WikiLeaks and the 22 Children of Guantánamo


In May 2008, in a submission to the 48th Session of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (PDF), the Pentagon claimed that it had only held eight juveniles — those under the age of 18 when their alleged crimes took place — during the life of the Guantánamo Bay prison. This, however, was a lie, as its own documents providing the names and dates of birth of prisoners, released in May 2006 (PDF), showed that the true total was much higher.

In November 2008, the UC Davis Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas published a report, “Guantánamo’s Children: Military and Diplomatic Testimonies,” presenting evidence that 12 juveniles had been held, and this was then officially acknowledged by the Pentagon.

The next week, however, I produced another report, “The Pentagon Can’t Count: 22 Juveniles Held at Guantánamo,” providing evidence that at least 22 juvenile prisoners had been held, and drawing on the Pentagon’s own documents, or on additional statements made by the Pentagon, to confirm my claims.

Two and a half years later, I stand by that report, and am only prepared to concede that up to three of the prisoners I identified as juveniles may have been 18 at the time of their capture. In the meantime, I have identified three more juvenile prisoners, and possibly three others, bringing the total back to 22, and possibly as many as 28.

My new research coincides with a new report by the UC Davis Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas, “Guantánamo’s Children: The WikiLeaked Testimonies,” drawing on the recent release, by WikiLeaks, of classified military documents shedding new light on the prisoners, identifying 15 juveniles, and suggesting that six others, born in 1984 or 1985, and arriving at Guantánamo in 2002 or 2003, may have been under 18, depending on when exactly they were born (which is unknown, as it is in the cases of numerous Guantánamo prisoners).

However, crucially, the UC Davis report chose to make its assessments based on the prisoners’ dates of arrival in Guantánamo, which was often up to six months after their capture, whereas I have focused on their capture date, thereby demonstrating that at least 22 of the 28 prisoners identified in my research were indeed under 18 at the time of their capture.

Of course, to be strictly correct, this analysis should go further, dealing not with the dates of capture, but with the dates when the prisoners’ alleged crimes took place. However, I simply do not have the time at present to go through every file, and, while such research would undoubtedly yield more juvenile prisoners, I am content for now to have reinforced the claims that I made in November 2008, and to have made a case for there having been at least 22, and as many as 28 juveniles held in Guantánamo.

Just three of these former child prisoners are still held, but the US position has always been a disgrace. Notoriously, in May 2003, when the story first broke that juvenile prisoners were being held at Guantánamo, defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a press conference, “This constant refrain of ‘the juveniles,’ as though there’s a hundred children in there — these are not children,” while Gen. Richard Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said:

I would say, despite their age, these are very, very dangerous people. They are people that have been vetted mainly in Afghanistan and gone through a thorough process to determine what their involvement was. Some have killed. Some have stated they’re going to kill again. So they may be juveniles, but they’re not on a little-league team anywhere, they’re on a major league team, and it’s a terrorist team. And they’re in Guantánamo for a very good reason — for our safety, for your safety.

Moreover, in May 2006, when the Independent reported on “The Children of Guantánamo Bay,” a senior Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, said that the DoD “rejected arguments that normal criminal law was relevant to the Guantánamo detainees,” as the Independent put it. In Gordon’s own words, “There is no international standard concerning the age of an individual who engages in combat operations … Age is not a determining factor in detention [of those] engaged in armed conflict against our forces or in support to those fighting against us.”

This was nonsense, because, under the terms of Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, which the US ratified on December 23, 2002, signatory nations are required to promote “the physical and psychosocial rehabilitation and social reintegration of children who are victims of armed conflict,” and not to punish them by imprisoning them alongside adult prisoners in an experimental prison devoted to coercive interrogation and — at its worst — torture.

Despite its obligations, however, only three of the juveniles held at Guantánamo were ever treated differently to the adults — three Afghan boys, Asadullah, Naqibullah and Mohammed Ismail, who were held in a separate camp until their release in January 2004. For the rest, however, there was, or has been no “physical and psychosocial rehabilitation and social reintegration” whatsoever, and, instead, they have been subjected to torture and abuse, as described by many of these prisoners, “extraordinary rendition” to a torture prison in Jordan in the case of one of the juveniles, Hassan bin Attash, and, in the case of Omar Khadr, a war crimes trial, based on charges invented by Congress. In order to secure an eight-year sentence, Khadr was obliged to agree to a disgraceful plea bargain in which he claimed responsibility for his actions aged 15, during the firefight that led to his capture (and the death of a US soldier), when he was not, in fact, responsible for his actions. He was also obliged to admit that he was an “alien unprivileged enemy belligerent” who was not allowed, under any circumstances, to be engaged with US forces in combat.

It remains disgraceful that so many juveniles were held at Guantánamo — and that three former child prisoners are still held — but it is just as disgusting that, under President Obama, one of these former child prisoners was obliged to accept that, in modern-day America, lawmakers and the executive branch, without a murmur of dissent from the judiciary, have arranged for opponents of the US military in wartime to be criminalized, their actions regarded incorrectly as war crimes, and their very existence declared illegal. This is effectively no different than it was under President Bush, when the twisted ideologues who surrounded the President, under the aegis of his dark assistant Dick Cheney, created the concept of “illegal enemy combatants,” people without any rights whatsoever, who could be held forever and tortured with impunity.

