website Extras (1) – The Qala-i-Janghi Massacre

The Guantanamo Files

This article was originally published on November 8, 2007. 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 2 of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (Pluto Press, 2007) tells the stories of 86 survivors of a massacre at the Qala-i-Janghi fort (and improvised prison) in northern Afghanistan in November 2001. They were the only survivors out of several hundred foreign Taliban fighters –- mainly from the Gulf countries, North Africa, Pakistan and Uzbekistan –- who had left the city of Kunduz, the Taliban’s last outpost in the north of Afghanistan, after a surrender was negotiated between the Northern Alliance and senior Taliban leaders. Tricked into believing that they would be allowed to return home, some of the men responded to the betrayal –- and fears that they were to be executed –- by starting an uprising, which was savagely put down by US bombers, representatives of the US and British Special Forces, and Alliance soldiers. The survivors hid in a basement while the battle raged, and it’s probable, therefore, that most did not actually have anything to do with the uprising.

The stories of 21 of these men are related in detail in Chapter 2. At the time of writing, eleven had been released. See here for an update on the story of one, Mishal al-Harbi, and see here for a report on the death, as a “suspected militant,” of another, Ruslan Ogidov (aka Odizhev), in a police raid near Chechnya in June 2007. Another four –- Fahed Mohammed, Fahd al-Harazi, Abdul Aziz al-Oshan and Bijad al-Atabi –- have since been released. The stories of Mohammed (aka Fahad al-Qahtani) and al-Atabi (aka al-Otaibi) were reported here, and the stories of al-Oshan and al-Harazi were reported here. Al-Oshan also made some wry and astute comments about the library facilities at Guantánamo, which were reported here.

Corpses at Qala-i-Janghi

A Northern Alliance soldier poses with the corpses of slain prisoners after the Qala-i-Janghi massacre.

Of the remaining 65 survivors of the massacre, the stories of an additional 31 –- which are intended to supplement the more detailed stories in the book –- are related below. What happened to the others is unknown. Some undoubtedly died of wounds sustained during the massacre, some Uzbeks may have been returned to their home country (as a favor to President Karimov for aiding the US-led invasion), where they probably faced torture or execution, and four Afghans and four Pakistanis, released in 2003 or 2004, may also have been captured at this time.

The following stories are partly taken from the transcripts of the detainees’ tribunals and administrative reviews at Guantánamo. The tribunals –- the Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) –- were convened in 2004-05 to assess the detainees’ status as “enemy combatants,” and the reviews –- the Administrative Review Boards (ARBs) –- have been held ever year since, and are designed to assess whether the detainees still pose a threat to the United States, and whether they still have any intelligence value. The tribunals have been heavily criticized by former insiders for relying on chronically weak evidence, and both the tribunals and the review boards have been condemned by lawyers and human rights activists for preventing the detainees from having access to lawyers, and for relying on secret evidence, often obtained through torture, coercion or bribery.

Many of the stories, however, come not from the actual words of the detainees themselves, but from the allegations (in the Unclassified Summaries of Evidence for the CSRTs and ARBs) against detainees who refused to take part in the hearings. In most of these cases, therefore, there was no response to the allegations from the detainees themselves.

Saudis and Yemenis

Abdul Salam al-ShehriOf those who attended their tribunals, several of the Saudi and Yemeni detainees said that they managed to escape the massacre without injury. Abdul Salam al-Shehri, who was released in June 2006, was only 17 years old when he went to Afghanistan in search of his cousin (who, he said, was killed by a mine on the way from the front lines at Khawaja Ghar to Kunduz). Asked if he took part in the uprising, he said, “When at the castle, they sent us downstairs. How am I going to fight? With my fingers? I didn’t have [a] weapon. When they took us to the court the second time, when the conflict started, they took us down to the cave … Everybody that was upstairs stayed upstairs. To prove that I wasn’t fighting [you can see that] I don’t have any scars. I wasn’t hurt because I was downstairs.” 18-year old Mohammed al-Utaybi, one of several Saudis who claimed that he had gone to rescue a brother (and who was also released in June 2006), said, “When the shooting happened, I hid underground. I stayed there for days. There were people dying and starving to death during that time. After that, we were told to get out and no one would be killed. Me and the other people hiding underground got out. A lot of them were injured.” More extraordinary was the claim made by Mustafa al-Shamyri, a 23-year old Yemeni, who had fought with the Taliban for ten months after answering a fatwa, that he “did not witness the uprising.”

