Guantanamo Bay homicide accusations

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Guantanamo Bay murder accusations occurred after three Guantanamo prisoners, two of whom had already been cleared for release, may have been killed there and the deaths covered up.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

The story had been rejected when first shopped to several reporters, including Seymour Hersh, CBS News, ABC News, and NBC News. When asked about the decision, NBC's Jim Miklaszewski explained, "Ultimately I just didn’t find the story credible, quite frankly." It was later picked up by Scott Horton for Harper's Magazine. In 2011, it won the National Magazine Awards for Reporting.[7][8][9]


On 10 June 2006 three prisoners Mani al-Utaybi, Yasser al-Zahrani, and Ali Abdullah Ahmed died in the Guantanamo Bay detainment camps, allegedly at Camp No.[10]

The Pentagon informed the media that three detainees had been found dead, having "killed themselves in an apparent suicide act".[11] U.S. President George W. Bush expressed "serious concern" about their deaths, but Rear Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the Joint Task Force Guantanamo, said the men were dedicated terrorists and jihadists, and called the deaths "an act of asymmetric warfare committed against us."[12] The three prisoners, two Saudis and one Yemeni, were reported to have hanged themselves with nooses made of sheets and clothes.[12] All three were former hunger-strikers who had been force-fed.[12]

Suspicions emerge

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that news of the deaths raised skepticism over whether the Saudi men really killed themselves.[13]

According to a study led by an attorney for two Guantanamo detainees, and published by the Seton Hall University School of Law's Center for Policy and Research on 7 December 2009 titled "Death in Camp Delta,"[14] the government's investigation does not support that these men committed suicide by hanging themselves inside their cells.[15][16]

Contradicting accounts of the deaths

Four members of the Military Intelligence unit assigned to guard Camp Delta, including a junior NCO with only one ARCOM who was on duty as the sergeant of the perimeter guard (i.e. not a member of the cellblock guard force) the night of June 9–10, 2006, have presented an account that contradicts the report published by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). Their account suggests that the three prisoners who died on June 9, 2006, had been transported to another location prior to their deaths, and indicates that the deaths were either the result of serious negligence in treatment of prisoners under "enhanced interrogation" or that they were tortured so badly that they died.[2][3][17][18][19]

Colonel Michael Bumgarner, the commander of Camp America, said that each of the prisoners had had a ball of cloth in their mouth, either for choking or muffling their voices. The bodies of the three men who died at Guantánamo showed signs of torture, including hemorrhages, needle marks, and significant bruising. The removal of their throats prior or during the autopsy conducted by pathologists affiliated with the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology made it difficult to determine whether they were already dead when their bodies were suspended by a noose.[2]

The soldiers also say they had been ordered by their commanding officer not to speak out, and all four soldiers provided evidence that authorities initiated a cover-up within hours of the prisoners' deaths. The NCIS seized all written material possessed by the prisoners in Camp America, some 1,065 pounds of material, including privileged attorney-client correspondence.[2]

According to its spokeswoman Laura Sweeney, the Department of Justice has disputed certain facts contained in the article about the soldiers' account, which was published by the magazine Harper's.[20]


All three of the families of the dead men have challenged the American post-mortems.[21] The families all took steps to have second post-mortems after the bodies were returned to them.

Patrice Mangin, who headed the team that volunteered to examine the Al Salami's body, said that it was routine to remove some organs that decay rapidly.[21] Some family members had expressed concerns when the bodies were missing the brain, liver, kidney heart and other organs.

Mangin however said that the US authorities had kept Al-Salami's throat, and that his team couldn't state an opinion as to whether he hanged himself until it was returned.[21]

Dryboarding and the Guantanamo deaths

File:ISN 239.jpg
Shaker Aamer a fellow prisoner reported being beaten and dryboarded on the same day

In 2011 some former captives descriptions of a technique called "dry-boarding" started to be made public.[22][23][24] Like "water-boarding" dry-boarding is a technique intended to gain the cooperation of interrogation subjects through inducing the first stages of death by asphixiation. Unlike waterboarding, where a wet cloth is placed over a supine subject's airways, so breathing slowly fills their lungs with water, dryboarding induces asphixiation through stuffing the subject's airways with rags.

Ali Saleh al-Marri, apprehended at grad school and held in a Navy brig in the USA, described having rags stuffed down his throat, and then having his mouth and nose taped shut.[23][24] Almerindo Ojeda, director of the Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas said. "The dryboarding of Mr. al-Marri raises an unavoidable question,... Did the three individuals found hanging in Guantanamo die from dryboarding rather than by hanging?"

