Abu Baker Qassim

Abu Bakker Qassim

Abu Bakker Qassim is a Uyghur from China's western frontier, Uyghur Xinjiang Autonomous Region (also known as East Turkistan) who was held in extrajudicial detention in the United States Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba. His Guantanamo Internee Security Number is 283.

After being classified as "no longer enemy combatant" (NLEC) by the Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) he continued to be held in Cuba, in Camp Iguana. He has been transferred to Albania.. On September 17, 2006 he published an op-ed on The New York Times to ask the American lawmakers and people not to eliminate habeas corpus.

Background

In late 2001, Qassim was captured along with his compatriot A'Del Abdu al-Hakim by Pakistani bounty hunters. Qassim and al-Hakim were transferred to U.S. custody by the Pakistani forces and held in Afghanistan for approximately six months, and were transferred to "Camp Delta," on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, where they were detained as "enemy combatants." President Bush had ruled that the detainees were "illegal combatants" by administrative fiat. Following legal challenges, the Bush administration was forced to provide a mechanism to review the Guantanamo detainees status.

'a. The detainee was associated with the Taliban:
#In 2001, the detainee traveled from Kyrgyzstan, through Pakistan, then on to Jalalabad, Afghanistan to attend a training camp.
#The detainee attended a training camp in the Tora Bora Mountains that had been given to the Uighers by the Taliban for the purpose of training to fight the Chinese.
#The Detainee was at the camp for three months and spent two months learning the Koran and one month shooting an AK-47.
#After the U.S. bombing started, the Detainee and the other Uighurs went to the caves and stayed there until the Northern Alliance came to the camps.
#An afghani man sent the Detainee with approximately one hundred Arabs and twenty Uighurs to Pakistan, where they were captured.

Transcript

Qassim chose to participate in his Combatant Status Review Tribunal. On March 3 2006, in response to a court order from Jed Rakoff the Department of Defense published a ten page summarized transcript from his Combatant Status Review Tribunal.

Abu Bakr Qasim is a 35-year-old ethnic Uighur and a Chinese citizen, born in 1969, in Ghulja, China. He claims to have fled China in an effort to escape Chinese oppression of the Uigher people. After fleeing China, the detainee traveled to Afghanistan. He was last interviewed in mid 2004. He has no reported incidents of violence in his discipline history. Qasim is suspected as being a probable member of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM). He is suspected of having received training in an ETIM training camp in Afghanistan.

Determined not to have been an Enemy Combatant

The Washington Post reports that Patel was one of 38 detainees who was determined not to have been an enemy combatant during his Combatant Status Review Tribunal. The Department of Defense refers to these men as No Longer Enemy Combatants.

reclassification

In March 2005, the CSRT finalized its determination that they were NLECs. Qassim and Hakim were not informed of this determination until May 2005. The United States did not release the men, but did not return them to China because to do so would be a violation of US law prohibiting the deportation of individuals to countries where they would likely be tortured. The U.S. refused to admit them to the United States. Qassim, Hakim and other non-enemy combattants who could not be repatriated were transferred from the general prison population to Camp Iguana in August 2005.

Qassim was one of the 38 detainees whose Combatant Status Review Tribunal concluded he had not been an "illegal combatants". Some of those detainees were repatriated, once they were determined NLECs. Others, like, Qassim, and Sami Al Laithi, face possible torture if they are returned.

Seeking asylum

In March 2005, attorneys for Qassim challenged his continued detention by filing a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus in federal district court in Washington DC in the case of Qassim v. Bush. In December Judge James Robertson reviewed the detention of Qassim and A'Del Abdu al-Hakim. Robertson declared that their "indefinite imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay is unlawful," but also ruled on separation of powers grounds that he did not have the power to order their release into the United States. Qassim and Hakim immediately appealed.

A February 18 2006 article in the Washington Times reported that Abu Bakker Qassim and A'Del Abdu al-Hakim had received military training in Afghanistan. It said they were not classified as "illegal combatants" because they intended to go home and employ their training against the Chinese government. Some earlier reports had described them as economic refugees, who were slowly working their way to Turkey.

On April 17 2006 the US Supreme Court rejected Qassim's request to hear his appeal. His appeal was scheduled to be heard by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on May 8, 2006.

Press reports

On May 24, 2006 Abu Bakr Qasim told interviewers that he and his compatriots felt isolated in Albania. Qasim described his disappointment with the United States, who the Uyghurs had been hoping would support the Uyghurs quest for Uyghur autonomy.

In an interview with ABC News in May, 2006, Qasim said that members of the American-Urghur community had come forward and assured the American government that they would help him and his compatriots adapt to life in America, if they were given asylum in America.

To the BBC he said in January 2007 that "Guantanamo was a five-year nightmare, We're trying to forget it." "

On June 15 2008 the McClatchy News Service published articles based on interviews with 66 former Guantanamo captives. McClatchy reporters interviewed Abu Baqr Qassim. According to the McClatchy reporters his translators encouraged him to hope, while the American guards treated him with brutality:

According to the McClatchy report Sabin Willet told them that the China:

Abu Baqr Qassim described realizing he had to learn Arabic if he was ever to get out of Guantanamo. And when he was transferred to lighter security in a dormitory shared with Arabic speakers and other Uyghurs they set about taking informal Arabic lessons. Abu Baqr Qassim told reporters the Uyghurs request for paper, to make notes, was denied -- although the Guantanamo policy states that captives were to be issued a certain number of pages per month, for sending mail. He was punished by being sent to solitary confinement when guards found he had used napkins to take notes. When he got an attorney, and that attorney brought him books, so he could learn English, guards confiscated the books.

Now that he is in Albania, and his prospects of ever getting a passport or visa seem slim, he has started learning Albanian -- but without enthusiasm.

References

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