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 thirteen men listed below find themselves. At least half 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 they must designate a special envoy with responsibility for finding a safe country to which each of these men can be sent. This is a critical step toward finding solutions for all of the remaining 39 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.
Ridah bin Saleh al-Yazidi, age 56, 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, now age 47, 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, age 49, 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 has languished for more than a decade after being cleared for transfer in 2010.
Sufyian Barhoumi, age 48, is from Algeria. He was captured in Pakistan in March 2002 and sent to Guantanamo in June of that year. He has a strong family support network in Algeria, and there appear to be no reasons why he could not have been repatriated after being cleared for transfer in August 2016.
Sa’id Salih Sa’id Nashir (also known as Hani Saleh Rashid Abdullah) is a 47-year-old 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 54-year-old Pakistani who was captured in Karachi in 2002 and spent approximately 500 days in CIA custody before arriving at Guantanamo in 2004.
Uthman Abdul al-Rahim Uthman, also cleared for transfer in May 2021, is a 40-year-old Yemeni. 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 53-year-old 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, age 47, 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 41-year-old 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 possibly destination for Mr. al-Kazimi.
Assadullah Haroon Gul is an Afghan citizen who has been in U.S. custody since 2007. He was also approved for transfer in October 2021. Before the previous Afghan government fell to the Taliban, it had requested his return.
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.
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