Definitions

haj

Atag Ali Abdoh Al-Haj

Atag Ali Abdoh Al-Haj is a Yemeni who was held in extrajudicial detention in United States Guantanamo Bay detainment camps, in Cuba. Al-Haj's Guantanamo detainee ID number is 256. Joint Task Force Guantanamo counter-terrorism analysts estimate that Al Radai was born in 1982, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Identity

This detainee was known as Atag Ali Abdoh Al-Haj when the unclassified dossier from his Combatant Status Review Tribunal was released to the Associated Press in early 2005. In the transcript of his Administrative Review Board hearing, released on March 3 2006 the Board officers referred to him as Al Haj. But the two official lists of Guantanamo detainees, released on April 20 2006 and May 15 2006, call this detainee Riyad Atiq Ali Abdu Al Haj Al Radai.

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.

allegations

The allegation against captive 256 from his Summary of Evidence stated :

'a The detainee is a Taliban supporter:
#The detainee voluntarily traveled from Yemen to Afghanistan.
#When he arrived in AF, the detainee was picked up in a car by a group of Taliban and driven to Kandahar.
#Once in Kandahar, the detainee stayed at a Taliban guesthouse for 2 to 3 weeks.
#Upon arriving in Kabul, the detainee stayed in another Taliban guesthouse, known as Kabul House, for a week.
#The detainee admitted he agreed to serve the Taliban.

'b The detainee participated in military operations against the coalition.
#The detainee was posted on the front line in Bagarah for a month, where he carried a Kalashnikov.
#While the detainee was posted on the front line in Bagarah, he carried a Kalashnikov rifle.

Response to the allegations

The captive's Personal Representative submitted a brief handwritten note to the Tribunal that said:

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 Al Radia were among the 121 that the Department of Defense released on March 3 2006.

The following primary factors favor continued detention:

'a. Al Haj is a Taliban supporter
#Al Haj voluntarily traveled from Yemen to Afghanistan.
#When Al Haj arrived in AF, the detainee was picked up in a car by a group of Taliban and driven to Kandahar.
#Once in Kandahar, Al Haj stayed at a Taliban guesthouse for 2 to 3 weeks.
#Upon arriving in Kabul, Al Haj stayed in another Taliban guesthouse, known as Kabul House, for a week.
#Al Haj admitted he agreed to serve the Taliban.

'b. Al Haj participated in military operations against the coalition.
#Al Haj was posted on the front line in Bagarah for a month, where he carried a Kalashnikov.

'c. Al Haj is an Al Qaida member.
#Al Haj is a suspected courier and recruiter for Al Qaida. Al Haj went home to Yemen often (every 5 or 6 months).
#Al Haj's name was found on a document listing Arabic names recovered from an Al Qaida safe house in Karachi, Pakistan.
#A foreign government listed Al Haj as an Al Qaida member whom they believe to be in Afghanistan as of 15 December 2001.

d. Based upon a review of recommendations from U.S. agencies and classified and unclassified documents, Al Haj is regarded as a continued threat to the United States and its Allies.

The following primary factors favor release of transfer:

*Detainee's Conduct: AL HAJ's overall behavior has been generally compliant and non-aggressive. Detainee has been found with extra food in his cell. On one occasion, he had to be removed from his cell and escorted to the interrogation room, on 21 February 2004. There have been no significant violations since.

Transcript

Al Radai did not choose to attend his Administrative Review Board hearing. But he dictated his responses to the factors to be presented on his behalf.

Enemy Combatant election form

His Assisting Military Officer told his Board:

According to his Assisting Military Officer he was told:

  • Everything on the Unclassified Summary was a big lie, and he thought he was still being detained because the USA was unable to admit it had made a mistake in holding him in the first place.
  • "Repeatedly and strenuously" insisted that he was not named Al Haj, and that the believed the allegations related to this other man, and not to himself.
    • During his interrogation in Bagram his interrogators thought he was named Al Haj.
    • He said his Bagram interrogators acknowledged that they knew they had captured a guy named al Haj, and may have confused him with the other man.
    • But none of his Guantanamo interrogators made the mistake of calling him Al Haj. So he was very surprised when his Summary of Evidence memo from his CSRT asserted he was Al Haj.

Responses to the factors

He didn't choose to attend his Board hearing. He dictated answers for his Assisting Military Officer to offer on his behalf.

  • He acknowledged voluntarily traveling to Afghanistan.
  • He denied knowing that the people who picked him up in Afghanistan were Taliban.
  • He did stay at a guesthouse, he was not aware that it was operated by Taliban of any kind. He did not know anybody at this guesthouse and his purpose for being there was to teach children the Koran.
  • Yes he was in Kabul for about a week. Again, he did not know it was associated with the Taliban in any way. His only reason for being there was to rest and visit the city.
  • He never admitted he agreed to serve the Taliban; that is absolutely incorrect. The only thing he ever agreed to serve were the Afghanistan people by teaching them the Koran.
  • When he was interrogated previously, he told them he was at the back lines not the front line and that he never carried a weapon of any type. His purpose for visiting the rear line was that he had heard when he was staying in this guesthouse that there was some disagreement or possible argument occurring among the Afghanis' who were at that location and that he wanted to go visit it for his on reasons. He was basically curious about the disagreements and wanted to see if he could possibly provide assistance.
  • He is definitely not al Qaida, has never been associated with al Qaida in any way. He says that we can check with the Yemeni government regarding his travels back and forth between these countries. He only traveled from Yemen once and that was the time that he left Yemen to travel to Afghanistan. He has never been back to Yemen since then and he had not previously left Yemen until that one trip. Again, he was strenuous in stating that this information could be easily verified by checking with the Yemeni government.
  • He was not in Afghanistan in December 2001. He had no idea how his name could be on any document listing him as being associated with al Qaida and this again must be the Al Haj that he says he is not, the different Al Haj.

References

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