Adnan al-SaighAdnan al-Saigh, a 23-year old Saudi released in May 2006, also did not mention being injured. He said that he had looked after the Taliban’s horses, and explained that he went to Afghanistan to help fight the Russians, whom he regarded as interchangeable with the Northern Alliance. This understandable misconception, largely based on the shifting allegiances of one of the Alliance leaders, General Dostum, is discussed in the book. The following is an exchange from al-Saigh’s CSRT:

Detainee: “The Massoud” [a reference to Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of the Northern Alliance, who was assassinated two days before 9/11], is he one of your allies?
Tribunal President: Yes.
Detainee: When did he become your ally or coalition partner?
Tribunal President: I think officially after September 11, 2001.
Detainee: I never fought after [September 11,] 2001.

In a cheeky coda, al-Saigh asked the Tribunal President, “I was wondering how ‘The Massoud’ became one of your allies?” which prompted the reply, “I don’t have that information. That is above my pay grade and not available to me.”

Others who failed to mention being wounded, and who may also have escaped unscathed (probably because they too spent the whole time in the basement) are the following two Saudis and six Yemenis: 28-year old Abdul Rahman al-Ghamdi admitted being an “Arab fighter,” and was released in May 2006 after complaining, “I was fighting with some of the Pakistanis and Afghans who were here and they have been released and sent home. I don’t understand what the difference is between them and me”; 20-year old Salam Said (released in September 2007, and referred to as Salim al-Shihri) arrived in Afghanistan after answering a fatwa in August 2001; 23-year old Mohammed al-Hanashi admitted arriving in Afghanistan in early 2001 and fighting for the Taliban, but added, “Yes, but that doesn’t mean that I supported Osama bin Laden”; 21-year old Abdul Rahman Naser was accused of arriving in Afghanistan in January 2001 and fighting on the Taliban front lines for six months at Khawaja Ghar; 21-year old Ghaleb al-Bihani said that he traveled to Afghanistan in May 2001 and served the Taliban as an assistant cook, while also pointing out that his service had nothing to do with al-Qaeda; 20-year old Toufiq al-Marwa’i, released in December 2006, said that he answered a fatwa and served the Taliban as a cook; 25-year old Salim Ben Kend said that he fought on the Taliban front lines for six months; and 21-year old Mahmoud bin Atef was accused of arriving in Afghanistan for jihad in June 2001, training at al-Farouq (a camp for Arab volunteers), meeting Osama bin Laden (who regularly visited al-Farouq to deliver lectures), and fighting on the Taliban front lines.

One prisoner who was wounded in the uprising was Yusif Nur, a 19-year old Saudi, who said, “I didn’t fight. I was just sitting there, and I got injured.” In his ARB hearing, he insisted that he had not traveled to Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban, telling the board, “When I went to Afghanistan it wasn’t in my will to go and fight for the Taliban. I went there to visit my brother … The main reason was my brother, not the Taliban or the Northern Alliance … It doesn’t make any difference to me who is the Taliban and who is the Northern Alliance.” He did, however, admit that he traveled to Khawaja Ghar and received training in the use of hand grenades, and also admitted that he had traveled to Afghanistan previously, when he had been trained to use a Kalashnikov. Also known as Yousuf al-Sulaimani, he was released in June 2006.

Two other prisoners who were wounded during the uprising, but who did not speak directly about their experiences in Qala-i-Janghi, were Abdul al-Saleh, a 22-year old Yemeni, and Sulaiman al-Oshan, a 19-year old Saudi. Al-Saleh said that, having answered a fatwa, he felt that “the Taliban cheated him because he was fighting the Northern Alliance, which was not a cause that he believed in; therefore, it was not really a jihad for him,” and al-Oshan, who did not take part in any tribunals, was accused of arriving in Afghanistan in June 2000, and fighting with the Taliban near Kabul and Khawaja Ghar until his capture. He was released in December 2006.

