Ayman Saeed Abdullah Batarfi
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|Ayman Saeed Abdullah Batarfi|
Ayman Batarfi's Guantanamo ID photo
|Charge(s)||No charge (extrajudicial detention)|
Ayman Saeed Abdullah Batarfi is a Yemeni doctor who was held in extrajudicial detention in the United States Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba. His Guantanamo Internment Serial Number was 627.
He is an orthopedic surgeon who graduated from medical school in Pakistan and pursued postdoctoral studies there.
On March 30, 2009, the Justice Department announced that the administration had decided to release Dr. Batarfi.
- 1 Press reports
- 2 Ayman Saeed Abdullah Batarfi v. George W. Bush
- 3 Repatriation
- 4 2008 and 2009 assessments of risks posed by Batarfi
- 5 References
- 6 External links
He claimed that he was forced to work as a doctor at the 2001 Battle of Tora Bora, during which time he treated injured mujahideen fighters inside the region's complex caves. At one of his Administrative Review Board hearings, he confirmed that Osama bin Laden was present during the battle, claiming that he had met with him for ten minutes.
On May 25, 2008 the Yemen Times reported that a number of the Yemeni captives in Guantanamo had gone certifiably insane under the conditions there. The article quoted the recently released Sudanese journalists Sami Al Hajj, who reported that Yemeni captives had been driven insane through the administration of hallucinogenic drugs.
Summary of Evidence memo
- a. The detainee is a member of al Qaida and supported the Taliban and al Qaida against the United States and its coalition partners:
- The detainee entered Afghanistan and went to Jalalabad, until the Northern Alliance approached, at which time he fled to the Tora Bora Mountains and hid with other Arabs trying to flee Afghanistan.
- The detainee is a former al Wafa official.
- Al Wafa, a non-governmental organization, officially named al Wafa al Igathat al Islamia (Wafa Humanitarian Organization) and headquartered in Saudi Arabia, has connections to Usama Bin Ladin and Afghan Mujahidin.
- The detainee purchased medical supplies for al Wafa and sent them to Afghanistan.
- On approximately 30 November 2001, the detainee personally met with Usama Bin Laden (UBL) in Tora Bora.
- In July 2001, the detainee stayed in a Quetta Taliban guesthouse.
- The detainee associated with a senior al Qaida operative and facilitator.
- The detainee stated that he met with Usama Bin Laden on a number of occasions.
- The detainee advised that he was involved in the purchase of three (3) vehicles in Herat for the Taliban and he purchased medical equipment for the Taliban.
- b. The detainee participated in military operations against the United States and its coalition partners:
- The detainee arrived in the Tora Bora Mountains in mid-November 2001.
- The detainee carried a gun while he was in the Tora Bora Mountains.
- The detainee carried a walkie-talkie during his time in the Tora Bora Mountains in November 2001.
Ayman Saeed Abdullah Batarfi v. George W. Bush
A writ of habeas corpus, Ayman Saeed Abdullah Batarfi v. George W. Bush, was submitted on Ayman Saeed Abdullah Batarfi's behalf before US District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan. In response, on 4 August 2005, the Department of Defense released seventeen pages of unclassified documents related to his Combatant Status Review Tribunal. He is being represented by Baltimore lawfirm Murphy & Shaffer.
According to the decision memo in his dossier:
The detainee refused to leave his cell to meet with the Personal Representative (PR). There was no reason to believe that the detainee was mentally or physically unable to meet with the PR. The PR consulted with the Assistant CSRT Legal Advisor who adsised the PR to request the detainee's guards to inform the detainee of the purpose of the meeting and offer him a second opportunity to leave his cell and meet with the PR. The guards stated the detainee still refused. As noted in detainee records, he spoke and understood English so there was no question that he understood the guards.
