Moath al-Alwi was captured by Pakistani troops near the Afghan border in December 2001 and handed over to US troops.
The Yemeni tribe, al-Alwi says he was fleeing for his safety, not a fighter, when he was captured and sold to US troops, who in January 2002 took him around the world to a hot camp at the US Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Nearly 20 years later, the famous Guantanamo Bay prison is now a US emblem human rights abuses. Many detainees – especially Muslims – have been tortured or detained for many years or even decades without trial, prosecution or legal recognition.
One of a number of detainees in Guantanamo Bay, al-Alwi has not been charged, and he remains in custody. The United States Supreme Court in 2019 rejected the motion without comment.
With the departure of American troops from Afghanistan, human rights activists see an opportunity for President Joe Biden to fulfill their 2020 promise to close the prison. Some say the capture of Afghanistan by the Taliban, some of their leaders who were former Guantanamoan prisoners, brings a new obstacle.
Why did the US military camp at Guantanamo Bay remain open?
“The fact that the prison was opened 20 years later is because of US politics and, unfortunately, the inmates there are the ones who are being held hostage by politicians,” said Ramzi Kassem, a professor at City University of New York School of Law representing al-Alwi and another inmate. without charge in Guantanamo.
There was a major public outcry in the US at the end of George W Bush’s presidency in 2008 that Guantanamo should be shut down.
President Barack Obama announced the closure of the prison, but strongly criticized Republicans as well he failed to keep his word The US Congress has moved since 2011 to set limits on the transfer of prisoners.
In taking over the White House in 2016, President Donald Trump criticized Guantanamo’s release and said he would “exalt himself with evil dudes”. During his four years in office, Trump released only one man.
“It is the political imperative to shut down Guantanamo and make what is logical according to the principles. The leadership of both parties has failed to do what is necessary,” Kassem told Al Jazeera.
Who is being held in Guantanamo?
A small number of 39 men are detained in Guantanamo. Among them are Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is said to have instigated al-Qaeda attacks in the US on September 11, and four others who have been prosecuted by the military.
Ten detainees have not responded and have been approved by US agencies for release but are still being held. Among them is Saifullah Paracha, a 74-year-old Pakistani man is the oldest detainee in Guantanamo and has not been charged.
Ten men are still facing military charges. Another is nearing the end of the war verdict and is due to be released in February. Others are eternally imprisoned without trial.
Who has been released from Guantanamo?
Bush administration deported about 540 detainees from Guantanamo at the end of 2008, and Obama’s deportees evacuated about 200 from the site in early 2017.
One of the challenges facing U.S. officials in transferring prisoners from Guantanamo is finding agreements to do so, or for a third party to agree to re-establish and prevent a return to war against the US.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Slovakia and Albania have been among those receiving foreign delegates.
In 2014, five Taliban prisoners were transferred to Qatar in exchange for the US military Bowe Bergdahl, who was detained for five years in Afghanistan and Pakistan after leaving the US Army. Four of the five are now members of the new Taliban government in Afghanistan.
Two men have been released since Obama stepped down in January 2017. Both have been repatriated.
After more than 15 years in Guantanamo, Ahmed al-Darbi was extradited to Saudi Arabia in 2018 to remain in jail over a bomb blast in 2002 on an oil tanker off the coast of Yemen.
On July 19, Biden authorities released their first detainee, Abdul Latif Nasser, of Morocco, four years after his release from exile in 2016. At the age of 19, Nasser was acquitted.
What are the military forces in Guantanamo?
Military agencies and courts formed outside US law as well as foreign by the U.S. Department of Defense to prosecute detainees in Guantanamo.
Proper protection of the United States Constitution does not work, allowing the state to keep confidential evidence of torture and to keep detainees permanently.
“These organizations are designed to avoid stricter laws that would restrict the operation of the civil or military court, as well as prohibit the use of bad evidence,” Kassem said.
Detainees are required to use the lawyers assigned to them. They are not allowed to see all the evidence against them. Only two thirds of the cases need to be adjudicated, and even if convicted, the release is not guaranteed.
How were prisoners tortured by the US?
Many of Guantanamo’s detainees were first detained in black camps by the CIA or elsewhere by US troops and tortured before being deported to Guantanamo.
These records are confidential and lawyers representing the detainees are required to make non-disclosure agreements that prevent open disclosure of harassment by their clients.
In June, a military judge for the first time publicly approved the use of a warrant for his trial. Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, A Saudi man accused of plotting to bomb a USS Cole bomber in 2000 that killed 17 US sailors.
“The military has since its inception been established to support the principle that men, especially former CIA prisoners, have been tortured and secretly abused,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the national security project at the American Civil Liberties Alliance.
The US government has acknowledged that the abuse took place in a number of cases, including that of Abu Zubaydah, A Palestinian man arrested by US in Pakistan and tortured for years in secret CIA prisons, as reported US Senate Report.
One is Mohammed al-Qahtani, A Saudi man whose war charges were dropped because he was tortured in Guantanamo but remains in prison despite suffering from a mental illness.
What steps can Biden take to close Guantanamo Bay?
Human rights activists and prison lawyers say Biden’s supervisors will be pressured to bring Guantanamo.
“It would not be possible for Biden’s superiors to say that US participation in Afghanistan is over but he continues to have the power to ban men forever in Guantanamo,” said J Wells Dixon, attorney general at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York.
“You can’t have both,” said Dixon, who represents several Guantanamo detainees. Majid Shoukat Khan, a Pakistani man who endured torture by the CIA and admitted to being an al-Qaeda ambassador.
The White House announced in February that it was considering how to close Guantanamo. One of the main steps, prosecutors, is to resolve war crimes cases and to allow the United States Department of Justice to work to meet the concerns of the 9/11 and other defendants.
Biden could ask Congress to lift their ban on Guantanamo detainees who have entered the US to remain in prison.
Biden plans to give a special envoy to the U.S. State Department to close Guantanamo, a position held by Obama but which was removed from the Trump administration.