Sent to UAE from Gitmo, detainees fear final halt: Yemen


The Guantanamo detainees were promised that they would be sent to a Muslim country for resettlement which, according to their lawyers and families, would help them open jobs, money and marriage.

it was a lie.

Instead, the detainee – 18 Yemen and a Russian, remained in custody in the UAE for five years following the September 11 attacks from Afghanistan and Pakistan, their families and lawyers told the Associated Press. .

In short, sporadic phone calls from unknown locations in the United Arab Emirates – including an infamous prison race with torture – whispered to many their families that as bad as life in Guantanamo was, they wished they could return there.

When “pressure” was complained about three years ago, the call was cut off; He has not been heard from since. When the Russian went on a hunger strike, he was put in solitary confinement and ruined.

They now plan to send him to Yemen, where their families fear that their treatment will be worse.

A senior Yemeni government official confirmed the plans, pending security arrangements; A State Department official indicated that the US government knew it was happening. The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to the press. The United Arab Emirates did not respond to AP’s questions.

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UN rights experts described the ensuing repatriation of the men as a “forced withdrawal”, warning that it violated international laws.

Their destination is a poor Arab country ruined by a civil war that has been brewing for the past six years. Atrocities and arbitrary detention are widespread in a network of secret and formal prisons run by various factions governing various parts of the country.

“The legitimate government here is not safe. Who will be in charge of them? Said Husain, a brother of Bir, one of the detainees.

The family of a second captive from Salem said: “We fear that as soon as they set foot in Yemen, they will be shot or shot.”

And if they survive, they could be the major recruits for militants in Yemen. Ibrahim al-Kosi, a former Guantanamo detainee, was relocated to Sudan in 2012 before appearing as the leader of the al-Qaeda group in Yemen two years later.

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The false exploits of these men violate the promises made by the US authorities while being sent to the UAE in 2015–17. This underscores the failure of the transfer program and President Donald Trump’s administration to ensure his humane treatment.

President Barack Obama pressured the Guantanamo facility to close amid opposition from Congress. The plan was to continue to prosecute some detainees and hold others without charges, while their cases were evaluated by boards that were no longer considered dangerous, to be transferred to their home or third countries .

Trump had other plans. Before assuming office, he announced on Twitter that “there will be no further release from GITMO.” His administration demolished the entire office with the closure of the Guantanamo facility, overseeing transfers, and rescheduling detainees.

The agreements that the US struck with the United Arab Emirates and dozens of other countries did not make the Guantanamo detainees public. But Ian Moss, former chief of staff of the Guantanamo envoy to the State Department, insisted, “We wanted these individuals to be left to make a fresh start in life. It was not part of the deal that they be imprisoned . It was never part of the deal. “

Moss blamed the current administration for the lack of engagement, stating that “Emiratis knew that the Trump administration did not care what they did to or treated these people.” this is outrageous. “

Lee Woloski was the special envoy for the Guantanamo bandh from 2015 to 2017, the period when Yemen was transferred to the UAE. He said in the email, “I can categorically deny that there were plans to keep the men in custody after they were taken out of US custody.”

Under Trump, only one prisoner, a Saudi, was transferred to Saudi Arabia to serve the remainder of his sentence after his conviction.

Under Obama, a total of 197 were transferred to other countries, while 500 were transferred by George W. Bush. The US base now has 40 captives; Most are being held at no charge and are a Yemen.

Katie Taylor is the deputy director of the United Kingdom-based group Reprive and the group’s life coordinator after the Guantanamo project. She told the AP that after documenting the lives of about 60 former detainees from 25 countries, “I have to say that the situation is worst and most disturbing for men living in the UAE.”

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It is unclear whether UAE now has 17 or 18 captives; Unconfirmed reports suggest that a Yemeni left prison due to medical complications.

One detainee is represented by attorney Patricia Brontë. (His name and the full name of all Yemeni detainees are being pacified by fears that he may face retaliation.) He recalled that the State Department officials had told him and the detainees that he had been detained at the rehabilitation facility Will be kept for 12 months. , And then they will be allowed to reunite with their families in the United Arab Emirates.

