Documents Shed Light on Guantanamo Detainees

Michele Norris talks with Corine Hegland, reporter for the National Journal, about the release of transcripts from hearings of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, which reveal for the first time their names, nationalities, and information about their backgrounds.

Hegland talks about the documents reveal, and why it's important.

Guantanamo Detainee Documents

Unclassified transcripts of testimony released by the Pentagon under the Freedom of Information Act.

 

Details from the Guantanamo Transcripts

Following are details from transcripts released by the Pentagon of "enemy combatant" hearings involving Guantanamo detainees. Source: The Associated Press

—Hafizullah Shah, from the village of Galdon in Afghanistan, was being held based on classified evidence he was not allowed to see. The farmer said he was walking to a bazaar when he was arrested. The United States said Shah was wearing an olive green jacket and was seen by soldiers with a group caching weapons. "I was just walking in the street and I was captured," Shah said. "The next thing I found out is that I am sitting here" in Guantanamo Bay.

—Mohammed Barak Salem Al-Qurbi, of Saudi Arabia, was identified as an al-Qaida operative by one of Osama bin Laden's bodyguards, according to the U.S. military tribunal. His passport shows he spent time in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates in 2001. The tribunal said he used a trick to hide his stay in Afghanistan. Al-Qurbi also was alleged to be an operative linked to the suicide bombing of the USS Cole, which killed 17 sailors on Oct. 12, 2000, in Yemen, and to have managed a hostel for the extremist Islamic Taliban movement.

—Abdur Sayed Rahman, of Pakistan, identified himself as a poor chicken farmer. The United States alleged he was in the Taliban, either as a military judge or deputy foreign minister. It emerged during the hearing that the deputy minister is Abdur Zahid Rahman, a near homonym of the detainee. Police searched Abdur Sayed Rahman's home in Pakistan in the fall of 2001 and arrested him. "An American told me I was wrongfully taken and that in a couple of days I'd be freed," Rahman said. "I never saw that American again and I'm still here."

—Zakirjan Asam traveled from Tajikistan to Afghanistan in the spring of 2001. He was accused of being a member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which allegedly has ties to the Taliban. Asam said he came to Afghanistan as a refugee and was turned over to U.S. forces because he could not afford to pay a bribe.

—Salih Uyar, 24 at the time of his tribunal hearing, traveled to Afghanistan from Turkey in 2000. He was accused of living with a known al-Qaida member for two months just before raids began in Kabul, Afghanistan, and of associating with Turkish radical religious groups. At the time of his capture, he had a Casio watch — a model that authorities say was used in bombings. "If it's a crime to carry this watch, your own military personnel also carry this watch, too," Uyar told the military tribunal. "Does that mean that they're just terrorists as well?" Uyar also went to Syria but said his purpose was to study Arabic.

—Janat Gul ran Afghanistan's Ariana Airline when the Taliban government was in power. Gul, who previously had owned a shop and a mill, said he only took the job to avoid being forced to go to combat for the Taliban. He said the airline was not under government control and denied it provided Taliban fighters free flights to battle the Northern Alliance in the north. Gul said he quit his job several days after Sept. 11. "I was released from the oppression of a government, the Taliban government. I came out of the darkness into the light. ... I had left my job; even before the Americans came I was in my own house and in my own land," he said. He was arrested in January 2003 in Lashkargar, Afghanistan.

—Abdul Majid Muhammad, an Iranian identified as a "watchman" for the Taliban who went on patrols and acted as a guard. He says he was a poor well-digger in Iran who occasionally bought and sold opium and hashish. He was arrested twice in Iran. He said he went to Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001, because he wanted to get rich quick trading drugs, not to join the Taliban or fight Americans. "My plan was to get rich then put it behind me and leave it aside," he said. He says he was picked up by the Northern Alliance near the city of Ghazni.

—Assem Matruq Mohammad Al Aasami, a sometime restaurant worker who says he traveled from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia and then Afghanistan to find work, not fight a holy war. He acknowledged that he did attend an al-Qaida-linked training camp, but said he did not realize what kind of camp it was. He said he was in the camp when the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks took place. He is accused of being an enemy combatant.

—Abdullah Mujahid, an Afghan, said he was head of security for the city of Gardez and the Paktia province in post-Taliban Afghanistan when he was arrested in July 2003 and accused of an attack on U.S. forces in Gardez. Mujahid was also accused of associating with al-Qaida. He said he had actually aided coalition forces. "I invited them to come to Gardez, and I even rented the camp that they are in right now... And, instead of appreciation, or thankfulness, they punish me, and I get sent to Cuba."

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