Asim Thahit Abdullah al Khalaqi

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Asim Thahit Abdullah Al Khalaqi
Born 1968
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Died 2015 (aged 46–47)
Kyzylorda, Kazakhstan
Detained at Guantanamo
ISN 152
Charge(s) extrajudicial detention
Status died of neglect four months after been given refugee status in Kazakhstan

Asim Thahit Abdullah Al Khalaqi (1968-2015) was a citizen of Yemen, who was held in extrajudicial detention in the United States Guantanamo Bay detention camp, in Cuba.[1] His Guantanamo Internment Serial Number is 152. Joint Task Force Guantanamo counter-terrorism analysts estimate Al Khalaqi was born in 1968, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

On December 30, 2014 Asim Thahit Abdullah al Khalaqi was transferred to the custody of Kazakhstan with four other detainees. They were prevented from being repatriated to Yemen because of its uncertain political state.[2][3][4] Al Khalaqi died of chronic kidney failure 129 days after his transfer.[5]

Official status reviews[edit]

In the early years of his response to the 9/11 attacks, United States President George W. Bush asserted that captives apprehended in the "war on terror" were not covered by the Geneva Conventions. He said they could be held indefinitely at the detention center his government set up at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, on the island of Cuba, without charge, and without an open and transparent review of the justifications for their detention.[6] In 2004 the United States Supreme Court ruled, in Rasul v. Bush, that Guantanamo captives were entitled to being informed of the allegations justifying their detention, and were entitled to try to refute them.

Office for the Administrative Review of Detained Enemy Combatants[edit]

Following the Supreme Court's ruling, the Department of Defense set up the Office for the Administrative Review of Detained Enemy Combatants.[6][7]

A Summary of Evidence memo was prepared for Asim Thahit Abdullah Al Khalaqi's 2004 Combatant Status Review Tribunal, on 4 November 2004.[8]

Scholars at the Brookings Institution, led by Benjamin Wittes, listed the captives still held in Guantanamo in December 2008, according to whether their detention was justified by certain common allegations:[9]

  • Asim Thahit Abdullah Al Khalaqi was listed as one of the captives who the Wittes team were unable to identify as cleared for release or transfer.[9] He was listed as one of the captives who "The military alleges ... are associated with both Al Qaeda and the Taliban."[9]
  • He was identified as one of the captives who "The military alleges that the following detainees stayed in Al Qaeda, Taliban or other guest- or safehouses."[9] In addition, the military alleged that he took "military or terrorist training in Afghanistan."[9]
  • Asim Thahit Abdullah Al Khalaqi was listed as one of the captives who "The military alleges ... fought for the Taliban."[9]
  • Asim Thahit Abdullah Al Khalaqi was listed as one of the captives whose "names or aliases were found on material seized in raids on Al Qaeda safehouses and facilities."[9]
  • Asim Thahit Abdullah Al Khalaqi was listed as one of the captives who was a foreign fighter.[9]
  • Asim Thahit Abdullah Al Khalaqi was listed as one of the captives who "say that they were doing charity work."[9]

Al Khalaqi chose to participate in his Combatant Status Review Tribunal.[10] The DoD published a thirteen-page summarized transcript.

On July 12, 2006 the magazine Mother Jones provided excerpts from the transcripts of a selection of reviews of the Guantanamo detainees.[11] Al Khalaqi was one of the detainees profiled. According to the article, his transcript contained the following exchange:

al khalaqi: Are these evidence or accusations?
tribunal president: They are in the form of both...
Al Khalaqi: I'm sorry, I just don't understand. How does it fit the two pictures or definitions? For example, if I say this table is the chair and the chair is the table and they are the same thing, does that make sense?
tribunal president: No, that doesn't make sense. But this process makes sense to me and hopefully it will make sense to you, because you're the one who's going to have to provide us with evidence and tell us that you did or did not do these things as listed on the summary of evidence.
Al Khalaqi: So I just answer the accusations. But I'm going to call it accusations. I'm not going to call it evidence.
tribunal president: Very well, you can call it as you wish.

