Ali Shah Mousavi

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Ali Shah Mousavi

Mohammed Ali Shah (محمد على شاه) is a citizen of Iran held in extrajudicial detention in the United States Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba.[1] His Guantanamo Internee Security Number is 1154. JTF-GTMO analysts report he was born in 1959, in Gardez, Afghanistan.


Captive was identified inconsistently on official Department of Defense documents:

  • Captive 1154 is listed as Said Mohammed Ali Shah on the official list released on April 20, 2006.[2]
  • Captive 1154 is listed as Ali Shah on the official list released on May 15, 2006.[1]

Press reports

During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan Ali Shah fought with a moderate military group, backed by the United States.[3]

After the Soviet withdrawal Ali Shah went to medical school, and became a doctor.[3]

On September 25, 2005, Newsday published two articles about Shah. One of them contains extensive excerpts from his Combatant Status Review Tribunal.[3][4] The other contains a long discussion of Shah's ethnicity and how unlikely this made the allegations contained within his dossier. Ali Shah's dossier accused him of running guns to the Taliban, and providing safe passage and a refuge to the fleeing family of a senior Taliban commander...

"...Ali Shah's family, scholars and a former high-ranking Taliban official - voice astonishment at the charges, saying they betray a basic ignorance by U.S. forces of Afghan politics."
That's because Ali Shah is a Shia Muslim, a member of the sect most brutalized by the Taliban and least likely to have any motive to help them. The American suggestion that a hard-line Taliban commander would send his family to Iran for safety is like imagining a former World War II Nazi general hiding his family in Israel, the Afghans said."

The Washington Post quoted from Shah's Administrative Review Board hearing.[5]

"Shah said that if he is freed, he would return to his hometown of Gardez to work as a doctor.
"'I would like to serve my people and my government under the light of peace and freedom,' he said."

Shah was profiled in "My Guantanamo Diary," published in the Washington Post by Mahvish Khan, an Afghan-American law-student and journalist, who has worked at Guantanamo Bay with Peter Ryan, one of the lawyers the Center for Constitutional Rights organized to conduct habeas corpus appeals.[6]

Combatant Status Review Tribunal

Combatant Status Review Tribunals were held in a 3 x 6 meter trailer. The captive sat with his hands cuffed and feet shackled to a bolt in the floor.[7] Three chairs were reserved for members of the press, but only 37 of the 574 Tribunals were observed.[8]

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 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 Said Mohammed Ali Shah's Combatant Status Review Tribunal, on December 9, 2004.[9] The memo listed the following allegations against him:

a. The detainee is associated with the Taliban and/or al Qaida:
  1. The detainee was captured with AK-47's [sic], a submachine gun, carbines, 21 hand grenades, and 7.62mm ammo at detainee's compound.
  2. The detainee entered Afghanistan from Iran in August 2003, carrying funds to be distributed to Anti-Coalition Militants (ACM) on behalf of Saifullah Rahman Mansour.
  3. Saifullah Mansour is the son of Mulavi Monsour for whom the detainee served as a Mujahadeen fighter during the Afghan-Soviet jihad.
  4. The detainee acted as Saifullah Mansour's representative in Iran.
  5. The detainee aided the transportation of Saifullah Monsour's family from Afghanistan to Iran to avoid capture by U.S. coalition forces.
b. The detainee supported hostilities against the United States and its coalition forces:
  1. The detainee distributed money and food to al Qaida fighters preparing to fight U.S. coalition forces.
  2. The detainee met with Taliban officials and military commanders in the February 2002 timeframe, to discusss transferring money to support al Qaida operatives preparing to fight U.S. coalition forces.
  3. The detainee distributed Kalashnikovs to be used in the Afghan-U.S. Jihad.


Said Mohammed Ali Shah chose to participate in his Combatant Status Review Tribunal.[10] On March 3, 2006, in response to a court order from Jed Rakoff the Department of Defense published a twenty-six page summarized transcript from his Combatant Status Review Tribunal.[11]

Witness requests

Said Mohammed Ali Shah's Tribunal President refused to allow him to call additional witnesses from among the camp population. He had previously requested the testimony of eight witnesses, three from Iran, three from Afghanistan, and two who were also Guantanamo captives. His Tribunal President ruled that the testimony of all eight witnesses would be relevant on December 20, 2004. All six "off-Island" witnesses were deemed not reasonably available. The testimony of Said Mohammed Ali Shah's more important Guantanamo witness was provided via an affidavit, due to an objection from the Joint Detention Operations Group. He was not allowed to testify in person, where Said Mohammed Ali Shah could question him.