“Initially, the assurance I was given was not alive,” she said.

She has not had any contact with her client since arriving in the UAE in 2016. The families of the detainees say that their communication with their loved ones is boundless and disturbing:

– Abdo, 41, tells his brother that he has spent 70 days in solitude – with eyes closed, handcuffed, and hands and feet on the ground – upon his arrival. His brother Ahmed told the AP that there was no rehabilitation or “de-radicalization session”. Abdo and other detainees were taken to a “filthy and dark prison” for 16 months.

“It was just terrible there,” the brother quoted Abdo as saying. He was later taken to al-Razin prison, about 200 kilometers (125 mi) from Dubai, where human rights groups have documented abuses and torture.

In the spring of 2019, Abdo is brought back to the “filthy” prison, where he lives.

The brother quoted Abdo as saying, “I didn’t think that. I wish I would return to Guantanamo … it’s 1,000 times worse here. Then the phone call was cut.

– A 41-year-old nurse, identified as a “low-level Yemeni terrorist” by Guantanamo’s periodic review board in 2015, who was arrested in a Pakistani raid in September 2002 and transferred to Guantanamo.

His brother, Hussein, told the AP that despite the first promises of new life, his brother ended up under mysterious circumstances. We do not know anything.

“He continues to be behind bars with other Yemeni detainees, they are facing the most cruel injustice in history,” Hussein said. On the phone every 10 days, he said, “That’s nothing, except ‘How are you?” He can’t speak They have been banned. “

– Rival Mingzow, a former ballet dancer and a former member of the army, was the only Russian left in Guantanamo when he was sent to the UAE. He was accused of fighting with the Taliban. A Pentagon profile also alleged that he had links with an Islamic group in Uzbekistan due to ties to al-Qaeda, and said he was in a safe house linked to Abu Zubaida, a “facilitator” for the terrorist organization. Was caught in

He never physically met his 19-year-old son Yusuf, who lives in London. But they have spoken: Joseph said that his father had complained that he had been humiliated by his prisoners and deprived of food and medicine.

Mingazov’s mother, Zorya Valiulina, said her son wanted to return to Guantanamo. “It’s better there.”

– The family of 44-year-old Abdel-Rab said he went missing three years ago after two phone calls during which he complained about the conditions, and panicked, “I am under pressure … Guantanamo very Was better. One billion times. ”

Call disconnected; He never called again. His family members said he had no clue when he was alive.

According to records, Abdel-Rab had told interrogators that he worked as a house painter in Yemen before going to Afghanistan to study in 2000 and teach the Quran. He joined action against those suspected of having links with al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and landed in Guantanamo in 2002.

In June, a man pretending to be Abdel-Rab called the family. “It was not his voice. He was not the same, ”his brother said.

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Another captive, Hamidullah, lived in the United Arab Emirates to narrate the conditions of his imprisonment, though only barely. He spent 3 years in UAE jails before returning to Afghanistan in December.

Hamidullah’s personal lawyer wrote that his client was a “model captive” a “peaceful man” who was never a member of the Taliban, and “in fact, he was imprisoned by the Taliban in the late 1990s.” “

After surviving for a decade in Guantanamo, pictures in official documents showed a cheerful man with salt and pepper, curly hair.

He and other Afghan prisoners were sent to the UAE in 2015. His son Ahmed recalled in English for the first time that he had gone there with his father, how he was “brought up with chains in hands and feet, eyes covered with black cloth, and chains in the seat.” Tighten with too.

After his return to Afghanistan, Hamidullah shared more details of his imprisonment. The guards forced her to go naked every time she went to the bathroom. They would rigidly hold her shoulders and lay her head down while taking her out of the cell.

“It was mental torture,” he said.

Hamidullah died in May, after just 20 years of detention, gaining just four months of independence. His family believes the conditions he faced in the UAE jails contributed to his death.

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