Bisher Amin Khalil al-Rawi

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Bisher Amin Khalil Al-Rawi is an Iraqi citizen who was held in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, and is a plaintiff in Mohamed et al. v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. as well as British lawsuits. He was released on April 3, 2007.[1]

There were multiple reports that he was a British MI-5 informant, who agreed to help MI-5 officials monitor an Islamic cleric named Abu Qatada, when he tried to go underground.[2] U.S. news media also reported the MI5 relationship after the release of documents from detainees' Combatant Status Review Tribunals. [3]

In Jeppesen, his attorneys stated he detained by, in November 2002, by local intelligence in Gambia, questioned there by CIA and Gambian personnel for two weeks, then flown to Afghanistan where he was held for two months. He was then flown to Guantanamo on February 7, 2003, but then returned to the U.K. on March 30; no charges were ever filed against him. [4]

Guantanamo interrogation and hearings

One of Al Rawi's lawyers, Brent Mickum, described the use of several methods of interrogation listed in moderate to harsh "counter-resistance" methods. One, removal of comfort items interrogation techniques [5] including restriction of toilet paper, which was eliminated when he tried using sheets of toilet paper to block continuous light, one of the Environmental Manipulation interrogation techniques. Describing what appears to be cold temperature interrogation techniques, his prayer rug was confiscated when he tried to use it as a blanket.

Summary of Evidence memo

At his Combatant Status Review Tribunal, the Summary of Evidence memo listed:[6]

  • The detainee is associated with al-Qaeda, and was arrested in the United Kingdom as a danger to national security.
  • The detainee provided harbor in London, United Kingdom to a known al-Qaeda meber, Abu Qatada.
  • The detainee assisted Abu Qatada by locating an apartment where Abu Qatada hid from British authorities.
  • Abu Qatada has strong links to senior al-Qaeda operatives and facilitated the travel of individuals to an al-Qaeda safehouse located in Pakistan.
  • In addition to helping Abu Qatada evade British authorities, the detainee transferred funds between branches of the Arab Bank at Abu Qatada’s direction in 1999 or 2000.
  • In November 2002, the detainee was arrested in Gambia after arriving from the United Kingdom and was later transferred to U.S. custody in Bagram, Afghanistan.

He chose to speak to the Combatant Status Review Tribunal.[7] Much of the questioning focused on his relationship with a Muslim cleric called Abu Qatada, who asked him for small favours, translating for him when he looked for an apartment, small home repairs, and on a few occasion over three or four years he agreed to transfer money to Abu Qatada's father in Jordan.

al-Rawi was accused of helping Abu Qatada hide from British authorities. Al-Rawi replied that it had appeared to him that the cleric was living openly, and he had no way of knowing that the other man was wanted. He said he became aware that Al Qatada's name was linked to al Qaeda, only after September 11, 2001.

The Tribunal concluded that Al-Rawi had been properly classified as an "illegal combatant".

Administrative Review Board hearings

At his first Administrative Review Board (ARB) hearing on 1 December 2005, the summary of evidence listed 19 "primary factors favoring continued detention" and five "primary factors favoring release or transfer". [8]

At his second ARB on 22 August 2006, 19 "primary factors favoring continued detention" and four "primary factors favoring release or transfer" were given.[9]

Repatriation request

The UK newspaper The Independent reported on March 23, 2006 the UK Foreign Minister Jack Straw acknowledged that the UK government had made representations to the United States for Al Rawi's release.[10] His attorney said had opened negotiations with the USA in order to avoid making public MI-5 files during hearings over the UK's involvement in his capture by the Americans. The Guardian reported, on April 20, 2006, that the British Foreign Office formally requested that Al Rawi be freed to return to Britain.[11]

On October 3, 2006, The Times reported that the United States had agreed, in confidential talks in June 2006, to return all nine of the British residents held in Guantanamo — but only under stringent conditions.[12] The conditions the U.S. stipulated included round the clock surveillance, and the U.K. government considered the condition too expensive.[13]

The Times reports that the U.K. government was only interested in the return of Al Rawi, because of his cooperation with MI-5. "Although the men are accused of terrorist involvement, British officials say that there is not enough evidence to justify the level of surveillance demanded by the US and that the strict conditions stipulated are unworkable and unnecessary."[12]

Release negotiation

On March 29, 2007, UK Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett announced that the UK Government had negotiated al-Rawi's return from Guantanamo.[14] According to the Associated Press Beckett issued a statement to Parliament which said: "We have now agreed with the U.S. authorities that Mr. al-Rawi will be returned to the U.K. shortly, as soon as the practical arrangements have been made, This decision follows extensive discussions to address the security implications of Mr. Al-Rawi's return." Al-Rawi's home, in Britain, is in Beckett's constituency.

Civil suits

On August 1, 2007 Bisher al Rawi joined Mohamed et al. v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc.. On April 19 2008, Al Rawi, and seven other UK citizens or legal residents of the UK sued the UK government for its role in their apprehension by the US forces.[15]

References

  1. Kim Sengupta. Freedom bitter-sweet, best friend still at Guantanamo, New Zealand Herald, 2007-04-03. Retrieved on 2007-03-31.
  2. David Rose. A secret agent's story, The Guardian, 2007-07-29. Retrieved on 2009-02-18.
  3. Courted as Spies, Held as Combatants: British Residents Enlisted by MI5 After Sept. 11 Languish at Guantanamo, Washington Post, April 2, 2006
  4. American Civil Liberties Union for plaintiffs Binyam Ahmed Mohammad, Abou Elkassim Britel, Ahmed Agiza, Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah, Bisher al-Rawi (August 1, 2007), Civil Action No. 5:07-cv-02798 (JW): First Amended Complaint, Demand for Jury Trial
  5. Brent Mickum. Guantánamo's lost souls, The Guardian, January 8 2007. Retrieved on 2007-08-11.
  6. OARDEC. Summary of Evidence for Combatant Status Review Tribunal - Al Rawi, Bisher Amin Khalil. United States Department of Defense. Retrieved on 2008-04-09.
  7. OARDEC. Summarized Statement. United States Department of Defense. Retrieved on 2008-04-09.
  8. OARDEC (1 December 2005). Unclassified Summary of Evidence for Administrative Review Board in the case of Al Rawi, Bisher Amin Khalil pages 38-40. United States Department of Defense. Retrieved on 2008-04-09.
  9. OARDEC (22 August 2006). Unclassified Summary of Evidence for Administrative Review Board in the case of Al Rawi, Bisher pages 79-81. United States Department of Defense. Retrieved on 2008-04-09.
  10. Robert Verkaik. Straw to demand release of 'MI5 man' in Guantanamo after U-turn, The Independent, March 23, 2006. Retrieved on 2008-04-09.
  11. Vikram Dodd. Straw demands release of man with MI5 links from Guantánamo, The Guardian, April 20, 2006. Retrieved on 2008-04-09.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Devika Bhat. Britain refused US offer to return Guantanamo detainees, The Times, October 3 2006. Retrieved on 2008-04-09.
  13. UK, U.S. at odds on threat from Guantanamo inmates, Washington Post, October 3, 2006. Retrieved on 2008-03-01.
  14. Robert DeVries. UK resident to be released from Guantanamo, The Jurist, 2007-03-29.
  15. David Stringer. 8 former Guantanamo detainees sue British government, Associated Press, 2008-04-19. Retrieved on 2009-02-18.