The CSRT notification letter provided to the detainee in July 2004 required that the detainee be provided a written unclassified summary of the evidence. However, in this case, this was not possible because the detainee's assigned facility did not permit the detainee to receive either written or verbal material while he is in his cell. Since the detainee voluntarily declined to leave his cell in order to meet with the PR to receive this information, after being informed of the purpose of the PR's visit, the detainee elected to not received the unclassified summary of evidence.
On 6 January 2009 Sullivan admonished the Bush administration for improperly withholding exculpatory evidence. He said that the Department of Justice had withheld as many as ten documents from him. Sullivan stated that, now that the documents had been made available to him, he would need at least until a hearing scheduled for 9 March to decide whether Batarfi should be released.
In early April 2009 Sullivan admonished the Justice Department for withholding that one of the witnesses against Batarfi was seriously mentally ill. The Kansas City Star reported that a transcript of the hearing recorded Sullivan saying:
To hide relevant and exculpatory evidence from counsel and from the court under any circumstances, particularly here where there is no other means to discover this information and where the stakes are so very high ... is fundamentally unjust, outrageous and will not be tolerated. How can this court have any confidence whatsoever in the United States government to comply with its obligations and to be truthful to the court?
The Kansas City Star reported that the unredacted portions of the transcript suggested the unnamed witness suffered from "anti-social personality disorder"—which would have prevented him from understanding the difference between right and wrong, and would make him likely to lie. Bill Murphy, one of Batarfi's lawyers, said:
Given the nature of the medical records about this particular detainee it is difficult to conceive how the government might offer him as a credible witness.
Administrative Review Board
Detainees whose Combatant Status Review Tribunal labeled them "enemy combatants" were scheduled for annual Administrative Review Board hearings. These hearings were designed to assess the threat a detainee might pose if released or transferred, and whether there were other factors that warranted his continued detention.
First annual Administrative Review Board
A Summary of Evidence memo was prepared for Ayman Saeed Abdullah Batarfi's first annual Administrative Review Board, on 31 October 2005. The four page memo listed thirty-nine "primary factors favor[ing] continued detention" and two "primary factors favor[ing] release or transfer".
In the Spring of 2006, in response to a court order from Jed Rakoff the Department of Defense published a twenty page summarized transcript from his Administrative Review Board. Attached to the transcript were three letters from family members.
Second annual Administrative Review Board
A Summary of Evidence memo was prepared for Ayman Batarfi's second annual Administrative Review Board, on 28 November 2006. The four page memo listed thirty-six "primary factors favor[ing] continued detention" and two "primary factors favor[ing] release or transfer".
In September 2007 the Department of Defense released the transcripts from the 2006 Board hearings which captives attended.
On March 30, 2009, it was widely reported that Batarfi was the second captive to be cleared through the new review procedures put in place by United States President Barack Obama. The BBC quoted Dean Boyd, a US justice department spokesman, who indicated Batarfi would be transferred to a third country. Boyd indicated that Batarfi would be transferred: "to an appropriate destination country... in a manner that is consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice."
The Justice Department did not say whether Dr. Batarfi, 38, who once practiced medicine in Afghanistan, would be freed, monitored or prosecuted if another country agreed to accept him.
Glaberson reported that although Batarfi had agreed to a stay of his habeas petition, to give US diplomats a chance to find a third country to accept him, he reserved the right to re-open the case if he objected to the conditions of his transfer.
Carol Rosenberg, writing in the Miami Herald reported that Ayman Batarfi was one of twelve men transferred from Guantanamo on December 19, 2009. According to Rosenberg Justice Department officials said that Batarfi release had been approved in March 2009. She reported that he was one of the Guantanamo captives who had described himself as a humanitarian aid worker.
The other eleven men were: Jamal Alawi Mari, Farouq Ali Ahmed, Muhammaed Yasir Ahmed Taher, Fayad Yahya Ahmed al Rami, Riyad Atiq Ali Abdu al Haf, Abdul Hafiz, Sharifullah, Mohamed Rahim, Mohammed Hashim, Ismael Arale and Mohamed Suleiman Barre. Abdul Hafiz, Sharifullah, Mohamed Rahim and Mohammed Hashim were Afghans. Asmael Arale and Mohamed Suleiman Barre were Somalis. The other five men were fellow Yemenis.