The 22 juveniles held at Guantánamo

(i) The three still held

1. Ali Yahya al-Raimi (ISN 167, Yemen) Born 1984, seized December 2001 (aged 16/17). As WikiLeaks revealed, he was approved for transfer from Guantánamo in October 2004, but is still held over six and half years later. As I explained in my article, “Abandoned in Guantánamo: WikiLeaks Reveals the Yemenis Cleared for Release for Up to Seven Years,” the WikiLeaks files reveal 19 Yemeni prisoners approved for transfer between 2004 and 2007 who, disgracefully, are still held.

2. Omar Khadr (ISN 766, Canada) Born 19 September 1986, seized 19 July 2002 (aged 15). After well-chronicled abuse in Bagram and Guantánamo, Khadr, seized after a firefight in Afghanistan, accepted a plea deal in his trial by Military Commission last October, to secure an eight-year sentence, agreeing that he was an “alien unprivileged enemy belligerent,” who was not allowed, under any circumstances, to engage in combat with US forces. The US (under Bush and Obama) and the Canadian government have all behaved appallingly towards him.

3. Hassan bin Attash (ISN 1456, Saudi Arabia) Born 1985, seized 11 September 2002 (aged 16/17). Despite his age at the time of his capture, he was rendered on his capture to a torture prison on Jordan. He was seized with the “high-value detainee” Ramzi bin al-Shibh and is the younger brother of the “high-value detainee” Walid bin Attash (both allegedly involved in the 9/11 attacks), but there is, of course, no excuse for subjecting juveniles to torture because of their family ties.

(ii) The Afghans

4. Faris Muslim al-Ansari (ISN 253, Afghanistan/Yemen) Born 1984, seized December 2001 (aged 16/17), released December 2007. Seized crossing the Pakistani border, he explained that his family had left Yemen when he was a child, and had moved to Afghanistan, where his father had fought the Russians. He was assessed as being “a probable member of the Taliban.”

5. Shams Ullah (ISN 783, Afghanistan) Born 1986, arrived in Guantánamo October 2002 (aged 16/17), released October 2006. Described by his uncle, Bostan Karim (who is still held), as having “a mental problem,” he was shot after US forces raided the compound where he lived, suspecting that it contained insurgents.

6. Mohamed Jawad (ISN 900, Afghanistan) Born 1985, seized December 2002 (aged 16/17, although his family said he was 12 at the time of his detention), released August 2009. Put forward for a trial by Military Commission in October 2007, for allegedly throwing a grenade at US forces in a Kabul marketplace, his Commission trial essentially collapsed when his judge ruled that his confessions had been extracted through torture, and his prosecutor resigned, and he then won his habeas corpus petition in July 2009.

7. Abdul Samad (ISN 911, Afghanistan) Born 1986, seized December 2002 (aged 15/16), released September 2004. One of three (or possibly four) juveniles seized in a raid on a compound owned and run by a warlord named Samoud, who was not captured in the raid (see below for the other two confirmed juveniles). All were treated brutally in a US base in Gardez and at Bagram, where, according to another released prisoner, Habib Rahman, they were abused until they admitted attacking US forces.

8. Asadullah aka Asadullah Rahman (ISN 912, Afghanistan) Born 1988, seized December 2002 (aged 13/14), released January 2004. See above.

9. Naqibullah (ISN 913, Afghanistan) Born 1988, seized December 2002 (aged 13/14), released January 2004. See above.

10. Abdul Qudus (ISN 929, Afghanistan) Born 1988, seized late 2002 (aged 13/14), released April 2005. He said that he was sold to US forces by opportunistic Afghan soldiers, along with Mohammed Ismail (see below), although he was assessed as having been radicalised by local imams.

11. Mohammed Ismail aka Mohammed Ismail Agha (ISN 930, Afghanistan) Born 1988, seized in late 2002 (aged 13/14), released January 2004. See above.

(iii) The Pakistanis

12. Khalil Rahman Hafez (ISN 301, Pakistan) Born 20 January 1984, seized December 2001 (aged 17), released September 2004. Like many Pakistanis, he had been recruited for jihad against the Northern Alliance and the US in his home country.

13. Mohammed Omar (ISN 540, Pakistan) Born 1986, seized December 2001 (aged 14/15), released September 2004. Despite traveling to Afghanistan with a friend for military training, it appears that he spent most of his time waiting around, before being captured by Afghans.

14. Saji Ur Rahman (ISN 545, Pakistan) Born 1984, seized December 2001 (aged 16/17, although Rahman himself said he was 15 when captured), released July 2003. He said that he traveled to Afghanistan with two friends to visit shrines in October 2001, but was then captured by Afghans. Perhaps surprisingly, there was no indication that the US authorities didn’t believe his story.

(iv) The Saudis

15. Abdulrazzaq al-Sharekh aka Abd al-Razaq al-Sharikh (ISN 67, Saudi Arabia) Born 18 January 1984, seized November 2001 (aged 17), released September 2007. He was assessed as an al-Qaeda member just a month before his release, although he may, like the majority of those accused of involvement with al-Qaeda because of their attendance at a training camp, have been nothing more than a soldier, recruited to help the Taliban fight the Northern Alliance.

