End 22 Years Of Injustice

Forgotten and Isolated: Please Write to the Guantánamo Prisoners

Camp 6 of the "war on terror" prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where the majority of the remaining 40 prisoners (those not considered "high-value detainees") are held (Photo: James Breeden).

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By Andy Worthington, May 25, 2020

With Muslims around the world marking the end of Ramadan, and with the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, still raging globally, and particularly endangering those confined in cells, now is a good time, we hope, to encourage you to write to the 40 prisoners still held at Guantánamo, to try to ensure that they are not forgotten.

Since the spread of the coronavirus began, the prisoners at Guantánamo have been even more isolated than they usually are, which is quite an achievement, as they are not allowed, and have never been allowed family visits, even if their relatives could find a way to get to Guantánamo, and their only contact with anyone outside of the U.S. military or other arms of the U.S. government has been via their attorneys, or via representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Now, however, the Red Cross has suspended its visits until it is safe to return, and, although attorneys are allowed to visit, onerous quarantine requirements are in place. As NPR reported last week — looking primarily at the suspension of pre-trial proceedings in the broken military commission trial system — there is "a 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving on the island, which has basically halted court travel because Guantánamo lawyers must also quarantine for 14 days upon returning to the U.S., turning even a short trip into a month-long commitment."

Furthermore, with regard to the virus, there have also been cases of U.S. personnel contracting it. Back in March, the authorities acknowledged that a sailor at the naval base had been isolated after contracting the virus, and NPR reported that there had been a second case "in the guard force that oversees its prisoners," adding that the Department of Defense "said that for security reasons it will not say whether there have been additional positive diagnoses at Guantánamo, but because of the pandemic all court hearings have been canceled since mid-March and are not scheduled to restart until late July."

Please write to the Guantánamo prisoners

It’s ten years since two Muslim activist friends in the U.K. initiated a project to get people to write to the prisoners still held at that time — 186 in total — and I adopted it, and have been running it once or twice a year ever since.

Nothing fundamental has changed since my last call for support last January, when, as I noted then, "40 men are still held, just one less than when Trump took office. The only man he has released is a Saudi who agreed to a plea deal in his military commission trial in 2014, which authorized his repatriation to ongoing imprisonment in his homeland in February 2018. The rest of the prisoners, however, are effectively Trump’s personal prisoners, all fundamentally deprived of anything resembling justice and held, if Trump gets his way, forever."

These 40 men consist of five men approved for release, but not freed before President Obama left office, nine men facing or having faced trials in the military commission system, which is fundamentally incapable of delivering justice, and 26 others who are officially held indefinitely without charge or trial, subject to a parole-like review process, the Periodic Review Boards, that was set up by Barack Obama, and that led to 36 men being released before he left office. Under Trump, however, the PRBs have failed to deliver a single recommendation for a prisoner’s release, and the 26 "forever prisoners" are now boycotting the process, having correctly concluded that it is now a sham.

In the list below, I have divided the remaining 40 prisoners into those approved for release, those whose ongoing imprisonment has been approved by Periodic Review Boards, and those charged or tried in the military commissions system.

Please note that I have largely kept the spelling used by the US authorities in the "Final Dispositions" of the Guantánamo Review Task Force, which was released through FOIA legislation in June 2013. Even though these names are often inaccurate, they are the names by which the men are officially known in Guantánamo — although, primarily, it should be noted, those held are not referred to by any name at all, but are instead identified solely by their prisoner numbers (ISNs, which stands for "internment serial numbers").

Writing to the prisoners

If you are an Arabic speaker, or speak any other languages spoken by the prisoners besides English, feel free to write in those languages. Do please note that any messages that can be construed as political should be avoided, as they may lead to the letters not making it past the Pentagon’s censors, but be aware that your messages may not get through anyway — although please don’t let that put you off.

When writing to the prisoners please ensure you include their full name and ISN (internment serial number) below (these are the numbers before their names).

Please address all letters to:

Detainee Name
Detainee ISN
U.S. Naval Station
Guantánamo Bay
Washington, D.C. 20355
United States of America

Please also include a return address on the envelope.

The 5 prisoners approved for release by high-level government review processes under President Obama

ISN 038 Ridah Bin Saleh al Yazidi (Tunisia)
ISN 244 Abdul Latif Nasir (Morocco)
ISN 309 Muieen A Deen Jamal A Deen Abd al Fusal Abd al Sattar (UAE)
ISN 694 Sufyian Barhoumi (Algeria)
ISN 893 Tawfiq Nasir Awad Al-Bihani (Yemen)

The 26 prisoners whose ongoing imprisonment was approved by Periodic Review Boards

ISN 027 Uthman Abd al-Rahim Muhammad Uthman (Yemen)
ISN 028 Moath Hamza Ahmed al-Alwi (Yemen)
ISN 063 Mohamed Mani Ahmad al Kahtani (Saudi Arabia)
ISN 242 Khalid Ahmed Qasim (Yemen)
ISN 569 Suhayl Abdul Anam al Sharabi (Yemen)
ISN 682 Abdullah Al Sharbi (Saudi Arabia)
ISN 685 Said bin Brahim bin Umran Bakush (Algeria) aka Abdelrazak Ali
ISN 708 Ismael Ali Faraj Ali Bakush (Libya)
ISN 841 Said Salih Said Nashir (Yemen)
ISN 1017 Omar Mohammed Ali al-Rammah (Yemen)
ISN 1094 Saifullah Paracha (Pakistan)
ISN 1453 Sanad Al Kazimi (Yemen)
ISN 1456 Hassan Bin Attash (Saudi Arabia)
ISN 1457 Sharqawi Abdu Ali Al Hajj (Yemen)
ISN 1460 Abdul Rabbani (Pakistan)
ISN 1461 Mohammed Rabbani (Pakistan) aka Ahmad Rabbani
ISN 1463 Abd al-Salam al-Hilah (Yemen)
ISN 10016 Zayn al-Ibidin Muhammed Husayn aka Abu Zubaydah
ISN 10017 Mustafa Faraj Muhammed Masud al-Jadid al-Usaybi (Libya) aka Abu Faraj al-Libi
ISN 10019 Encep Nurjaman (Hambali) (Indonesia)
ISN 10021 Mohd Farik bin Amin (Malaysia)
ISN 10022 Bashir bin Lap (Malaysia)
ISN 10023 Guleed Hassan Ahmed (Somalia)
ISN 10025 Mohammed Abdul Malik Bajabu (Kenya)
ISN 3148 Haroon al-Afghani (Afghanistan)
ISN 10029 Muhammad Rahim (Afghanistan)

The 9 prisoners charged or tried

ISN 039 Ali Hamza al-Bahlul (Yemen)
ISN 10011 Mustafa Ahmad al Hawsawi (Saudi Arabia)
ISN 10013 Ramzi Bin Al Shibh (Yemen)
ISN 10014 Walid Mohammed Bin Attash (Yemen)
ISN 10015 Mohammed al Nashiri (Saudi Arabia) aka Abd al-Rahim al Nashiri
ISN 10018 Ali abd al Aziz Ali (Pakistan)
ISN 10020 Majid Khan (Pakistan)
ISN 10024 Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (Kuwait)
ISN 10026 Nashwan abd al-Razzaq abd al-Baqi (Hadi) (Iraq)

Note: For further information about the prisoners, see my six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list (Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five and Part Six).