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More names of inmates held at Guantanamo Bay can be revealed from “summaries of evidence” that have been forced out under FOIA.
These details give a flavour of the mass of inform-ation that has been disclosed by the US department of defense at the pentagon.
The summaries were submitted to administrative review boards to determine whether detainees should continue to be detained.
The boards could release detainees to their home countries or other states, possibly with conditions agreed between the US and those other countries, or they could decide that detention “under United States control” must continue.
Ahmed bin Saleh Bel Bacha, formerly of the Algerian army, is accused of obtaining a false French passport to travel to London. His summary of evidence, dated March 29, 2005, says: “Once arriving in London, the detainee went directly to the Finsbury Park mosque.
“The detainee stated that his travel to Afghanistan via false passport was facilitated by the Finsbury Park mosque.”
“He attended prayer services and lectures conducted by Abu Hamza, sheik of the Finsbury Park mosque.” Hamza has since been jailed in Britain for inciting murder and religious hatred.
In Afghanistan, he is said to have received training on the Kalashnikov rifle and Simonov machine gun.
“The detainee encountered Osama bin Laden on two separate occasions.” He “met and stayed with three al-Qaeda leaders while in Kabul and Jalalabad.”
He “fled Jalalabad to the Afghan mountains as the coalition forces approached the city in November 2001.”
The only “primary factor” given in the summary in favour of his release was that he “indicated he did not want anything to do with the GIA (armed islamic group) as they were terrorists and very bad people.”
At least two other Guantanamo detainees from Algeria are identified as having attended the Fins-bury Park mosque before travelling to Afghanistan where they allegedly received weapons training.
Anthony Kiyemba is alleged to have travelled from England to Iran, then to Pakistan in an attempt to go to “fight in the Jihad” in Afghanistan. He is said to have received weapons training in Pakistan on the AK-47.
He is recorded as saying that he wanted to “stop the aggression against the innocent,” but he was arrested at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. “Detainee stated that if he had a weapon, he might attack Camp Delta guards,” and, “that he would go fight Jihad in the future if he found a way.”
However, he also said that “he would never be a threat” and condemned the September 11 attacks.
Khalid Malluh Shayi al Jilba al Qahtani is accused of travelling to Afghanistan in 2000, staying at a Taleban safehouse in Quetta, Pakistan en route.
He is said to have answered a Fatwa issued by Sheik Hamoud al Uqqla calling for Jihad in Afghanistan, encouraging people to fight against the christians and jews. Until his death in 2001, Al Uqqla raised money for bin Laden.
He is also alleged to have stayed at a stone house in Tora Bora for two days where bin Laden stayed two weeks later.
He had also “been cited” several times for “ass-ault, hostile activity, and harassment of guards” at Guantanamo, and once for “making a weapon”.
However, in favour of release, he was said to have never fired his weapon at anyone and had no prior knowledge of the September 11 attacks.
Aminullah Baryalai Tukhi, of Afghanistan, was accused of smuggling members of Al Wafa, which America has deemed to be a “global terrorist entity”, into Afghanistan.
However, his summary of evidence says that he was in a student political organisation, Basij, that opposed the Taleban. He also said that he was not a member of al-Qaeda.
The documents give no indication of whether any named inmate has been released or transferred from Guantanamo.
All names and spellings are as given in the newly released pentagon material.
Some of the identities of inmates held at Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba can be revealed. They emerge from around 5,000 pages of transcripts, which the pentagon was forced to release under FOIA.
The release was just within a March 3 deadline set by a federal judge in New York who made the order for disclosure in January. It comes after four years of secrecy over the base.
But the process of poring through the documents is going to take us at the FOIA Centre and everyone else carrying out a similar exercise some time.
The new details will help people outside the American government assess how many of the detainees really pose as much as a threat as the US military claims.
The pentagon today said that some of the Guantanamo 490 detainees are identified in the documents.
One of nine Britons released from Guantanamo over the past two years, Feroz Ali Abbasi, who was taken prisoner in Afghanistan in 2001, is recorded in the transcripts as making complaints about military police. He alleges that guards forced him to pray towards the US, tried to feed him pork and had sex in front of him.
On his return to Britain from Guantanamo last year, Abbasi was arrested, but then quickly freed.
Other detainees identified include:
Abdullah Mohammed al-Hamiri, a Yemeni acc-used of association with al-Qaeda;
Naibullah Darwaish, of Afghanistan, accused of being the Taleban-appointed police chief of Zabul province;
Abdul Gappher, from western China, accused of trying to join an Uzbek islamic group, but says that he was training to fight the Chinese;
Zahir Shah, of Afghanistan, accused of being a member of a radical group, Hizb-i-Islamia;
Mohammed Sharif, of Afghanistan, accused of serving as a Taleban guard, but says that he was forced into it;
Mahbub Rahman, of Afghanistan, accused of spying on US forces.
The 317 separate documents are transcripts of tribunals where more than 300 detainees had their “combat status” assessed. The material is mostly inmates’ testimonies to combatant status review tribunals and administrative review boards.
Guantanamo prisoners who did not undergo status review tribunals are not named, and have been termed “ghost” detainees.
Associated Press brought the successful legal challenge under FOIA after first forcing the release of the documents in redacted form last June.
A pentagon official said today: “Detainee personal information was removed... because of concern of potential harm to detainees if the documents were made public.”
The names, nationalities and other information id-entifying inmates have been unredacted in the newly released material. Other information, such as the names of American service members, remains redacted.
The pentagon also revealed that the documents only represent some of combatant status review tribunals and administrative review boards that have been held so far. It said that there had been 558 tribunals and 463 administrative boards.
Some detainees made incriminating statements about other inmates or about others in their home countries, said the pentagon official. Others “made statements that could be taken by enemy forces as ‘disloyal acts’ against them, and in other transcripts detainees indicated that they had co-operated with US forces, acts that could be held against them in their countries.”
This “could result in retaliation against the detainee from other detainees at Guantanamo or against their families in their home countries,” the official added.
You can see the newly released transcripts them-selves at the DoD website (link below), although they take a long time to download.
A FOIA Centre consultant will appear as a guest on “The Agenda” on the Islam Channel, broadcast live on Monday, March 6, 10:00am to 11:30am (repeated 11:00pm) in Europe (Sky channel 813 in UK) and north Africa, to discuss the documents.
FOIA Centre commentary
The US department of defense has made the newly released material available to anyone with access to the internet. This is something from which many UK public bodies can learn. We know of instances where public bodies have resisted releasing documents under FOIA that they have already given to someone else.
Once a determination is made that disclosing specific documents is in the public interest, they should become available for anyone to see.
Despite our criticism of greater secrecy in America since September 11, including in the operation of FOIA, it seems as though the UK still has much to learn about openness from the US.
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US forced to identify Guantanamo detainees