On January 5, 2010, Jay Solomon, writing in the Wall Street Journal reported that Batarfi, and the five other Yemeni men repatriated with him, faced indefinite detention in Yemen. Solomon reported that the indefinite detention was part of the secret agreement negotiated between American and Yemeni officials, prior to the Americans agreeing to repatriate the men.
2008 and 2009 assessments of risks posed by Batarfi
In testimony before Congress, on January 13, 2010, White House official John Brennan was asked to justify the release of Batarfi, in light of the allegations he was associated with an al Qaeda Weapons of Mass Destruction plan. A follow-up letter, from Brennan, to Nancy Pelosi, was made public in 2011.
On April 25, 2011 the whistleblower organization WikiLeaks published formerly secret documents signed by the Guantanamo camp commandants. Batarfi's document was 15 pages long, signed by Admiral Mark H Buzby, and dated April 29, 2008.
During his appearance before Congress, Congressional Representative Frank Wolf, asked Brennan to explain why Batarfi had been cleared for release, when earlier military status reviews concluded there was reason to believe he had met Osama bin Laden, and that there was reason to believe he had played a role in an al Qaeda Weapons of Mass Destruction plan. In his written reply Brennan stated that the joint task force the Obama administration had put in place had conducted their own more recent review, and concluded the suspicions held against Batarfi weren't substantial enough to justify his detention.
In commentary on Brennan's justification in The Weekly Standard third-party counter-terrorism analyst Thomas Joscelyn challenged Brennan's defense of the Obama appointed 2009 review, by citing the allegations in the 2008 Joint Task Force Guantanamo assessment. Josceyln quoted several passages from the 2008 military assessment that asserted Batarfi had helped provide Yazid Sufaat with medical laboratory equipment that was intended to be used to develop an anthrax weapon.
Joscelyn quoted another passage from the documents, about Batarfi's ties to Dr Amer Aziz, a mentor Batarfi worked under, during his internship. Aziz had a long history of making trips to Afghanistan to treat wounded mujahideen, dating back to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, when the CIA supported them in their battle against the Soviet Union. On October 21, 2002, Aziz was seized by American security officials, who held him, and interrogated him for a month. Following his release Aziz acknowledged his travels to Afghanistan to provide medical care, and acknowledged that those he treated had included senior members of al Qaeda, including Osama bin Laden. He acknowledged he had treated bin Laden in 1999 and in November 2001. However, Aziz asserted he had no knowledge of any terrorist plans, and that he had not known he would be called upon to treat bin Laden when he travelled to Afghanistan.
Josceyln quoted the Guantanamo assessment, which said that during his interrogation, Aziz indicated he thought Batarfi was "quite keen" on fighting and "fully believed in al-Qaida."
- OARDEC (May 15, 2006). "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 30 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-29.
- The Guantanamo Docket - Ayman Saeed Abdullah Batarfi
- Randall Mikkelson (2009-03-30). "Yemeni doctor cleared for transfer from Guantanamo". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2009-03-31. Retrieved 2009-03-31.
- "Yemeni inmate to leave Guantanamo". BBC News. 2009-03-30. Archived from the original on 31 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-31.
- Carol Rosenberg (2009-03-31). "Obama administration OKs release of Yemeni doctor from Guantánamo". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on 2009-03-31. Retrieved 2009-03-31.
- William Glaberson (2009-03-30). "U.S. Decides to Release Detainee at Guantánamo". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2009-03-31. Retrieved 2009-03-31.
- Andrew O. Selsky, Ben Fox (September 9, 2007). "Gitmo Panels Struggle to Assess Facts". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2011-11-17. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
Ayman Saeed Abdullah Batarfi, a doctor from Yemen, acknowledged treating wounded al-Qaida fighters at Tora Bora in Afghanistan, but said he was forced to do so. He said he wasn’t a terrorist. 'I deny these allegations against me,' Batarfi said. 'It is the same information used against me last year. … I don’t want to be back to the same point again next year.'
