Britons in Guantánamo return to UK for Eid al-Adha


Three of the six British residents in Guantánamo –- Jamil El-Banna, Omar Deghayes and Abdulnour Sameur –- are on their way back to the UK, and will, hopefully, be able to celebrate Eid al-Adha (the Feast of Sacrifice), which follows the annual hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca). This is the most important feast day in the Muslim calendar, and falls tomorrow (December 20).

Jamil El-Banna, Omar Deghayes and Abdulnour Sameur

According to the latest reports, they are on board a chartered aircraft along with a doctor and officers from the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism unit, as well as uniformed officers, whose presence was requested by the Foreign Office. According to the Guardian, a police spokesman was “not prepared to discuss” whether the men would be held on arrival like the nine British nationals released in 2004 and 2005, and British resident Bisher al-Rawi, who was released in March this year.

Omar Deghayes’ sister, Amani, said that she was “extremely relieved” to hear the news of her brother’s release and added that he had been on the receiving end of “brutal and illegal treatment,” as reported here. She also said, “Our family has always said that Omar was totally innocent – one of the hundreds of people taken to Guantánamo by the Americans for no good reason.” Speaking to the BBC, she said that his family would be concentrating on helping him to put his ordeal behind him. “I’m extremely relieved that Omar’s ordeal is finally coming to end after over five years of suffering in Guantánamo,” she said. “We’re looking forward to spending the Eid as family together.”

Celebrations by campaigners for the three men will be tempered by the knowledge that the other three British residents have been left behind: Saudi-born Shaker Aamer, who is seeking repatriation to Saudi Arabia, Ethiopian-born Binyam Mohamed, now reportedly suffering from severe mental deterioration, whose requested return to the UK was refused by the US government, and Algerian-born Ahmed Belbacha, who has been cleared for release from Guantánamo, but whose return was not requested by the British government because he was not technically an official resident at the time of his capture.

The struggle for justice for these men continues.

For more on the stories of the Britons in Guantánamo, see my newly published book 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). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed.

For articles dealing with the Spanish government’s subsequent attempts to extradite Omar Deghayes and Jamil El-Banna to Spain, see here, here, here and here.


The prisoners’ numbers (and variations on the spelling of their names) are as follows:

ISN 905: Jamil El-Banna
ISN 727: Omar Deghayes
ISN 659: Abdulnour Sameur (Abdenour, Abdennour)

See the following for articles about the 142 prisoners released from Guantánamo from June 2007 to January 2009, and the eleven prisoners released from February to June 2009, whose stories are covered in more detail than is available anywhere else –- either in print or on the Internet –- although many of them, of course, are also covered in The Guantánamo Files: June 2007 –- 2 Tunisians, 4 Yemenis (here, here and here); July 2007 –- 16 Saudis; August 2007 –- 1 Bahraini, 5 Afghans; September 2007 –- 16 Saudis; September 2007 –- 1 Mauritanian; September 2007 –- 1 Libyan, 1 Yemeni, 6 Afghans; November 2007 –- 3 Jordanians, 8 Afghans; November 2007 –- 14 Saudis; December 2007 –- 2 Sudanese; December 2007 –- 13 Afghans (here and here); December 2007 –- 10 Saudis; May 2008 –- 3 Sudanese, 1 Moroccan, 5 Afghans (here, here and here); July 2008 –- 2 Algerians; July 2008 –- 1 Qatari, 1 United Arab Emirati, 1 Afghan; August 2008 –- 2 Algerians; September 2008 –- 1 Pakistani, 2 Afghans (here and here); September 2008 –- 1 Sudanese, 1 Algerian; November 2008 –- 1 Kazakh, 1 Somali, 1 Tajik; November 2008 –- 2 Algerians; November 2008 –- 1 Yemeni (Salim Hamdan) repatriated to serve out the last month of his sentence; December 2008 –- 3 Bosnian Algerians; January 2009 –- 1 Afghan, 1 Algerian, 4 Iraqis; February 2009 — 1 British resident (Binyam Mohamed); May 2009 — 1 Bosnian Algerian (Lakhdar Boumediene); June 2009 — 1 Chadian (Mohammed El-Gharani), 4 Uighurs, 1 Iraqi, 3 Saudis (here and here).

2 Responses

  1. The Story of Oybek Jabbarov, An Innocent Man Freed From Guantánamo « says...

    […] December 2007 –- 2 Sudanese; December 2007 –- 13 Afghans (here and here); December 2007 –- 3 British residents; December 2007 –- 10 Saudis; May 2008 –- 3 Sudanese, 1 Moroccan, 5 Afghans (here, here and […]

  2. Who Is the Palestinian Released from Guantánamo in Spain? « says...

    […] December 2007 –- 2 Sudanese; December 2007 –- 13 Afghans (here and here); December 2007 –- 3 British residents; December 2007 –- 10 Saudis; May 2008 –- 3 Sudanese, 1 Moroccan, 5 Afghans (here, here and […]

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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