Muhammaed Yasir Ahmed Taher

Muhammaed Yasir Ahmed Taher
Born 1980 (age 30–31)
Ib, Yemen
Detained at Guantanamo
Alternate name Mohammed Tahir
Mohammad Ahmad Ali Tahar
ISN 679
Charge(s) No charge (extrajudicial detention)
Status Released
Occupation Student

Muhammaed Yasir Ahmed Taher is a citizen of Yemen, who was held in extrajudicial detention in the United States's Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba.[1] His Guantanamo Internment Serial Number was 679. American intelligence analysts estimate he was born in 1980, in Ib, Yemen.

He is the younger brother of Ali Abdullah Ahmed, one of the three Guantanamo detainees who died in custody on June 10, 2006.[2]

He was repatriated on December 19, 2009.[3]

Contents

Background

Taher was apprehended by a mixed force of Pakistani and American counter-terrorism officials in March 2002. He was captured in an off-campus residence provided for students of Salafi University in Faisalabad, Pakistan together with a dozen other foreign students. He claims he was just a student at Salafi University, and had no ties to terrorism.

He faces the allegations that his photo was identified as someone who had been seen by an al Qaida member in Afghanistan, and that he had received a recruitment letter from the Taliban.

Combatant Status Review Tribunal

Combatant Status Review Tribunals were held in a trailer the size of a large RV. The captive sat on a plastic garden chair, with his hands and feet shackled to a bolt in the floor.[4][5] Three chairs were reserved for members of the press, but only 37 of the 574 Tribunals were observed.[6]

Initially the Bush administration asserted that they could withhold all the protections of the Geneva Conventions to captives from the war on terror. This policy was challenged before the Judicial branch. Critics argued that the USA could not evade its obligation to conduct a competent tribunals to determine whether captives are, or are not, entitled to the protections of prisoner of war status.

Subsequently the Department of Defense instituted the Combatant Status Review Tribunals. The Tribunals, however, were not authorized to determine whether the captives were lawful combatants -- rather they were merely empowered to make a recommendation as to whether the captive had previously been correctly determined to match the Bush administration's definition of an enemy combatant.

Summary of Evidence memo

A Summary of Evidence memo was prepared for Mohmmad Ahmad Ali Tahar's Combatant Status Review Tribunal, on 27 October 2004.[7] The memo listed the following allegations against him:

a The detainee is associated with the Taliban and al Qaida.
  1. The detainee traveled to Yemen from Pakistan in September 2001.
  2. The detainee was sent by the Jama’at al-Tablighi [sic] to travel.
  3. The detainee obtained his travel visa through Jama’at al-Tablighi [sic].
  4. The detainee was met by a member of Jama’at al-Tablighi [sic] in Pakistan.
  5. Jama’at al-Tablighi [sic], a Pakistan based Islamic missionary organization is being used as a cover to mask travel and activities of terrorism including members of al Qaida.
  6. The detainee was sent a personal greeting from the Taliban Deputy Minister of Intelligence.
  7. A senior al Qaida lieutenant recognized the detainee in a photograph.
  8. The senior al Qaida lieutenant ran an al Qaida safe house where a number of al Qaida members were captured.
  9. The detainee was captured in this safe house.
  10. The detainee stated that he is a terrorist.

Transcript

Tahar chose to participate in his Combatant Status Review Tribunal.[8][9] In response to a court order the Department of Defense was forced to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request and publish a sixteen page summarized transcript from Tahar's Tribunal.

Administrative Review Board hearing

Hearing room where Guantanamo captive's annual Administrative Review Board hearings convened for captives whose Combatant Status Review Tribunal had already determined they were an "enemy combatant".[10]

Detainees who were determined to have been properly classified as "enemy combatants" were scheduled to have their dossier reviewed at annual Administrative Review Board hearings. The Administrative Review Boards weren't authorized to review whether a detainee qualified for POW status, and they weren't authorized to review whether a detainee should have been classified as an "enemy combatant".

They were authorized to consider whether a detainee should continue to be detained by the United States, because they continued to pose a threat—or whether they could safely be repatriated to the custody of their home country, or whether they could be set free.

First annual Administrative Review Board

A Summary of Evidence memo was prepared for Mohmmad Ahmad Ali Tahar's first annual Administrative Review Board, on 2 June 2005.[11] The memo listed factors for and against his continued detention.