16. Yasser Talal al-Zahrani (ISN 93, Saudi Arabia) Born 22 September 1984, seized November 2001 (aged 17), died in Guantánamo June 2006. A survivor of the Qala-i-Janghi massacre in northern Afghanistan, he died under mysterious circumstances on the night of 9 June 2006, with two other prisoners, as Scott Horton reported last year for Harper’s Magazine (and see my report and updates here, here and here).

17. Yousef al-Shehri (ISN 114, Saudi Arabia) Born 8 September 1985, seized November 2001 (aged 16), released November 2007. Seized in northern Afghanistan like his cousin Yousef (see below), he was held in hideously overcrowded conditions in Sheberghan prison, belonging to the US-allied warlord General Dostum, and probably survived a massacre in container trucks, known as the “convoy of death,” before being transferred to US custody.

18. Abdulsalam al-Shehri (ISN 132, Saudi Arabia) Born 14 December 1984, seized November 2001 (aged 17), released June 2006. Like Yasser al-Zahrani, he was a survivor of the Qala-i-Janghi massacre, and, with his cousin, was then held in Sheberghan before ending up in US custody.

19. Ibrahim al-Umar (ISN 585, Saudi Arabia) Born 1985, seized 28 February 2002 (aged 16/17), released May 2003. A student at a religious school in Pakistan, he was encouraged to leave the country after the US-led invasion, but was seized at a checkpoint, held by Pakistan’s notorious ISI (Inter Services Intelligence directorate), and then handed over to US forces.

(v) The others

20. Mohammed El-Gharani (ISN 269, Chad) Born 1986, seized October 2001 (aged 14/15), released June 2009. Seized in a raid on mosque in Karachi, he was treated brutally at Guantánamo, but was finally freed after winning his habeas corpus petition in January 2009.

21. Haji Mohammed Ayub ISN 279, China) Born 15 April 1984, seized December 2001 (aged 17), released May 2006 in Albania. One of 22 Uighurs (Muslims from China’s oppressed Xinjiang province), who were detained by mistake, as they never had any affiliation with either al-Qaeda or the Taliban, and were solely opposed to the Chinese government. For further information, see this McClatchy Newspapers interview from 2008.

22. Rasul Kudayev (ISN 82, Russia) Born 23 January 1984, seized November 2001 (aged 17), released February 2004. A former wrestling champion from the Russian territory of Kabardino-Balkaria, north of Georgia, who also survived the Qala-i-Janghi massacre, he was rearrested in October 2005, after gunmen attacked government buildings in his hometown, and was tortured in police custody, despite protesting his innocence. The latest report, in 2008, indicated that he was still imprisoned.

The six additional prisoners who may have been under 18 at the time of their capture

23. Qari Esmhatulla (ISN 591, Afghanistan) Born 1984, seized 10 March 2002 (aged 17, or possibly 18), released October 2006. After telling a story in which he claimed to have been set up by Afghan soldiers while returning from a shrine, he was assessed as being “a low-level Taliban recruit.”

24. Hezbullah (ISN 666, Afghanistan) Born 1984, seized April 2002 (aged 17, or possibly 18), released November 2003. A Pakistani by birth who was listed as an Afghan “because that was where he had been living since 1990 and [he] considered that his home,” he was seized with his cousin after he had helped US forces locate and remove suspect items from the home of a suspected insurgent leader.

25. Peta Mohammed (ISN 908, Afghanistan) Born 1985, seized December 2002 (aged 16/17), released March 2004. Do note, however, that, in the documents released by WikiLeaks, his date of birth was recorded as 1984, which, if correct, would mean that he was almost certainly 18 at the time of his capture. If he was under 18, he was one of four juveniles seized in a raid on the compound owned and run by a warlord named Samoud (see Abdul Samad, ISN 911, above).

26. Mahbub Rahman (ISN 1052, Afghanistan) Born 1985, seized 1 June 2003 (aged 17, or possibly 18), released August 2008. He was assessed in April 2008 as  being “a member of an Anti-Coalition Militia (ACM) cell” located in Khost province, having been captured after a firefight with coalition forces, and as a “high risk” prisoner, who was “likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies.” Nevertheless, he was transferred back to Afghanistan just four months later.

27. Sultan Ahmad (ISN 842, Pakistan) Born 1 November 1984, probably seized before November 2002 (aged 17), released September 2004. Regarded as deceptive, he said that he was seized after traveling through Afghanistan to try to reach Turkey. The authorities in Guantánamo suspected that he was “an extremist recruit” in his assessment in November 2003, although he was released 10 months later.

28. Shakrukh Hamiduva (ISN 22, Uzbekistan) Born on 13 December 1983, probably seized in November 2001 (aged 17), released September 2009 in Ireland. He stated that he left Uzbekistan because of religious persecution, lived in a refugee camp in Tajikistan for 18 months, and was then taken to Afghanistan with other refugees, where he eventually worked as a taxi driver, which is what he was doing when he was seized. The US authorities, in contrast, regarded him as a Taliban-affiliated fighter with the Islamic Movement of Tajikistan/Uzbekistan.