In addition, the stories of two other Saudis who were caught up in the massacre –- 29-year old Faha Sultan, and 20-year old Saad al-Zahrani –- were unavailable at the time of writing. The transcripts for the CSRTs and the first round of the ARBs, on which the majority of my research for the book was based, along with the Unclassified Summaries of Evidence, were released by the Pentagon between March and May 2006, after the Associated Press, who had first filed requests under Freedom of Information legislation, took the government to court –- and won –- when the administration refused to cooperate. A second batch of documents, which included new documents relating to the second round of the ARBs, but which also included additional information about the CSRTs and the first round of the ARBs, was released after another FOIA request by the AP in September 2007, and it is from these documents that the stories of Sultan and al-Zahrani emerged, along with the stories of several dozen other detainees, which were, until that time, completely unknown.

According to these allegations, Sultan, like many other detainees, answered a fatwa in January 2001, which “directed participants to defend the Taliban in Afghanistan,” and paid for his own travel to Afghanistan “with money received from his father, who was unaware of his plans.” Apparently identified, by another detainee, “as someone who worked in a distribution center handing out Kalashnikovs,” and by another detainee, a “known Taliban member,” as someone he believed was “an administrator,” because he was “always in the rear purchasing food,” he was wounded in Qala-i-Janghi. More worrying –- and quite possibly less reliable –- is an allegation that he was “identified as a friend of a senior al-Qaeda leader and had a good relationship with another individual who was a close associate of the senior al-Qaeda leader.” The allegation is dubious because, although the US authorities claimed that he “has acted as if in a catatonic state during interviews,” on one occasion being overheard “telling another detainee that he had fooled the interrogator into thinking that he was ‘messed up,’” it was also stated that, as long ago as July 2002, “a foreign delegation” –- presumably Saudi intelligence –- identified him as being “of low law enforcement and low intelligence value.”

Saad al-ZahraniAl-Zahrani (released in July 2007) was another 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, 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,” and also explained that he was shot in the leg in Qala-i-Janghi, and “could not get away because he was tied up.” The most frustratingly vague allegation against him was that he claimed that he had met Osama bin Laden in Kandahar “at an unknown mosque located at an unidentified training camp.”

It’s also probable that four Saudis released in May 2003 — 19-year old Mishal al-Shedoky, 19-year old Fahd al-Shabrani, 23-year old Fawaz al-Zahrani, and 20-year old Ibrahim al-Shili — were survivors of the massacre, but nothing is known of the circumstances of their capture. In 2006, Human Rights Watch reported that in May 2005, after a four-day closed trial in which the men were not allowed legal representation, the Greater Riyadh Court sentenced them to six months in prison for “leaving the country without permission,” although they were all released for time served. As a condition of their release, the Saudi authorities apparently “prevented them from speaking openly about their experiences in Guantánamo and their time in Saudi custody.”

Uyghurs, Tajiks, Moroccans and an Azerbaijani

Other additional stories relate to detainees from the countries to the north of Afghanistan. While several of these are reported in the book, those that were not include the stories of two Uyghurs, oppressed Muslims from China’s Xinjiang province, which was formerly known as East Turkistan. Arkin Mahmud, a cobbler who was 37 years old when he was captured, denied an allegation that he was “a suspected Taliban fighter,” and said that he had only gone to Afghanistan to look for his brother. While Mahmud at least took part in his administrative review, 26-year old Nag Mohammed did not take part in any hearings, and did not, therefore, respond to the allegations against him: that he was closely associated with the leader of the Xinjiang separatist group, the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (which, in any case, was only regarded as a terrorist group by the US authorities in order to secure post-9/11 support from China), and that he participated in the Qala-i-Janghi uprising. Clearly, however, the cases against both men did not stand up to scrutiny, as they, like the other 20 Uyghurs in Guantánamo, were eventually cleared for release, although, with the exceptions of five of the 22, who were released in Albania in May 2006, all are still held at Guantánamo, because the authorities do not want to send them back to China, but cannot find another country to accept them (and are not willing to grant them a new life in the United States).

