Guantanamo Convenes Follow-Up PRB Review for Yassim Qasim Mohammed Ismail Qasim
The Guantanamo Periodic Review Board (PRB) convened Tuesday morning for the full review of Yassim Qasim Mohammed Ismail Qasim. Guantanamo detainees who are not cleared for transfer after their initial PRB are eligible for a follow-up review every three years following. In Qasim’s case, his full review came only six months after he was determined to require continued detention.
In their previous determination this past March, the board encouraged Qasim to continue “his recent display of compliant behavior” and “to work with his private counsel and personal representatives to further develop post-detention plans.” Since Qasim is a Yemeni citizen, the United States is prevented from transferring him home as per the current National Defense Authorization Act.
In this morning’s hearing, Qasim’s personal representative described how over the last year, his demeanor has changed significantly and that he has taken advantage of educational opportunities at Guantanamo, as per the recommendations of the board. She noted that “he is actively planning for a way to support himself to become a functional part of society” and that he couldn’t do this previously “because it was hard to see a future.”
She also pointed out that Qasim’s family says they’ll support him wherever he is transferred to, should he be cleared.
The U.S. government alleges that Qasim traveled to Afghanistan in 1999 and received extensive combat training. They believe that he led teams of al Qaeda fighters in Bagram and Tora Bora, where he was ultimately captured in 2001. He has been detained at Guantanamo since May 2002.
As we, and others, have noted, a number of Guantanamo detainees have been held at the detention center based on tenuous and suspect accusations with little evidence to back them up. Qasim admitted to staying in al Qaeda guesthouses, attending training camps, and associating with al Qaeda members, but maintains that he was never a member of al Qaeda, saying he trained to fight in Chechnya not Afghanistan, and deniesfighting in Tora Bora. It is unclear what specific evidence the United States has against him to support their claims.
Today, 60 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay, and 20 of them have been approved for transfer. To close the detention facility before he leaves office, President Obama should continue to transfer those cleared and hold full reviews for detainees previously slated for continued detention.