Only 3 of 116 Remaining Guantánamo Prisoners were Captured by Americans…and 52 Have Already been Cleared for Release

Thursday, August 27, 2015
Saifullah Paracha, Obaidullah and Abdul Zahir (Dept. of Defense photos)

Guantanamo Bay has long been synonymous with the U.S., which has operated the notorious military prison for terrorism suspects since 2001. But it turns out that very few of those still held at Guantanamo were captured by American forces or intelligence operatives.


Of the 116 men still detained at the facility in Cuba, only three were apprehended by U.S. forces, according to The Guardian. The three are Pakistani Saifullah Paracha and Afghans Abdul Zahir and Obaidullah.


Pakistan was responsible for capturing the majority of the detainees: 68. Afghanistan contributed another 30, with the remaining 15 captured by nations that included Georgia, Turkey, Mauritania, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Thailand, Somalia, Kenya and Iran.


There are questions about the guilt of those captured by other than U.S. forces, according to Spencer Ackerman at The Guardian. He wrote, “the reality that nearly 85% of detentions at Guantánamo stem from foreign partners with their own interests in round-ups – overwhelmingly of Arab men in south Asian countries – rarely factors into the heated rhetoric from conservative politicians who warn of dire consequences should Barack Obama finally close the facility.”


Laura Pitter of Human Rights Watch told The Guardian: “There is great reason to disbelieve claims that detainees at Guantánamo are the ‘worst of the worst’, including the fact that many were sold to the U.S. for a bounty, not based on any real quality intelligence the U.S. had gathered.”


Even some U.S. officials, including former Guantánamo prosecutors, consider the worst-of-the-worst assessment “overblown,” Ackerman wrote, particularly for the 52 men who were approved for release five years ago but continue to be held at the facility.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Only Three of 116 Guantánamo Detainees Were Captured by U.S. Forces (by Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian)

Who’s Still Being Held at Guantánamo (Miami Herald)

Prisoners: Who’s Still Held? (

Federal Judge says Prisoner must Stay at Guantánamo because U.S. is Still at War in Afghanistan even if Obama Says War is Over (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


arcticredriver 8 years ago
Major Granger, is a well-meaning man, who worked at Guantanamo in its early years, as a hospital administrator. He is incorrect however to assert that the USA has not killed former captives. US Special Forces killed Sabar Lal Melna. US Special Forces were completely out of control, and were routinely brutal. They kept harrassing former Guantanamo captives, including Lal Melna. The Afghanistan High Peace Council was charged with trying to forge a peace with the Taliban. It consisted of highly trusted very senior Afghan elder statesmen. They told US generals that they believed Lal Melna was not a threat, and they wanted to use him as a liason to contact the Taliban. They wanted US Special Forces to quit busting into his home, after midnight, rousting him out of bed and dragging him off to be interrogated. US generals told the High Peace Council that Lal Melna would be left alone. Nevertheless, US Forces raided his home again, and they shot him. So, no Major Granger, you are incorrect to claim that the USA doesn't operate death squads. We know about Lal Melma because of his association with the Peace Council. We don't know how many other former Guantanamo captives have been killed the way Lal Melma has.
Montgomery Granger 8 years ago
663 detainees have been RELEASED from Gitmo; NONE have been executed, beheaded, hacked to death, blown up, dragged naked and lifeless through the streets or BURNED ALIVE. 30 percent of those released are KNOWN to have gone back to the fight. What about the remaining 70 percent we DON'T know about? Where are THEY? YOUR neighborhood? During WWII the U.S. held over 400,000 lawful combatant POWs without charge until the end of hostilities. Hostilities are still going on between us and the unlawful combatant Islamists who want to kill us, so why on God's green earth would we even DISCUSS releasing them? Worst of the worst, like the Taliban Five who were exchanged for a deserter are KILLING US.

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