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Sultan Sari Sayel Al Anazi

Sultan Sari Sayel Al Anazi is a citizen of Saudi Arabia, held in extrajudicial detention in the United States Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba. His Guantanamo Internee Security Number is 507. American intelligence analysts estimate that Al Anazi was born in 1974, in Sakaka, Saudi Arabia.

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 a 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.

Summary of Evidence memo

A Summary of Evidence memo was prepared for Sultan Sari Sayel Al Anazi's Combatant Status Review Tribunal, on 27 September 2004. The memo listed the following allegations against him:

a. The detainee is associated with al Qaida:
#The detainee traveled from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan via Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Pakistan in July 2001.
#The detainee's name was found on a list of "Trust Accounts" for al Qaida mujahidin found in raids on al Qaida safe house in Pakistan, 11 September 2002 through 1 March 2003.

b. The detainee participated in military operations against the United States or its coalition partners.
#The detainee fled to the Zubair Center in Tora Bora in November of 2001 and was wounded in an air strike.
#The detainee was captured by coalition forces while convalescing at an unknown location after fighting in the [[Tora Bora region.

Transcript

Al Anazi 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 an eleven page summarized transcript from his Combatant Status Review Tribunal.

Opening statement

Al Anazi acknowledged traveling to Afghanistan. He said he traveled to Pakistan, as a tourist, and as one of a group of Tablighi Jamaat pilgrims. He said he not originally intended to go to Afghanistan at all. But this group decided to enter the Afghanistan border area to help the local Afghans learn how other people practiced Islam. They traveled to Afghanistan prior to the attack of September 11, 2001, but were not able to cross the border before the American bombings started. Many of his fellow pilgrims were killed during the bombing in which he was injured.

Al Anazi denied participating in any hostilities. In response to the allegation that he participated in military operations, he said:

"This is simply not true; I never fought in the Tora Bora region or anywhere else in Afghanistan for that matter. I have no expertise in military weapons or tactics. In fact, I dislike the military altogether and I have no desire to join. I dislike fighting in general."

Al Anazi denied being captured by coalition forces. He said that he sought out American or coalition soldiers to whom he could surrender, so he wouldn't be killed by accident.

Testimony

In response to questioning from the Tribunal's officers:

  • Al Anazi denied receiving military training in Afghanistan or Pakistan.
  • Al Anazi denied traveling to Afghanistan to engage in Jihad.
  • When Al Anazi was asked why decided to travel with the Tablighi Jamaat teachers he responded:
  • :"For tourism and to learn about the Muslim religion. Also, I am ill with a term called magic and demons or magic and the devil. When someone from Jamaat al Tibliq would stand over me and read from the Koran, the demon would be cast out."
  • Al Anazi said he could not explain how his name would end up on an al Qaeda list.
  • When asked to describe the "Zubair Center" Al Anazi explained that his interrogators must have misunderstood him. Zubair was not the name of a place. It was the name of the leader of his group of Tablighi Jamaat pilgrims.
  • Al Anazi told his Tribunal that no one in his group had ever carried any weapons.
  • Al Anazi said he had not planned to join in an Tablighi pilgrimage when he first traveled to Pakistan. He met them in a Mosque, was impressed by their scholarship, and decided to join them when they left the mosque a few days later.
  • Al Anazi said that he had his passport with him when he surrendered. He told his tribunal that the Afghans he surrendered to stole his passport, his wallet, his watch, even his shoes.
  • Al Anazi replied that he worked as a bus driver in Saudi Arabia, and he paid for his travels out of his savings.

Witnesses

Al Anazi had wanted to call other detainees as witnesses. But he couldn't because he didn't know their full names.

Administrative Review Board hearings

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.

First annual Administrative Review Board

A Summary of Evidence memo was prepared for Sultan Sari Sayel Al Anazi's first annual Administrative Review Board, on 2 May 2005. The memo listed factors for and against his continued detention.

