In yet another disgraceful act to come out of Guantanamo Bay, United States officials have admitted that a man who has spent 13 years at the prison camp shouldn’t have been there in the first place. The individual in question was held for an excessively long period of time because of a simple case of mistaken identity.
On Tuesday, American officials confessed that 37 year old detainee Yemen Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri was actually a lowly-ranked foot soldier. Originally, authorities believed that he was a prominent trainer and courier of al-Qaeda. So for the past 13 years, this everyday soldier was held in captivity and most likely unlawfully tortured.
According to reports from the United States Department of Defense, al-Shamiri fought in Afghanistan as part of al-Qaeda. However, officials believed that his role was more significant than it actually was because they confused him with another man who had a similar name.
Al-Shamiri’s detainee profile read, “Mustafa Abd-al-Qawi Abd-al-Aziz al-Shamiri (also known as YM-434) fought in several jihadist theaters and associated with al-Qaeda members in Afghanistan. It was previously assessed that YM-434 also was an al-Qaeda 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 went on to state that al-Shamiri also fought in Bosnia in 1995. Al-Shamiri also informed interrogators that he saw action in the civil war of Yemen in 1996. Later from 2000 to 2002, he fought as a member of the Taliban in Afghanistan. During this time, he fought against the Northern Alliance and forces of the United States.
Eventually, he was captured near the city of Mazar-e-Sharif. Al-Shamiri was considered an “indefinite detainee”, who was considered to be too dangerous to release but without enough evidence to conduct a trial.
Representatives of al-Shamari have described him as an optimistic man who wants to move forward after this very troubling experience.
They said in a statement, “From the onset, he has demonstrated a consistent positive attitude towards life after Gitmo. 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.”
The representatives went on to add that al-Shamiri worked very hard and was quite generous during his stay at the prison camp.
“During his time in detention, he has attended English and art classes, in addition to acquiring carpentry and cooking skills. During the last feast, Mustafa generously took the time to prepare over 30 plates of pastries for his fellow detainees. When I asked him why he would make pastries for his fellow detainees, he said it’s because it makes him feel like he can give back and share with people.”
His representatives also stated that al-Shamiri has taken responsibility for some bad choices that he made earlier in life.
“Mustafa does have remorse for choosing the wrong path early in life. He has vocalized to us that while he cannot change the past, he would definitely have chosen a different path. He wants to make a life for himself. He is aware that Yemen is not an option and he is willing to go to any country that will accept him,” they stated.
Al-Shamiri has been held at Guantanamo Bay as an enemy combatant without charge since 2002. He is currently one of 107 prisoners who are still held at the controversial prison camp. So far 48 have been cleared for release. It is very possible that with this latest revelation Al-Shamiri will become number 49.