Two Tajiks were also captured. 20-year old Rukniddin Sharipov said that he had been tricked into fighting for the Taliban by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and Mehrabanb Fazrollah, who was 39 years old at the time of his capture, was subjected to a particularly thin set of allegations: that he traveled to Afghanistan in April 2001, that he “admitted to fighting with the Taliban,” and that he was captured with a Kalashnikov and ammunition. It’s likely that another Tajik, 38-year old Yusef Nabied, who was released in November 2003, was also a survivor of the massacre, but his story is unknown. Sharipov and Fazrollah were released from Guantánamo in March 2007, but while there have been no reports of Fazrollah’s whereabouts, Sharipov and a third Tajik released in March, Muqit Vohidov (see Chapter 9), were sentenced to 17 years in “high-security penal colonies” (aka labor camps) for “serving as mercenaries in Afghanistan” –- where they were accused of aiding the Taliban by fighting for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) –- and for taking part in “illegal border crossing, ” as reported here.

Another prisoner captured at this time, who was probably detained in Qala-i-Janghi, is Poolad Tsiradzho, a 26-year old economist and translator from Azerbaijan, who said that he went to Afghanistan to study the Koran, and was wounded by the Northern Alliance while working as a guard at a Pakistani food warehouse. In contrast to these claims, the US authorities allege that, after seeing the war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance on TV, he traveled to Afghanistan to seek out the Taliban at the start of 2001, and was sent from Herat to Kandahar, where he “came into contact with the leader of an al-Qaeda-affiliated group,” who was tasked with vetting him by “an al-Qaeda operative.” Once vetted, he was allegedly introduced to the leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and sent to al-Farouq for training. He then traveled to the Taliban front lines at Khawaja Ghar, where he was wounded in the right arm during an artillery attack by the Northern Alliance, and then spent two months in Kunduz before surrendering to General Dostum. How much truth there is to this story is difficult to ascertain. Tsiradzho maintained his innocence in his first round ARB, but did not take part in his most recent review, in which the only words attributed to him were in response to a question about whether he would “return to Afghanistan to fight against America,” when he reportedly asked, with some justification, presumably, “What has America ever done for me?”

In addition to these men, three Moroccans –- 23-year old Najib Lahcini, 34-year old Mohammed Hassan, and 22-year old Mohammed Ouzar –- were also probably among the survivors, but I have been unable to discover any references to Qala-i-Janghi in their stories. Ouzar’s story is completely unknown, as he was evidently cleared for release before the tribunal process began in July 2004 (and the Pentagon has not, to date, released any information pertaining to those released, or cleared for release, before the tribunals began). The Unclassified Summaries of Evidence for Lahcini and Hassan, however, finally surfaced as part of the treasure trove of documents released by the Pentagon in September 2007.

It was alleged that Lahcini, who, it was stated, had entered England illegally and had been persuaded to travel to Afghanistan “by a man he had met at the Baker Street mosque” in London, lived at a Taliban guest house in Jalalabad, “near the Taliban intelligence center,” attended a Taliban training camp for a month, and then spent another month in the mountains near Jalalabad, digging trenches with the Taliban. It was also stated that he was sent to Khawaja Ghar, but was forced to retreat by US bombing, and that he subsequently surrendered to General Dostum’s forces near Mazar-e-Sharif. More vaguely, it was alleged that he “may have trained” at al-Farouq, and “was possibly in charge of a group of 20 fighters in Zormat,” in Paktia province in eastern Afghanistan, although both these allegations sound suspiciously like confessions obtained from other detainees under duress.

The allegations against Hassan were far less substantial, and consisted only of the following four statements: that he went to Afghanistan in 2000 “to fight jihad,” that he was trained to use a Kalashnikov “for 1-2 weeks” and was then moved to a Taliban fighting position, that he “was in the rear in Kabul and advanced as Taliban forces advanced,” and that he surrendered to coalition forces at Mazar-e-Sharif.

