Imagine that you were kidnapped, taken to a secret CIA prison where you were tortured for weeks or months, and ended up imprisoned at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, without ever being charged with a crime or having any meaningful way to challenge your detention. Then imagine that, years later, all major U.S. national security agencies, together with the Department of State, concluded that you were not a threat to U.S. national security and should be transferred out of Guantanamo, but you remain incarcerated with few prospects for being released or reuniting with family.
This is the nightmare in which the men listed below find themselves. Many of them were tortured in CIA “black sites” before arriving at Guantanamo. All of them have experienced severe physical and/or psychological abuse at the hands of U.S. personnel. Surely, we cannot permit them to languish in indefinite detention one day longer. This is not how a nation holding itself out as a beacon of the rule of law can be allowed to behave. Tell President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken that although you welcome the tiny number of transfers the administration has completed, the pace of transfers must increase. Finding a safe country to which each of these men can be sent is an urgent and critical step toward resolving the cases of all of the remaining 36 detainees at Guantanamo so that the entire facility can be closed and the moral stain of this chapter in the “war on terror” can end.
The men who remain at Guantánamo despite having been approved for transfer:
Ridah bin Saleh al-Yazidi is the only Tunisian remaining at Guantanamo. He was captured by Pakistani forces near the border with Afghanistan in December 2001 and sent to Guantanamo on January 11, 2002. He reportedly does not wish to return to Tunisia. He was approved for transfer in November 2007 and again in 2010.
Muleen Adeen al-Sattar, a stateless Rohingya, reportedly was born in the UAE. He traveled to Pakistan in the summer of 2001 and was believed to have spent time at the al Farouq training camp used by al-Qaeda. He was captured by Pakistani forces near the border with Afghanistan in December 2001, turned over to U.S. forces, and arrived in Guantanamo in February 2002. He was approved for transfer in January 2010.
Toffiq Nasir Awad al-Bihani is a Yemeni who was born and grew up in Saudi Arabia. At the urging of his brother, he traveled to Afghanistan and attended an al-Qaeda training camp. He later fled to Iran, where he was arrested for being in the country illegally. He was turned over to Afghan forces, and then to U.S. custody. Like several of those listed here, he was tortured at a CIA “black site” before being sent to Guantanamo in February 2003. He has several family members in Saudi Arabia, and the Saudi Arabian government has agreed to accept him. Yet for reasons that are unclear, he remains at Guantanamo more than a decade after being cleared for transfer in 2010.
Sa’id Salih Sa’id Nashir (also known as Hani Saleh Rashid Abdullah) is a Yemeni. He was captured in a raid in Karachi, Pakistan, in September 2002 and spent more than a month in CIA custody before arriving at Guantanamo in late October 2002. He has been awaiting transfer since being cleared in December 2020.
Abdul Rabbani, cleared for transfer in May 2021, is a Pakistani who was captured in Karachi in 2002 and spent more than 500 days in CIA custody before arriving at Guantanamo in 2004.
Uthman Abdul al-Rahim Uthman, also cleared for transfer in May 2021, is from Yemen. He was captured by Pakistani forces near the border with Afghanistan in December 2001 and turned over to U.S. forces. He arrived at Guantanamo in January 2002.
Saifullah Paracha. The oldest Guantanamo detainee, Paracha, a 73-year-old Pakistani, was apprehended by the CIA at Bangkok International Airport in Thailand in 2003. He was a businessman who was once a legal resident of New York. He was thought to have provided financial assistance to al-Qaeda but consistently denied any awareness of terrorist plots. He suffers from multiple serious health conditions, including heart disease and diabetes. He has family members in Pakistan, and Pakistani officials are not known to have an objection to his return. He was cleared for transfer in May 2021.
Abdulsalam al-Hela is a former businessman from Sanaa, Yemen, cleared for transfer in June 2021. He was abducted in September 2002 in Egypt, where he had traveled, reportedly for a business meeting. Egyptian authorities then turned him over to the CIA. He arrived at Guantanamo in 2004.
