Guantánamo

Afghan detainee who wanted to meet Ludacris loses Guantánamo parole hearing

The captive known as Haroon al Afghani in a photo provided by the WikiLeaks organization to McClatchy newspapers from his August 2007 detention center prisoner profile.
The captive known as Haroon al Afghani in a photo provided by the WikiLeaks organization to McClatchy newspapers from his August 2007 detention center prisoner profile.

The Afghan captive who invited the rap singer Ludacris to stop by the detention center has lost his parole hearing.

The Periodic Review Board said Haroon al-Afghani lacked “credibility and truthfulness” at his June 14 hearing. “The board is unable to assess the detainee’s intentions for the future and claimed change of mindset,” it said in a decision released by the Pentagon on Friday. It was dated eight days earlier.

The thirty-something man was captured by Afghan security forces and handed over to the United States, which brought him to Guantánamo on June 22, 2007 — one of the last captives brought to this detention center of 76 prisoners.

The U.S. military considers Afghani to be a former Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, or HIG, commander who organized and led attacks on U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The board “noted the detainee’s lack of a realistic plan for the future,” his “long-term membership and leadership position” in HIG and “extensive time spent fighting coalition forces.”

His lawyer, Shelby Sullivan-Bennis, told the U.S. interagency review panel that Afghani’s wife and daughter are in Pakistan, and he feels “immensely guilty” about leaving them “to fend for themselves.” He also has a sister in London. “He wants nothing more than to return to his wife and family.”

A 2009-2010 Task Force deemed him a possible candidate for war crimes or federal court prosecution. But he has never been charged. The decision essentially rebrands him as a “forever prisoner,” an indefinite detainee in the war on terror.

Earlier this month, in an apparent effort to show how westernized he’d become in U.S. custody, Sullivan-Bennis said that she’d discussed the base’s Fourth of July concert featuring Ludacris with her client — and the captive expressed interest in meeting him.

It didn’t happen. The artist, who has been working on “Fast and Furious 8,” made a quick visit to the base, stayed in a townhouse complex more typically used by lawyers and Sept. 11 families, and stopped by the Radio Gitmo station, where he signed a T-shirt.

Here is the status of the last 76 detainees at Guantánamo as of Saturday:

▪ 31 are cleared for release with security assurances that satisfy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. (Of them, 18 were cleared through the Periodic Review Board.)

▪ 14 are PRB-approved forever prisoners,

▪ 21 await a PRB hearing or decision,

▪ 10 are in some form of a military commissions process that denies them parole hearings.

Carol Rosenberg: 305-376-3179, @carolrosenberg

  Comments