Man Imprisoned At Guantanamo Bay For 13 Years On Mistaken Identity

Guantanamo Bay

US officials conceded on Tuesday that a man who had spent 13 years at Guantanamo Bay was mistaking captured and imprisoned as a result of his name.

Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri (YM-434) was a low level Islamist foot soldier who had a similar name to some high level al-Qaida terrorists.

The Guardian reports:

Officials admitted that Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri, 37, was a low-level Islamist foot soldier and not an al-Qaida courier and trainer as previously thought, during a Guantánamo hearing.

Wearing a beard and voluminous white T-shirt, and accompanied by a linguist and two personal representatives, the Yemeni appeared before a panel assessing whether he can be released.

A profile published by the Department of Defense maintains he fought in Afghanistan and mixed with members of al-Qaida. But officials concede that they wrongly believed he had a more significant role because he was confused with others who had a similar name.

“Mustafa Abd-al-Qawi Abd-al-Aziz al-Shamiri (YM-434) fought in several jihadist theaters and associated with al-Qaida members in Afghanistan,” the unclassified detainee profile said. “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.”

The profile added that fragmentary reporting links al-Shamiri to fighting in Bosnia in 1995, and he told interrogators that he fought in Yemen’s civil war in 1996 and in Afghanistan for the Taliban from 2000 to 2001 – including against the Northern Alliance and US forces – before his capture near Mazar-e-Sharif. He has since been an indefinite detainee, considered too dangerous to release but without adequate evidence to bring to trial.

A statement from al-Shamiri’s personal representative described him as very cooperative, enthusiastic and supportive in the preparation for the board hearing. “From the onset, he has demonstrated a consistent positive attitude towards life after Gitmo,” he said. “He has a strong desire to obtain an education in order to provide for a future spouse that his family has already located for him.

“Mustafa will show you today that he is not a continuing significant threat to the United States of America. He is earnestly preparing for his life after Gitmo. During his time in detention, he has attended English and art classes, in addition to acquiring carpentry and cooking skills.

White House Says Guantanamo Is Too Costly To Close Down

Democracy Now reports:

U.S. officials have admitted that a man who has been imprisoned for 13 years at Guantánamo Bay was captured in a case of mistaken identity.

Pentagon officials conceded they wrongly believed 37-year-old Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri had played a more significant role in Al-Qaeda because they confused him with others who had similar names.

Despite this acknowledgement, he is still imprisoned, and it is not clear if and when he may be freed.

This comes as the White House has rejected the Pentagon’s draft plan for closing the Guantanamo military prison, saying it is too expensive.

The Pentagon’s plan called for more than $600 million to close the prison and construct a new U.S.-based facility to hold remaining prisoners, at an annual operating cost of $300 million. The annual cost of operating the Guantanamo detention facility now is about $400 million.

Guantanamo Bay

Mustafa Abd-al-Qawi Abd-al-Aziz al-Shamiri

Edmondo Burr

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