Innocent Afghani Released from Guantánamo…after Almost 6 Years

Monday, January 19, 2009
(photo: A. Pessin/Voice of America)

Despite previous assurances that the only prisoners left at Guantánamo were hardcore terrorists, the Bush administration, in its last three months, released 24 of the 269 Guantánamo detainees. One, a 29-year-old Afghani named Haji Bismullah, was flown back to Afghanistan just three days before Bush left office. From the day he was arrested on February 12, 2002, Bismullah tried to convince U.S. authorities that he was not a terrorist, and that he had actually fought against the Taliban. It took the Americans five years and eleven months to quietly acknowledge that he had been telling the truth all along. In fact, at the time that U.S. forces took Bismullah into custody, he was chief of transportation for the pro-American regional government of Helmand Province. A rival clan wanted Bismullah’s job and told American forces that he was a Taliban supporter to get rid of him. Bismullah spent the next 71 months in custody without being given a legal avenue to defend himself, and despite the fact that the Afghan government gave sworn statements on his behalf.

The Guantánamo Docket: Haji Bismullah (by Margot Williams, New York Times)


Leave a comment