Moheb Ullah Borekzai

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Born 1982 (age 40–41)
Shah Wali Koot, Afghanistan
Other names Moheb Ullah Borekzai
Citizenship Afghanistan

Muhibullah or Moheb Ullah Borekzai is a citizen of Afghanistan who was held in extrajudicial detention in the United States's Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba.[1] His Guantanamo Internment Serial Number was 546. American intelligence analysts estimate that Muhibullah was born in 1982, in Shah Wali Koot, Afghanistan.

He was captured in Afghanistan in November 2001, transferred to Guantanamo on May 5, 2002, and was transferred to Afghanistan on July 19, 2005.[2][3] US Intelligence analysts have asserted that Muhibullah was a recidivist, who, after his transfer, "engaged in terrorism or militant activity" and had "re-engaged in terrorism".[4][5][6]

When Borekzai and fellow Afghan captive Habir Russol were repatriated in July 2005, they provided the first account of a widespread hunger strike.[7][8][9] Borekzai also offered accounts of Quran abuse.[10]

Conflicting accounts of his real name

Guantanamo contained at least two captives with very similar names.[1] Guantanamo captive 974 was listed as Mohe Bullar on the official lists released on April 20, 2006, and May 15, 2006.

However, in the Associated Press interview he gave upon his repatriation his name was listed as Moheb Ullah Borezkai.[7][8][9][10]

Official status reviews

Initially the Bush administration asserted that they could withhold all the protections of the Geneva Conventions to captives from the war on terror.[12] However, in 2004, in Rasul v. Bush the United States Supreme Court ruled that the captives had to be informed of the justifications for their detention, and had to be given an opportunity to try to refute those allegations.[13] [14] [15]

Office for the Administrative Review of Detained Enemy Combatants

In response to the Supreme Court ruling in Rasul v. Bush the Department of Defense set up the Office for the Administrative Review of Detained Enemy Combatants, which conducted annual reviews of the captives status.[2] Borekzai had reviews scheduled in 2004, and he chose to attend both of them.

According to Andy Worthington, the author of The Guantanamo Files Borekzai had been a Taliban conscript, who was taken captive by post-Taliban forces, handed over the powerful militia leader Ismael Khan, who, in turn, sold him the US forces.[16] Worthington noted with skepticism that American analysts accepted the claim that 19-year-old conscript Borekzai was the "acting governor of Sheberghan". Addressing the claim of American analysts that he "was part of a tribal militia that supported the Taliban for three and a half years since 1998″ Worthington pointed out that "he was 15 or 16 years old, and was therefore not responsible for his actions, which, presumably, were dictated by his family.″

Muhibullah chose to participate in his Combatant Status Review Tribunal.[17]


The allegations Muhibullah faced, during his Tribunal, were:[17]

a. The detainee is a member of the Taliban.

  1. Detainee was recruited by Syed Sha Agha in late 1998/early 1999 to serve in the Taliban Security Force. The detainee worked in Kabul and carried a Kalashnikov rifle and ammunition for approximately one and a half years.
  2. Detainee worked for Syed Shah Agha or Abdul Bari, an official in the Sheberghan region, in Sheberghan, AF [sic], from November 2000 to February 2001 and again from September 2001 to November 2001. The detainee was responsible for civil dispute mediation.
  3. Detainee attended a dinner hosted by Commandant Kamal [sic] at his home in Towraghondi, AF [sic]. Kamal was warlord for Ismail Khan.
  4. The Detainee acquired a rifle from a Mujahideen fighter, Abdul Ghafar.
  5. Detainee surrendered to Northern Alliance forces in November 2001.

Response to the allegations

  • Muhibullah confirmed that he worked as a guard to Syed Sha Agha, but he disputed that he did so for a year and a half. Rather he was forcibly conscripted twice. Both times for periods of two or three months.
  • Muhibullah repeatedly stated that he did not understand the European date system.
  • Muhibullah stated that, in addition to guard duty his responsibilities including kitchen and other household chores.
  • Muhibullah confirmed his presence at a dinner where Commandant Kamal was present. But he did not know Kamal. He wasn't invited by Kamal. He was present merely to perform guard duty.
  • Muhibullah denied knowing anyone named Abdul Ghafar.

Administrative Review Board hearing

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 were not authorized to review whether a detainee qualified for POW status, and they were not 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.

