Tag Archives: prisoner

DoD: Man Held at Guantanamo for 13 Years was ‘Case of Mistaken Identity’

Department of Defense officials admitted on Monday that a man who has been held in the United States prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for the last 13 years as a suspected al-Qaeda trainer, was held due to a case of mistaken identity.

Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri, 37, has been held as an indefinite detainee at Gitmo since 2002, despite the fact that he was never charged and prosecutors lacked adequate evidence for a trial.

During a panel meeting on Tuesday to evaluate whether al-Shamiri can be released, officials admitted he was actually a low-level Islamist foot soldier from Yemen who was taken into custody because he was confused with someone with a similar name.

[RELATED: Guantanamo Bay: An Untold History of Occupation, Torture, Sham Trials & Resistance]

In the DoD’s detainee profile on al-Shamiri, referred to as YM-434, it said he “fought in several jihadist theaters and associated with al-Qaida members in Afghanistan,” but also said he did not carry out the terrorist acts that were the basis of his detainment.

[pull_quote_center]It was previously assessed that YM-434 also was an al-Qaida facilitator or courier, as well as a trainer, but we now judge that these activities were carried out by other known extremists with names or aliases similar to YM-434’s.[/pull_quote_center]

In a statement from al-Shamiri’s personal representative, he was described as “cooperative, enthusiastic and supportive,” and his rep noted that he “does have remorse for choosing the wrong path early in life.”

The statement also said al-Shamiri “wants to make a life for himself,” and he is “aware that Yemen is not an option, and he is willing to go to any country that will accept him.”

[RELATD: Judge Orders Release of Guantanamo Force-Feeding Videos]

President Obama, who has promised to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay on numerous occasions, rejected a plan to relocate the prison to U.S. soil, labeling it as too expensive with a price tag of over $600 million, and sent it back for revision.

One prisoner exchanged for Sgt. Bergdahl has made suspicious communications

One of the five prisoners exchanged for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in May 2014, is reportedly being investigated for making suspicious phone calls to Afghanistan over the past few months.

According to CNN, this is the first known time one of the five detainees who were released has been suspected of attempted to make contact with any militant groups in the Middle East, but this one instance has raised the question of whether the other four will follow suit.

All five former detainees are said to be in Qatar, where their communications have been monitored by a U.S. intelligence program for months. The program in question is saying they have evidence showing the former detainee in question had “reached out” to militant groups and encouraged further militant activity.

However, one official told NBC News the former detainee had called family members in Afghanistan and there is no evidence showing the phone calls were to members of any militant group in the area. This official also added the content of the phone calls contained no “threatening activity or planning.”

No matter what the content of the suspected phone calls, the governments of Qatar and the U.S. are working together on this new issue.

Rear Admiral John Kirby had an interview on the show ‘Erin Burnett Out Front,’ where he said, “We have a strong security partnership with Qatar, and are in constant dialogue with Qatari government officials about these five detainees and we are confident that we would be able to mitigate any threat of re-engagement by any of these members.”

The Pentagon released a statement saying they would not comment on cases involving the detainees. The statement also said, according to the Daily Mail, “we take any incidence of re-engagement very seriously, and we work in close coordination through military, intelligence, law enforcement and diplomatic channels to mitigate re-engagement and to take follow-on action when necessary.”

President refuses to apologize for prisoner trade

As some lawmakers consider impeachment for President Obama over the trade of five Guantanamo Bay detainees for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the president has refused to apologize for his actions.

Controversy has surrounded the president’s decision to go ahead with the prisoner trade for various reasons.  One reason is the president sidestepped discussing the trade with Congress in an effort to reduce the prisoner population in Guantanamo Bay to force its closer, while others say the president gave too much in terms of hostage “value” for Sgt. Bergdahl.

The five Taliban soldiers traded for Sgt. Bergdahl have been reported to be high ranking individuals in the Taliban.  Rob Williams of the Senate Intelligence Committee said four of the people released are expected to resume attacks with the Taliban.

