“Forever Prisoner” Salem Bin Kanad Receives Second PRB Hearing
By Adelma Jakupovic
Salem Ahmad Hadi Bin Kanad, a 40-year-old Yemeni citizen, went before the Period Review Board (PRB) this morning for the second time to give his plea for release. The panel previously determined that he should remain in custody, in part because of his history of fighting for the Taliban. Based on his personal representatives’ most recent statements, the panel will once again decide whether he poses a security threat to the United States, and whether continued detention is necessary.
The government alleges that Bin Kanad traveled from Yemen to Afghanistan to fight the Northern Alliance. He purportedly fought on the front lines in a Taliban unit, and may have had a low-level leadership role. The government also submits that Bin Kanad likely received training from al Qaeda, and claims that he has praised terrorist groups and their activities while at Guantanamo. Coalition forces captured him in Afghanistan in 2002 and detained him at Guantanamo for the last 14 years, without charge or trial.
His personal representatives read a statement describing him as cooperative. Bin Kanad willingly participated in the PRB process and conducted himself professionally throughout their meetings. He also has not posed any significant problems while at Guantanamo, living within a facility for only the most compliant detainees. In fact, as part of his previous role as a block leader, Bin Kanad was responsible for addressing detainee issues with the security guard force. He also worked closely with the Joint Task Force Medical team to manage his chronic illnesses, greatly improving his health and quality of life.
Bin Kanad has also taken English, Computer Science, and Life Skills classes at Guantanamo. He hopes to apply the knowledge once he is transferred and reunited with his family in Saudi Arabia.
Although Bin Kanad would like to be transferred to an Arab speaking country, he is open to any country willing to accept him. The U.S. government acknowledged that his family in Yemen and Saudi Arabia do not have links with extremist groups. Most of his family members have offered financial support and a place to stay, and will help him enroll in a vocational school so that he can pursue his studies in English and Computer Science. He hopes that his studies and sales experience in his father’s auto company will allow him to build a successful career in sales and marketing so he can financially support his daughters.
There are currently 89 detainees held at Guantanamo, 35 of whom are cleared for release. Most of the remaining population consists of uncharged detainees still waiting for review by the PRB. President Obama created the PRB in 2011, ordering that all eligible detainees be reviewed within a year, but the first hearing didn’t take place until November 2013. As of today, 37 detainees are eligible for PRB consideration, but have yet to begin the review process. Closing Guantanamo should be President Obama’s top priority, otherwise his goal of shuttering the prison before leaving office will be seriously compromised, leaving it to the next president.