February 24, 2024

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Guantanamo “forever prisoner” Khalid Ahmed Qasim cleared for release after 20 years, hopes for “another life” with his art

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A U.S. government review board has cleared a single of the longest-held prisoners at Guantanamo Bay for launch. The Periodic Overview Board stated in its July 19 “closing dedication” that there was no longer ample lead to to maintain Khalid Ahmed Qasim imprisoned at the base. 

Just after investing much more than 20 yrs at the jail camp, Qasim ought to be released to an as-nonetheless unspecified state “with a solid rehabilitation and reintegration method,” the board explained.

A person of the so-named “eternally prisoners” at Guantanamo, Qasim was in his twenties when he arrived in Afghanistan in 2000. It was his incredibly first trip out of his indigenous Yemen. He went, according to statements he and his attorneys have designed more than the ensuing 20 yrs, to operate giving support to persons in want.

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An undated file photograph demonstrates Guantanamo Bay detainee Khalid Ahmed Qasim, a Yemeni national who, as of the summer months of 2022, had spent 50 % of his life at the U.S.-run jail camp without having staying billed with any crime. 

Following the assault on the USS Cole and the assassination of Afghan chief Ahmed Shah Massoud by al Qaeda, the Northern Alliance — a coalition of Uzbek, Tajik and Hazara warlords who opposed al Qaeda and the Taliban and became key companions of U.S. forces in the state — stepped up its endeavours to capture any individual of Arab descent in Afghanistan. 

They handed their prisoners in excess of to U.S. forces and, according to Gary Schroen, a former CIA intelligence officer who aided direct the search for Osama bin Laden, and testimony from the detainees by themselves, were frequently paid important bounties.

Qasim’s attorneys have stated that, fearing the worst, he made the decision to turn himself in, confident that he would be launched as he experienced no involvement in any assaults. Alternatively, he statements he was brutally interrogated, tortured and coerced into providing a fake confession to training with al Qaeda. He was in the long run turned about to U.S. forces, who despatched him to Guantanamo Bay in Could 2002.


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Qasim has now invested 50 % of his existence there as “prisoner 242.” He was never ever set on trial and in no way billed with a crime. He claims he invested the initially 9 decades of his incarceration in solitary confinement, and that he was subjected to each actual physical and mental torture and spent 7 several years on starvation strike.

The periodic assessment board— a parole system proven below the Obama administration particularly to appraise Guantanamo instances — had earlier acknowledged Qasim’s “very low amount of instruction and deficiency of management in al Qaeda or the Taliban,” but until previous week preserved that he was not eligible for release due to an “lack of ability to take care of his thoughts and steps” and his “absence of plans for the upcoming if released.”

His law firm disagrees with that evaluation. 

“Khalid is continue to young and is psyched for the prospects just before him,” Mark Maher, a U.S.-centered lawyer for the British charity “Reprieve,” who signifies Qasim and a handful of other Guantanamo detainees, advised CBS Information.

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Prisoner Khalid Ahmed Qasim speaks to CBS Information and displays his artwork from guiding a perimeter fence at the U.S.-run army jail camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2016. 

CBS News


During his incarceration, Qasim has taught himself English and Spanish. He also started out singing and producing poetry but, most notably, he is become an accomplished artist. 

Some of his perform was exhibited at an exhibit hosted by the CUNY Legislation Faculty in New York in 2020.

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A painting by Guantanamo Bay detainee Khalid Ahmed Qasim is found in a photograph provided by the U.K.-based human legal rights organization Reprieve.

Khalid Ahmed Qasim/Reprieve


“Painting has been my aid,” Qasim stated in an open up letter he resolved to President Joe Biden in January 2022. “I am very pleased of my artwork… When they had been exhibited in New York, I considered of the paintings searching out onto the stylish streets and the big buildings, and of the folks in their pleasant metropolis searching in, and how they are not able to possibly imagine what our lives are like.”

When CBS News’ Margaret Brennan visited the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in 2016, Qasim spotted her crew over a perimeter fence and was eager to share his art with them, keeping it aloft for the cameras to see. From at the rear of the fence he shouted descriptions of each individual portray in a combine of English and Arabic.


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Maher reported he hadn’t had a prospect to communicate with Qasim since the board’s conclusion past 7 days, but he reported the Yemeni has some programs going ahead, including acquiring again into instruction, pursuing a occupation as an English or Arabic tutor, and more creating his artistic expertise.

“His key priority is to leave with his artwork,” Maher reported. “As you could be aware, the Trump administration stopped allowing for detainees to send out their art out of the prison a coverage that the Biden administration has not reversed.”

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A piece of art by Guantanamo Bay detainee Khalid Ahmed Qasim is viewed in a picture furnished by the U.K.-centered human legal rights team Reprieve.

Khalid Ahmed Qasim/Reprieve


It nevertheless was not clear Monday specifically when Qassim would be ready to go away Guantanamo, or which nation the U.S. may possibly make a offer with for his transfer. It won’t be his property state of Yemen, as domestic U.S. regulation prohibits the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to that war-torn country, his lawyer stated. 

The board’s instructions are just for him to be despatched to “a place with a sturdy rehabilitation and reintegration method and correct stability assurances as agreed to by the applicable USG (U.S. authorities) departments and businesses.” 

His long term even now rests with the U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense. It has taken the U.S. government decades to uncover ideal nations around the world to transfer some other released Guantanamo detainees.

“That said, Khaled is multilingual, so there are fairly a several nations that I consider he could integrate into quickly,” Maher informed CBS Information. “We hope that this administration is critical about having persons out of Guantanamo, and swift motion is needed to fulfill that guarantee.”

Judging from his letter to Mr. Biden in January, the prisoner himself looks eager to get started over again, significantly away from Guantanamo Bay.

“I do not know in which I will go, or what I will do,” he said then, “but there is another everyday living for me outside this prison.”

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