Habeas corpus submission[edit]

Al Khalaqi was one of the sixteen Guantanamo captives whose amalgamated habeas corpus submissions were heard by US District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton on January 31, 2007.[12]

On June 12, 2008 the United States Supreme Court ruled, in Boumediene v. Bush, that the Military Commissions Act could not remove the right for Guantanamo captives to access the US Federal Court system. And all previous Guantanamo captives' habeas petitions were re-instated.

In July 2008 Civil Action No. 05-CV-999 was re-filed on Asim Ben Thabit Al-Khalaqi's behalf. His was the sole case in 05-CV-999.

Formerly secret Joint Task Force Guantanamo assessment[edit]

On April 25, 2011, the whistleblower organization WikiLeaks published formerly secret assessments drafted by Joint Task Force Guantanamo analysts.[13][14] A nine-page assessment was drafted on January 1, 2007.[15] It was signed by camp commandant Harry B. Harris Jr., who recommended continued detention.

His 2007 JTF-GTMO assessment characterized him as a "medium risk".[16]

Joint Review Task Force[edit]

When he assumed office in January 2009 President Barack Obama made a number of promises about the future of Guantanamo.[17][18][19] He promised the use of torture would cease at the camp. He promised to institute a new review system. That new review system was composed of officials from six departments, where the OARDEC reviews were conducted entirely by the Department of Defense. When it reported back, a year later, the Joint Review Task Force classified the individuals as either eligible to be charged; eligible for release; or too dangerous to be transferred from Guantanamo, even though there was no evidence to justify laying charges against them.[20][21][22][23][24][25] Asim Thahit Abdullah Al Khalaqi was one of the 55 individuals whose release the Task Force recommended.

Transfer to Kazakhstan[edit]

On December 31, 2014, Asim Thahit Abdullah al Khalaqi, and four other men, were transferred to Kazakhstan. Fox News pointed out to readers that al Khalaqi, and the other men, were the first individuals to be transferred to Kazakhstan.[16] Fellow Yemenis, Muhammad Ali Husayn Khanayna and Sabri Mohammad al Qurashi and Tunisians Adel Al-Hakeemy, and Abdullah Bin Ali Al Lufti, were also transferred. Fox News noted that his 2007 JTF-GTMO assessment characterized him as a "medium risk". Reuters pointed out that the 2009 reviews by the Joint Review Task Force had reclassified all five men as "low risk".[26]

National Public Radio pointed out that all the agencies with representatives on the Joint Review Task Force had unanimously agreed to release the five men.[27]

Matt Spetalnick, of Reuters, noted that al Khalaqi had denied claims from John Walker Lindh, "the American Taliban", that he had fought with Al Qaeda.[26]

Vice News described the men as only nominally being free.[5] Abdullah Bin Ali al-Lutfi, who was released to Kazakhstan at the same time as al-Khalaqi, and had been in regular contact with him via Skype, told Vice News that Kazakhstan security officials regularly inspected the former captives' living quarters, initially doing so almost every day:

"The police used to come almost every day to the apartment. They would open the door and enter and check the place for a minute or two, then they would leave... It's as if it's Guantanamo 2, to be honest."[5]

Vice News reported that "In cooperation with the Kazakh government, the local chapter of the ICRC is charged with the care of the former detainees, and provides healthcare, food stipends, language classes, and transport."

Death in Kazakhstan[edit]

On May 21, 2015, Claire Ward, writing in Vice News, reported that al-Khalaqi had been found dead in his sparsely furnished apartment in Kyzylorda, on May 7, 2015(2015-05-07).[5] Abdullah Bin Ali al-Lutfi, who was released to Kazakhstan at the same time as al-Khalaqi, described al-Khalaqi frequently going into comas, in his cell, at Guantanamo, requiring Guantanamo medical personnel to rush to his aid.

