Afghan goes before Guantánamo parole board

The insignia of the Periodic Review Board bureaucracy at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo.
The insignia of the Periodic Review Board bureaucracy at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo. THE MIAMI HERALD

An Afghan man described as “one of the most compliant detainees at Guantánamo” goes before a national security parole board Tuesday seeking repatriation.

Mohammed Kamin, about 37, got to the U.S. Navy base in Cuba in September 2004, 16 months after his capture by Afghan authorities, and for a time was charged at the war court in a case dropped years ago by the Pentagon prosecutor. An intelligence profile highlighted his 2002 recruitment to the jihad in his native Afghanistan but described him as one of the U.S. military prison’s most agreeable captives, “most likely because the detention staff has treated him more humanely than he had expected.”

It also said that up through 2007 he had willingly taken part in interrogations but then stopped “probably out of frustration that his past cooperation had not led to tangible progress toward his release.”

His civilian attorney, Shane Kadidal, said in a prepared statement that the Afghan is “a respectful, tolerant and introspective man who simply aspires to return to a family and community that are ready to receive him.”

The intelligence profile described his past association with “several extremist groups” that recruited him to the jihad after the U.S. invasion, including some 2003 al-Qaida training on the use of explosives and weapons. It echoed claims in his since abandoned court case that he stored weapons for the Taliban or al-Qaida and expressed concern that he desires to rejoin family in Khost, Afghanistan, “a safe haven for al-Qaida and other extremists.”

But an unnamed female U.S. military officer, assigned to help him make his case for release, said in a prepared statement that Kamin was the first Guantánamo detainee to shake her hand. She quoted him as telling her, “I am human and I know I made mistakes,” and urged that he get a “second chance at life” by returning him to his tribe, where he aspires to become a grocer.

The material released by the Pentagon in advance of the Tuesday morning hearing — captive and attorneys talk to the board, in the Washington, D.C., area, by videoconferencing from the prison — made no mention of Kamin’s swollen, sullen appearance at a 2009 war court hearing, which he apparently resisted attending.

Kamin needs approval of the Periodic Review Board to be placed in a category of Guantánamo captives cleared for release. Currently, 52 of the 116 detainees at the U.S. Navy base prison are so designated.

Since 2010 he’s been classified as a Law of War prisoner — ineligible for release but not a candidate for a war crimes tribunal. There are currently 31 other so-called “forever prisoners” at Guantánamo.

Two other former war court candidates have gone before the parole board. One, Egyptian Tariq Sawah, 57, was approved for release. The other, Kuwaiti Fayez al Kandari, 40, had his detention upheld last summer but recently got another review whose outcome has yet to be decided.

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