In addition, there is a remote possibility that four others were under 18 at the time of their capture. The first is Mohammed Ishaq (ISN 20), a Pakistani. Born in 1983, he and a friend traveled to Afghanistan at the start of November 2001 to find his friend’s brother, who had gone to Afghanistan to fight against the Northern Alliance. Sometime in November 2001, he was seized by Northern Alliance forces in Kunduz, but he would only have been 17 at the time of his capture if he was born in late November or December 1983. Similarly, three Saudis — Ali Mohammed Nasir Mohammed (ISN 172), Tariq al-Harbi (ISN 265) and Abdul Khaliq al-Baidhani (ISN 553) — were also born in 1983 and were probably seized in mid-December 2001, meaning that they would only have been under 18 at the time of their capture of they were born in the second half of December 1983.

POSTSCRIPT June 2, 2015: One additional prisoner who was 17 when he was seized is Fahd Ghazy (ISN 26), a Yemeni, and a client of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights. The US authorities claimed he was born sometime in 1982, but CCR notes that he was born on May 2, 1984, and therefore, when he was seized in December 2001, he was just 17. See the film about Fahd here.

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, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, on tour in the UK throughout 2011, and available on DVD here — or here for the US), my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

As published exclusively on the website of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

68 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Abu Jafar Mujahid wrote:

    I guess the lies will never stop.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Robin Laurain wrote:

    The country is focused on Weiner’s bulge instead of what is important. This is what we should be talking about. The Battle of the Bulge like other battles we Americans find ourselves in is not our battle. This is between the Weiner’s. We should be focused on issues like ending war, stopping torure and getting these kids free. One kid detained is one kid too many.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Lidia Berger wrote:


  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Abu Jafar, Robin and Lidia,
    Yes, Robin, the treatment of Omar Khadr — under President Obama, who allowed his trial by Military Commission to proceed last fall — remains a deep scar on his Presidency: the prosecution of a former child prisoner on war crimes charge invented by Congress. That’s despicable.
    What I also find sad is that the mainstream media has never picked up on the story of Hassan bin Attash, who was 17 when he was sent to be tortured in Jordan. That’s also despicable, and it’s irrelevant that he was seized with Ramzi bin al-Shbh and that his brother was Walid bin Attash.
    And as for the last remaining child, Ali Yahya al-Raimi, what more can I say? The Bush administration approved him for transfer back in October 2004 — October 2004, six years and eight months ago, that’s six years and eight months of waiting in vain to be released, despite being approved for release (transfer) by a military board under President Bush! Almost too disgraceful for words …

  5. The 22 Children of Guantanamo « Mercury Rising 鳯女 says...

    […] Here’s one of the stories the news media is assiduously avoiding this week, preferring instead to focus on and demonize innocent and clean Tweets from a Congressman: In November 2008, the UC Davis Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas published a report, “Guantánamo’s Children: Military and Diplomatic Testimonies,” presenting evidence that 12 juveniles had been held, and this was then officially acknowledged by the Pentagon. […]

  6. The 22 Children of Guantanamo | Renaissance Post says...

    […] Here’s one of the stories the news media is assiduously avoiding this week, preferring instead to focus on and demonize innocent and clean Tweets from a Congressman: In November 2008, the UC Davis Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas published a report, “Guantánamo’s Children: Military and Diplomatic Testimonies,” presenting evidence that 12 juveniles had been held, and this was then officially acknowledged by the Pentagon. […]

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Tashi Farmilo-Marouf wrote:

    Oh, that is just so wrong!!! And I especially feel so badly for those poor Afghani boys who grew up under war with the Soviets. Would they just leave that poor country alone!!! What do they think these men will become growing up under such circumstances, and then even worse being thrown into the wretched house of horrors – Guantanamo.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, it’s bad, isn’t it, Tashi. I’ve always disliked the way in which the US government, judges and those responsible for decision-making in so many individual states have seemed to regard it as some sort of badge of honor to imprison and abuse children. To me it’s one of the clearest signs of a violent society out of touch with the reforming principles sought by so many countries in the wake of World War II, and these advances have, of course, been particularly under attack since 9/11.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Tashi Farmilo-Marouf wrote:

    It is totally hypocritical! It is easier to judge others – than look to one’s own errors. It also helps to distract others from seeing what is really happening on their own soil because they are so busy looking to see what every one else is up to.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    There’s definitely some truth to that, Tashi, but I can’t help thinking that one of America’s biggest problems is that far too many people in the US simply don’t care what the rest of the world thinks.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Tashi Farmilo-Marouf wrote:

    Uh ya – they are the world super power – why should they care? 🙂 lol It would be so nice if they did really care about how they are perceived by the rest of the planet (due to their actions). They didn’t get a dirty image for no reason.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Sadly no, Tashi, but what a shame that the tens of millions of decent Americans who also find the Empire’s excesses unacceptable don’t hold the reins of power.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Tashi Farmilo-Marouf wrote:

    Too Bad! Good and decent people either don’t want such responsibility on their shoulders or they aren’t rich enough to run for president. Besides, isn’t it the lobbies who hold the most influence? That is the sad thing, the power is the hands of those who would do anything to keep it – no matter how evil.

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    I’m digging this now.

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Liz Parker Siebeck wrote:

    The next post from Laura Flanders says this: Any unified Dem response to 22 kids in Gitmo? Or only clear about morality when it comes to Weiner?