The following primary factors favor continued detention

a. Commitment
  1. The detainee traveled from Yemen to Pakistan in mid-September 2001.
  2. the detainee stated he is a terrorist.
b. Connections/Associations
  1. The detainee was sent to Pakistan by a member of the Jama'at al-Tablighi [sic].
  2. The detainee obtained his travel visa through the Jama'at al Tablighi.
  3. The Jama'at al Tablighi, a Pakistani based Islamic missionary organization, is being used as a cover to mask travel and activities of terrorists including members of al Qaida.
  4. A senior al Qaida lieutenant recognized the detainee in a photograph.
  5. The senior al Qaida lieutenant ran an al Qaida safe house where a number of al Qaida members were captured.
  6. The detainee was captured in this safehouse.
  7. The detainee was sent a personal greeting from the Taliban Deputy Minister of Intelligence.
c. Other Relevant Data
  1. The detainee stated if Muslim scholars said the attacks of September 11, 2001 were the correct actions to take, he would support the scholars.
  2. The detainee stated if Muslim scholars say that people must die, Muslims must follow their words.
  3. The detainee stated he wants the infidels, non-Muslims, destroyed.
  4. The detainee said those who do not follow Islam will go to hell or be killed.

The following primary factors favor release or transfer

a. The detainee denied having any knowledge of the attacks in the U.S. prior to their execution on September 11, 2001.
b. The detainee denied having any knowledge of any rumors or plans of future attacks on the U.S. or U.S. interests.

Transcript

Tahar chose to participate in his Administrative Review Board hearing.[12] In response to a court order the Department of Defense responded to a Freedom of Information Act request and published a twelve page summarized transcript from his first annual Review Board in the spring of 2006.

Second annual Administrative Review Board

A Summary of Evidence memo was prepared for Mohammad Ahmad Ali Tahar's second annual Administrative Review Board, on 22 March 2006.[13] The memo listed factors for and against his continued detention.

The following primary factors favor continued detention

a. Commitment
  1. The detainee wanted to study medicine in Pakistan. The detainee was told by a visiting Jamaat al Tablique [sic] missionary, that before he could do so, the detainee would have to study the Koran.
  2. In mid-September 2001, the detainee traveled from Sanaa, Yemen to Karachi, Pakistan via Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The detainee was met in Karachi by someone form the Jamaat al Tablique [sic] who took him to the Maki Mosque. The detainee then traveled to Lahore, Pakistan and spent two days there, then he went to a mosque in Raywant, Pakistan.
  3. The headquarters of the Tablique Jammat [sic] is located in Raywand.
  4. The detainee then enrolled at the Salafeyah University in Faisalabad, a university run by the Jamaat al Tablique [sic].
  5. After Ramadan, the detainee moved from university housing to an off-campus house with five fellow Yemeni. There were about 12 other students already at this house.
b. Connections/Associations
  1. A representative from the Jamaat al Tablique Mission [sic] went to the Pakistani embassy and got the detainee a visa.
  2. Tablique Jammat [sic] is a Pakistan-based Islamic missionary organization used as a cover for action by Islamic extremists, including members of al Qaida.
  3. The detainee was sent a personal greeting from the Taliban Deputy Minister of Intelligence.
  4. The detainee was recognized by a senior al Qaida operative as someone from the Crescent Mills residence in Faisalabad, Pakistan.
  5. A number of suspect al Qaida members were arrested at the al Qaida Crescent Mills safe house in March 2002.
c. Intent
  1. The detainee stated that he should be considered a terrorist.
  2. The detainee stated that if muslim scholars say that people must die, muslims must follow the scholars' words. The detainee stated if the scholars issued a fatwa for the attacks of 11 September 2001, then the attacks would have been legitimate.
  3. The detainee threatened to instigate an uprising in the Guantanamo camp, claiming that the Americans are assaulting Islam.
  4. The detainee advised he wishes to remain in the group of detainees who do not cooperated and who will never leave.