Sharqawi Abdu Ali al-Hajj is also from Yemen. He was captured in Karachi, Pakistan, in February 2002 by Pakistani and U.S. forces and held in CIA “black sites” before being sent to Guantanamo in 2004. His lawyers have expressed concern for his deteriorating health in recent years. He was cleared for transfer in June 2021.
Sanad Yislam al-Kazimi, a Yemeni, was captured in Dubai in January 2003. He was approved for transfer in October 2021. Oman, which has a rehabilitation program for former detainees and has accepted 30 detainees thus far, is reportedly a possible destination for Mr. al-Kazimi.
Mohammed Ahmed Ghulam Rabbani, an ethnic Burmese, is a Pakistani citizen cleared for transfer in October 2021. Initially a victim of mistaken identity, he was tortured at a CIA “black site” before arriving at Guantanamo.
Suhayl (or Zuhail) al-Sharabi, a Yemeni cleared for transfer in November 2021, was captured in Karachi, Pakistan, in February 2002 and arrived at Guantanamo 3 months later. He was once suspected of having been a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, although this was never established. More recently, he has been determined to pose no threat to the U.S.
Guled Hassan Duran, also cleared for transfer last November, is from Somalia. He was captured in Djibouti in 2004 and arrived at Guantanamo in September 2006 after being held in a CIA “black site.” He was once considered a “high value” detainee, although he has insisted that he has never felt or expressed any ill will towards the United States.
Moath al-Alwi, another Yemeni, was approved for transfer in the waning days of 2021. He had become known for his impressive artwork during his incarceration, some of which was featured in an exhibition at John Jay College in New York. He was among the earliest arrivals at Guantanamo in January 2002, having been captured by Pakistani forces near the Afghanistan border the previous December. While at Guantanamo, he engaged in multiple hunger strikes to protest his treatment. The decision to clear him appears to be an acknowledgement of the lack of any evidence that he ever took part in any activity hostile to the U.S.
Omar al-Rammah (also known as Zakaria al-Baidany) was approved for transfer in late December 2021. Also from Yemen, he was captured in the Republic of Georgia in April 2002, sent to a CIA “black site,” and was moved to Guantanamo about a year after his capture. No evidence came to light that he was ever anything more than a low-level associate of Muslim rebels in Chechnya. In approving him for transfer, the Periodic Review Board noted his deteriorating mental health.
Mohammed Abdul Malik Bajabu is a Kenyan who was also approved for transfer in December 2021. He was initially seized by Kenyan police, who turned him over to U.S. military forces, despite having failed to find any evidence that he committed a crime. According to his lawyers, he was later sent to Djibouti and then to Bagram, Afghanistan, before arriving at Guantanamo. After 20 years of captivity, the U.S. government has finally acknowledged that “his low level of training and lack of leadership role” in his previous activities indicate that he poses no threat to the United States.
Ghassan al-Sharbi, a Saudi national who was captured in Pakistan in March 2002, was at one time suspected of making bombs for al-Qaeda and was expected to be tried by a military commission, but charges were ultimately not pursued. He was approved for transfer in February 2022. It is possible, but not certain, that he may be repatriated to Saudi Arabia.
Said bin Brahim bin Umran Bakush (also known as Abdul Razak Ali) is an Algerian citizen who was captured in Pakistan in March 2002. The Periodic Review Board determined in April 2022 that he could be safely transferred, noting his lack of any leadership role in al-Qaeda.
Hassan bin Attash, a Yemeni, spent about 2 years in Jordanian and CIA custody following his capture in Pakistan in September 2002, before being transferred to Guantanamo. He was a juvenile at the time of his capture and is believed to be the youngest detainee at Guantanamo.
Khalid Ahmed Qasim, also from Yemen, was captured in December 2001 and arrived at Guantanamo in May 2002. In July 2022 the Periodic Review Board determined that it was “no longer necessary” to hold him.
Tell the Biden administration there can be no justification for continuing to hold these men, whom the U.S. government has found to pose no threat. Indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial is unacceptable!
President Joe Biden
The White House U.S. Washington, DC 20500
Secretary Antony Blinken
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20520