Prior to his autopsy Kazakhstan authorities suspected he might have died from food poisoning, but his autopsy determined that he died of kidney failure, and also had a serious lung infection.[5] Al Lufti said Al Khalaqi had needed to be taken to the hospital frequently, during his six months in Kazakhstan. The autopsy described al Khalaqi as overweight, and suffering from gout.

Guantanamo spokesman Captain Tom Gresback told Vice News, "Every detainee is given a thorough health screening prior to transfer... The detainee would not have been transferred if he failed the health screening."[5] His 2007 Joint Task Force Guantanamo detainee assessment described al-Khalaqi as being in "good health".[15]

On May 22, 2015, The Guardian quoted another friend of al Khalaqi's Jihad Dhiab, recently transferred to Uruguay.[28] Dhiab also had Skype conversations with al Khalaqi days before his death. He said al Khalaqi's health problems had grown so profound, that he was no longer able to walk. He had to throw his keys out the window so ICRC aid workers could unlock the door and proceed to his apartment.


  1. ^ OARDEC. "List of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from January 2002 through May 15, 2006" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2006-05-15.  Works related to List of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from January 2002 through May 15, 2006 at Wikisource
  2. ^ Margot Williams (2008-11-03). "Guantanamo Docket: Asim Thahit Abdullah al Khalaqi". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-05-20. 
  3. ^ Margot Williams. "Guantanamo docket timeline: 2014". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-12-08. 
  4. ^ Andy Worthington (2015-01-05). "Who Are the Five Guantánamo Prisoners Given New Homes in Kazakhstan?". Retrieved 2015-01-05. As the New York Times described it, "Officials declined to disclose the security assurances reached between the United States and Kazakhstan," but a senior Obama administration official stated that the five "are ‘free men’ for all intents and purposes after the transfer." 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Claire Ward (2015-05-21). "Former Guantanamo Detainee Dies in Kazakhstan". Vice News. Archived from the original on 2015-05-22. Al-Khalaqi, 47, was found unconscious in his apartment in Kyzylorda on May 7 and was brought to the hospital with suspected food poisoning. The autopsy later revealed that he died of kidney failure and showed he had a severe lung infection. 
  6. ^ a b "U.S. military reviews 'enemy combatant' use". USA Today. 2007-10-11. Archived from the original on 2012-08-11. Critics called it an overdue acknowledgment that the so-called Combatant Status Review Tribunals are unfairly geared toward labeling detainees the enemy, even when they pose little danger. Simply redoing the tribunals won't fix the problem, they said, because the system still allows coerced evidence and denies detainees legal representation. 
  7. ^ "Q&A: What next for Guantanamo prisoners?". BBC News. 2002-01-21. Archived from the original on 23 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-24. 
  8. ^ OARDEC (4 November 2004). "Summary of Evidence for Combatant Status Review Tribunal -- Al Khalaqi, Asim Thahit Abdullah" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. p. 52. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-04. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Benjamin Wittes, Zaathira Wyne (2008-12-16). "The Current Detainee Population of Guantánamo: An Empirical Study" (PDF). The Brookings Institution. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-06-22. Retrieved 2010-02-16.  mirror
  10. ^ "Summarized Transcript" (PDF). OARDEC. pp. 11–23. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2006-07-31. Retrieved 2015-05-20. 
  11. ^ Dave Gilson (2006-07-12). "Why Am I in Cuba?". Mother Jones magazine. Archived from the original on 2006-07-19. Retrieved 2015-05-20. 
  12. ^ Reggie B. Walton (January 31, 2007). "Gherebi, et al. v. Bush" (PDF). United States Department of Justice. Retrieved May 19, 2007. 