The following primary factors favor continued detention:

a. Commitment
#The detainee traveled from Saudi Arabia; Bahrain; Karachi, Pakistan; Quetta, Pakistan; Kandahar, Afghanistan; Jalalabad, Afghanistan and finally Kabul, Afghanistan.
#The detainee met a member of the Islamic-based organization, Jamaat Tabliq , who convinced him to travel to Afghanistan.
#Jama'at Al Tabligh, 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 stated he had no specific reason for traveling from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan but felt he needed a change in his life. He eventually decided to go to Pakistan, explaining he had already been in most of the Arab speaking countries (Egypt, Syria and Lebanon).

b. Connections/Associations
#The detainee's name was found on a list of "Trust Accounts" for al Qaida mujahidin found in raids at al Qaida safehouses in Pakistan, 11 September 2002 and 1 March 2003.
#Due to the detainee's associations with known al Qaida operatives the detainee's name has been preauthorized for placement in appropriated United States government agency watch lists.
#The detainee's name and telephone number were on a list recovered from a safehouse raid associated with suspected al Qaida in Pakistan.
#The leader of the detainee's group at Tora Bora was named Zubair. Zubair was a member of the Jama'at Al Tablique and was killed in Tora Bora by bombings from U.S. Forces.

c. Intent
#The detainee came to Afghanistan to train but all of the camps were closed when he arrived.
#The detainee has made anti-American statements claiming that there should especially be a jihad in America until all Americans are dead or Muslim. This is because America supports the Jews and infidels. He has also stated that it is every Muslim male's duty to go fight the jihad and be Mujahadeen. The detainee plans to go back to Saudi Arabia if released and join the army just for the training and quit.

d. Other Relevant Data
#The detainee fled to the Zubair Center in Tora Bora in November 2001 and was wounded in an air strike.
#The detainee was captured by coalition forces while convalescing at an unknown location after fighting in the Tora Bora region.
#While imprisoned at Sarapuza prison in Afghanistan the detainee collaborated with other prisoners to hide money in mattresses and bed frames in his prison cell.

The following primary factors favor release or transfer:

a. The detainee insisted he never went to Afghanistan because of a fatwa or to fight a jihad. He was not recruited nor did he received financial or logistical assistance in traveling from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan. He stated he never received military training, he does not know any Taliban or al Qaida members and he has no knowledge of Taliban or al Qaida training.
b. When asked about the September 11, 2001 attacks the detainee stated that the killing of innocents, particularly women and children, is against the teaching of Islam. He also stated that if you have an enemy you fight that enemy specifically. You do not make war against civilians.
c. The detainee stated he never made the statement about a jihad in America. There must have been a misunderstanding because he did not believe in killing someone simply because he was not Muslim.
d. The detainee allegedly commented a Muslim's duty to jihad and his desire to kill nonbelievers and Americans. The detainee said that any comments made earlier would have been mistranslated.

Transcript

Al Anazi chose to participate in his Administrative Review Board hearing. In the Spring of 2006, in response to a court order from Jed Rakoff the Department of Defense published a twelve page summarized transcript from his Administrative Review Board.

Opening statement

Al Anazi told his Board that he had been tortured and humiliated.

Al Anazi assured his board that he was totally innocent.

Al Anazi explained that he believed that he was being held due to false denunciations other detainees had made in order to gain privileges or in order to secure their own release.

Al Anazi recanted any confessions he may have made while he was being tortured by American interrogators in Afghanistan.

Testimony

In answer to questioning from his Board's officers:

  • Al Anazi explained that he traveled by car to Bahrain because airline tickets were cheaper there.
  • Al Anazi explained that Saudi Arabia was very conservative, so young people liked to travel to have fun. Some young people tried to get girlfriends during their overseas travel.
  • Al Anazi clarified that he had never said there should be a jihad against America. He didn't believe that.
  • Al Anazi clarified that he did not plan to join the Saudi military.
  • When asked what he thought about the attacks on America on September 11, 2001 he said:

"As I stated before, I do not support [or] agree with this event at all. The one who did that doesn't have the right to do this because they were innocent, they were children, they were elderly and they don't have a reason to do it. That's all."

