Witnesses requested by Guantanamo detainees

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Detainees in extrajudicial detention in the United States Guantanamo Bay detainment camps, in Cuba, were, initially, not provided with any mechanism with which to challenge the allegations that kept them detained. Lawyers who volunteered to represent the detainees challenged various aspects of the legal basis of the Bush administration's policy on detainees in the war on terror. As a result of Rasul v. Bush the US Supreme Court ruled that detainees needed to be provided with a mechanism where they could challenge the allegations that kept them in detention. In July 2004 the Department of Defense responded by instituting Combatant Status Review Tribunals.

Detainees were allowed to request witnesses. The Presidents of the Tribunals had the authority to rule whether those witnesses would be "relevant". If the President ruled a witness relevant, the Tribunals officers were supposed to undertake good faith efforts to find the witnesses.

The determination of whether witnesses were relevant and reasonably available

Tribunal Presidents explained why they ruled that witnesses were not relevant. Others didn't. The President of Moazzam Begg's Tribunal, did explain, in detail, why she changed her mind over the relevancy of the witnesses Begg thought would validate his status as a Geneva Convention Prisoner of War.

  • When the Tribunal recognized that a witness was another Guantanamo detainee they were generally ruled relevant.
  • A few detainees declined to serve as witnesses.
  • Those witnesses who were recognized as Guantanamo detainees who were ruled relevant either appeared before the Tribunal, allowing the detainee to question them, or a Tribunal officer would visit their cell, and take a statement from them.
    • Originally, all witnesses who were Guantanamo detainees were invited to appear before the Tribunal, so the detainee could question them. At a certain point this policy was changed, so that witnesses could only appear before the Tribunals of detainees who were at their same security level.
  • None of the witnesses the Tribunal thought were off-Island, who the Tribunal's President ruled relevant turned out to be reasonably available.
    • Some Tribunal Presidents told the detainees that the Tribunal might reconvene if the witness could be found, and the President felt their testimony was still relevant. But none of the Tribunals ever reconvened to consider the testimony of witnesses who had originally been determined not reasonably available.
  • It was routine for Tribunal Presidents to assume witnesses who were also Guantanamo detainees were "off-Island".

