Gitmo’s “Lonely Heart” Receives Initial Review Hearing
By Molly Wooldridge
Yesterday the Guantanamo Periodic Review Board held a hearing for 51-year-old Afghan citizen Muhammad Rahim. Rahim, who has been held at Guantanamo for over eight years,has earned notoriety in the press for his fascination with American pop-culture and his supposed profile on the popular dating website Match.com, despite being one of seventeen Gitmo detainees classified as high-value.
Rahim was captured in Pakistan on June 25, 2007. The U.S. government alleges that Rahim was a senior al Qaeda member, serving as a translator, courier, facilitator, and operative for leaders including Osama bin Laden. Despite these allegations, Rahim has never been charged with a crime.
Rahim was the last person to enter the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. A brief account of Rahim’s detention is found in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence torture report.
The report details the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” the CIA employed on Rahim at black sites. These techniques included attention grasps, facial holds, abdominal slaps, dietary manipulation consisting almost exclusively of water and liquid Ensure meals, and eight extensive sleep deprivation sessions. During sleep deprivation sessions, Rahim was shackled in a standing position, wearing only a diaper and a pair of shorts. The longest session lasted 138.5 hours.
Rahim’s personal representative stated that Rahim regrets his past actions and that “he only did what he did for money.” He also delivered the message that Rahim does not have any ill will towards the United States. Rahim also has private counsel who attended the hearing, however, he chose to give his opening statement at the classified hearing.
Rahim’s personal representative’s assertions are in direct contradiction to the U.S. government’s. The government describes Rahim as a hardened al Qaeda member and claims that he “has become even more deeply committed to the group’s jihadist doctrine and Islamic extremism.”
However, Rahim’s public persona does not reflect that of a hardline extremist. Through letters to his attorney, Rahim offers a rare glimpse into the mind of a Guantanamo detainee. He writes about Caitlyn Jenner and Lebron James as well as American politics and philosophy. Rahim even joked with his attorney in one letter, requesting him to remove his profile from the Ashley Madison website after the scandal broke.
Seventy-six detainees remain imprisoned at Guantanamo, three fewer than this time last month after recent transfers. Thirty-four of these detainees have been cleared and are awaiting transfer. The Obama Administration should focus on transferring the cleared detainees, while not losing sight of its goal of completing all initial Periodic Review Board hearings by this fall.