Mohammed Kamin’s PRB Hearing
Mohammed Kamin, a Guantanamo detainee for over a decade, had a Periodic Review Board (PRB) hearing this morning. The 37-year-old Afghan is believed to have been a member of al Qaeda, “probably” worked for the Taliban, and may have planned weapons attacks against the United States. He has admitted to having ties to the Pakistani terrorist group Harakat ul-Mujahidin.
The PRB process was created in March 2011 by Executive Order 13567. It requires that detainees not already cleared for release or slated for trial to be periodically reviewed by a panel comprised of a representative from the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, Homeland Security, as well as the Offices of the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This panel determines whether or not the detainee continues to pose a threat or can be cleared for transfer.
Kamin was detained in Khowst, Afghanistan on May 14, 2003. He was stopped by Afghan authorities once it was discovered that he had a GPS device that contained grid points for key al Qaeda target locations along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Kamin was transferred to Guantanamo Bay on September 19, 2004. Though previously charged with providing material support to terrorism in the military commissions, the case against him was dropped several years ago. Since January 2010, Kamin has been labeled a Law of War detainee, and is not eligible for release nor is slated for trial.
In this morning’s review, Kamin’s personal counsel and personal representatives both claimed his links to the Taliban and al Qaeda are in the past and that he wants to move forward with his life. One of his representatives told how he was the first detainee at Guantanamo to shake her hand, while others refused because she is a woman. With regards to his past, she quoted him as saying, “I am a human and I know I made mistakes.”
Anecdotes like these are critical in Kamin’s case. Since 2007, he has refused to meet with interrogators at Guantanamo Bay. At the same time, he is known to be one of the most cooperative detainees at the prison. The government speculates that his refusal is due to “frustration that his past cooperation has not led to tangible progress toward his release.”
The members of the PRB panel this morning were given the opportunity to ask Kamin questions after the statements were read, but not a single representative took advantage of the opportunity.
The government is concerned that if Kamin was repatriated to Afghanistan, there is a high likelihood that he would return to the fight. His personal representatives, however, made clear that his family and tribe are in no way connected to terrorist-related activities, and are committed to supporting him once he returns. Kamin says that he would like to follow in the footsteps of his father and become a grocer, and that he misses his wife and his young son.
Even if Kamin’s transfer is approved, it’s unlikely that he’ll see home anytime soon. Transfers of cleared detainees have slowed to a crawl in recent months. Fifty-two previously cleared detainees are currently awaiting transfer, and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has not sent a single transfer notice to Congress since he took office.