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks again, Tashi, and thanks, George and Liz and everyone who has shared this and tweeted it. Unusually, it’s taken off on Twitter, which is refreshing to see. Liz’s message above refers to a message on Laura Flanders’ Facebook page mentioning a tweet about the article by Vince Warren of the Center for Constitutional Rights. I’m very glad to see it doing the rounds!

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    I enjoy tweeting. How do I do that with your stuff? It’s easier than digging. Good idea.

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi George, well as a friend told me the other day, my “retweet” button at the bottom of my articles uses a facility called Tweetmeme, which many people use to post through onto Twitter. If you’d prefer, you can follow me on Twitter, and retweet directly from there:

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    Oh. I’m tired. Of course I know how to do that. I see your tweets every day and can copy the links.

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    Liz Parker Siebeck wrote:

    I refuse to tweet.

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Everyone has their different preferences, don’t they, Liz? I find Facebook works best for me, but I have friends who love Twitter above all.

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    Liz Parker Siebeck wrote:

    I just have too much in my head as it is. I don’t want to learn anything more.

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    I follow you already, andy. RTing is no problem. I do it a lot.
    Twitter is fine for short notices and links. Otherwise I use Facebook. Both are wonderful, imho.

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    Harsha Prabhu wrote:

    A shame and a scandal!

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    David Gould wrote:

    We have seen yet another year of broken promises by Obama…America should just admit to the world that it was wrong to set up this concentration camp, wrong to use torture…sorry enhanced interrogation, wrong to render people across borders, wrong to humiliate and abuse peoples self worth and religion, wrong to keep the facility open…and hence should admit its faults close the place and send these people home and move on.

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    Fw Sparrow wrote:

    Wake up and smell the offal!

  27. Andy Worthington says...

    Fw Sparrow wrote:

    Long ago we were naive and thought that Vietnam was a mistake. If they only knew what they were doing, they would cease. It took how many years of that war to finally recognize they know exactly what they are doing. They don’t care. The war, whether in Vietnam, or Iraq or on Terror is evaluated just like workers in a factory. So many arms and legs and bodies produce so many widgets or so much projected oil.

  28. Andy Worthington says...

    Sadly, that sounds about right, Fw. I think the fundamental problem is that anyone who endorses war as anything other than the last possible measure of self-defense actually has a horrible homicidal streak in them, and either enjoys killing, or, as happens almost exclusively these days, enjoys ordering others to do their killing for them, and also to be killed. It is a world of psychopaths, and I am sick of these people, our leaders, and sick of people voting for them.
    Thanks also, Harsha, and David, i thought your analysis was spot-on. It would be both just and sensible to concede what a nightmare Guantanamo has been, and to get on with closing it instead of retreating to whatever ridiculous position is now occupied by the Obama administration, evaluating Guantanamo as though it was somehow logical rather than a screaming aberration and horror and humiliation.

  29. The 22 Children of Guantanamo | The Hive Daily – Raw. Unfiltered. Fearless says...

    […] Here’s one of the stories the news media is assiduously avoiding this week, preferring instead to focus on and demonize innocent and clean Tweets from a Congressman: […]

  30. Andy Worthington says...

    sam davies wrote:

    ‎”First you must learn how to smile as you kill”— John Lennon

  31. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    On the possibility that psychopaths have more power than one might think, this article is important. I found the original publication elsewhere , a few days ago. I posted it and got some agreement. This text reproduces what I found. Being no psychiatrist/psychologist, I cannot evaluate it. If nothing else, it gives the thoughts of a famous, humanistic, author.

  32. Andy Worthington says...

    Excellent, George. Thank you so much for that. The problem of psychopaths in charge continues to preoccupy me, as it is obviously the death of socialist ideology that has enabled them to indulge their cold desire for power in an unfettered manner. While we still had diversity in politics, those on the left were engaged in an ideological struggle with the psychopaths, whose ideal territory is free market capitalism. Since 1979 (with Thatcher’s electoral triumph) and 1980 (with Reagan’s), the psychopaths have striven to turn everyone into them, and to thoroughly discredit socialism. The old echoes are still there, as I notice when union leaders are allowed to speak in the UK on national TV — combative they may be, and with very obvious egos, but their talk is of the workers, and not of the needs of capital, which, of course, doesn’t have a mind, feelings, a house, a family. Religious leaders sometimes also demonstrate that they too are not psychopaths (as in Rowan William’s latest criticism of the psychopathic British government). What’s missing, therefore, is a clear demonstration by a large section of the populations of Western countries that they are not psychopaths (as mostly they’re not), and that they’re not prepared to accept the rule of psychopaths any more.

  33. Andy Worthington says...

    This was what I particularly liked in the article you sent me, George:

    The United States corporate and government spheres have become, [Kurt] Vonnegut suggested [in his final book, A Man without a Country], a perfect habitat for psychopaths. What has allowed so many psychopaths to rise so high in corporations, and then government, he wrote,

    “is that they are so decisive. They are going to do something every fuckin’ day and they are not afraid. Unlike normal people, they are never filled with doubts, for the simple reason that they don’t give a fuck what happens next. Simply can’t. Do this! Do that! Mobilize the reserves! Privatize the public schools! Attack Iraq! Cut health care! Tap everybody’s telephone! Cut taxes on the rich!”

