"At one point, they described him as an al Qaeda leader!" she said. "He gets out and what's the first thing he does? He goes off to school. He's gotten on with his life and has gone on to mentor younger students."
Omar Amin, 40, home in Kuwait since September 2006, likewise declined through his attorney and a family friend to speak with The Miami Herald.
"Omar Amin was deeply traumatized by the ordeal. He's back home with his wife and five children, trying to put his life back together and move on, " said attorney David Cynamon.
Less is known about the fate of a Pakistani man, Shabidzada Usman, who was the None of the men in the photo who were tracked down by The Miami Herald agreed to an interview. first on that flight to be set free, 15 months later -- or two Saudi men who were sent to their homeland in 2006 and 2007.
A Taliban member from the first flight, Ghulam Ruhani, has just gone home -- to a U.S-sponsored lockup near Kabul. In the earliest days of the American-led coalition assault on Afghanistan, he was held on a U.S. Navy ship at sea, along with Hicks and American captive John Walker, now serving in a federal penitentiary in California for being a Taliban foot soldier.
Earlier this month, The Miami Herald inquired about the men on that first flight since freed and got this reply from a spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon: The Pentagon had no "information to share" on those men.
Since the camps opened, the Pentagon says about 500 men have been released. It says it has a list of "more than 30" who have returned to the battlefield, but it refuses to identify most of them.
The U.S. military has also steadfastly cited privacy reasons in declining to identify the first 20 men to be held captive at Camp X-Ray in Cuba.
The Miami Herald investigation turned up one striking finding: Six years after their arrival, four of the original detainees have never seen lawyers. Bush administration policy prohibited civilian attorneys from the prison in the first 30 months. But advocates for the captives slowly succeeded in providing civilian legal counsel. War court defendants automatically get military lawyers.
Few people would have imagined the Pentagon paying to defend the men when they landed at the camp in January 2002.
"These represent the worst elements of al Qaeda and the Taliban. We asked for the bad guys first, " Marine Brig. Gen. Michael Lehnert told reporters hours before their arrival on an 8,000-mile air-bridge from Bagram, Afghanistan.
It was early in the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan to topple the Taliban and hunt down Osama bin Laden, and the Pentagon opened Camp X-Ray at the U.S. Navy base in the Caribbean as an interrogation and detention center far from then-freezing cold Afghanistan.
Guantánamo was chosen for both its isolation and to argue that it was beyond the reach of U.S. courts. None of the original detainees are currently charged at military commissions, but two may face the war court -- Ali Hamza Bahlul, 39, and Abdl Malak al Rahabi, 29, both Yemenis.
Bahlul and Rahabi have never been invited to argue for their freedom before the annual U.S. military parole boards, a key indicator that they are war court candidates.
The first 20 men were a mixed group of alleged al Qaeda foot soldiers and Taliban functionaries, all Muslim and about half of them Arabs. IDENTITY A MYSTERY
The Miami Herald has discovered the identities of 19 of the first prisoners. Who is the 20th man?
No clear answer emerges from the thousands of pages of detainee documents the Defense Department has released, much of it under Freedom of Information lawsuits by the Associated Press and the American Civil Liberties Union.
But a 2006 affidavit from a two-star general who supervised interrogations provides a possible explanation: In the earliest days of the prison project, when detainees were kept at Camp X-Ray, military intelligence planted informants among them.
Southcom in Miami would not confirm whether such a program existed; nor would it provide its own list of the first 20 captives in a rolling detainee population that numbers nearly 800