Details of Camp Delta inmates released to public
Monday 06 March 2006
The US government has been forced to release documents giving details of those being held at Guantanamo Bay after years of refusing to do so.
The 5,000 pages of transcript were handed over by the Pentagon on the order of a judge in response to legal action brought under the Freedom of Information Act by the news agency Associated Press. Much of the Bush administration's "war on terror" remains shrouded in overwhelming secrecy. The US government has kept almost all information about the detainees secret since opening the prison in January 2002.
The transcripts made public only reveal unclassified information. The detainees and their legal representatives are not allowed to know, for example, what other evidence the US authorities may have on them.
However, even this limited glimpse into the closed world of Camp Delta shows the arbitrary nature of the arrests which led to hundreds being incarcerated, without charge, thousands of miles from home.
The Bush administration dismisses the detainees' claims of innocence without trying them. "They're bomb-makers,'' Vice-President Dick Cheney said recently. "They're facilitators of terror. They're members of al-Qaida and the Taliban. If you let them out, they'll go back to trying to kill Americans."
Bisher al-Rawi's family fled from Iraq to Britain 25 years ago. His father was a prominent businessman who was arrested and tortured by the regime of Saddam Hussein, the "brutal dictator" George Bush and Tony Blair invaded Iraq to ovethrow.
Mr al-Rawi was arrested in November 2002, with his brother, Wahab, while on a business trip to Gambia, in west Africa, to set up a peanut-oil processing plant.
Wahab was subsequently released. Jamal al-Banna, a refugee from Jordan who lives in London with his wife and five children, was also arrested at the same time and is also incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay.
Mr al-Rawi is accused of harbouring the Jordanian cleric Abu Qatada, described as Osama bin Laden's representative in Europe, in London, and also transporting the components of a "weapon of mass destruction".
According to Mr al-Rawi he had been helping the Security Service (MI5) monitor extremists in Britain's Muslim community. The "mass destruction" equipment, say his lawyers, was a battery charger.
After several months, he was flown out to Bagram airbase in Afghanistan. By March 2003, he had joined the 700 inmates at Guantanamo. He was taken for a lie detector test six weeks after he arrived, and passed it.
Mr al-Rawi has been classified as an "enemy combatant", which, according to the Bush administration allows that he be denied the rights as a prisoner of war under the Geneva Convention.
Mr al-Rawi claims that he was in regular contact with the Security Service (MI5) and had been monitoring Muslim extremists in Britain on their behalf. "On more than one occasion, after MI5 questioned me, I would go out to the community to find the answers," he said. "On three or four separate occasions, the questions involved Abu Qatada."
According to the transcript, the judge at Mr al-Rawi's tribunal at Guantanamo Bay said: "The British Government didn't say they didn't have a relationship with you, they just would not confirm or deny it. That means I only have your word what happened."
The British Government response, in effect a "no comment", was enough, said the judge, not to accept Mr al-Rawi's account.
Mohammed Gul was arrested at his home in eastern Afghanistan. US and Afghan forces found a Kalashnikov rifle in his house, and that made him a suspect in attacks carried out by the Taliban.
Mr Gul was accused of belonging to HIG, a terrorist organisation. He was captured at the same time as a recruiter for Pacha Khan, a renegade Pashtun Commander. Mr Gul denies belonging to HIG, and claims he had been working in Saudi Arabia as a driver for a supermarket and only came home to see his sick wife.
Mr Gul insisted the gun was for self protection. "I am a poor person," Mr Gul told the tribunal. "I have a small piece of land."
It is unusual for farmers in Afghanistan not to have guns. "They're all armed," said John Pike, director of Global Security. org a military policy think-tank based in Virginia. "If they weren't, they'd be in trouble. There are clan rivalries there. Without weapon they'd feel naked."
Mr Shah, another farmer, from the village of Galdon in Afghanistan, was arrested when he was walking through a bazaar. The US authorities say that Mr Shah was wearing an olive green military jacket and soldiers had spotted him with a group of men who had guns in their possession.
It is easy to buy military clothes in Afghanistan, a country that has experienced 30 years of warfare. Mr Shah said: "I was just walking in the street and I was captured. The next thing I found out is I am sitting here in Guantanamo Bay."
Mr Uyar had travelled to Afghanistan from Turkey in 2000. He is accused by the American authorities of staying with a known al-Qa'ida member in Kabul for two months before the war began and also of associating with a known radical Turkish religious group.
One of the key planks of the case against Mr Uyar, 24 at the time of his Guantanamo Bay tribunal, is that at the time of his capture he was wearing a Casio watch - a model, according to the US used in bomb-making.
"If it's a crime to carry this watch, your own military personnel also carry this watch, too," Mr Uyar told the military tribunal. "Does that mean that they're just terrorists as well?" Mr Uyar also made trips to Syria. He insisted his purpose was to study Arabic and said he was in Afghanistan purely as a traveller.
