Lufti Bin Swei Lagha
is a citizen of Tunisia
held in extrajudicial detention
in the United States Guantanamo Bay detainment camps
, in Cuba
His Guantanamo Internee Security Number
The Department of Defense
reports that he was born on November 28 1968
After his repatriation from Guantanamo Lotfi Lagha stood trial in Tunisia, was convicted, and sentenced to three years imprisonment, for "associating with a criminal group with the aim of harming or causing damage in Tunisia.
Combatant Status Review Tribunal
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.
During the winter and spring of 2005 the Department of Defense complied with a Freedom of Information Act request, and released five files that contained 507 memoranda which each summarized the allegations against a single detainee. These memos, entitled "Summary of Evidence" were prepared for the detainee's Combatant Status Review Tribunals. The detainee's names and ID numbers were redacted from all but one of these memos, when they were first released in 2005. But some of them contain notations in pen. Approximately four dozen of the memos have a notation specifying the detainee's ID number. One of the memos had a notation, in pen, specifying Lufti Bin Swei Lagha's detainee ID.
The allegations he would have faced, during his Tribunal, were:
- 'a. The detainee is associated with al Qaida:
- #The detainee traveled from Italy to Afghanistan via Iran arriving in April 2001, after being inspired to perform jihad.
- #The detainee associated with several Tunisians at a cultural center in Northern Italy, and frequented elements of the Jama'at al Tablighi .
- #Among those who frequented the cultural center was at least one individual that belonged to a terrorist network that ensures financial support to terrorist groups while also actively recruiting for Usama Bin Laden sponsored training camps in Afghanistan.
- #Jama'at al Tablighi , a Pakistan based Islamic missionary organization is being used as a cover to mask travel and activities of terrorists including members of al Qaida.
- #The detainee was sent by the head of the terrorist network for military training in Afghanistan. He traveled, with a companion, to Afghanistan in early 2001.
- #This companion is a member of the terrorist network and a convicted terrorist.
- #The detainee received training at a paramilitary training camp.
There is no record that
Lufti Bin Swei Lagha chose to participate in his Combatant Status Review Tribunal.
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 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.
The factors for and against continuing to detain Lufti Bin Swei Lagha were among the 121 that the Department of Defense released on March 3 2006.
The following primary factors favor continued detention:
- 'a. Commitment
- #The detainee stole a boat to enter Italy illegally with an Egyptian and another Tunisian.
- #After arriving in Italy, the detainee used a false identification card.
- #The detainee traveled from Italy to Afghanistan via Iran arriving in April 2001 after being inspired to perform jihad.
- #The detainee paid cash for his tickets to Afghanistan and took $2,500 U.S. currency with him.
- #The detainee was recruited at a mosque in Italy. The recruiter provided him a travel route and a Tunisian contact in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
- #The Tunisian contact ran a training camp near Lake Duruanta prior to 2001. The contact owned a house which was co-located with the former training camp.
- #The Tunisian contact took care of the detainee's accommodations for six months. During this time, the detainee became acquainted with two other Tunisian nationals.
- #One of these Tunisians is a reported member of the terrorist group GIA (Armed Islamic Group).
- #The other had an extremist group which operated in Darunta and was connected to a known terrorist group, Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin.
- #The Armed Islamic Group (GIA) and Hizb-I Islami Gulbuddin are designated terrorist organizations. Hizb-I Islami Gulbuddin ran terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. They have staged attacks in an attempt to force U.S. troops to withdraw from Afghanistan.
- 'b. Training
- #The detainee was trained to use and automatic Austrian rifle in the Tunisian military.
- #The detainee was sent by the head of a terrorist network for military training in Afghanistan in early 2001.
- #This companion is a member of a terrorist network and a convicted terrorist.
- #The detainee received training at a paramilitary training camp.
- 'c. Connection/Associations
- #The detainee associated with several Tunisians at a cultural center in Northern Italy and frequeented elements of the Jama'at al Tablighi.
- #Jama'at al Tablighi, a Pakistan based Islamic missionary organization, is being used as a cover to mask travel and activities of terrorists including members of al Qaida.
- #Among those who frequented the cultural center was at least one individual that belonged to a terrorist network that ensures financial support to terrorist support to terrorist groups while also actively recruiting for Usama Bin Laden sponsored training camps in Afghanistan.
- #The detainee was hired by an individual who ran a Cultural Center in Milan.
- #The institute and the individual who ran the institute are linked to various Islamic extremist groups.
- #The detainee knew an alleged al Qaida member in Europe who frequented a mosque in Milan.
- #The detainee saw members of the Taliban while in Afghanistan.
- 'd. Intent
- After his arrest, the detainee told others that he was coming from the mountains of Tora Bora.
The following primary factors favor release or transfer:
- *Detainee stated that he went to Afghanistan as a tourist.
- *During his stay in Afghanistan, the detainee said that he spent his time fishing and recreating, and remained in Jalalabad the entire time. Once the war started he left Afghanistan.
- *Detaniee stated that he is a Sunni but he does not practice any particular belief system in Islam. He does not follow any particular person. He thinks al Qaida's belief system is strange and that they are not good.
- *Detainee stated that he doesn't have anything against the United States and he has no affiliation or knowledge of Usama bin Laden .
- *Detainee claimed he never was a fighter, never took up arms against the Americans or anyone else, and never trained in a camp in Afghanistan.
A two page transcript from the unclassified session of Lufti Bin Swei Lagha's Board hearing records his Presiding's Officer concluding he had not chosen
to participate in his hearing.
His Assisting Military Officer presented notes to the Board
from the Enemy Combatant election form.
These unclassified notes were not recorded in the transcript. Nor were they attached.
A Tunisian named Lotfi Lagha was repatriated from Guantanamo to Tunisian custody in late June 2007.
Bouazza ben Bouazza, of the Associated Press reports that Lofti Lagha was held in the Bagram Theater detention facility for several months in early 2002, prior to transfer to Guantanamo.
Lofti Lagha reports that his all eight of his fingers were amputated, against his will, while in American custody at Bagram, even though Pakistani doctors told him amputation was unnecessary.
He reports that American soldiers beat him and kicked him, when he awoke from the operation.
Lofit Lagha was held in a prison in Mornaguia "on charges of associating with a criminal group."
On September 2 2007 Jennifer Daskal, writing in the Washington Post, reported that Lofti Lagha, and another repatriated Tunisian were "...telling visitors that things are so bad they would rather be back at Guantanamo Bay."
Daskall wrote that Lotfi Lagha had been held in solitary confinement from June 21 2007, to August 7 2007, even though the Tunisian Civil Code only allows solitary confinement for ten days or less, and in spite of the Tunisian governments assurrance to the the US State Department that the captive would be treated humanely upon their return.
Trial and conviction
Lofti Lagha was convicted on Wednesday October 24 2007 of "associating with a criminal group with the aim of harming or causing damage in Tunisia."
Several other charges were dropped. The Associated Press notes: "Authorities did not name the group that Lagha was said to participate in or specify what its planned violence was." The Associated Press notes that his hands were still bandaged in 2007, five years after his fingers were amputated.
Lofti Lagha's lawyer, Samir Ben Amor, said that he had been beaten both in Guantanamo, and upon his return to Tunisia.
Cynthia Smith did not respond to the specific allegations that Lofti Lagha was abused, but repeated that all US captives were treated humanely.