The man has been detained in U.S. military prison Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for 13 years without charge.
Now U.S. officials say that the man was held in part due to a case of mistaken identity. On Tuesday Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri heard officials admit that he was not a courier and trainer for al-Qaeda.
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Guantanamo detainee may have been misidentified by U.S. officials
In the first half of the hearing attendees were told that al-Shamiri was a low-level foot soldier rather than a trainer. The later part of the meeting was closed to journalists and it is not yet known whether al-Shamiri will be released.
The Yemeni citizen has been in Guantanamo Bay since June 2002. U.S. officials did not have enough information to bring him to trial, but kept him detained.
Al-Shamiri was considered a dangerous suspect, but now it turns out that it was partly a case of mistaken identity.
“It was previously assessed that YM-434 [al-Shamiri] also was an al-Qa’ida facilitator or courier, as well as a trainer, but we now judge that these activities were carried out by other known extremists with names or aliases similar to YM-434’s,” reads the now-declassified document.
History of a low-level Islamist foot soldier
Al-Shamiri is thought to have fought in Bosnia in 1995, and told officials that he “fought in Yemen’s civil war in 1996 and in Afghanistan for the Taliban from 2000-2001-including against the Northern Alliance and US forces-before his capture near Mazar-e-Sharif.”
The prisoner was accompanied by two representatives at the opening of his hearing. One of the representatives praised al-Shamiri for his “cooperative, enthusiastic and supportive” attitude.
“From the onset, he has demonstrated a consistent positive attitude towards life after Gitmo,” he said. “He has a strong desire to obtain an education in order to provide for a future spouse that his family has already located for him.”
Guantanamo Bay still houses 107 prisoners years after the September 2001 terror attacks. Inmates are not subject to U.S. law and authorities can detain them indefinitely without charge.
According to the report al-Shamiri was likely to have received explosives training in Afghanistan, and might have contacted the militants that bombed the USS Cole. However it admitted that “there are no other indications that he played a role in that operation.”