    In a country in which much of human culture has been rendered into machines for the manufacture of money, psychopaths are the ideal leaders. They are very focused. They are outcome oriented. They are frequently charming, and usually very bright and able. They can lay off thousands of people, or deny people health care, or have them waterboarded, and it does not disturb their sleep. They can be impressively confident. Psychopaths can be dynamic leaders of enterprises, but are handicapped by their lack of feelings for relationships. They may be accomplished captains of industry, or senators, or surgeons, but their families are frequently abused and miserable. Most psychotherapists have seen the wives or husband or children of such accomplished people.

  34. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks also, Sam, and thanks to the 162 people who have so far shared this article, and the 237 who have retweeted it. It’s really getting some good coverage!

  35. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    My pleasure, Andy. I have a good memory, you discussed psychopaths online, and I found the right text. Indeed, the death of Socialist ideology opened the floodgates, so that such entities could assume managerial and political power while appearing to be heroes, our saviours, and in any case the only players in town.

  36. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    Rummy and Cheney to a tee. It was *that* quote that grabbed me the most. I Dugg and shared your main text last night, so I shall RT the expanded version.

  37. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, of course, George, I tend to overlook the fact that, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, they positioned themselves as saviors. I’ve tended to focus on the smugness with which they put down Soviet Communism and elevated neoliberal capitalism, but of course they also got into self-glorification and playing that to the public.
    However, I also think that a significant part of the problem is that, having “won” the ideological battle, the West was not only free to rape and pillage the rest of the world at will (again!), but also essentially became a kind of cannibalistic monster, consuming its own people. The attempt to create a new enemy, in the form of a Muslim extremists, may have succeeded in creating a state of panic (not entirely manufactured, as, the richer people get, the more they cut themselves off from everyone else, creating paranoia), but it’s not convincing to anyone capable of independent scrutiny, and behind it are the kind of monsters that Swift satirized so successfully 300 years ago.

  38. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    Right. My fear (one of them) is that as time goes on independent scrutiny will become a rare thing. We are already dumbed-down quite enough, thank you. As a teacher, I saw it happen, in Holland before the Fall and still going on. My take was, that in a small but hi-tech society, ever fewer skilled workers are needed. So the education ministers and their masters in industry figure, “OK, let’s cut back on education, for that reason.” But to say that out loud might well lead to political suicide. So they talk instead of “excellence,” “modernisation,” “efficiency,” “concentration,” and all the other buzz-words that I never took seriously. But too many see them as explanations or justifications, so the politicos get their way. That happened in Holland, and I was not the only person employed there as a teacher to say so. I don’t know about any other country.

  39. Andy Worthington says...

    Exactly, George, and it has been happening everywhere else in the West as well. With the crash of 2008 it should now be much more obvious, as, in the UK for example, the housing bubble has blown up, unemployment is stalking the nation, and the machinations of the Tories make it abundantly clear that they don’t care about the bottom of society — that, in fact, those people are disposable and there should no longer be any pretence that society should care for them. Despicable. But still I wait for people to wake up …

  40. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    Let’s hope they do, Andy. But worse yet. That crash and the resulting confusion and panic is being used to trash as much as possible. Two days ago the Dutch old age “universal security” pension was trashed. It’s a State fund, but was coupled directly to the rise and fall of certain shares, i.e. my payouts shall float. It was billed as “necessary” etc. Something similar happened to the once-reliable Dutch civil servants’ pension fund. There’s some resistance to the latter, so I recommended a class action (for several good reasons). But such things are not done in Holland: they are either “not nice” or are explicitly forbidden by law. Why? Because all Dutch governments since the War have been so corrupt that their members are scared of being sued themselves. The Bar Association then forbade them, to make things really clear.

  41. Andy Worthington says...

    Mary Shepard wrote:

    I love Facebook – I’ve got 1,600 friends I can assault with information they could otherwise be ignoring or otherwise not getting. Another great article, Andy. I’m getting a big flat spot on my skull from banging my head against the wall, I’m so overwhelmingly frustrated! The children of Gitmo are treated as abysmally as adults, if not worse – who is responsible for this travesty, who in good conscience would treat young boys this way on nothing more than a mere “presumption” that they are too dangerous to be dealt with any other way?

    My question, although rhetorical, is this: when, if ever, will the tide turn back and the American people demand that we at least try to regain some control of what the government is doing? What galls me is the hypocrisy of a government that promotes itself as a bastion of human rights, yet this is what it does to children! And then I must ask, where are the voices who should be shouting so loudly on Capitol Hill to demand an end to Gitmo and everything it symbolizes?

  42. Andy Worthington says...

    David Gould wrote:

    It was Gandhi who remarked apparently when asked what he thought of Western Civilisation, that he thought it would be a good idea. The problem for the USA as I see it is whether they can ever become civilised after the real facts of how Gitmo was set up, and run and kept open. It is one thing to be the big bullies of the world and encourage other bullies like Israel to knock seven bales of whatsit our of their weaker neighbours…but then to turn round, elect a black man and say Hey we just became members of the human race again stretches credulity a little far. We classify civilisation by such things as fairness, respect, not abusing our prisoners, not marching into other people’s countries and having due process of law to deal with any we deem to be guilty of crimes. We have a world court in the Hague but I note that none of the detainees have ever been brought there…so if they have so little evidence they should be released…anything else just isn’t civilised in any shape.