- "Yemeni tells U.S. he saw bin Laden at Afghan battle: At Tora Bora, terror chief seemed worried only about himself, doctor says". Houston Chronicle. September 8, 2007. Archived from the original on 2011-11-17. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
Batarfi said he was forced to treat the al-Qaida fighters and was not a terrorist himself. Desperate to escape the bombings, he said he asked to see the commander of forces at Tora Bora because he wanted to learn how to escape. Two weeks later, he was summoned to a meeting — and found himself face-to-face with bin Laden, whom he had met once before in Kabul, the Afghan capital.
- Amel Al-Ariqi (May 25, 2008). "Yemeni prisoners at Gitmo become clinically insane, says HOOD". Yemen Times. Archived from the original on 2011-05-18. Retrieved 2008-05-26.
'I have been told that Yemeni doctor Ayman Badhrafi (who is still in custody) became insane. He is not the only case; Fuwaz Nouman, who recently came back to Yemen, also suffers from serious psychological problems,' said Arman, an activist and lawyer with the human rights organization known as HOOD, the National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedom.
- Peter L. Bergen (2011). The longest war: the enduring conflict between America and al-Qaeda. Simon & Schuster. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-7432-7893-5. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
Ayman Saeed Abdullah Batarfi, a Yemeni doctor who was treating the al-Qaeda wounded, paints a scene of desperation. 'I was out of medicine and I had a lot of casualties,' Batarfi later recalled. 'I did a hand amputation by a knife, and I did a finger amputation with scissors.' Batarfi said he personally told bin Laden that, if they did not leave Tora Bora soon, 'no one would stay alive' under the American bombardment. But the al-Qaeda leader seemed mainly preoccupied with his own escape. 'He did not prepare himself for Tora Bora,' Batarfi said, 'and to be frank he didn't care about anyone but himself.'
- OARDEC (2 November 2004). "Summary of Evidence for Combatant Status Review Tribunal -- Batarfi, Ayman Saeed Abdullah" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. pp. 10–11. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-26.
- Lara Jakes (2009-01-06). "Judge: Government hiding evidence in Gitmo case". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
- "Ayman Saeed Abdullah Batarfi v. George W. Bush" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. 4 August 2005. pp. 21–37. Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- Marisa Taylor (2009-04-08). "Judge: U.S. withheld evidence of Guantanamo witness's mental illness". Kansas City Star. Archived from the original on 2009-04-08.
- "Annual Administrative Review Boards for Enemy Combatants Held at Guantanamo Attributable to Senior Defense Officials". March 6, 2007. Archived from the original on February 28, 2010. Retrieved November 12, 2010.
- OARDEC (31 October 2005). "Unclassified Summary of Evidence for Administrative Review Board in the case of Batarfi, Ayman Saeed Abdullah" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. pp. 58–61. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-26.
- "US releases Guantanamo files". The Age. April 4, 2006. Retrieved 2008-03-15.
- OARDEC. "Summary of Administrative Review Board Proceedings of ISN 627 (2005)" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. pp. 227–246. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-25.
- OARDEC (28 November 2006). "Unclassified Summary of Evidence for Administrative Review Board in the case of Batarfi, Ayman" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. pp. 86–89. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-25.
- OARDEC. "Summary of Administrative Review Board Proceedings of ISN 627 (2006)" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. pp. 45–70. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-25.
- Carol Rosenberg (2009-12-19). "Guantánamo detention census drops to 198". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on 2009-12-20.
A Justice Department statement Sunday said those freed included a Yemeni surgeon who the Obama administration approved for release in March. Ayman Batarfi, 38, had echoed other Guantánamo detainee claims that he was a humanitarian worker at the time of his 2001 capture in Afghanistan, who admitted to treating al Qaeda wounded at the battle of Tora Bora while Osama bin Laden was in the area.