Selected witnesses who were ruled not reasonably available

Selected witnesses who were ruled not reasonably available
Witness Requested by Notes
Shahzada Masoud
  • Mujahid was alleged to have been "fired from his appointed position due to suspicions of collusion with anti-government forces."[1]
  • Mujahid asserted that he had been promoted -- to traffic commissioner, and requested the members of the commission who visited him and recommended his promotion.
  • Advisor to Afghan President Hamid Karzai on tribal affairs, and leader of the commission that recommended Mujahid's promotion.[2]Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag
Gul Haider
  • Haider was the representative of the Ministry of Defense on the commission that visited Mujahid to offer him his promotion.[1]
Qari Esmhatulla
  • Qari was also a Guantanamo detainee.[3]
  • Although the Tribunal believed he was a Pakistani they requested information about him from the Government of Afghanistan.
  • The Tribunal spelled his name not as "Qari Esmhatulla" but as "Qari Enahmullah".
Abdullah Wazir Bostan Karim
  • Bostan Karim was told that Abdullah Wazir was "not reasonably available", although he was also being held in Guantanamo.[4]
Obaidullah Bostan Karim
  • Bostan Karim was told that Oabaidullah was "not reasonably available", although he was also being held in Guantanamo.[4]
redacted Fethi Boucetta
  • Boucetta both lived in and worked at the United Nation's refugee camp in Vershova, Pakistan.[5]
  • Boucetta's United Nations caseworker was an American woman whose name was redacted in his transcript. In spite of her American citizenship Boucetta was told she could not be located.
Menhal Al Henali Fethi Boucetta
  • Al Henali was a former Guantanamo detainee himself, who had supervised Boucetta's work at the United Nation's refugee camp in Vershova, Pakistan.[5]
  • Boucetta was told that Al Henali's testimony was not reasonably available since he couldn't be located.
Bemohab Mohammed Ghalib
  • Governor of Jalalabad.[6]
  • Ghalib felt he was a good choice of witness because he was well known to American officials in Afghanistan.
Mohammed Sahara Ghalib
  • Ghalib felt he was a good choice of witness because he was well known to American officials in Afghanistan.[6]
Rahim Wardak
  • The allegations against Yar and Khan described Wardak as an official in the Afghan Defense Ministry.
  • At the time they were captured Wardak was actually the Deputy Minister of Defense
  • Wardak was appointed Hamid Karzai's Minister of Defense in December 2004.
Ameur's Pakistani landlord Mammar Ameur
Gulam Rabani Mohammed Aman
  • At the time Aman was told that Gulam Rabani's testimony was "not reasonably available", because the Afghanistan government had not responded to a request to locate Rabani American intelligence officials had two brothers named: Mohammed Ahmad Ghulam Rabbani and Abdul Al-Rahim Ghulam Rabbani.
Mohammed Salim Mahbub Rahman
  • Mahbub Rahman's Tribunal's President told him that Salim had been located, in the Bagram detention facility.[7] But the authorities at Bagram had not replied the Tribunal's request for Salim's testimony. Rahman was a minor when captured. Salim was a fellow student at the madrassa he attended.
Rahman Tulah Mahbub Rahman
  • Rahman testified Tulah was captured together with him.[7] Tulah was a fellow student at the madrassa he attended.
Mohammed Ibrahim Mohammed Yacoub
  • His boss was a Mohammed Ibrahim, who was the senior purchasing agent at the Taliban-affiliated department store. An individual named Mohammed Ibrahim was the Taliban Deputy Director of Intelligence. Guantanamo counter-terrorism analysts were convinced one individual named Mohammed Ibrahim held down both jobs.
Mohabat Khan Shardar Khan
  • Mohabet Khan and Shardar Khan were captured at the same time.[8]
  • Mohabet Khan was present in Guantanamo, but Shardar Khan's Tribunal's President ruled that he could not be identified.


{{reflist|refs= [9]

[10] "Guardian finds Afghan witnesses US couldn't". The Guardian (Gardez, Afghanistan). 2006-06-30. Archived from the original on 2019-01-13. https://web.archive.org/web/20190113062647/https://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/jun/30/afghanistan.guantanamo. Retrieved 2020-08-28. "But by the time the review tribunals ended last year the US government had located just a handful of the requested witnesses. None was brought from overseas to testify. The military lawyers simply said they were "non-contactable". That was not entirely true."  </ref>

.  </ref>

.  </ref>

.  </ref>


  1. 1.0 1.1 Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Abdullah Mujahid's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 1-21
  2. Guantanamo Bay detainees not given access to witnesses despite availability, The Jurist, June 18 2006
  3. Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Abdul Nasir's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 5-10
  4. 4.0 4.1 Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Bostan Karim's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 77-83
  5. 5.0 5.1 Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Fethi Boucetta's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - mirror - pages 50-54
  6. 6.0 6.1 Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Ghalib's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 1-10
  7. 7.0 7.1 Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Mahbub Rahman'sCombatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 93-108
  8. Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Shardar Khan's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 1-9
  9. Farah Stockman; Declan Walsh (2006-06-18). "Detainees not given access to witnesses: But in one case, 3 quickly found". Boston Globe (Gardez, Afghanistan). Archived from the original on 2018-09-23. https://web.archive.org/web/20180923003707/http://archive.boston.com/news/world/asia/articles/2006/06/18/detainees_not_given_access_to_witnesses/. Retrieved 2007-03-25. "The US government routinely failed to give detainees at Guantanamo Bay access to witnesses who might have helped them prove their assertions of innocence, saying it could not locate the vast majority of the witnesses the terror suspects requested at special military hearings." 
  10. [1], The Guardian, June 30 2006