Wrong Guy Has Been Held at Gitmo for 13 Years

Yemeni national was mistaken for al-Qaeda honcho
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2015 1:30 AM CST
Updated Dec 2, 2015 6:08 AM CST
Wrong Guy Has Been Held at Gitmo for 13 Years
A US trooper stands in the turret of a vehicle with a machine gun, left, as a guard looks out from a tower at the detention facility of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

A 37-year-old man named Mustafa Abd-al-Qawi Abd-al-Aziz al-Shamiri has spent most of his adult life as a Guantanamo prisoner because of some confusion over his name, US authorities have admitted. A Defense Department review, which calls the Yemeni national "YM-434," states that he was initially thought to be an al-Qaeda "facilitator or courier, as well as a trainer," but in the 13 years after his capture, it has been determined that "these activities were carried out by other known extremists with names or aliases similar to YM-434," the Guardian reports. Shamiri was captured in Afghanistan in 2002 and is now thought to be an Islamist foot soldier who had fought in various conflicts since he was around 16 years old, reports the Miami Herald.

The Army lieutenant colonel who argued Shamiri's case before a parole board on Tuesday said Shamiri has "remorse for choosing the wrong path early in life" and "has attended English and art classes, in addition to acquiring carpentry and cooking skills" to prepare for life after Gitmo, the Herald reports. Shamiri, held without charge since 2002, is one of 107 prisoners still at Guantanamo Bay, but even if he's cleared for release (as 48 others have been), the Defense Department considers his homeland too unstable to release him to, the Guardian notes. The Wall Street Journal reports that the White House has rejected the latest plan to close Gitmo because the Pentagon estimated it would cost $600 million, which is considered too expensive. (Read more Guantanamo Bay stories.)

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