All three were eventually transferred from Guantánamo to Moroccan custody, where their treatment has varied: Ouzar, transferred with four other Moroccans in August 2004, was apparently released on bail three months later, according to a report in Morocco News in February 2006, and Lahcini and Hassan were transferred in February 2006. In November 2006, they were convicted of “forging official documents,” and were sentenced to three years in prison, but the sentences were dismissed on appeal in May 2007.

Lahcen Ikassrien

Lahcen IkassrienA fourth Moroccan, 33-year old Lahcen Ikassrien, was, however, definitely present in Qala-i-Janghi. An immigrant in Spain, where he had been living for 13 years, Ikassrien was extradited to Spain from Guantánamo in July 2005, at the request of anti-terror judge Baltasar Garzón, who claimed –- erroneously, and due to wildly misguided “intelligence” –- that Ikassrien and three other detainees –- the Spaniard Hamed Abderrahman Ahmed (discussed in Chapter 7) and, bizarrely, two British residents, Omar Deghayes and Jamil El-Banna, who are still in Guantánamo –- were suspected of having links to the Syrian-born Spaniard Imad Yarkas, who was serving 12 years in prison for belonging to al-Qaeda. In June 2006, however, the Spanish Supreme Court threw out Yarkas’ conviction for conspiracy to commit murder in the 9/11 attacks, and, with the case against Ikassrien demolished, he was finally freed on October 11, 2006. The Associated Press reported that the court concluded, “It has not been proved that the accused, Lahcen Ikassrien, was part of a terrorist organization of Islamic-fundamentalist nature, and more specifically, the al-Qaeda network created by Bin Laden,” adding that wire-tapped conversations between Ikassrien and another suspected al-Qaeda member in Spain had also been considered invalid.

The Pentagon’s allegations against Ikassrien, who did not take part in his tribunal at Guantánamo, only surfaced in September 2007, as part of the package of documents released under Freedom of Information legislation, but they did not amount to very much. It was alleged that he had admitted being a member of the Taliban, and had been taken by the Taliban to Mazar-e-Sharif. It was also alleged that he bought a Kalashnikov in Kabul in May or June 2001, that he “took refuge in an underground hiding area with Taliban forces during the bombing of Mazar-e-Sharif,” and that he was injured in the US bombing of Kunduz. More dubious, for reasons already explained above, were allegations that he “was observed on the front line and during the retreat in Afghanistan and at Qala-i-Janghi prison.”

For his part, Ikassrien finally related his own version of his story to El Pais in December 2006, for an article that was translated into English by the human rights group Cageprisoners in April 2007. In it, the former gardener, cook and construction worker, who had spent three years in prison for dealing hashish, said that he traveled to Afghanistan after separating from his Moroccan wife. According to the El Pais reporter, he “seemed fascinated by the Taliban government,” and explained, “I wanted to know how it was to live there, if what was said about the Taliban was the truth. For me, Taliban was synonymous with Muslim, good Muslim.”

Struggling to reach Afghanistan, Ikassrien was expelled from Istanbul and spent two months in Turkey before managing to catch a bus through Iran to the western Afghan city of Herat. There, he said, the Taliban “interrogated me in a police station for six hours. They wanted to know everything. Where I went and what I wanted to do. These people did not trust anyone. I told them that I came from Europe to live like the true Muslims. They sent me to Kunduz, near Mazar-e-Sharif, and there I bought a taxi and a butcher shop that was run for me by two Afghans. I could not run it because I understood neither Pashto nor Arabic.” Denying allegations that he trained in an al-Qaeda camp and fought alongside the Taliban, he explained that he was captured by General Dostum’s men after fleeing Kunduz in a convoy of trucks, and taken to Qala-i-Janghi, and his recollections of the massacre reflect those of others reported in the book. Wounded in the arm and hand by shrapnel from a US bomb, he said, “My group was in an underground trench and they were throwing gasoline at us. Many died burnt. Then Dostum’s men flooded us with water and it went up to my neck. It was horrible. I left alive by a miracle.”

