One former Guantánamo captive is studying liberal arts in England. Another is famously free, released from an Australian jail after a U.S. military-mandated, nine-month prison sentence.
A third is in Kuwait with his wife and five children, still traumatized, his lawyer says, by his U.S. captivity.
On Jan. 11, 2002, the Pentagon transferred its first 20 men from Afghanistan to its detention center in southeast Cuba, calling them "the worst of the worst" of U.S.-held prisoners in the war-on-terror.
The Miami Herald has found that seven of those men have since gone home, some with little fanfare, others after well-publicized campaigns for their freedom.
A dozen of those first detainees remain -- none currently charged with crimes -- six years after Pentagon photographs stirred international outrage by showing the men shackled on their knees at Camp X-Ray.
The names came from Defense Department documents, notably prison camp weight charts, detainee accounts and contacts with lawyers and home nations. The name of the 20th captive that day remains a mystery.
The documents show that, with the exception of Australian David Hicks, there would be little to distinguish the men on their knees from those who would arrive in the months and years later.
"There was a sort of randomness to it, " said Marine Maj. Dan Mori, whose client Hicks, now free, is kneeling somewhere in that first worst-of-the-worst photo. "It was probably far too early for them to know what anybody had really done." SOLE CONVICTION
Hicks is today the only man ever convicted at President Bush's Military Commissions set up at Guantánamo. Amid electioneering protests in his native Australia, the self-confessed al Qaeda foot soldier settled with the U.S. government for a nine-month sentence, mostly served in his homeland.
He was set free last month and has a midnight-to-6 a.m. curfew under a court order that requires he check in with Adelaide police three times a week.
What can he say about that flight, that first day, whether he can even spot himself in the photos?
As part of his March guilty plea, which netted him nine months in prison on a terror crime that could carry a maximum of life, he agreed to a one-year ban on talking to the media and pledged never to accuse the United States of mistreating him.
In fact, none of the men in the photo who were tracked down by The Miami Herald agreed to an interview.
Feroz Abassi, 28, is now back in England working toward a liberal arts degree at an undisclosed university, said several attorneys who declined on his behalf to specify the location.
"Feroz is studying and doing remarkably well adjusting to his life now after years of abuse and uncertainty about his fate while imprisoned at Guantánamo, " said Gitanjali Gutierrez, attorney for the New York Center for Constitutional Rights.
She was the first attorney allowed to meet Guantánamo captives, in August 2004, and Abassi was among two men she met there her first day -- after 2½ years of confinement.
The Bush administration at one point designated him for trial by military commission. Instead, he was freed in early January after intervention by the British government.
Gutierrez, staff attorney at the New York Center for Constitutional Rights, said Abassi's case illustrates just how wrong the U.S. military was in characterizing that first airlift of prisoners -- ferried 8,000 miles from Afghanistan -- as "the worst of the worst."