Evidence request

Said Mohammed Ali Shah had requested two items from his wallet, on January 13, 2005. When his Tribunal was convened, on January 15, 2005, attempts to find his wallet in the evidence locker had failed.

Opening statement

Translation problems

The documents prepared for Said Mohammed Ali Shah's Tribunal were marred by translation problems, including:

  • allegations missing from the different versions issued to the Said Mohammed Ali Shah and to the Tribunal's officials.
  • Dates were inconsistently translated on the different versions used at his Tribunal.

Response to the allegations

Response to Tribunal questions

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".[12]

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.

Summary of Evidence memo

A Summary of Evidence memo was prepared for Mohammed Ali Shah Shayed's Administrative Review Board, on 20 December, 2005.[13] The memo listed factors for and against his continued detention.

Shah chose to participate in his Administrative Review Board hearing.[14]

Enemy Combatant election form

Said Mohammed Ali Shah's Assisting Military Officer reported on the Enemy Combatant election form he completed during his initial interview with him. They met on December 21, 2005 and December 22, 2005 for one hundred minutes and for ninety minutes. He described Said Mohammed Ali Shah as calm and cooperative.

The following primary factors favor continued detention

a. Commitment:
The detainee stated that in approximately 1986, he joined jihad. He fought against the Russians for five years during which he was shot in the neck and leg. He was fighting for jihad as a doctor for two years. Then he became a sub-commander or [sic] four years.
b. Training:
The detainee was trained by the Harakat Manqualab Aslami [sic] party to use the AK-47 during the jihad against the Russians. The detainee did use the AK-47 during the jihad.
c. Connections/Associations
  1. The detainee fought as a group leader with Nasrullah Mansour during the Russian Jihad. Nasrullah had a son, Saif Rahman Mansour, who became powerful in the Taliban.
  2. The detainee was introduced to a Mujahedin group, Hizb-I-Islami [sic]. He then went back to Afghanistan for over a month, where he was introduced to jihad. Approximately two years later, the detainee was wounded in the leg by government forces, after which he returned to Pakistan.
  3. A source indicated that as of June 2002, the detainee claimed that he was an agent of influence for Iran.
  4. A foreign government source reports that the detainee worked for the former Taliban Eight Division Commander, Saifullah Rahman Mansour [sic]. The source indicated that the detainee acted as Mansour's representative in Iran.
d. Other Relevant Date
  1. A source said that the detainee said the Iranians had given him $50,000 United States Dollars to distribute among Loya Jirga (Grand Assembly) delegates to buy their votes for the upcoming July 2002 parliamentary election.
  2. A source said that the detainee distributed this money to five Loya Jirga members from Paktia Province. The detainee stated that he expected to be elected to the parliament as one of the two representatives from Paktia Province.
  3. A foreign government reports that as of late April 2003, Mansour reportedly was receiving financial and logistical support from Iran.
  4. On 10 August 2003, the detainee returned to Afghanistan from Iran in order to distribute money to anti-coalition militants on behalf of Saifullah Rahman Mansour. The detainee returned to the Gardez, Afghanistan area with approximately $150,000 United States Dollars to be distributed to tribal leaders and representatives of 14 anti-coalition militant groups in Gardez area of Paktia province, Afghanistan. The detainee planned to hold a meeting with the 14 representatives on the night of 12 August 2003 or 13 August 2003, at which time the detainee planned to distribute the money.
  5. The detainee left Afghanistan in approximately February 2003, when he learned that United States Coalition Forces were seeking to detain him. The detainee is reported to have transported the brother of Saifullah Rahman Mansour, Latif Mansour, along with several unidentified members of Saifullah Rahman Mansour's family to an unknown location in Iran at that time.