Abdul Hakim Bukhary
A detainee from Saudi Arabia, Mr Bukhary is one of the few detainees who openly admitted he took up arms against US forces.
Mr Bukhary told the tribunal at Guantanamo Bay that he had fought against the Russians in Afghanistan in the 1980s - a conflict in which the US and Britain had subsidised the Mujahedin forces to which Mr Bukhary belonged.
Mr Bukhary said that he had once again joined in the fight with his Muslim brothers in Afghanistan during the invasion by the US and Britain but has had a change of heart since being in custody. There is no indication in the transcript whether the tribunal believed him.
Mr Khandan from Khowst, in Afghanistan, was accused of having links with the Taliban and of running a safe house for bomb-makers.
Mr Khandan told the tribunal he had worked for the government of Hamid Karzai and opposed the Taliban. A pharmacist who had studied in Pakistan, he said: "When I started medicine school, I told my God that I wanted to heal people."Explosives destroyed people, he said, and were "truly against my ideology".
Mr Khandan said he was tortured by US soldiers in Afghanistan. Among other alleged mistreatments, he said: "I was ordered to stand up 24 hours for 20 days in a row. I had blood coming out of my body and my nose for days because I was tortured so much." Later he said: "Here in Cuba, I have been treated nice. Overall it is fine here."
Abdur Sayed Rahman
Mr Rahman, of Pakistan, identified himself as a poor chicken farmer. But the US alleged he was in the Taliban, as a military judge or deputy foreign minister. It emerged during the hearing that the deputy minister is Abdur Zahid Rahman, a near homonym of the detainee. Police searched Abdur Sayed Rahman's home in Pakistan in the fall of 2001. He was arrested and could not bribe his way to freedom.
Mr Peerzaie was detained in Klianjki, Afghanistan. He was carrying a list of known Taliban members and Taliban radio codes, written on crumpled pieces of scrap paper, according to the US authorities. Mr. Peerzaie denied being a member of the Taliban, saying: "I am George Bush's soldier. I have never helped any Taliban and neither would I now."
Mr Abdalla, a 25-year-old student from Yemen, was captured at a university in Faisalabad, in Pakistan, where he was studying the Koran. He is accused of travelling to Afghanistan to participate in jihad.
Arkin Mahmud, a Chinese Muslim Uighur who traveled to Afghanistan in August 2001, was captured by the Northern Alliance as a suspected Taliban fighter. He was at the Mazar-e-Shariff prison in November 2001 when CIA officer Johnny "Mike" Spann was killed. He said he only went to Afghanistan to look for his brothers.
Habib Noor, a resident of Lalmai, Afghanistan, with family in Saudi Arabia, is accused of owning a compound that attackers fled to after ambushing U.S. Special Forces and Afghan military forces. His brother, whom Noor said was mentally unstable, was suspected of participating in the fighting. He insisted he was unaware of the incident that day, which he spent as a vendor in the Lalmai village bazaar, in Khowst province. "I was just making sacks to sell at the bazaar to make money for my family," Noor said.
Mohammed Sharif, a native of Sherberghan, Afghanistan, was accused of serving as a guard at a Taliban camp. He denied being a guard, and said he had been captured by the Taliban and put to work. He said he feared punishment and retribution against his family if he fled. Sharif denied any knowledge of al-Qaida and asked the tribunal repeatedly to produce the (classified) evidence against him, so that he might respond. "What could you have possibly done, that we might discover some of those facts?" Sharif is asked. "That's my point," he responds. "There are no facts. ... This is ridiculous. I know for a fact there is no proof."
Zahir Shah, of Afghanistan, was accused of being a member of an Islamic militant group and of having automatic weapons and a grenade launcher in his house. He acknowledged having rifles for protection, but insisted he did not fight American troops.
Mesh Arsad Al Rashid
Mesh Arsad Al Rashid said he went to Afghanistan to help Muslims fight against Abdul Rashid Dostum, a former northern warlord who is now the Afghan army chief of staff, and Ahmed Shah Massood, an anti-Taliban Afghan military commander slain Sept. 9, 2001. "I did not know my training would be considered al-Qaida training. I was trying to help Muslims," said Rashid, who gave no country of origin. "I am not from the Taliban, I'm just a person, a helper."
Zain Ul Abedin
Zain Ul Abedin (initially listed as Jumma Jan), a native of Tajikistan born in 1978, was captured in Mazar-e-Shariff, Afghanistan, by coalition forces July 3, 2003. He told the tribunal that U.S. forces had arrested the wrong man: ``That's true the people who found me, that's me they arrested me. But I'm not that name, I don't know what they call me. Jumma Jan. I am not that person.'' He is accused of being a Taliban and Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin leader, and of carrying out a mission in Tajikistan with al Qaida after Sept. 11, 2001. Abedin said he came to Afghanistan in 1991 or 1992 as a refugee and was a taxi driver at the time of his arrest.
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