Shaker Aamer said that he was beaten for hours and subjected to interrogation methods that included a form of dryboarding on 9 June 2006, the same day the three prisoners died. Describing the event Aamer said that he was strapped to a chair, fully restrained at the head, arms and legs. When MPs pressed on pressure points all over his body: his temples, just under his jawline, in the hollow beneath his ears. They bent his nose repeatedly, pinched his thighs and feet. They inflicted pain to his eyes, bent his fingers until he screamed and when he screamed they cut off his airway and put a mask over him so he could not cry out.[25][26]

See also


  1. Lithwick, Dahlia (2010-01-20). "Too Terrible To Be True? Why aren't we talking about the new accusations of murder at Gitmo?". Slate. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Horton, Scott (2010-01-18). "The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle". Harper's magazine. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Magazine Raises Questions Over 3 Detainee Deaths". Associated Press / New York Times. 2010-01-18. 
  4. Worthington, Andy (2010-01-18). "Murders at Guantanamo: Exposing the Truth about the 2006 ‘Suicides’". The Public Record. 
  5. Usborne, David (2010-01-19). "Claims of US cover-up over Guantanamo deaths". The Independent (UK). 
  6. Spillius, Alex (2010-01-08). "Guantánamo 'suicides' were at secret 'black' site: Three Guantánamo Bay detainees whose deaths were ruled to be suicides in 2006 were taken to a secret site on the island hours before their deaths, it has been claimed". Telegraph (UK). 
  7. Koppelman, Alex, The National Magazine Award and Guantánamo: A Tall Tale Gets the Prize–Scott Horton's Harper's story about detainees' deaths doesn't hold up, Adweek, May 23, 2011
  10. Three Guantanamo detainees die in suicides, Reuters, June 10, 2006
  11. "Triple suicide at Guantanamo camp". BBC. 2006-06-11. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Baxter, Sarah (2006-06-11). "Three die in Guantanamo suicide pact". London: The Times (UK).,,2087-2220935,00.html. 
  13. Saudis allege torture in Guantanamo deaths, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 11, 2006
  14. Denbeaux, Mark; et al. (2009-12-07). "Death in Camp Delta" (PDF). Center for Policy and Research. 
  15. "SETON HALL LAW RELEASES LATEST GTMO REPORT, "DEATH IN CAMP DELTA"". Seton Hall University School of Law (press release). 2009-12-07. 
  16. Mark P. Denbeaux Faculty Profile, Seton Hall University School of Law
  17. Sullivan, Andrew (2010-01-18). "Three Corpses In Gitmo: The Very Worst Seems True". The Atlantic. Retrieved January 18, 2010. 
  18. Cobain, Ian (2010-01-18). "US magazine claims Guantánamo inmates were killed during questioning". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  19. Olbermann, Keith (2010-01-18). "Countdown". MSNBC. Retrieved January 20, 2010. 
  20. Maclean, William (2010-01-19). "Obama failed to probe Gitmo deaths, charity says". Reuters. Retrieved 2010-01-20. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 "Gitmo detainee buried after body cross-examined"]. Yemen Times. 2005-06-25. 
  22. Tony Bartelme (2011-10-12). "Memos detail Navy brig struggle: Military brass were denied OK to move terror suspects from Hanahan". Post and Courier. Retrieved 2011-10-15. "After the 2008 election, President Barack Obama transferred al-Marri's case to the federal court system. Al-Marri then pleaded guilty to conspiracy to support a terrorist group and was sentenced to 15 years."  mirror
  23. 23.0 23.1 Tony Bartelme (2011-11-06). "Do brig interrogations shed light on 3 deaths?". Post and Courier. Retrieved 2011-11-11. "The dryboarding of Mr. al-Marri raises an unavoidable question. Did the three individuals found hanging in Guant namo die from dryboarding rather than by hanging?"  mirror
  24. 24.0 24.1 Almerindo Ojeda (2011-11-03). "Death in Guantanamo: Suicide or Dryboarding?". Truthout. Retrieved 2011-11-11. "The news release was categorical with regards to the self-inflicted nature of the deaths. And the camp commander was equally certain of their hostile intent. Yet the news release was curiously guarded about the manner of these deaths - the three "appear" to have hanged themselves with nooses made of bed sheets and clothing, it said."  mirror
  25. Horton, Scott (18 January 2010). "The Guantánamo "Suicides": A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle". Harper's Magazine. Archived from the original on 18 January 2010. 
  26. Cobain, Ian (18 January 2010). "US magazine claims Guantánamo inmates were killed during questioning". The Guardian (London). Archived from the original on 18 January 2010. 

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