From Qala-i-Janghi he was taken, via Dostum’s prison at Sheberghan (described in Chapter 3), where, he said, he was questioned at gunpoint, told that he had been sold for $75,000 and described as an “important terrorist,” to the US prison at Kandahar airport. Treated with a brutality that is familiar from other stories recorded in Chapter 8 (“They burned my legs with cigarettes, they hit me over the head with gun butts, and repeated time and time again that a person like me did not have the right to live”), he was then transferred to Guantánamo. His recollections of his time in Guantánamo –- and of visits from Spanish and Moroccan intelligence agents –- are worth reading in their entirety, but what leaps out in particular from his account is the plastic bracelet that an American soldier fastened on his wrist at Kandahar, which stated, simply, that he was “Animal Number 64.” This was, understandably, the title of the El Pais article, and it provides a suitable conclusion to this additional chapter on the survivors of the Qala-i-Janghi massacre.

Notes

Al-Shehri (ISN 132): ARB Set 5, pp. 158-79 (despite his statement that his cousin was killed by a mine, Yousef al-Shehri was actually captured alive, and is discussed in Chapter 9); al-Utaybi (ISN 96): CSRT Set 2, pp. 1-16; al-Shamyri (ISN 434): ARB Factors Set 2, pp. 30-2; al-Saigh (ISN 105): CSRT Set 10, pp. 38-44; al-Ghamdi (ISN 95): CSRT Set 10, pp. 45-6; Said (ISN 126): CSRT Set 41, pp. 48-53; al-Hanashi (ISN 78): CSRT Set 10, pp. 55-6; Naser (ISN 115): ARB Factors Set 2, pp. 35-7; al-Bihani (ISN 128): CSRT Set 23, pp. 23-6; al-Marwa’i (ISN 129): ARB Set 5, pp. 146-52; Ben Kend (ISN 131): ARB Set 5, pp. 153-7; bin Atef (ISN 202): CSRB Set 3, p. 270; Nur (ISN 73): CSRT Set 44, pp. 62-6; ARB Set 4, pp. 1-10; al-Saleh (ISN 91): ARB Factors Set 2, pp. 61-3; al-Oshan (ISN 121): CSRB Set 3, pp. 171-2; Sultan (ISN 130): ARB 2 Factors Set 3, pp. 8-10; al-Zahrani (ISN 214): ARB 2 Factors Set 4, pp. 17-20; al-Shedoky (ISN 71); al-Shabrani (ISN 80); al-Zahrani (ISN 125); al-Shili (ISN 127); Mahmud (ISN 103): ARB Set 5, pp. 123-33; Mohammed (ISN 102): CSRB Set 3, p. 174; Sharipov (ISN 76): ARB Set 5, pp. 107-15; Fazrollah (ISN 77): CSRB Set 3, p. 71; Nabied (ISN 83); Tsiradzho (ISN 89): ARB Set 2, pp. 133-7; ARB 2 Factors Set 2, pp. 67-9; Lahcini (ISN 75): CSRT Factors Set 1, pp. 93-4; Hassan (ISN 123): CSRT Factors Set 2, p. 36; Ouzar (ISN 133); Ikassrien (ISN 72): CSRT Factors Set 1, p. 88.

The four Pakistanis and four Afghans whose stories are unknown, because they were released in 2003 or 2004, before the tribunal process began, are:

Pakistanis: Mohammed Ashraf (ISN 100), Mohammed Irfan (ISN 101), Sarfaraz Ahmed (ISN 113), who was apparently a doctor, and Faik Iqbal (ISN 210).

Afghans: Said Mohammed Ali Shah (ISN 92), Mohammed Raz (ISN 106), Yamatolah Abulwance (ISN 116) and Janan Taus Khan (ISN 124).

Additional note

This online chapter was published on November 8, 2007. On February 6, 2009, the names of two Pakistanis — Munir bin Naseer (ISN 85) and Tariq Aziz Khan (ISN 97) — whose stories were listed as unknown, were removed. Both men were interviewed by McClatchy Newspapers for a major report on 66 released prisoners in 2008, and their stories were added to Website Extras 7.

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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