A former Guantanamo detainee has disappeared after returning to Yemen, according to his family
Abdul Qader Al Muzaffari He was a young physician assistant who dreamed of becoming a doctor. No one could have imagined that at the age of twenty-five, he would be imprisoned for the next two decades, first by the United States, and then by the United Arab Emirates. Like many innocent Muslim men caught in the CIA nets right after 9/11, Muzaffari was kidnapped by US forces in Pakistan and flown, hooded and handcuffed, to the Guantanamo Bay prison. Held indefinitely as a suspected member of Al Qaeda, he has watched his future slip from our hands inside America’s most shameful prison. As one of the first Guantánamo detainees, he was tortured during interrogation and held for 14 years.
In 2016, with new hope that his ordeal might be over, Muzaffari was released and with him 14 more detainees. His homeland, Yemen, was too unstable to return to, but the UAE promised rehabilitation and resettlement. The third-state agreement, negotiated by the State Department, came as President Barack Obama’s early decision to close the notorious prison came to the end of his tenure.
But instead of showing Al-Mudhafari and his Yemeni colleague, Transfers An opportunity to recover from years of abuse, the UAE has imprisoned them – a move the Trump administration has ignored. One year of detention was extended to five years, with no contact with the outside world allowed. Lawyers relayed to Al-Dhafri’s family that he was deteriorating in solitary confinement. After pressure from lawyers and the media, Muzaffari and others They were finally released from custody in the UAE last month and handed over to the care of their families. Advocates had sought in vain to transfer former Guantanamo detainees to a safe third country such as Oman or Qatar, warning against returning to Yemen – a country embroiled in civil war, suffering the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
After his imprisonment in the United Arab Emirates, severely mentally disturbed Muzaffari is no longer the same man his family spoke to at Guantanamo. Amin Al-Mudhafari, a brother who lives outside Yemen, told The Intercept that it was not possible to identify his immediate family members in Yemen at all. He accused them of being Emiratis deceiving him. He refused to talk to anyone and became agitated and afraid when approached. Tasib al-Mudhafari was the only way the UAE security forces could persuade him to leave their base in Mukalla, a seaport in Yemen, and return to the capital with his brother and uncle.
On November 11, Muzaffari asked to leave the house for the first time since arriving at his family’s home. While he was accompanied by his family in the streets of the capital, Sana’a, Al-Mudhafari withdrew. Panicked, the family had no idea what had happened until an acquaintance confirmed their fears: He was arrested by Houthi militia members at a checkpoint.
“We do not know where he was detained.”
Amin said his disappearance stunned the family. After a two-decade fight for his release, one of his sisters is still in shock, and an older brother is taken to the hospital, where he stayed for days after hearing the news. (The Intercept is withholding the names of some members of the Muzaffari family, who fear persecution and reprisals for speaking to the media from their country of residence.)
Muzaffari has been detained since then at an unknown location. “He is hidden and he is not allowed to meet him,” Amin said via WhatsApp. “We do not know where he was detained.” In Yemen, cases of torture and disappearances within prison networks are frequent. The existence of secret prisons run by the Emirates, where Yemeni detainees are subjected to torture and US interrogation, well documented by the Associated Press and a Yemeni human rights lawyer Huda al-Sarari. The Houthis, the government of Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and other warring parties have done so everyone They are accused of running their own secret prisons to torture.
Abd al-Rahman Berman, a Yemeni human rights lawyer and executive director of the American Center for Justice, who worked to coordinate the Yemeni transfer, was not surprised by Mudhafari’s arrest. “Some of his returning comrades may be subject to kidnapping and enforced disappearance, especially since Yemen is in a state of war and chaos,” Barman told The Intercept in Arabic. Berman added that “most of the returning men belong to areas controlled by armed groups that do not respect the law and human rights,” referring to the UAE-backed Houthis. Southern Transitional Council.
Persecution by the Houthi rebels, who overthrew the Saudi-backed Yemeni government in 2014 and are now effectively in control 80 percent Of Yemen’s population of 30 million, the former detainees hold any hope of a new life in the country. The rebels belong to a Shiite movement backed by Iran, and they oppose the Yemeni government, al-Qaeda in Yemen and Islamic State fighters. As the United States suspects former Guantanamo detainees of involvement with al-Qaeda, they are at risk of kidnapping, disappearance, and assassination inside Yemen. The Emiratis have also imprisoned hundreds of Yemenis suspected of belonging to al-Qaeda or ISIS. to me Associated Press. Former Guantanamo detainees returning to Yemen are also targeted by al-Qaeda for recruitment.
Photo: Mohamed Howes/AFP via Getty Images
The long shadow of Guantanamo
After the United States was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council last month, President Joe Biden vow To “strengthen the accountability of governments that violate human rights” and “continue to work tirelessly in support of activists, human rights defenders and peaceful protesters on the front lines of the struggle between freedom and tyranny.” Biden’s speech highlighted the unique ability of the United States to stand up for human rights while committed to itself abuses neglect of its new victims.
Alka Pradhan, human rights advisor to Guantanamo Bay Military Commissions, tells The Intercept. “The US needs to publicly question the UAE about the men’s whereabouts and how they plan to ensure their safety.”
“The US needs to publicly question the UAE about the men’s whereabouts and how they plan to ensure their safety.”
Mansur al-Adifi, a former Guantánamo detainee, explained that beyond basic safety, most former Guantánamo detainees had no access to rehabilitation services, financial compensation, or the opportunity to live as a “normal person.” After 14 years in prison, Adivi, who is Yemeni, was forced to go to Serbia against his will in 2016. He described his life there”Guantanamo 2.0. “Ex-detainees have always talked about the constant harassmentAnd monitoring, And stigma Guantanamo brings them. “We still suffer from restrictions,” Al-Adifi said. “We cannot travel. We are not allowed to work. We are not allowed to have travel documents or a driver’s licence.” Without pressure from the United States, nothing would change, said Adivi, who now belongs to the prisoner advocacy group CAGE as coordinator of the Guantánamo project.
The continuing horrors of arbitrary detention at Guantánamo to endanger the lives of the men who passed through its wire-wrapped doors – and the 39 who remain in detention – is a failure of both the US press and government to adequately appreciate the abuses. that occurred in the aftermath of September 11th.
“It seems our policy is that as long as we are dealing with Muslim men, no one will care what happens to them,” Pradhan said. “So many of us have watched for 20 years that this policy has drained us of all credibility.”
In fact, it seems surprising that most Americans who are aware that Guantánamo Bay was not closed during the Obama administration Favor From an unspecified and unconstitutional detention center. fact that Most of the detainees were completely innocent It was simply sold to the CIA for money reward In poor countries it is still willfully misunderstood. Of the 780 detainees who were held at Guantánamo, only six men approached trial in the military court, Five in pre-trial hearings for their involvement in 9/11.
The domestic failure to address the legacy of Guantánamo has left the door open for the Trump administration to neglect the former detainees as they languish in secret prisons without adequate healthcare. For the Muzaffari family, this became a matter of life and death. “We have no choice but to follow up with the authorities in Sanaa,” Amin said. “We are trying to explain to the mediators his psychological and mental state, but we haven’t got any final promise yet to release him.”