On the 17th Anniversary of the Opening of Guantánamo, Please Write to the 40 Men Still Held, Donald Trump’s “Forever Prisoners”


Eight of the prisoners still held at Guantanamo, all of whom are eligible for the Periodic Review Boards that have been rendered toothless under Donald Trump. Top row, from L to R: Omar al-Rammah, Moath al-Alwi, Haroon Gul and Ismael Ali Bakush. Bottom row, L to R: Abd al-Salam al-Hilah, Mohammed al-Qahtani, Saifullah Paracha and Guled Hassan Duran.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.


It’s a year since I last encouraged you to write to the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, to mark their first year of imprisonment under Donald Trump, and I’m asking you to do so again, to let them know that they have not been entirely forgotten.

I’ve been encouraging opponents of Guantánamo to write to the prisoners on a regular basis since June 2010, when I was first prompted to do so by two Muslim activist friends in the UK, who had initiated a project to get people to write to the prisoners still held at that time — 186 in total.

I repeated the letter-writing project in June 2011, and then did so again every six months or so until July 2015, with two further calls in 2016, the last being in the dying weeks of the Obama presidency.

As I explained when I posted last year’s call for letters, Donald Trump “started his presidency threatening to send new prisoners to Guantánamo, but although he has not made good on his unacceptable, belligerent threat, he has, nevertheless, effectively sealed Guantánamo shut, refusing to contemplate releasing any of the prisoners still held, not even five men who were approved for release by high-level government review processes during Obama’s presidency.

As we prepare to mark the shameful 17th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, on January 11, 40 men are still held, just one less than when Trump took office. The only man he has released is a Saudi who agreed to a plea deal in his military commission trial in 2014, which authorized his repatriation to ongoing imprisonment in his homeland in February 2018. The rest of the prisoners, however, are effectively Trump’s personal prisoners, all fundamentally deprived of anything resembling justice and held, if Trump gets his way, forever.

The 40 consist of the five men approved for release, nine men facing or having faced trials in the broken military commission system, which, for the most part, is not fit for purpose, and is incapable of delivering justice, and 26 others who are officially held indefinitely without charge or trial, subject to a parole-like review process, the Periodic Review Boards, that was set up by Barack Obama in 2013, and that led to 38 prisoners being approved for release — and 36 of those 38 released before Obama left office. Under Trump, however, the PRBs have failed to deliver a single recommendation for a prisoner’s release, even though some of the men held played quite astonishingly insignificant roles in the US’s post-9/11 military engagements.

As a result, it is fair, I believe, to describe all the men still held as Donald Trump’s “forever prisoners” — or, as I put it above, his “personal prisoners” — deprived of justice, and facing ongoing imprisonment without charge or trial for as long as Donald Trump remains in office, and, shockingly, with no assurance that another Republican-Led administration — or even a Democrat-led administration — would do anything fundamentally different.

In the list below, I have divided the remaining 40 prisoners into those approved for release (5), those whose ongoing imprisonment has been approved by Periodic Review Boards (26), and those charged or tried in the military commissions system (9).

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 5 prisoners approved for release by high-level government review processes under President Obama

ISN 038 Ridah Bin Saleh al Yazidi (Tunisia)
ISN 244 Abdul Latif Nasir (Morocco)
ISN 309 Muieen A Deen Jamal A Deen Abd al Fusal Abd al Sattar (UAE)
ISN 694 Sufyian Barhoumi (Algeria)
ISN 893 Tawfiq Nasir Awad Al-Bihani (Yemen)

The 26 prisoners whose ongoing imprisonment was approved by Periodic Review Boards

ISN 027 Uthman Abd al-Rahim Muhammad Uthman (Yemen)
ISN 028 Moath Hamza Ahmed al-Alwi (Yemen)
ISN 063 Mohamed Mani Ahmad al Kahtani (Saudi Arabia)
ISN 242 Khalid Ahmed 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 9 prisoners charged or tried

ISN 039 Ali Hamza al-Bahlul (Yemen)
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 10020 Majid Khan (Pakistan)
ISN 10024 Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (Kuwait)
ISN 10026 Nashwan abd al-Razzaq abd al-Baqi (Hadi) (Iraq)

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 music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and see the latest photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (click on the following for Amazon in 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), and for his photo project ‘The State of London’ he publishes a photo a day from six years of bike rides around the 120 postcodes of the capital.

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of a new documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June 2017 that killed over 70 people, and he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London. For two months, from August to October 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody. Although the garden was violently evicted by bailiffs on October 29, 2018, the resistance continues.

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, The Complete Guantánamo Files, 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.

15 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, encouraging you to write to the 40 men still held in the prison at Guantanamo Bay to let them know they haven’t been forgotten. It’s a project I’ve been promoting since 2010, and which I last urged you to take part in a year ago. Since Donald Trump took office, just one man has been released from Guantanamo (a Saudi repatriated to ongoing imprisonment in his homeland, whose release was part of plea deal negotiated in 2014), and Trump clearly has no intention of releasing anyone else under any circumstances.

    This is in spite of the fact that only nine of the 40 men still held are facing or have faced prosecution in the military commission trial system, while five others were approved for release by high-level government review processes under Barack Obama, and the other 26 men have accurately been described by the mainstream liberal media as “forever prisoners,” held indefinitely without ever being charged. In my article I describe how, in assessing the situation faced by all of the men still held, it is fair to describe them as Trump’s “personal prisoners,” and that, of course, is exactly the kind of arrangement we would expect from a dictatorship, and not from a country that claims to respect the rule of law.

    Please do consider writing to the prisoners, and please share this with anyone who might be interested. The shocking and shameful 17th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo is the day after tomorrow (Jan. 11) and I arrived in the US on Monday evening to take part in anniversary events calling for its closure – including a rally outside the White House at 2.30 on Friday afternoon.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Medea Benjamin wrote:

    Thank you Andy for remembering these men stuck in purgatory and pushing us to remember.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    You’re welcome, Medea. Who knew we would still be required to let people know the difference between fundamental rights and insidious wrongs 17 years after this wretched offshore gulag was set up in the first place. See you on Friday, I hope!

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Natalia R Scott wrote:

    This is one of the most incredible and beautiful campaigns. Writing to these men that have been forgotten by most. No, they’re not terrorists, most of them were sold to the army to fill the torture camp. Most of them are illegally detained and will remain forever prisoners. All of them have been horribly tortured. Write to one of them.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for your moving words, Natalia!

  6. Tom says...

    Keep up the great work.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Tom. Your support is appreciated!

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Beth Adams wrote:

    Yes, I will write and ask Friends and community to write! Thank you for the helpful info, Andy! See you in DC! XX, Beth

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Beth. Great to hear from you!

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Lindis Percy wrote:

    Wonderful work you do Andy – keeping the spotlight on the shocking situation of these men and the nasty, illegal part played by Trump.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Lindis. Great to hear from you!

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Jan Strain wrote:

    Still fighting the good fight – Love to my warrior friend across the sea

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    🙂 Jan. Love your comments – although I’m not across the sea right now. I’m in Washington, D.C.!

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Aleksey Penskiy wrote:

    Thank you for your work, Andy

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    And thanks for your constant support, Aleksey!

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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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