Muhammad Ismail Agha
|Muhammad Ismail Agha|
Ismail Agha in 2004, ten days after repatriation from Guantanamo
Muhammad Ismail Agha is an Afghan national who was among some 15-21 juveniles held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camps. Believed to be age 12-13 (estimated) when arrested by Afghan militia soldiers, he was said to be the youngest detainee held at the camps. The Afghans traded him to U.S. forces in December 2002 for $10 US dollars. Detained without charge, he was released on January 29, 2004 and returned home.
He was among 200 detainees released in early 2004, before the United States Supreme Court ruled in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004) that detainees were entitled to challenge their detention and classification as enemy combatants before an impartial tribunal.
Early life and education
Agha was born in Nawzad, Afghanistan. He helped his father in the village and farm. In 2002, he was captured by Afghan militia and sold to US forces for $10USD.
Detention in 2002
After being arrested in late 2002, Agha was detained by the United States at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, then transferred in 2002 to Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. During this time he was held in solitary confinement and subjected to sleep deprivation and stress position.
"Whenever I started to fall asleep, they would kick at my door and yell at me to wake up," he told an Amnesty researcher. "They made me stand partway, with my knees bent, for one or two hours."
After a couple of weeks at Guantanamo Bay, he was put with two other juveniles in Camp Iguana. They shared a common dormitory. They were given daily classes in Pashto (their own language), English, Arabic, math, science, art and, for two months, Islam. They learned to read and write.
Their camp had a recreation yard, where the boys played football every day with their guards, and sometimes basketball and volleyball. In an interview in National Review, Agha and his family said that he was well-treated by the American troops and attended school during his incarceration.
"At first I was unhappy with the U.S. forces. They stole 14 months of my life, But later the Americans were so nice with me. They were giving me good food with fruit and water for ablutions before prayer."
Agha criticized US authorities for not contacting his parents for 10 months, and failing to let them know that he was still alive during that time.
Fox News reported in June 2005 that some former detainees had been captured fighting against US forces. They claimed that one was named Mohammed Ismail, and said he was one of two [sic- three] teenagers released from Camp Iguana four months previously. This report was not confirmed by other sources.
- James Astill (March 6, 2004). "Cuba? It was great, say boys freed from US prison camp". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-07-28.
- Pamela Constable (2004-02-10). "Boy freed from Guantanamo details captivity". Bangor Daily. Archived from the original on 2010-01-28.
- Noor Khan (2004-02-12). "Freed Afghan youth tells of Guantanamo". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 2010-02-04. "A 15-year-old youth released after spending a year at the US prison for terror suspects in Cuba said he was detained after Afghan militiamen falsely accused him of being a Taliban sympathizer. Mohammed Ismail Agha was reunited last week with his family in a remote southern Afghan village after a year as one of the youngest inmates in Guantanamo Bay, a high-security prison holding about 650 suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters detained since the US-led war in Afghanistan began after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks."
- Pamela Constable (2004-01-12). "An Afghan boy’s life in U.S. custody: After Bagram's harsh regime, Cuban camp a welcome change". MSNBC. Archived from the original on 2010-02-04. "Ismail Agha was a slight, illiterate village boy of 13 when his family last saw him 14 months ago. When he reappeared last week, he was three inches taller, his voice had deepened, his chin had sprouted a black beard and he had learned to read, write and do basic math."
- Arlie Hochschild (2005-06-30). "Children, too, are abused in U.S. prisons". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2010-02-04. "According to Amnesty International, Muhammad Ismail Agha, 13, was arrested in Afghanistan in late 2002 and detained without charge or trial for over a year, first at Bagram and then at Guantánamo. He was held in solitary confinement and subjected to sleep deprivation. 'Whenever I started to fall asleep, they would kick at my door and yell at me to wake up,' he told an Amnesty researcher. 'They made me stand partway, with my knees bent, for one or two hours.'"
- "Muhammad Ismail Agha, aged 15, is back with his family in Afghanistan after two months' imprisonment at Bagram airbase north of Kabul, followed by a year in the U.S. holding facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba". National Review. March 8, 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-28.[dead link]
- "I had a good time at Guantanamo, says inmate", Prisoner Testimonials, Human Rights, UC Davis
- "Pol: Too Many Inmates Freed". Fox News. June 21, 2005. Retrieved 2007-07-28.
- "The Pentagon Can’t Count: 22 Juveniles Held at Guantánamo", Andy Worthington
- "I had a good time at Guantanamo, says inmate", The Telegraph, February 8, 2004
- "Muhammad Ismail Agha, aged 15, is back with his family...", reprint from the National Review, March 8, 2004 .pdf version
- "Am I Human or Not? Guantánamo Detention Undermines Human Rights Worldwide", reprint from Amnesty International report, June, 2004
- Clive Stafford Smith (2005-06-15). "Kids of Guantanamo". Reprieve via Cageprisoners. Archived from the original on 2009-08-06. Retrieved 2009-08-06.