“Karachi Six” Detainee Receives PRB Hearing
Yesterday the Guantanamo Periodic Review Board (PRB) convened to review the ongoing detention of Yemeni detainee Said Salih Rashid Nashir (referred to as “Hani”). Transferred to Guantanamo in 2002, Hani has been held there without charge or trial ever since. This was his second PRB hearing, in his initial one the Board concluded that he presented a continuing threat to the security of the United States.
Hani is one of the six Yemenis known as the “Karachi Six” who were arrested during raids in Karachi, Pakistan in September 2002. The government contends that he traveled to fight in Afghanistan in 2001, trained in an al Qaeda training camp, and admitted to a close association with the group’s external operations planners and senior leadership, including Walid bin Attash, who is currently in pre-trial hearings before the 9/11 military commissions case.
Both Hani’s personal representative and his private counsel Charles H. Carpenter prepared statements describing him as a “good natured” and “relatively simple, perhaps naive, man.” They expressed regret about the “miscommunication” that occurred during the first PRB hearing, when Hani had trouble answering questions. “Please bear this in mind when listening to Hani’s answers: he is not a professional or learned witness. Further, this hearing is highly stressful for him.” Carpenter also stated that they advised Hani to give more information on the circumstances that led to his arrest. They believe more detail on why he accepted money to travel to Afghanistan, what he knew would be asked of him there, and what kind of training he was given would be valuable.
Carpenter added that the situation for Hani in Pakistan was difficult, “Like a drowning man, he was not in a position to interrogate the man who threw him a life ring no matter how reasonable such questions may appear in 20-20 hindsight.”
As to Hani’s behavior at Guantanamo, his private counsel claimed that he has remained a “relatively compliant detainee.” On this point, the government conceded that he remains “mostly compliant with the guard force” and “has not directly voiced support for terrorism since mid-2015 but also has not renounced it.”
The government however took issue with Hani’s family, who are located in a town where al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is reported to have a strong presence. His apparent eagerness to reconnect with his family members−some of whom are alleged to have voiced support for AQAP−is a point of concern for the government.
Looking to the possibility of life after detention, Hani’s personal representative said she feels he is capable of making an honest living thanks to his background as an electrician and his coursework in art, computer skills, life skills, and English while at Guantanamo.
Should his transfer be approved, the number of Guantanamo detainees cleared for release would go up to 21. Human Rights First has urged the Obama administration to transfer as many of these detainees as possible before leaving office.