Abdul Rahman Shalabi

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Abdul Rahman Shalabi
The orange jumpsuit issued to Shalabi shows Guantanamo authorities classed him as "non-compliant"
The orange jumpsuit issued to Shalabi shows Guantanamo authorities classed him as "non-compliant"
Born 1975-12-04
Medina, Saudi Arabia
Known for was held in extrajudicial detention in the Guantanamo for more than 13 years

Abdul Rahman Shalabi is a citizen of Saudi Arabia held in extrajudicial detention in the United States Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba.[1] His Guantanamo Internee Security Number is 42. Shalabi was one of the first 20 Guantanamo captives, arriving the day the camp opened, on January 11, 2002.[2]

Combatant Status Review Tribunal

Combatant Status Review Tribunal notice read to a Guantanamo captive. During the period July 2004 through March 2005 a Combatant Status Review Tribunal was convened to make a determination whether they had been correctly classified as an "enemy combatant". Participation was optional. The Department of Defense reports that 317 of the 558 captives who remained in Guantanamo, in military custody, attended their Tribunals.

Initially the Bush Presidency 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 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 Presidency's definition of an enemy combatant.

Summary of Evidence memo

A Summary of Evidence memo was prepared for Abdul Rahman Shalabi's Combatant Status Review Tribunal, on 26 October 2004.[3] The memo listed the following allegations against him:

a. The detainee is a member of al Qaida:
  1. The detainee traveled from his home in Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan, via Pakistan.
  2. While serving with al Qaida in Afghanistan, the detainee used the alias of Saqr Al Madani.
  3. The detainee served as a bodyguard to Usama Bin Laden from 1998 until June 2001.
  4. The detainee received back injuries during the 1998 bombing of al Qaida facilities in Afghanistan.
b. The detainee participated in military operations against the United States and its coalition partners:
  1. The detainee was present at the battle of Tora Bora.
  2. The detainee carried an AK 47 on the battlefield.
  3. Pakistan security forces captured the detainee in the company of 29 other Arabs attempting to enter Pakistan.

Abdul Rahman Shalabi v. George W. Bush

A writ of habeas corpus, Abdul Rahman Shalabi v. George W. Bush, was submitted on Abdul Rahman Shalabi's behalf.[4] In response, on 19 May 2005, the Department of Defense released eighteen pages of unclassified documents related to his Combatant Status Review Tribunal.

On 5 November 2004 Tribunal panel 19 convened, and confirmed his "enemy combatant" status, based on classified "evidence".

Detainee election form

The Detainee election form prepared by his Personal Representative record they met, for fifteen minutes, for a pre-Tribunal interview, at 8:15 am on 4 November 2004, the day before the Tribunal convened. It records:

Detainee will not participate. He affirmatively declined to participate and to have the PR represent him. He was silent throughout the reading of the script until he was asked if he wanted to participate. He then affirmatively declined, indicating that he did not trust the PR as he did not know him, did not trust the process as it is another game the US is playing.

Recorder exhibit list

The documents released in response to the habeas corpus petition contained a Recorder exhibit list.

Recorder Exhibit List For # 042
# Title Classification
RI Unclassified Summary UNCLASSIFIED
R2 FBI Certification Re: Redaction of National Security Information dtd dtd 27 OCT 04 UNCLASSIFIED
R3 FBI 302 did 16 MAR 02 FOUO//LES
R4 FBI 302 (000055DP) did 29 AUG 02 FOUO//LES
R5 FBI 302 (000252) did 17 MAY 03 FOUO//LES
R6 IIR 6 034 0743 03 SECRET//NOFORN
R7 CITF FM 40 (001452DP) dtd 14 JUN 04 SECRET//NOFORN
R8 CITF FM 40 (001457DP) dtd 15 JUN 04 SECRET//NOFORN
R9 Knowledgeability Brief dtd 01 FEB 02 SECRET
R10 CITF Recommendation Memo dtd 26 APR 04 SECRET//NOFORN
R12 IIR 6 034 0993 03 SECRET//NOFORN

Military Commissions Act

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 mandated that Guantanamo captives were no longer entitled to access the US civil justice system, so all outstanding habeas corpus petitions were stayed.

Boumediene v. Bush

On June 12 2008 the United States Supreme Court ruled, in Boumediene v. Bush, that the Military Commissions Act could not remove the right for Guantanamo captives to access the US Federal Court system. And all previous Guantanamo captives' habeas petitions were eligible to be re-instated.

On July 18 2008 Julia Tarver Mason filed a motion to renew Abdul Rahman Shalabi's habeas corpus petition.[5] The petition states that five other Saudi citizens who had been part of the original 2005 petition had been repatriated to Saudi Arabia. Their names were listed as: Saleh Al-Oshan, Zaben Al Shammari, Abdullah Al Otaibi, Fahd Nasser Mohamed and Musa Al Wahab.

The petition stated that the files the Department of Defense provided to his attorney's were incomplete[5]:

The factual return provided in May 2005, however, is incomplete and missing important substantive information about Shalabi and the evidence against him. Nor has the factual return been supplemented to include the record of further proceedings such as Administrative Review Board records. The complete classified and unredacted factual returns and the classified records of the Administrative Review Board will be necessary in pursuing the case.