The factors for and against continuing to detain Muhibullah were among the 121 that the Department of Defense released on March 3, 2006.[18]

The following primary factors favor continued detention

a. Connections/Associations

  1. The detainee worked for the Taliban Governor of Sheberghan and claims to have been the Acting Governor for a period of time. When the Taliban fell, he heeded instructions heard over the radio to surrender. The detainee turned himself in to forces under Ismail Khan. At the time of his surrender he was in possession of six Kalashnikov rifles.
  2. The detainee had a relationship with the Taliban, in that he served for them as a night watchman in Kabul over a two year period, and as a dispute mediator in Sheberghan.

b. Training

  1. The detainee admitted to receiving instruction in the use of AK-47 and RPG from his uncle.

c. Intent

  1. The detainee admitted to carrying an AK-47 in conjunction with his duties as a guard for the Taliban.

The following primary factors favor release or transfer

a. Other Relevant Data

  1. The detainee claimed he was forced into service with the Taliban and had no choice in the matter.


Muhibullah chose to participate in his Administrative Review Board hearing.[19]


On November 26, 2008 the Department of Defense published a list of when captives left Guantanamo.[20] According to that list Mohibullah was repatriated on July 19, 2005.

Reporters interviewed Borekzai, and Habir Russol, another Afghan who was released at the same time, on July 20, 2005, the day they arrived home.[21] In this interview they revealed that Camp Delta was in the midst of a widespread hunger strike. Borekzai and Russol estimated that over 180 detainees were participating in the hunger strike, and that it had been going on for over two weeks.[21][22][23] Initially DoD spokesman Flex Plexico denied any knowledge of a hunger strike.[24]

In her book Democracy Detained: Secret Unconstitutional Practices in the U.S. War on Terror Barbara Olshansky, a senior lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, attributed the first public news of the hunger strike to Borekzai and Russol.[25] She noted that DoD press officers initially denied there was a hunger strike, but that "over the course of the week following Russol and Borezkai's public announcement, the Defense Department was forced to admit that yet another strike was ongoing."

On July 21, 2005, three days after their departure, Plexico claimed that only a small number of detainees had been refusing food, and that they had only been doing so for three days. The lawyers of Guantanamo details later corroborated the details of the Afghans claims, saying that they had been aware of the hunger strike as early as June 23, 2005, but had not been able to say anything because of a DoD gag place on them.

Borekzai told the Associated Press the detainees were protesting because "some of these people say they were mistreated during interrogation. Some say they are innocent."[22] The two Afghans said they had been accused of being members of the former Taliban regime, but both said they were innocent.

Borekzai said that camp authorities had announced over the camp public address system that guards would stop showing disrespect to Quran, and that he was not aware of any recent incidents.[26]

Pentagon claim he had "returned to the fight"

On May 20, 2009, the New York Times, citing an unreleased Pentagon document, reported that Department of Defense officials claimed Mohibullah was one of 74 former Guantanatmo captives who "are engaged in terrorism or militant activity."[4][5][27][28][29] On May 27, 2009, the Defense Intelligence Agency published a "fact sheet" listing Guantanamo captives who had "re-engaged in terrorism".[6] It stated that Mohibullah was suspected of "association with the Taliban".