Second annual Administrative Review Board

A Summary of Evidence memo was prepared for Sultan Sari Sayel Al Anazi's second annual Administrative Review Board, on 23 July 2006. The memo listed factors for and against his continued detention.

The following primary factors favor continued detention:

a. Commitment
#The detainee went to Afghanistan for training, but all of the camps were closed when he arrives.
#In 2001, about four months before Ramada, the detainee decided to depart Saudi Arabia. The detainee traveled to Pakistan because he wanted to try something different.
#The detainee did not tell his family exatly where he was going because he did not know where he would end up.
#The detainee traveled from Saudi Arabia, to Bahrain, to Karchni, Pakistan, to Quetta, Pakistan, to Kandahar, Afghanistan, to Jalalabad, Afghanistan and finally to Kabul Afghanistan.
#The detainee met a member of the Islamic based organization, Jamaat al Tabligh, who convinced him to travel to Afghanistan.
#The Jamaat al Tabligh, a Pakistan based Islamic missionary organization is being used as a cover to mask travel and activities of terrorist including members of al Qaida.

b. Connections/Associations
#The detainee was identifed among a translated list of [[al Qaida Mujahedin. The contents of their trust accounts were found on file recovered from various computer media seized during raids against al Qaida associated safe houses.
#The detainee stated that the person he met while traveling to Karachi, Pakistan was a member of the Islamic based organization, Jamaat al Tabligh.

c. Other Relevant Data
#The detainee telephoned his family from a market in Kabul, Afghanistan. The detainee's family was not happy about him being in Afghanistan.
#The detainee heard about the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, from televions and radio announcements. The detainee knew that Osama bin Laden was a key suspect in the 11 September 2001 attacks.
#The detainee decided to leave Afghanistan after 11 September 2001. For two months the detainee tried to depart Afghanistan. The Afghanistan / Pakistan border was closed and the detainee could not leave. The advancing Northern Alliance forced the detainee to leave Kandahar, Afghanistan for the Tora Bora Mountains of Afghanistan.
#The leader of the detainees group, who had ties to Jamaat al Tabligh, was killed in the air striked they encountered while the detainee was surrendering from the Tora Bora Mountains of Afghanistan.
#The detainee surrendered after twenty-eight days in the Tora Bora Mountains of Afghanistan. The detainee was wounded during an air strike. The detainee was taken to an Afghan village for medical attention and recovery.
#Afghan Forces pladed the detainee in Baghram Prison, Afghanistan after he recovered from his wounds. Following detention in Baghram Prison, Afghanistan the detainee was moved to a prison in Kandahar, Afghanistan with a final prison destination of Camp Delta, Guantanamo Bay Cuba

The following primary factors favor release or transfer:

a. The detainee stated that any comments he made regarding a Moslem's duty to Jihad and the desire to kill nonbelievers and Americans had been mistranslated. The detainee had simply repeated an Islamic hadith stating that Moslems should seek to rid the world of infidels and kill Jews. The detainee never advocated violence and would only kill Americans in self-defense. (FN16)
b. The detainee wishes no ill will to Americans as they want peace all over the world.
c. The detainee stated that the killing of innocent people, especially women and children, is against the teachings of Islam. The detainee stated that if you have an enemy you fight the enemy and not make war against civilians.

Enemy COmbatant election form

The Enemy COmbatant election form filled out during his pre-hearing interviews, on 26 July 2006 stated:

Response to the factors and to Board questioning

His Presiding Officer referred to him as "Sultan".

  • Al Anazi denied traveling to Afghanistan for jihad. He denied every traveling to Afghanistan at all. He confirmed he had traveled to Pakistan. But he didn't go there in order to then enter Afghanistan. He said he traveled to Pakistan for medical treatment and tourism.
  • Al Anazi clarified: "It was not a medical treatment. It was something like magic, something about magic."