The following primary factors favor release or transfer

a.The detainee claims he did not respond to a fatwa. The detainee visited Pakistan to attend a university to study medicine to aid muslims. The detainee withdrew from the classes because they were too difficult. The detainee is not a Jamaat al Tablique member but needed their assistance to get into medical school.
b. The detainee noted that he did not observe any type of weapons, computers or telephones in the Issa house. The detainee further stated that he did not observe or hear anyone preaching about jihad or recruiting for the Taliban and al Qaida.
c. The detainee denied having any knowledge of the attacks in the United States prior to their execution on 11 September 2001 and also denied knowledge of any rumors or plans of future attacks on the United States or United States interests.
d. After being shown the HBO documentary In Memoriam: New York City, concerning the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City, the detainee said what he saw was a terrible event.

Third annual Administrative Review Board hearing

A Summary of Evidence memo was prepared for Mohammad Tahar's third annual Administrative Review Board on April 10, 2007. [14]

The following primary factors favor continued detention

a. Commitment
  1. In mid-September of 2001, the detainee traveled from Sanaa, Yemen, to Karachi, Pakistan via Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The detainee was met in Karachi by someone from the Jamat al Tabiligh [sic], who took the detainee to the Maki Mosque in Karachi, Pakistan. The detaiene then traveled to Lahore, Pakistan and spent two days there. The detainee then went to a mosque in Raywand, Pakistan.
  2. The headquarters of the Jamat al Tabiligh is located in Raywand, Pakistan.
  3. Jamat al Tabiligh is a Pakistan-based Islamic missionary organization believed to be used as a cover for action by Islamic extremists, including members of al Qaida.
  4. The detainee enrolled at the Salafeyah [sic] University in Faisalabad, Pakistan. The university is run by the Jamat al Tabiligh.
  5. The detainee stated that after Ramadan, a Pakistani took him and other Yemenis to an off-campus house. There were about 12 other students already at the house. Several months later, the detainee and the other occupants were arrested by Pakistanis and subsequently turned over to United States forces.
  6. A source identified the detainee as an occupant of the Issa house in Faisalabad, Pakistan in March 2002.
b. Connections/Associations
  1. The detainee stated an individual from the Jamat al Tabiligh mission went to the Pakistani embassy and obtained a visa for the detainee fro 25 United States Dollars.
  2. The detainee was sent a personal greeting from the Taliban deputy minister of intelligence.
c. Intent
  1. The detainee stated he should be considered a terrorist.
  2. The detainee stated that if Muslim scholars say people must died, Muslims must follow the scholars' words. The detainee stated if the scholars issued a fatwa for the attacks of 11 September 2001, then the attacks would have been legitimate.
  3. The detainee threated to instigate an uprising in the Guantanamo camp, claiming that the Americans are assaulting Islam.
  4. The detainee advised he wishes to remain in the group of detainees who do not cooperate and who will never leave.

The following primary factors favor release or transfer

a. The detainee claims he did not respond to a fatwa. The detainee visited Pakistan to attand a university to study medicine to aid Muslims. The detainee withdrew from the classess because they were too difficult. The detainee is not a Jamat al Tabiligh member, but needed their assistance to get into medical school.
b. The detainee noted he did not observe any type of weapons, computers, or telephones in the Issa house. The detainee further stated he did not observe or hear anyone preaching about jihad or recruiting for the Taliban and al Qaida.
c. The detainee denied having any knowledg of the attacks in the United States prior to their execution on 11 September 2001 and also denied knowledge of any rumors or plans of future attacks on the United States or United States interests.
d. After being shown a video concerning the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City, the detainee said what he saw was a terrible event.

Board recommendations

On January 9, 2009, the Department of Defense released two heavily redacted memos, from his Board, to Gordon England, the Designated Civilian Official.[15][16]

Press reports

Canadian journalist, and former special assistant to US President George W. Bush, David Frum, published an article based on his own reading of the transcripts from the Combatant Status Review Tribunals, on November 11, 2006.[17] It was Frum who coined the term "Axis of evil" for use in a speech he wrote for Bush. Tahar's transcript was one of the nine Frum briefly summarized. His comment on Tahar was:

"Another detainee, a Yemeni, explained that he had come to Pakistan to study medicine at a university. Unfortunately, the particular university he had selected lacked any medical faculty. He ended up instead studying Koran in a student guesthouse – and when one of his housemates suggested they take a sightseeing tour of Afghanistan, he agreed to go along. The housemate’s name? He had forgotten it."

Frum came to the conclusion that all nine of the men whose transcript he summarized had obviously lied.[17] He did not, however, state how he came to the conclusion they lied. His article concluded with the comment:

"But what’s the excuse of those in the West who succumb so easily to the deceptions of terrorists who cannot invent even half-way plausible lies?"