The petition states that Shalabi was the subject of a 30-day notice.[5] The Department of Defense has transferred some captives who had habeas corpus petitions filed on their behalf to the custody of regimes where their lawyers felt their safety would be at risk. In response attorneys filed motions that the Department of Defense should advise them of plans to transfer captives' custody.

Hunger strike

Abdul Rahman Shalabi weight was recorded at least 217 times between his arrival and December 2006.

In May 2008 the Gulf News reported that Abdul Rahman Shalabi and Ahmad Zaid Salem Zuhair are the two remaining captives who have been on the hunger strike that started in August 2005.[6] No weights have been published for the first three months of the hunger strike—during which time he lost 26 pounds.[7] From then on his weight was recorded every three or four days. His height was recorded as 68 inches, putting the healthy range for his height at between 118 and 160 pounds.

On September 26 2009 Shalabi drafted a letter describing medical problems being made worse through medical decisions being countermanded by a new "officer in charge".[8][9] On November 3 2009 the Associated Press reported that a recent affidavit from David Wright the chief doctor at Guantanamo, stated Shalabi's weight had dropped to 49 kilograms (110 lb).[10] Julie Mason Tarver, one of his attorneys, claimed he was just a few pounds away from organ failure. Wright confirmed Shalabi's weight was recorded at 61 kilograms (130 lb) in May 2009. According to the Associated Press 29 other captives were participating in the hunger strike in late October 2009. An affidavit from Sondra Crosby, a Professor at Boston University's School of Medicine who examined Shalabi at the request of his attorneys, stated: "It is uncontested that Mr. Shalabi needs to be fed more calories, otherwise he will die." She said his weight loss could be due to other causes like hyperthyroidism, cancer or infection.

Shalabi's letter describes his force-feeding leaving him in great pain.[8][9] He describes the most recent officier in charge countermanding the decision to provide screens for the lights that shine in his eyes, and leave him with excruciating headaches.


  1. OARDEC (May 15 2006). "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. http://www.dod.mil/news/May2006/d20060515%20List.pdf. Retrieved 2007-09-29. 
  2. Carol Rosenberg (2021-03-27). "They Were Guantánamo’s First Detainees. Here’s Where They Are Now.". The New York Times (Washington, DC): p. A1. Archived from the original on 2023-06-28. https://web.archive.org/web/20230628084907/https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/27/us/politics/guantanamo-first-prisoners.html?unlocked_article_code=Tspffh2S76qJWDu_7-qMgf8Uh_yT7foYzOEhxEPON8NpD4lpCBSGGXI8Jy2d-UiPI0Pfqc6OkWR_LCM3XvcFKWwgPWGUbuLXBIyQuFEne7ULAdD0vZfcGu4d760A3TkavRmwEP-3crpp9LUCP1iJ5h6NRc4-AqhPjU6OyC-vHu-2Ayz7HpFwy7qVvNDNKodK6q7YDGj2EiUGglGm3u2FzmZsmJf5Njs7cg80he8hM-A-WcIJxIWjC5N1AFenQM8YLlPwK4sUDOXK5G3lrZ-0FFv-62LArpX_McFNVgAwkN2bFl2-gbmGa7Wgz_XtDvuqMvjhRVyPVYQKfB9cBg_M2DXPYykfZdWs&smid=em-share. Retrieved 2023-06-28. "He has since married and become a father, making good on a wish his lawyer set before the Guantánamo parole board in 2015 'to settle down, get married and have a family of his own, and put the past behind him.'" 
  3. OARDEC (26 October 2004). "Summary of Evidence for Combatant Status Review Tribunal -- Shalabi, Abdul Rahman". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 48-49. http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/csrt_arb/000001-000100.pdf#48. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  4. "Abdul Rahman Shalabi v. George W. Bush". United States Department of Defense. 19 May 2005. pp. pages 40-57. http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/csrt_arb/publicly_filed_CSRT_records_370-443.pdf#40. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Guantanamo Bay Detainee Litigation: Doc 137 -- Status Report". United States Department of Justice. 2008-07-18. http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/district-of-columbia/dcdce/1:2008mc00442/131990/137/0.pdf. Retrieved 2008-08-17. 
  6. "Saudi vows to stay on hunger strike at Guantanamo". Gulf News. 2008-05-23. http://archive.gulfnews.com/articles/08/05/24/10215620.html. Retrieved 2008-10-02.  mirror
  7. JTF-GTMO (2007-03-16). "Measurements of Heights and Weights of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba: ISNs 2-57". Department of Defense. http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/measurements/ISN_002-ISN_057.pdf. Retrieved 2008-12-22.  mirror
  8. 8.0 8.1 Jay Carmella (2009-11-09). "Guantanamo detainee: conditions have declined under Obama administration". The Jurist. Archived on 2009-11-10. Error: If you specify |archivedate=, you must also specify |archiveurl=. http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/paperchase/2009/11/guantanamo-detainee-conditions-have.php. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Abdul Rahman Shalabi (2009-09-26). "Abdul Rahman Shalabi v. Obama". United States Department of Justice. Archived from the original on 2009-11-10. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fjurist.law.pitt.edu%2Fpdf%2F291-5.pdf&date=2009-11-10. 
  10. Ben Fox (2009-11-03). "Guantanamo hunger striker losing weight". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2009-11-05. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Fhostednews%2Fap%2Farticle%2FALeqM5hh-pnd4U-q0DoBt-xwjwuVCwzaSQD9BO975G6&date=2009-11-05.