  13. ^ Christopher Hope; Robert Winnett; Holly Watt; Heidi Blake (2011-04-27). "WikiLeaks: Guantanamo Bay terrorist secrets revealed -- Guantanamo Bay has been used to incarcerate dozens of terrorists who have admitted plotting terrifying attacks against the West – while imprisoning more than 150 totally innocent people, top-secret files disclose". The Telegraph (UK). Archived from the original on 2012-07-13. Retrieved 2012-07-13. The Daily Telegraph, along with other newspapers including The Washington Post, today exposes America’s own analysis of almost ten years of controversial interrogations on the world’s most dangerous terrorists. This newspaper has been shown thousands of pages of top-secret files obtained by the WikiLeaks website. 
  14. ^ "WikiLeaks: The Guantánamo files database". The Telegraph (UK). 2011-04-27. Retrieved 2012-07-10. 
  15. ^ a b "Asim Thabit Abdallah Al Khalaqi: Guantanamo Bay detainee file on Asim Thabit Abdallah Al Khalaqi, US9YM-000152DP, passed to the Telegraph by Wikileaks". The Telegraph (UK). 2011-04-27. Retrieved 2015-05-20. 
  16. ^ a b "US releases 5 more Guantanamo Bay prisoners, sends them to Kazakhstan". Fox News. 2014-12-31. Retrieved 2015-05-21. 
  17. ^ Peter Finn (January 22, 2010). "Justice task force recommends about 50 Guantanamo detainees be held indefinitely". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2015-05-19. Retrieved July 21, 2010. 
  18. ^ Peter Finn (May 29, 2010). "Most Guantanamo detainees low-level fighters, task force report says". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2015-05-19. Retrieved July 21, 2010. 
  19. ^ Andy Worthington (June 11, 2010). "Does Obama Really Know or Care About Who Is at Guantánamo?". Archived from the original on 2010-06-16. Retrieved July 21, 2010. 
  20. ^ Andy Worthington (2012-10-25). "Who are the 55 cleared Guantanamo prisoners on the list released by the Obama administration?". Retrieved 2015-05-21. 
  21. ^ Carol Rosenberg (2012-09-21). "U.S. names 55 Guantánamo captives cleared for release". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on 2012-09-23. 
  22. ^ Danica Coto (2012-09-21). "U.S. releases list of Guantanamo detainees cleared for transfer". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2012-09-23. The U.S. Justice Department has made public the names of 55 Guantanamo prisoners who have been approved for transfer to the custody of other countries, releasing information sought by human rights organizations. The announcement, which reverses a 2009 decision, was a surprise to organizations that had filed FOIA requests seeking the information. 
  23. ^ "US releases names of 55 Guantanamo detainees approved for transfer". 2012-09-23. Archived from the original on 2012-09-23. 
  24. ^ Fausto Biloslavo (2012-09-23). "Quei reclusi di Guantanamo che possiamo trovarci in casa" [Those inmates from Guantanamo that we can find in the house]. Il Giornale. Archived from the original on 2012-09-23. 
  25. ^ "Current Guantanamo Bay Detainee-Petitioners Approved For Transfer (Sept. 21, 2012)" (PDF). Department of Justice. 2012-09-21. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-09-23. 
  26. ^ a b Matt Spetalnick (2014-12-31). "U.S. sends five Guantanamo prisoners to Kazakhstan for resettlement". Washington DC: Reuters. Retrieved 2015-05-21. One of the Yemenis, Khalaqi, 46, had been implicated by John Walker Lindh, an American captured in late 2001 working with the Taliban, as having fought with al Qaeda in Afghanistan, according to the documents. But Khalaqi denied any involvement. 
  27. ^ Eyder Peralta (2014-12-31). "U.S. Transfers 5 Guantanamo Detainees To Kazakhstan". National Public Radio. Archived from the original on 2015-05-22. Retrieved 2015-05-21. In a statement, the Pentagon said the interagency task force charged with reviewing detainee releases had approved the transfer of these five men "unanimously." 
  28. ^ Diana Cariboni; Raya Jalabi; Jonathan Watts (2015-05-22). "Former Guantánamo detainee dies in Kazakhstan six months after release". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 2015-05-22. When a prisoner’s health becomes very fragile, the American military seek to release him as soon as possible to avoid the responsibility of a death in prison, 

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