Please Write to the Remaining Prisoners in Guantánamo in Obama’s Last Month in Office


Photos of some of the Guantanamo prisoners, made available when classified military files were released by WikiLeaks in 2011.Please support my work! I’m currently trying to raise $3000 (£2400) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo into the new year.


Twice a year, since 2010, I’ve asked those who oppose the ongoing existence of Guantánamo to write to the prisoners still held there, to let them — and the US authorities — know that they have not been forgotten. For the last letter-writing campaign, in March, I expressed my hope that President Obama might fulfill the promise he made on his second day in office in January 2009, to close the prison for good, but that has not happened, of course, and now the specter of Donald Trump hovers over the wretched facility, with his promises to keep it open, and to send new prisoners there.

Whether the prisoners are worried is unclear. Eight years ago, they cheered President Obama’s victory, thinking that it meant Guantánamo would soon be closed, but eight years later many of them are still held, and presumably have every reason to believe that there is little to hope for. The day after the election, the Miami Herald reported that Army Lt. Col. John Parks, the spokesman for the prison, said that “[m]any detainees did stay up and watch the election results,” although they showed no reaction that he could discern. However, on December 1, on “CBS This Morning,” Margaret Brennan spoke to David Remes, the attorney for the Pakistani prisoner Saifullah Paracha, who “said that many detainees thought that it was the end of the world and felt terrible [and] asked for tranquilizers, sleeping pills, because they were so distraught.”

The letter-writing campaign was started six and a half years ago by two Facebook friends, Shahrina and Mahfuja Ahmed, and, as I mentioned above, it has been repeated every six months, more or less (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here for my other articles encouraging people to write to the prisoners).

Since I last encouraged people to write to the prisoners, President Obama has continued his progress in working towards the closure of the prison by releasing 32 men. The prison now holds 59 men, and 21 of these men have been approved for release — 7 in January 2010 by the high-level, inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force that President Obama established when he took office in 2009, and 14 others since January 2014 by a new review process, the Periodic Review Boards, which function like parole boards — but without the men in question ever having been convicted of a crime, of course.

In the list below, I have divided the remaining 59 prisoners into those approved for release (21), those whose ongoing imprisonment has been approved by Periodic Review Boards (28), two more men awaiting PRB decisions and those charged or tried in the military commissions system (10).

Please note that I have largely kept the spelling used by the US authorities in the “Final Dispositions” of the Guantánamo Review Task Force, which was released through FOIA legislation in June 2013. Even though these names are often inaccurate, they are the names by which the men are officially known in Guantánamo — although, primarily, it should be noted, those held are not referred to by any name at all, but are instead identified solely by their prisoner numbers (ISNs, which stands for “internment serial numbers”).

Writing to the prisoners

If you are an Arabic speaker, or speak any other languages spoken by the prisoners besides English, feel free to write in those languages. Do please note that any messages that can be construed as political should be avoided, as they may lead to the letters not making it past the Pentagon’s censors, but be aware that your messages may not get through anyway — although please don’t let that put you off.

When writing to the prisoners please ensure you include their full name and ISN (internment serial number) below (these are the numbers before their names).

Please address all letters to:

Detainee Name
Detainee ISN
U.S. Naval Station
Guantánamo Bay
Washington, D.C. 20355
United States of America

Please also include a return address on the envelope.

The 21 prisoners approved for release

Below are the names of the 21 prisoners in Guantánamo — out of the remaining 59 — who have been cleared for release — or “approved for transfer,” as the authorities prefer. The phrase used by the task force to describe the recommendations for the first two of these men was “[t]ransfer to a country outside the United States that will implement appropriate security measures.” Their identities were first revealed in September 2012. See below for five other Yemenis recommended for “conditional detention,” and also for the 14 men recommended for release since January 2014 by Periodic Review Boards but still held (21 others have been freed).

The two non-Yemeni prisoners approved for release since 2010

ISN 038 Ridah Bin Saleh al Yazidi (Tunisia)
ISN 309 Muieen A Deen Jamal A Deen Abd al Fusal Abd al Sattar (UAE)

The five Yemeni prisoners approved for release but designated for “conditional detention”

These men were cleared for release by the task force, although the task force members conjured up a new category for them, “conditional detention,” which it described as being “based on the current security environment in that country.” The task force added, “They are not approved for repatriation to Yemen at this time, but may be transferred to third countries, or repatriated to Yemen in the future if the current moratorium on transfers to Yemen is lifted and other security conditions are met.” 25 of the 30 have been released since the fall of 2015.