  43. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks again, George, and thank you also, Mary and David.
    Three really excellent messages! George, I keep thinking how we could do with a trans-national movement, and yet at present we don’t even have sufficiently strong movements within individual countries to challenge what is happening. Keep up the important education!
    Mary, I agree re: the hypocrisy regarding human rights, and the complete absence of voices on Capitol Hill complaining about any aspect of Guantanamo. It really is like all the opposition to Guantanamo under Bush evaporated, even though nothing fundamentally changed, and now everything that was bad is actually OK. History, it seems, has literally been rewritten.
    And David, great analysis: “We classify civilisation by such things as fairness, respect, not abusing our prisoners, not marching into other people’s countries and having due process of law to deal with any we deem to be guilty of crimes.” That really does say it all, and as a result, Obama and his administration evidently fail the test of civilization.

  44. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    Actually, Andy, that’s been one goal of mine, on a small scale, for the past four years. I set out to build a network of like-minded people in as many countries as I could, for political, professional, and recreational, reasons. I was pretty sure that this would prove useful, and I was right. If one talks a lot about globalisation and international horrors, then one should have knowledge of more than one country. Limited knowledge is, in fact, a snare, for one cannot compare what happens at home with anything else, which limits knowledge and hence choices from a range of adequate responses. In my case, the response is to spread around what I learn or have good reason to believe.

  45. Andy Worthington says...

    Well, I’m glad to be part of your international connections, George. And of course you’re right that keeping people ignorant about countries other than the ones in which they live is useful to those in power. I’ve only ever lived in the UK, and have spent five years studying the US closely, but I know as a result that those responsible for providing information to people in both the UK and the US like to keep people as internationally uninformed as possible. I do believe that the US is the worst example, but as the former empire, the powers-that-be in the UK deliberately like to encourage people to dwell on Royal Weddings, How We Won the War (ha!) and how we’re the only important people in Europe, for example, which conveniently prevents people from comparing and contrasting the UK with its European neighbors.

  46. Andy Worthington says...

    On The Public Record, arcticredriver wrote:

    More excellent work Andy.
    With regard to the DoD’s deceit, I read a press account of an instance when one of the relatively senior Bush appointees, Bellinger, or Whitman, or someone at that level, gave a group interview to a contingent of reporters from the Arab Press. The reporters asked about the rumors they had heard that Omar Khadr was being treated inhumanely in Guantanamo. This Bush appointee had the brass to assert that not only wasn’t this true, but that Khadr was being held in a separate compound with other minors, where they were provided schooling and other special treatment appropriate to their age.
    An article by Neil Lewis of the NYTimes in 2005 reported:
    ” ‘They don’t come with birth certificates,’ said Col. Brad K. Blackner, the chief public affairs officer at the detention camp. Col. David McWilliams, the chief spokesman for the United States Southern Command in Miami, which runs the prison operation, said that the authorities were fairly confident of their estimates. ‘We used bone scans in some cases and age was determined by medical evidence as best we could, he said.
    The captives were kept long enough that their medical records would have enabled camp medical authorities to correct bad guesses at the ages of the younger minors.
    Mohammed Jawad’s, for insance, had his standard weigh-in, when he arrived at Guantanamo. At the time of his first weigh-in they also recorded his height — five foot four. Well, in images published since his release, he is clearly now as tall, or taller than, his male relatives. I took a physical anthropology course in University. Teenagers don’t grow more than an inch or two at 17 — the age the DoD assigned to Jawad. He seems however to have grown 5 to 8 inches.
    It seems to me any competent doctor must have realized Jawad was younger than the age in his file. I strongly suspect that charting their continued growth would have enabled a more accurate age estimate for all the younger minors.

  47. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, arcticredriver. Great to hear from you, and thanks for your ongoing research and commentary. Very useful.

  48. Torturing Children – From Guantanamo to Syria | Sarah K Hogarth says...

    […] Syria and elsewhere. But how do we effectively approach these atrocities with such dirty hands?  As Andy Worthington documents in a recent report, Wikileaks documents show that the U.S. lied about how many children they held at Guantanamo and […]

  49. Andy Worthington says...

    On The Public Record, J-F verreault wrote:

    Thank’s for aknoledgment, it’s confirm my view about violation of warchild international treaty, continue in this way!

  50. Andy Worthington says...

    Eddy Even wrote:

    Close Guantanamo. Let them all free!

  51. WikiLeaks Press says...

    […] Worthington, who has written extensively about Guantánamo prisoners posted WikiLeaks and the 22 Children of Guantánamo on 11 June. Worthington’s research into juvenile prisoners has been based on each […]

  52. The Guantánamo Files: An Archive of Articles — Part Eleven, October to December 2011 | Friction Facts says...

    […] March 2006, I have been researching and writing about Guantánamo and the 779 men (and boys) held there, first through my book The Guantánamo Files, and, since May 2007, as a full-time […]

  53. Guantanamo Files | Friction Facts says...

    […] March 2006, I have been researching and writing about Guantánamo and the 779 men (and boys) held there, first through my book The Guantánamo Files, and, since May 2007, as a full-time […]

  54. Shannon Holland says...

    This is the first I have ever heard of this story… or any story of juvenile detainment. I just don’t understand the media anymore… there is 24/7 coverage on the Karadashian’s and nothing on CHILDREN being detained and tortured (there are also over two thousand children in Iraq in US detention centers). How come they never have time magazine next to OK and US weekly at the grocery store or good international news on basic cable packages?