Habeas petition

A petition of habeas corpus was filed on his behalf Over two hundred captives had habeas corpus petitions filed on their behalf before the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 closed off the captives' access to the US civilian justice system. On June 12, 2008, in its ruling on the Boumediene v. Bush habeas corpus petition, the United States Supreme Court over-rode the Congress and Presidency, and restored the captives' access to habeas corpus.

On 18 July July 2008 Pardiss Kebriaei filed a "Petitioner's status report" on Mohammed Ahmed Taher's behalf in Civil Action No. 06-cv-1684.[2][18][19]

The Detainee Treatment Act and Military Commissions Act

Mohammad Ahmad Taher had a DTA appeal filed on his behalf.[2] The United States Congress passed the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Both these Acts included provisions to close of Guantanamo captives' ability to file habeas corpus petitions.[20]

The Detainee Treatment Act included a provision to proscribe Guantanamo captives who had not already initiated a habeas corpus petition from initiating new habeas corpus petitions.[20] The Act included provision for an alternate, more limited form of appeal for captives. Captives were allowed to submit limited appeals to panels of three judges in a Washington DC appeals court. The appeals were limited—they could not be based on general principles of human rights. They could only be based on arguments that their Combatant Status Review Tribunal had not followed the rules laid out for the operation of Combatant Status Review Tribunals.

Nine months later Congress passed the Military Commissions Act.[20] This Act contained provision to close off all the remaining outstanding habeas corpus petitions. After the closure of the habeas corpus petitions some Guantanamo captives had appeals in the Washington DC court submitted on their behalf, as described in the Detainee Treatment Act.

The DTA appeals progressed very slowly.[20] Initially the Department of Justice argued that the captive's lawyers, and the judges on the panel, needed consider no more evidence than the "Summary of Evidence memos" prepared for the captives' CSR Tribunals. By September 2007 the Washington DC court ruled that the evidence that formed the basis of the summaries had to be made available.

The Administration then argued that it was not possible to present the evidence the Tribunals considered in 2004—because the evidence had not been preserved.[20]

Only one captive, a Uyghur captive named Hufaiza Parhat, had his DTA appeal run to completion. On 20 June [2008 his three judge panel concluded that his Tribunal had erred and that he never should have been confirmed as an enemy combatant.

Repatriation

Carol Rosenberg, writing in the Miami Herald reported that Muhammaed Yasir Ahmed Taher [sic] was one of twelve men transferred from Guantanamo on December 19, 2009.[3] The other eleven men were: Ayman Batarfi, Jamal Alawi Mari, Farouq Ali Ahmed, Fayad Yahya Ahmed al Rami, Riyad Atiq Ali Abdu al Haf, Abdul Hafiz, Sharifullah, Mohamed Rahim, Mohammed Hashim, Ismael Arale and Mohamed Suleiman Barre. Abdul Hafiz, Sharifullah, Mohamed Rahim and Mohammed Hashim were Afghans. Asmael Arale and Mohamed Suleiman Barre were Somalis. The other five men were fellow Yemenis.