Johnathan Turley, a law professor from George Washington University, told CNN anchor Carol Costello Monday he did not think there was much debate whether or not President Obama had broken the law with the trade.  When asked if the White House had broken any laws, Turley responded, “They did… this is a long series of violations of federal law that the president’s been accused of.”

“We saw an opportunity and we seized it,” said President Obama to the BBC.  “As commander-in-chief I am responsible for those kids…and I make no apologies for that.”

The White House previously claimed they were moved to act towards negotiating the release of Sgt. Bergdahl after viewing a Taliban video showing the sergeant in “poor health and faltering over his words.”  This same video was shown in a private screening to skeptical lawmakers, but the showing failed to change their views of the event.

Amidst the controversy surrounding the president’s decision, Sgt. Bergdahl’s hometown has cancelled any upcoming celebrations to welcome the sergeant back home.

Organizers of the homecoming event in Hailey, Idaho told Al-Jazeera America they did not have the resources to manage the influx of supporters and protestors of Sgt. Bergdahl who would meet in the small town.

The local Police Chief talked with the Idaho Statesman about the groups meeting in Hailey for the cancelled event.  “I received one call today from a (veterans group in California) that wanted to bring up 2,000 protestors.”

Hailey has also received angry phone calls and hate mail over the celebrations.  The president of the Hailey Chamber of Commerce, Jane Drussel has said, “It’s like a modern-day lynching… The joy has all of a sudden become not so joyful.”

Taliban release video of prisoner handoff

A video released by the Taliban earlier shows the terrorist group and U.S. forces meeting for the handover of Sgt. Bergdahl in the Khost province in Afghanistan.

Video clip courtesy of Sky News via Youtube:

A Black Hawk helicopter lands in the middle of a field, and upon landing, the emaciated Sgt. Bergdahl is led by Taliban forces, carrying a white flag, to a meeting spot between the chopper and a white pickup truck.  The forces leading Sgt. Bergdahl out are just his escorts as the video shows other Taliban members in the area with RPGs, AKs and other assault weapons.

Once the two sides met in the middle, handshakes are exchanged, an oddity almost never before seen given many Americans views that their government “doesn’t negotiate with terrorists.”

After an initial pat down of Sgt. Bergdahl, the Black Hawk crew seem satisfied, they wave to the Taliban forces, and escort Sgt. Bergdahl to the chopper without further instance.

Narration by the Taliban can be heard over the course of the video describing how the Mujahideen in the area were told, according to CNN, “not to attack them.”  The narrator even describes how both sides agreed to send three member parties to meet each other for the handoff.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby made a statement to ABC News saying, “We have no reason to doubt the videos authenticity, but we are reviewing it.”

The video comes as many soldiers and civilians in America are calling for Sgt. Bergdahl to be brought up on charges of desertion, and the Joint Chiefs have said they will hold an investigation to find if these claims are valid.

Soldiers and civilians have claimed for a few years that Sgt. Bergdahl had deserted his post in Afghanistan and his being held in captivity was an unforeseen consequence.  These same people who make the claims say the the six soldiers who were killed in search attempts for the sergeant the following days should be Sgt. Bergdahl’s fault.

One former soldier, Nathan Bradley Bethea, wrote an article for the Daily Beast stating outright, “Bergdahl was a deserter, and soldiers from his own unit died trying to track him down.”

Bethea writes how Sgt. Bergdahl failed to appear for roll call the morning of his disappearance.  His fellow soldiers found his “rifle, helmet, body armor and web gear,” but mysteriously his compass was missing.

Some soldiers in Sgt. Bergdahl’s squad told CNN they had signed nondisclosure agreements saying they would not talk about what had happened the night of Sgt. Bergdahl’s disappearance.

Many cite the mysterious circumstances surrounding his disappearance as well as his growing discontent with the military as reasons for their desertion claims against Sgt. Bergdahl.  The same article from CNN references a Rolling Stone article from 2012 where Sgt. Bergdahl’s fellow infantrymen claim Bergdahl “no longer supported the U.S. effort in Afghanistan.”

The Huffington Post reports chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, said the Army will pursue an investigation into Sgt. Bergdahl’s disappearance, where the outcome could lead to desertion or other more severe charges against the former POW.