  55. Andy Worthington says...

    I think , Shannon, that the lack of important news stories comes about partly because many of the corporate vested interests that have a stake in the mainstream media don’t want too much to be known. There is also, however, a kind of dumbing-down amongst the supposedly intelligent people in charge of much of the mainstream media, who are so much a part of the establishment that they essentially ration or filter the amount of bad news they think is appropriate to be consumed — not only be the general public, but also by themselves.

  56. Anita Hunt (@lissnup) says...

    Hi Andy,
    Wondering what the latest situation is on these detainees, especially with the fuss being made over the alleged recruitment and training by armed rebels of “child soldiers” in northern Mali, in the same age group as these detainees were at the time of their arrest.

  57. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Anita,
    Now that Omar Khadr has been freed there are just two former juveniles left. I don’t think the US is in a hurry to release bin Attash, as his elder brother was apparently a senior al-Qaeda operative. As for al-Raimi, he is awaiting a change of mind from US lawmakers – and the President – regarding returning Yemenis who don’t pose a threat to the US, a change of mind that is long overdue, as two-thirds of the 86 prisoners still held but cleared for release are Yemenis. More info here:

  58. Detention Policies in Israel and U.S. 'Damage Society' - MEP, Middle East Perspectives from Dubai to Rabat says...

    […] captured abroad on foreign soil. Since 2002 the US has transferred 799 male prisoners among them 22 young boys to Guantanamo Bay. The Bush administration chose Guantanamo Bay prison to circumvent the […]

  59. Detention Policies in Israel and U.S. 'Damage Society' - MEP, Middle East Perspectives from Dubai to Rabat says...

    […] captured abroad on foreign soil. Since 2002 the US has transferred 799 male prisoners, among them 22 young boys to Guantanamo Bay. The Bush administration chose Guantanamo Bay prison to circumvent the […]

  60. Martin says...

    Yousef Shihri was later killed in a shootout after joining AQAP. He was related to Said Shihri (Deputy Leader of AQAP and former Guantanamo prisoner) who was killed in a drone strike in 2013.

    With the release of Fahd Ghazy, only two prisoners arrested as teenagers remain in custody and both are younger brothers to known terrorist .

    Ali Yahya al-Raimi (approved for transfer) is the brother of AQAP’s new leader Qassim Raimi. I suspect he’ll remain in custody until the last day of Obama’s presidency at the most due to the backlash that will come with Raimi’s release.

    As you mentioned, Hassan Bin Attash is the younger brother of Walid Bin Attash (Senior al-Qaeda leader) so his Periodic Review board hearing won’t happen any time soon.

  61. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Martin, for the info. I hadn’t kept up with the AQAP leadership and wasn’t aware that a brother of the current leader is still at Guantanamo. As I noted in 2012, Ali Yahya al-Raimi was approved for release in 2005 (and could have been freed when Obama took office, like 60-odd others inherited from George W. Bush who had also been approved for release). For him to be released now, however, he will need to be found a third country, and I agree that his brother’s status may make this difficult.

  62. Martin says...

    Ali Raimi has been transferred to Saudi Arabia. I honestly didn’t see that one coming. I thought he would be transferred on the last day of Obama’s presidency to a country FAR from Yemen.

    The only remaining former juvenile detainee is Hassan Bin Attash who has been recommended for prosecution though unless he’s sent to the U.S., he and the majority of the prosecution detainees will never be tried.

  63. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for the news, Martin. I was offline for 32 hours, at a very good friend’s 50th birthday party outside London, and so missed it until I got back last night.
    I’ll be writing a detailed analysis soon. For now, I confess, I don’t understand what Ali al-Raimi had done to cause you to think he would need to be released far from Yemen. He was approved for release by an Administrative Review Board back in 2005.

  64. martin says...

    He’s the brother of AQAP’s leader Qassim Rimi, who would provide an opportunity for Ali to join AQAP. And imagine the headlines and reaction from Congress if he was sent back to Yemen.

    Anyway, forget I said anything.

  65. Martin says...

    On second thought, I’ll say one last thing. I don’t mind Ali Raimi being sent to Saudi Arabia since he’ll be in a rehabilitation program for half a year. At least he’s not in Yemen. Hopefully, he’ll avoid all contact with his dangerous brother Qassim.

  66. Andy Worthington says...

    Not at all. Thanks for the clarification, Martin.

  67. Andy Worthington says...

    I would imagine the Saudis also want to prevent him from getting back to Yemen, even if he wanted to, Martin – and I’m aware, of course, that no information has emerged from Guantanamo to indicate that he harbors any anti-US sentiment. But it does seem to me that the Saudis will be bearing in mind his family situation …

  68. HRW Ranks US Among World's Worst Abusers of Children Jailed as 'Security Threats' | Moral Low Ground says...

    […] have also been imprisoned for as long as a decade at the US military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where widespread […]

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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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