References

  1. ^ "List of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from January 2002 through May 15, 2006". United States Department of Defense. 2006-05-15. http://www.dod.mil/news/May2006/d20060515%20List.pdf. Retrieved 2006-05-15. 
  2. ^ a b c Pardiss Kebriaei (2008-07-18). "Guantanamo Bay Detainee Litigation: Doc 155 -- Petitioner's status report". United States Department of Justice. http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/district-of-columbia/dcdce/1:2008mc00442/131990/155/0.pdf. Retrieved 2008-09-28.  mirror
  3. ^ a b Carol Rosenberg (2009-12-19). "Guantánamo detention census drops to 198". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on 2009-12-20. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.miamiherald.com%2Fnews%2Fbreaking-news%2Fstory%2F1390584.html&date=2009-12-20. 
  4. ^ Guantánamo Prisoners Getting Their Day, but Hardly in Court, New York Times, November 11, 2004 - mirror
  5. ^ Inside the Guantánamo Bay hearings: Barbarian "Justice" dispensed by KGB-style "military tribunals", Financial Times, December 11, 2004
  6. ^ "Annual Administrative Review Boards for Enemy Combatants Held at Guantanamo Attributable to Senior Defense Officials". United States Department of Defense. March 6, 2007. http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=3902. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  7. ^ OARDEC (27 October 2004). "Summary of Evidence for Combatant Status Review Tribunal -- Tahar, Mohmmad Ahmad Ali". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 40–41. http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/csrt_arb/000500-000599.pdf#40. Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  8. ^ OARDEC (December 7, 2004). "Summarized Unsworn Detainee Statement (but see page 2 where the detainee agrees to take his own oath and makes a sworn statement):". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 84–99. http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/csrt_arb/Set_33_2302-2425_Revised.pdf#84. Retrieved 2008-03-06. 
  9. ^ OARDEC (December 7, 2004). "Summarized Unsworn Detainee Statement (but see page 2 where the detainee agrees to take his own oath and makes a sworn statement):". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 100–116. http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/csrt_arb/Set_3_0205-0319_Revised.pdf#100. Retrieved 2008-03-06. 
  10. ^ Spc Timothy Book (Friday March 10, 2006). "Review process unprecedented". JTF-GTMO Public Affairs Office. pp. 1. http://www.jtfgtmo.southcom.mil/wire/WirePDF/v6/TheWire-v6-i049-10MAR2006.pdf#1. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  11. ^ OARDEC (2 June 2005). "Unclassified Summary of Evidence for Administrative Review Board in the case of Tahar, Mohmmad Ahmad Ali". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 94–95. http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/csrt_arb/ARB_Round_1_Factors_000495-000594.pdf#94. Retrieved 2008-03-06. 
  12. ^ OARDEC (date redacted). "Summary of Administrative Review Board Proceedings of ISN 579". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 71–82. http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/csrt_arb/ARB_Transcript_Set_8_20751-21016.pdf#71. Retrieved 2008-03-06. 
  13. ^ OARDEC (22 March 2006). "Unclassified Summary of Evidence for Administrative Review Board in the case of Tahar, Mohammad Ahmad Ali". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 15–17. http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/csrt_arb/csrt_arb/ARB_Round_2_Factors_700-798.pdf#15-17. Retrieved 2008-03-06. 
  14. ^ OARDEC (2007-04-10). "Unclassified Summary of Evidence for Administrative Review Board in the case of". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 12–14. http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/csrt_arb/08-F-0481_FactorsDocsBates401-500.pdf#12-14. Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  15. ^ OARDEC (2007-09-10). "Administrative Review Board assessment and recommendation ICO ISN 679". United States Department of Defense. pp. page 539. http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/csrt_arb/08-F-0481_ARB3DecisionMemos2386-2953.pdf#539. Retrieved 2009-02-11. 
  16. ^ OARDEC (2007-05-08). "Classified Record of Proceedings and basis of Administrative Review Board recommendation for ISN 679". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 540–547. http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/csrt_arb/08-F-0481_ARB3DecisionMemos2386-2953.pdf#540. Retrieved 2009-02-11. 
  17. ^ a b David Frum (November 11, 2006). "Gitmo Annotated". National Review. http://frum.nationalreview.com/post/?q=OTQxMWVkMjJlNWZiMmE3ZmRlYTM5MDU4ZWFlOTQxOGY=. Retrieved 2007-04-23. 
  18. ^ Pardiss Kebriaei (2008-09-29). "Guantanamo Bay Detainee Litigation: Doc 594 -- Notice of Authorization". United States Department of Justice. http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/district-of-columbia/dcdce/1:2008mc00442/131990/594/0.pdf. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  19. ^ Lisa M. Kaas (2008-07-25). "Petitioners seeking habeas corpus relief in relation to prior detentions at Guantanamo Bay: Response to order to show cause". United States Department of Justice. http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/district-of-columbia/dcdce/1:2008mc00442/131990/237/0.pdf. Retrieved 2008-08-13. 
  20. ^ a b c d e Dahlia Lithwick (2007-10-17). "The Dog Ate My Evidence: What happens when the government can't re-create the case against you?". Slate magazine. http://www.slate.com/id/2176017/. Retrieved 2008-08-18. "Is the government taking the position that this evidence is both critically, vitally, and hugely important to national security, but also, um, lost? Not quite. But it is saying that the 'record' relied upon to lock up men for years is somehow so scattered among various Department of Defense 'components, and all relevant federal agencies' that it cannot be pulled together for a review."  mirror

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