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Abdul Salaam (Guantanamo captive 826)

Abdul Salaam is a citizen of Afghanistan, held in extrajudicial detention in the United States Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba.[1] His Guantanamo Internee Security Number is 826. Salaam's entry in the list of all the detainees names, released on May 15 2006, estimates that Salaam was born in 1975, in Birmal, Afghanistan.

Background

Abdul Salaam's family operated a hawala, a money exchange service, with branches in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates. During his Combatant Status Review Tribunal allegations that "two significant customers" of his hawala had "suspect links to al Qaida" was offered as the main justification for his detention.

The Associated Press reported that Lieutenant Terry Green described the last captive to go through his CSR Tribunal, on January 22 2005, was a 30 year old Afghan, who ran a hawala, who had two major customers who had ties to al Qaida.[2] Abdul Salaam testified that all of his customers were local people, and that the remittances they received from their over-seas relatives averaged around $50 per transaction. He denied knowing anyone who had any connection to al Qaida. He testified that he lived in an area of Afghanistan where the Taliban had never had a presence.

The allegations of ties to al Qaeda had been dropped by the time he had his first annual review in 2005. His 2005 Review Board recommended his repatriation in 2005.

Andy Worthington, author of The Guantanamo Files, reports that two other captives, Haji Osman Khan and Noor Aslam, were his brother and cousin.[3] According to Worthington Osman Khan and Noor Aslam, also worked for their family's hawala, and were apprehended in the same random sweep. Osman Khan and Noor Aslam were repatriated earlier than Abdul Salaam, and no Combatant Status Review Tribunals were convened to formally confirm their enemy combatant status.

Combatant Status Review Tribunal

From August 2 2004 through January 22 2005 the Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants convened a Combatant Status Review Tribunal for all 558 captives still detained in Guantanamo. A Summary of Evidence memo was prepared for Abdul Salaam's Tribunal, on 30 December 2004.[4] The memo listed the following allegations against him:

a The detainee is associated with the Taliban and / or al Qaida.
  1. In 2002, the detainee admitted he traveled to Pakistan to purchase a Kalashnikov.
  2. The detainee traveled between Afghanistan and Pakistan using routes that did not require a passport.
  3. The detainee has been involved with a money transfer process between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.
  4. The detainee opened a Hawala business located in Bermal, Afghanistan, which as suspected ties to al Qaida.
  5. Two significant customers of the detainee’s Hawala have suspect links to al Qaida.
  6. The detainee was arrested with an individual whose brother is reported to be a local Pakistan al Qaeda leader.
  7. The detainee’s brother is a suspected senior Taliban financial facilitator.
  8. The detainee was arrested with several contracts/documents, one of which was executed by Taliban authorities.
  9. The detainee is suspected of having connections to, and knowledge of, a local arms dealer, Faix Muhammad.
  10. The detainee was arrested during a sweep of the Bermal Town Bazaar, in which his brother, a suspected al Qaida money transfer agent was also apprehended.

Transcript

Salaam chose to participate in his Combatant Status Review Tribunal.[5] On March 3 2006, in response to a court order from Jed Rakoff the Department of Defense published a twelve page summarized transcript from his Combatant Status Review Tribunal.[6]

Testimony

Salaam acknowledged running a hawala, he acknowledged traveling to Pakistan to buy a rifle for personal protection. He denied any connection to al Qaeda or the Taliban. He stated all his hawala's clients were local people, that he had never transferred any funds for foreigners, that he kept records to document his transfers, and that the average transfer was around $100.

Salaam acknowledged that he didn't use a passport when crossing the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Salaam said that locals who lived near the border never used a passport. He said that Pakistan government didn't ask Afghanis to use a passport. He said his area of the Afghanistan was loosely governed and locals were permitted by the Afghan government and the American forces to carry arms. Every head of household was allowed to own a rifle.

Salaam denied being captured with someone who is the brother of an al Qaida leader, because he was alone, in his shop, when he was captured.

Salaam denied being arrested with Taliban documents and contracts. He assured his Tribunal that he had never signed any documents with the Taliban. He said he was not captured with any documents whatsoever.

Administrative Review Board hearing

Staring in December 2004 captives had annual Administrative Review Board hearings convened to consider whether they 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 another country, or whether they could be set free.

A Summary of Evidence memo was prepared for his first Review Board hearing on 24 August 2005.[7] The memo listed factors for and against his continued detention.