ISN 240 Abdallah Yahya Yusif Al Shibli (Yemen)
ISN 440 Muhammad Ali Abdallah Muhammad Bwazir (Yemen) aka Bawazir
ISN 498 Mohammed Ahmen Said Haider (Yemen)
ISN 550 Walid Said bin Said Zaid (Yemen)
ISN 893 Tawfiq Nasir Awad Al-Bihani (Yemen)

The 14 prisoners approved for release by Periodic Review Boards

ISN 044 Muhammed Rajab Sadiq Abu Ghanim (Yemen)
ISN 128 Ghaleb Nassar al Bihani (Yemen)
ISN 131 Salem Ahmad Hadi Bin Kanad (Yemen)
ISN 244 Abdul Latif Nasir (Morocco)
ISN 434 Mustafa Abd al-Qawi Abd al-Aziz al-Shamiri (Yemen)
ISN 508 Salman Yahya Hassan Mohammad Rabei’i (Yemen)
ISN 560 Haji Wali Muhammed (Afghanistan)
ISN 694 Sufyian Barhoumi (Algeria)
ISN 696 Jabran Al Qahtani (Saudi Arabia)
ISN 702 Ravil Mingazov (Russia)
ISN 753 Abdul Sahir (Afghanistan) aka Zahir
ISN 839 Musab Omar Ali al-Mudwani (Yemen)
ISN 840 Hail Aziz Ahmed al-Maythali (Yemen)
ISN 975 Karim Bostan (Afghanistan)

The 28 prisoners whose ongoing imprisonment has been approved by Periodic Review Boards

The 28 prisoners below — who were notified that they were eligible for Periodic Review Boards in April 2013 — were recommended for continued imprisonment by their review boards.

ISN 027 Uthman Abd al-Rahim Muhammad Uthman (Yemen)
ISN 028 Moath Hamza Ahmed al-Alwi (Yemen)
ISN 029 Mohammed al-Ansi (Yemen)
ISN 063 Mohamed Mani Ahmad al Kahtani (Saudi Arabia)
ISN 242 Khalid Ahmed Qasim (Yemen)
ISN 522 Yassim Qasim Mohammed Ismail Qasim (Yemen)
ISN 569 Suhayl Abdul Anam al Sharabi (Yemen)
ISN 682 Abdullah Al Sharbi (Saudi Arabia)
ISN 685 Said bin Brahim bin Umran Bakush (Algeria) aka Abdelrazak Ali
ISN 708 Ismael Ali Faraj Ali Bakush (Libya)
ISN 841 Said Salih Said Nashir (Yemen)
ISN 1017 Omar Mohammed Ali al-Rammah (Yemen)
ISN 1094 Saifullah Paracha (Pakistan)
ISN 1453 Sanad Al Kazimi (Yemen)
ISN 1456 Hassan Bin Attash (Saudi Arabia)
ISN 1457 Sharqawi Abdu Ali Al Hajj (Yemen)
ISN 1460 Abdul Rabbani (Pakistan)
ISN 1461 Mohammed Rabbani (Pakistan) aka Ahmad Rabbani
ISN 1463 Abd al-Salam al-Hilah (Yemen)
ISN 10016 Zayn al-Ibidin Muhammed Husayn aka Abu Zubaydah
ISN 10017 Mustafa Faraj Muhammed Masud al-Jadid al-Usaybi (Libya) aka Abu Faraj al-Libi
ISN 10019 Encep Nurjaman (Hambali) (Indonesia)
ISN 10021 Mohd Farik bin Amin (Malaysia)
ISN 10022 Bashir bin Lap (Malaysia)
ISN 10023 Guleed Hassan Ahmed (Somalia)
ISN 10025 Mohammed Abdul Malik Bajabu (Kenya)
ISN 3148 Haroon al-Afghani (Afghanistan)
ISN 10029 Muhammad Rahim (Afghanistan)

The 10 prisoners charged or tried

The seven prisoners currently facing charges

ISN 10011 Mustafa Ahmad al Hawsawi (Saudi Arabia)
ISN 10013 Ramzi Bin Al Shibh (Yemen)
ISN 10014 Walid Mohammed Bin Attash (Yemen)
ISN 10015 Mohammed al Nashiri (Saudi Arabia) aka Abd al-Rahim al Nashiri
ISN 10018 Ali abd al Aziz Ali (Pakistan)
ISN 10024 Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (Kuwait)
ISN 10026 Nashwan abd al-Razzaq abd al-Baqi (Hadi) (Iraq)

The two prisoners already convicted via plea deal

ISN 768 Ahmed Al-Darbi (Saudi Arabia)
ISN 10020 Majid Khan (Pakistan)

One other prisoner convicted under President Bush

ISN 039 Ali Hamza al-Bahlul (Yemen)

He was not included in the task force’s deliberations, as he had been tried and convicted in a one-sided trial by military commission in October 2008, at which he refused to mount a defense. His conviction was dismissed by an appeals court in January 2013, although the government is appealing that ruling.

Note: For further information about the prisoners, see my six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list (Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five and Part Six).

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album ‘Love and War’ and EP ‘Fighting Injustice’ are available here to download or on CD via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

4 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, encouraging people to write to the remaining 59 prisoners in Guantanamo, with just over a month left of Barack Obama’s presidency, and with Donald Trump waiting in the wings. This is a campaign I’ve been running twice a year since 2010, inspired by two friends here on Facebook, Shahrina Ahmed and Mahfuja Ahmed. The prisoners are listed according to their current status – the 21 approved for release, the 28 approved for ongoing imprisonment without charge or trial, and the ten facing trials. Your support is greatly appreciated, and, I’m sure, means a lot to the prisoners.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Natalia R Scott wrote:

    Thanks to you I have been writing for some years now.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Natalia R Scott wrote:

    One got released this year!

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Oh, that’s great news, Natalia. So good to hear!

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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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