The following primary factors favor release or transfer

a. The detainee stated that he never provided support to the anti-coalition militia, the Taliban or al Qaida. The detainee said that he fully supported the Coalition Forces and that there were recorded conversations with the Coalition Forces about the promise of democracy in Afghanistan. The detainee strongly believes that with the help of the Coalition Forces, democracy in Afghanistan is possible today. The detainee stated that even during the jihad, he did not work with those were against the United States.
b. The detainee advised that he only traveled with $550 United States Dollars prior to his arrest.
c. The detainee denied allegations against him including distributing Kalashnikov rifles, talking about selling or transporting Kalashnikovs on the radio or bing with Mansour against the government.
d. The detainee stated he never fought against nor assigned anyone else who fought against any United States Forces.
e. The detainee denied being a member of the Taliban or al Qaida and stated that he is against the Taliban.
f. The detainee stated that the 11 September 2001 attack was a big crime against humans and that everyone who is responsible are criminals.
g. The detainee indicated that the United States arrival in Afghanistan was saving of the Shia people.
h. When released, the detainee intends to go to Gardez, Afghanistan and be a medical doctor.
i. The detainee claimed he was wrongfully detained. He believes that someone told American Forces he brought back $150,000 United States Dollars from Iran to Afghanistan to fund anti coalition militant forces. The detainee denied these allegations. The detainee further related he has never had more that [sic] $1,000 United States Dollars with him.
j. The detainee listed numerous groups that could benefit from his detention. The possible opponents included opponents in a land rights court case, defeated candidates for Loya Jirga, the intelligence service, and former Communists.
k. The detainee stated that he once received a warning from the Taliban when he was attempting to run for tribal leader by the Deputy Minister of Zormat. The detainee was told that he had become Americanized and that he should be careful.

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.[15][16] The Board's recommendation was unanimous The Board's recommendation was redacted. England authorized his transfer on January 11, 2006.

Return to Afghanistan

The Washington Post reports that Ali Shah was one of sixteen detainees returned to Afghanistan in early October 2006.[17] They were held for several days by Afghan authorities before they were released on October 12, 2006.

Guantanamo Medical records

On 16 March 2007 the Department of Defense published medical records for the captives.[18] According to those records Mohammed Ali Shah was 68 inches tall. According to those records his weight was recorded 42 times between November 2003 and October 2006. His weight ranged from 154 to 184.


  1. 1.0 1.1 OARDEC (2006-05-15). "List of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from January 2002 through May 15, 2006" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. Retrieved 2007-09-29. 
  2. list of prisoners (.pdf), US Department of Defense, April 20, 2006
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 James Rupert, Tom Brune (2005-09-25). "One prisoner's story". Newsday.,0,6740141,full.story?coll=ny-nationalnews-print. Retrieved 2008-03-17. 
  4. "In transcript, detainee answers U.S. charges". Newsday. 2005-09-25.,0,3052763.story?coll=ny-worldnews-headlines. Retrieved 2008-03-17. 
  5. "Guantanamo Panels Try to Determine Intent". Washington Post. 2006-04-04. Retrieved 2008-03-17. 
  6. "Guantanamo Diary: Facing the War on Terrorism". San Jose Mercury. 2006-11-19. Retrieved 2008-03-17. 
  7. Inside the Guantánamo Bay hearings: Barbarian "Justice" dispensed by KGB-style "military tribunals", Financial Times, December 11, 2004
  8. "Annual Administrative Review Boards for Enemy Combatants Held at Guantanamo Attributable to Senior Defense Officials". United States Department of Defense. 2007-03-07. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  9. OARDEC (2004-12-09). "Summary of Evidence for Combatant Status Review Tribunal -- Shah, Said Mohammed Ali". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 56-57. Retrieved 2008-05-25. 
  10. OARDEC (date redacted). "Summarized Statement". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 110-135. Retrieved 2008-05-26. 
  11. "US releases Guantanamo files". The Age. 2006-04-04. Retrieved 2008-03-15. 
  12. (Spc Timothy Book (2006-03-10). "Review process unprecedented". The Wire (JTF-GTMO). pp. 1. Retrieved 2007-10-12. 
  13. OARDEC (20050-12-20). "Unclassified Summary of Evidence for Administrative Review Board in the case of Shayed, Mohammed Ali Shah". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 87-89. Retrieved 2008-05-25. 
  14. OARDEC (date redacted). "Summary of Administrative Review Board Proceedings of ISN 1154". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 257-273. Retrieved 2008-05-26. 
  15. OARDEC (2006-01-09). "Administrative Review Board assessment and recommendation ICO ISN 1154". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 83-84. Retrieved 2008-05-26. 
  16. OARDEC (2005-12-23). "Classified Record of Proceedings and basis of Administrative Review Board recommendation for ISN 1154". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 85-94. Retrieved 2008-05-26. 
  17. Exhausted, 16 Afghans freed after Guantanamo, Washington Post, 2006-10-12
  18. JTF-GTMO (2007-03-16). "Measurements of Heights and Weights of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba". Department of Defense. Retrieved 2008-12-22.  mirror

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