The following primary factors favor continued detention:

a. Detainee Actions and Statements
  1. The detainee's family owned hawallas (Money Exchange/Forwarding Business) in Bermal, Afghanistan; Miram Shah, Pakistan; and Al Amin, United Arab Emirates. The detainee worked in the Afghanistan and Pakistan locations.
  2. The detainee traveled between Afghanistan and Pakistan along routes where he was never asked for any identification or passport by either the Pakistanis or Afghanis.
  3. The detainee traveled to Miram Shah, Pakistan to purchase a Kalashnikov weapon.
b. Other Relevant Data: The detainee was arrested in his shop by Afghan and United States soldiers.

The following primary factors favor release or transfer:

a.

The detainee stated he is an honest businessman and has never received money on behalf of the Taliban or al Qaida or any other groups. He stated that the money received was from families from outside that country trying to get money on behalf of the Taliban or al Qaida or any other groups. He stated that the money received was from families from outside that country trying to get money to support their families in Afghanistan.

b.

The detainee has no knowledge of money transfers outside the three hawallas owned by his family in the United Arab Emirates, Miram Shah, Pakistan, and Bermal, Afghanistan.

c.

The detainee claims all he and his brothers were trying to accomplish was to make an honest living and provide for their families.

Transcript

Salaam chose to participate in his Administrative Review Board hearing.[8] In the Spring of 2006, in response to a court order from Jed Rakoff the Department of Defense published a seven page summarized transcript from his Administrative Review Board.[6]

Testimony

Salaam acknowledged that all the factors were correct.

In answer to questions from his Board's officers:

  • Salaam said that he and all his clients were of the Waziri tribe. Waziristan spans the Afghan/Pakistan border.
  • Salaam hadn't heard from his brother and cousin following their release, before his Tribunal. But he had heard from them by the time his ARB hearing convened. They were safely back in his village.
  • Salaam said that he was happy about Hamid Karzai's government and the help it received from America.
  • Salaam said that, if he were released, he would return to working in his family's hawallas.

Board recommendations

In early September 2007 the Department of Defense released two heavily redacted memos, from his Board, to Gordon England, the Designated Civilian Official.[9][10] The Board's recommendation was unanimous The Board's recommendation was redacted. England authorized his transfer on 7 October 2005.

External agency assessments and recommendations considered by his Board included those from the office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs; the CIA; the FBI; and the Department of State.[9]

References

  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. Template:Cite paper
  3. Andy Worthington (October 2007). The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America's Illegal Prison. Pluto Press. pp. pages 180. ISBN 0745326658. http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/?page_id=17. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  4. OARDEC (30 December 2004). "Summary of Evidence for Combatant Status Review Tribunal -- Salaam, Abdul". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 17-18. http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/csrt_arb/000600-000699.pdf#17. Retrieved 2008-06-01. 
  5. OARDEC (date redacted). "Summarized Statement". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 23-34. http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/csrt/Set_13_1240-1291.pdf#23. Retrieved 2008-06-01. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "US releases Guantanamo files". The Age. April 4, 2006. http://www.theage.com.au/news/World/US-releases-Guantanamo-files/2006/04/04/1143916500334.html. Retrieved 2008-03-15. 
  7. OARDEC (24 August 2005). "Unclassified Summary of Evidence for Administrative Review Board in the case of Salaam, Abdul". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 84-85. http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/csrt_arb/ARB_Round_1_Factors_000595-000693.pdf#84. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  8. OARDEC (September 9 2005). "Summary of Administrative Review Board Proceedings of ISN 826". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 259-265. http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/csrt/ARB_Transcript_Set_8_20751-21016.pdf#259. Retrieved 2008-06-01. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 OARDEC (7 October 2005). "Administrative Review Board assessment and recommendation ICO ISN 826". United States Department of Defense. p. page 53. http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/csrt_arb/ARB_Round_1_Decision_memos_000484-000582.pdf#53. Retrieved 2008-06-01. 
  10. OARDEC (9 September 2005). "Classified Record of Proceedings and basis of Administrative Review Board recommendation for ISN 826". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 54-58. http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/csrt_arb/ARB_Round_1_Decision_memos_000484-000582.pdf#54. Retrieved 2008-06-01. 

Salaam, Abdul

Salaam, Abdul