  • Al Anazi disputed that he didn't tell his family his travel plans. He stated he had told them he was going to Pakistan for medical treatment, and he stated: "I didn't leave until they agreed and gave me permission to leave."
  • Al Anazi confirmed that he left Saudi Arabia, through Baghram and Abo Dabbi , on his way to Karachi, Pakistan -- because it was cheaper that way. He disputed that he then traveled from Pakistan to Kandahar, or Jalalabad, or to Kabul, or anywhere in Afghanistan.
  • Al Anazi disputed that he met a member of Jamaat al Tabligh who convinced him to travel to Afghanistan.
  • Al Anazi confirmed that he had heard, however, of Jamaat al Tabligh.
  • Al Anazi disputed that his name could be on an al Qaida list of bank accounts. He disputed having a bank account. He suggested that there was a problem with someone whose name was similar to his.
  • Al Anazi disputed that he called his family from a market in Kabul, and repeated that he had never entered Afghanistan. He confirmed he had called his family from Pakistan.
  • When his Presiding Officer was curious as to why the allegations against him contained so many references to his presence in Afghanistan, and asked Al Anazi if he could explain that, he responded:

Yes I will. When the United Stated got attacked the United States advertised that, if any Arab person is caught and handed over, there would be a reward of about $5,000 to do so. Aft the same time, I was kidnapped by either an Afghani or a Pakistani. They thought they hit the jackpot when they sold me as an Arab person because they were poor people. They kidnapped and took me to Afghanistan and entered Afghanistan with me. When I entered Afghanistan, they put me in jail for about a month. There were some other prisoners in that prison. Some of the prisoners were Pakistani and others were Arabs. The Afghanis hit me many times and asked me to say and admit that I was with the prisoners there in that prison and that we were from Tora Bora. The tortures there were so big. We were tortured during the day, in the evening, and in the afternoon. You almost have to say that you are Usama bin Laden so they would stop torturing you.

  • Al Anazi said he believed his torturers were Afghanis. Some wore civilian clothes and some wore police uniforms.
  • Al Anazi was asked why, when he was handed over to the American in Bagram, he didn't simply tell them the truth. He replied that he did tell them the truth, but that they didn't believe him, and that they too tortured him in order to get him to repeat the story his Afghani captors had coached him to repeat.
  • Al Anazi confirmed that, in Guantanamo he had never repeated the story that he traveled to Afghanistan for jihad, that he had always told his interrogators the true story.
  • Al Anazi confirmed that was aware of the attacks of September 11, 2001, from TV and radio, and was aware that Usama bin Laden was a key suspect.
  • Al Anazi said he saw the attacks on TV the day after it happened, and his kidnapping was just a short time after that.
  • Al Anazi disputed that he had ever been turned over to Pakistani forces. He disputed he was captured in a group. He was alone when he was kidnapped.
  • Al Anazi estimated the gang who kidnapped him turned over about 20 captives to the Americans at the same time they turned him over.

Board Member Sultan, what was the illness for which you were receiving medical treatment?
Detainee I told the interrogators, during interrogation, that I was receiving more of a magic treatment. They performed magic on me.
Board Member What was the purpose for performing magic on you? You seem like a perfectly healthy guy just by looking at you.
Detainee This magic that they perform are more for preventing you from getting married. They performed this magic to prevent me from getting married for the rest of my life.

  • Al Anazi confirmed that he had not been wounded, and that he never received any treatment for a wound, or a wound-like ailment.
  • Al Anazi confirmed that he had heard about al Qaida. He said he heard about it, for the first time, from his initial kidnappers. However, he knew nothing about al Qaida.
  • Al Anazi confirmed that he did not like bloodshed. He disputed that he ever said he would kill Americans, even in self-defense.
  • Al Anazi repeated that he believes that he does not hold any ill will to America, because he believes they want peace and security all over the world.
  • Al Anazi confirmed that he believes killing innocent people is against the teaching of Islam.

Closing statement

Board recommendations

In early September 2007 the Department of Defense released two heavily redacted memos, from his Board, to Gordon England, the Designated Civilian Official. The Board's recommendation was unanimous The Board's recommendation was redacted. England authorized his transfer on August 14 2006.

On unredacted paragraph in the memos stated:

Repatriation

According to The Saudi Repatriates Report Al Anazi was one of sixteen men repatriated on December 14 2006.

References

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