- Jay Solomon (2010-01-05). "Yemen to Hold Six Returned Detainees Indefinitely: White House Says It Is Comfortable With Security Pact, but Some Lawmakers Want Guantanamo Transfers Halted". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
Six Yemeni nationals repatriated last month from Guantanamo Bay will remain in the Sana'a government's custody indefinitely as part of a deal reached between the Obama administration and Yemen, U.S. officials said.
- Thomas Josceyln (2011-05-13). "John Brennan Is Still Wrong on Gitmo Detainee". The Weekly Standard. Archived from the original on 2011-11-17. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
In justifying the transfer, John Brennan claimed that President Obama’s Guantanamo Review Task Force "thoroughly reviewed all information available" on Batarfi and found no ties to al Qaeda’s anthrax program. Four memos prepared at Guantanamo and Batarfi’s own indicate otherwise.
- John Brennan (2010-02-01). "John Brennan to Nancy Pelosi, regarding Ayman Bararfi" (PDF). the White House. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
During the briefing on January 13, Representative Wold made allegations that one detainee repatriated to Yemen had been involved in weapons of mass destruction. As it has done in every case, the task force thoroughly reviewed all information available to the government about this individual and concluded that there is no basis for the assertions Representative Wolf made during this session.Media related to File:John Brennan to Nancy Pelosi, regarding Ayman Bararfi, 2010-02-01.pdf at Wikimedia Commons
- Nancy Talanian (2011-05-13). "WikiLeaks Guantanamo Release Offers an Opportunity for Truth Telling". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 2011-11-17. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
The 779 classified Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs) that WikiLeaks began releasing on April 24 offer an unprecedented opportunity for us to finally confront the flimsy evidence our government has compiled about hundreds of men to support their past or present indefinite detention at Guantánamo.
- Mark H. Buzby (2008-04-28). "Recommendation for Continued Detention Under DoD Control (CD) for Guantanamo Detainee, ISN US9YM-000627DP (S)" (PDF). Joint Task Force Guantanamo. p. 10. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
Detainee’s mentor, Doctor Amer Aziz, personally treated UBL and noted detainee was "quite keen" on fighting and "fully believed in al-Qaida." Doctor Aziz also stated that he and detainee attended a luncheon with UBL hosted by al-Qaida military commander Abu Hafs al-Masri. Doctor Aziz is suspected of having connections to the al-Qaida chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) programs.54 (Analyst Note: Detainee has denied attending this luncheon.)Media related to File:ISN 00627, Ayman Batarfi's Guantanamo detainee assessment.pdf at Wikimedia Commons
- Frank R. Wolf (2011-07-15). "IN OPPOSITION TO THE PRESIDENT'S NOMINATION OF MATHEW OLSEN TO LEAD THE NATIONAL COUNTERTERRORISM CENTER". Federation of American Scientists. Archived from the original on 2011-11-18. Retrieved 2011-11-18.
In early 2010, I wrote White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan about one detainee, Ayman Batarfi, whom the DOD believed to be closely connected to al Qaeda's anthrax program.
- Niles Latham (2002-11-15). "Agents snag bin Laden's doctor". New York Post. p. 2. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
Amer Aziz, a popular figure who became radicalized when he went to Kosovo to treat wounded Albanian Muslims, once treated senior Taliban and al Qaeda figures and wounded fighters during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. U.S. officials say they do not believe Aziz has been in recent contact with the al Qaeda leader, but hope he can provide important insight into bin Laden's health.
- Paul Haven (2002-11-20). "Bin Laden was in excellent health, doctor says". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-11-16.
Amer Aziz, recently released after being held incommunicado and interrogated for a month by FBI and CIA agents, told the Associated Press that he knew nothing of al-Qaida's plans. He rejected allegations that he helped the organization in its efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction.
- The Story of Ayman Batarfi, a Doctor in Guantánamo Andy Worthington