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "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. Retrieved 2006-05-15.  16x16px Works related to List of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from January 2002 through May 15, 2006 at Wikisource
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Margot Williams (2008-11-03). "Guantanamo Docket: Muhibullah". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-07-24. 
  3. "Measurements of Heights and Weights of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (ordered and consolidated version)". Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas, from DoD data. Archived from the original on 2010-06-13. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Elizabeth Bumiller (2009-05-20). "Later Terror Link Cited for 1 in 7 Freed Detainees". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2011-05-01. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Recidivism". New York Times. 2009-05-20. Archived from the original on 2009-05-24. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Fact sheet: Former Guantanamo detainee terrorism trends". Defense Intelligence Agency. 2009-04-07. Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Some Guantánamo Prisoners Have Gone on Hunger Strike". New York Times. 2005-07-22. Archived from the original on 2022-06-06. Retrieved 2012-07-24. "The Pentagon's account of the protest contrasted somewhat with that of two Afghans released on Monday from Guantánamo. The two, Habir Russol and Moheb Ullah Borekzai, said on Wednesday that more than 180 Afghans were on a hunger strike to protest mistreatment." 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Pentagon confirms Guantanamo Bay hunger strike". USA Today. 2005-07-21. Archived from the original on 2012-07-24. Retrieved 2012-07-24. "Habir Russol and Moheb Ullah Borekzai, who said they left the prison camp Monday and were flown to Afghanistan before being freed, said they did not participate in the hunger strike. They did not say how they knew others were refusing to eat." 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Two men claim hunger strike at Guantanamo". China Daily. 2005-07-21. Archived from the original on 2012-03-02. "Former Afghan Guatanamo prisoners Moheb Ullah Borekzai, left, and Habir Russol, right, get out of the car that took them to their release ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, July 20, 2005. The two Afghans released Wednesday after being detained at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba claimed that about 180 other Afghans held at the U.S. detention facility were on a hunger strike to protest alleged mistreatment and to push for their release." 
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Gitmo Inmate: Quran Abuse Over". CBS News. 2005-07-22. Archived from the original on 2011-02-02. Retrieved 2012-07-24. "An Afghan man released from Guantanamo Bay said he had seen guards throwing the Quran, but that all such abuse stopped late last year after a loudspeaker announcement that U.S. soldiers have no right to touch Islam's holy book." 
  11. Geoffrey D. Miller (2003-11-15). "Recommendation for Continued Detention Under DoD Control (CD) for Guantanamo Detainee, ISN US9AG000546DP". Joint Task Force Guantanamo. Retrieved 2012-07-24.  16x16px Media related to File:ISN 00546, Muhib Ullah's Guantanamo detainee assessment.pdf at Wikimedia Commons
  12. "Q&A: What next for Guantanamo prisoners?". BBC News. 2002-01-21. Archived from the original on 2008-11-23. Retrieved 2008-11-24. 
  13. Guantánamo Prisoners Getting Their Day, but Hardly in Court, New York Times, November 11, 2004 - mirror Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. Inside the Guantánamo Bay hearings: Barbarian "Justice" dispensed by KGB-style "military tribunals", Financial Times, December 11, 2004
  15. "Annual Administrative Review Boards for Enemy Combatants Held at Guantanamo Attributable to Senior Defense Officials". United States Department of Defense. March 6, 2007. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  16. Andy Worthington (2011-07-09). "WikiLeaks and the Guantánamo Prisoners Released After the Tribunals, 2004 to 2005 (Part Three of Five)". Retrieved 2012-07-30. "Somewhere in this story of local corruption and American gullibility, he was accused of being the acting governor of Sheberghan for the Taliban." 
  17. 17.0 17.1 Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Muhibullah's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 64-76
  18. Factors for and against the continued detention (.pdf) of Muhibullah Administrative Review Board - page 82
  19. Summarized transcript (.pdf), from Muhibullah's Administrative Review Board hearing - page 8
  20. OARDEC (2008-10-09). "Consolidated chronological listing of GTMO detainees released, transferred or deceased". Department of Defense. Archived from the original on 2008-12-20. Retrieved 2008-12-28. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 "Hunger strike confirmed at Guantanamo Bay". CBC. July 22, 2005. Archived from the original on 2012-11-07. Retrieved 2007-01-22. 
  22. 22.0 22.1 "U.S. military says 52 detainees at Guantanamo are on hunger strike". Baltimore Sun. July 22, 2005. Archived from the original on 2006-10-11.,0,7997960.story?coll=bal-attack-headlines. Retrieved 2007-01-22. 
  23. "Two men claim hunger strike at Guantanamo". China Daily. July 21, 2005. Retrieved 2007-01-22. 
  24. "Afghans tell of hunger strike at Guantanamo". Taipei Times. July 22, 2005. Retrieved 2007-01-22. 
  25. Barbara Olshansky (2011). Democracy Detained: Secret Unconstitutional Practices in the U.S. War on Terror. Seven Stories Press. ISBN 9781583229606. Retrieved 2012-07-25. "It was on July 20, 2005, just shortly after Senator Roberts' statement, that the June/July 2005 Hunger Strike was first publicly announced by two Afghani citizens, Habir Russol and Mohed Ullah Borekzai, who had been released from Guantanamo two days earlier. The Center for Constitutional Rights subsequently confirmed that the mass protest had been planned and begun in June 2005 and had occurred across all five camps. Once again, government officials at first denied the existence of the protests, but over the course of the week following Russol and Borezkai's public announcement, the Defense Department was forced to admit that yet another strike was ongoing." 
  26. "Koran abuse halted last year, says freed Afghan prisoner". Miami Herald. 2005-07-23. p. 16A. Retrieved 2012-07-25. "An Afghan man released from Guantánamo Bay said he saw guards throwing the Koran, but all such abuse stopped late last year after a loudspeaker announcement that U.S. soldiers have no right to touch Islam's holy book. Moheb Ullah Borekzai made the comments Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press, three days after he was freed from the prison camp in Cuba and flown home to Afghanistan." 
  27. "RAW DATA: Former Gitmo Detainees Who Returned to Terrorism". Fox News. 2009-12-29. Archived from the original on 2012-09-14. "Muhibullah. He was repatriated to Afghanistan in 2005 and later associated with the Taliban." 
  28. Mark P. Denbeaux (2009-06-05). "Revisionist Recidivism: An analysis of the Government's representations of alleged "recidivism" of the Guantanamo detainees". Seton Hall University. p. 35. Retrieved 2012-07-31. 
  29. Peter Bergen, Katherine Tiedemann (2009-07-20). "Appendix: Guantanamo: Who Really 'Returned to the Battlefield'?". New America Foundation. p. 4. Archived from the original on 2012-07-28.