|Arrested||4 February 2007
National Directorate of Security
|Alternate name||Haroon al-Afghani|
|Status||Held indefinitely without trial or charge|
|Occupation||Trader of household goods|
Haroon Gul, commonly referred to as Haroon al-Afghani ("the Afghani"), is an Afghan-Pakistani citizen currently held in extrajudicial detention in the United States Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba.
Haroon al Afghan was transferred to the Guantanamo detention camps on June 22, 2007, and has been held there for 10 years, 7 months and 27 days. On June 22, 2007, the United States Department of Defense acknowledged transferring Haroon al-Afghani to Guantanamo. Prior to 2016, almost nothing certain was known about his background and activities. He had been held for more than eight years without being charged (leading to Al Jazeera naming him a "forever prisoner") before he was allowed legal representation, which was successfully pleaded for by Reprieve US.
The DoD detained him on the claim that he was an al Qaida courier and senior commander of Hezb-e-Islami/Gulbuddin who allegedly commanded multiple HiG terrorist cells, conducted IED (improvised explosive device) attacks in Nangarhar province, and had regular contact with senior Al-Qaeda and HiG leadership. The argument for his detention was that he may have had additional information with respect to ongoing Al-Qaeda operations, and may have had information that would be useful to them in thwarting future attacks.
However, relatives, who were unaware of his location following his sudden abduction, rejected the story and stated that the accusations were baseless. Reprieve US and his lawyer believe that, as supported by an Al Jazeera study, Al-Afghani is a victim of mistaken identity, and "has never been a member of the Taliban or al Qaeda, has never caused nor attempted to cause harm to American personnel or property and has never espoused violent beliefs."
Joint Review Task Force
On January 21, 2009, the day he was inaugurated, United States President Barack Obama issued three Executive orders related to the detention of individuals in Guantanamo. He put in place a new review system 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 some individuals as too dangerous to be transferred from Guantanamo, even though there was no evidence to justify laying charges against them. On April 9, 2013, that document was made public after a Freedom of Information Act request. Haroon al-Afghani was one of the 71 individuals deemed too innocent to charge, but too dangerous to release. Obama said those deemed too innocent to charge, but too dangerous to release would start to receive reviews from a Periodic Review Board.
Periodic Review Board
Al Jazeera profile
The Al Jazeera news service profiled al-Afghani on January 20, 2016, describing him as an individual about whom "almost nothing certain is known". They identified him as a "forever prisoner"—one of those the 2009 Guantanamo Review Task Force concluded was too dangerous to release—even though he was not charged with any crime.
It's believed that Afghani was born around 1981 and is from the Sherzad district in Nangarhar province in Afghanistan. "He was just a normal young boy", his relative said according to a report by Al Jazeera. Afghani was a student when the Taliban was in power. He studied economics at Hayatabad Science University in Peshawar, Pakistan.
- "The Detainees". New York Times. 2008-11-23. Archived from the original on 2008-11-06. Retrieved 2008-12-02.
- Haroon Gul, Reprieve US
- Gabriel Haboubi (June 22, 2007). "Afghan terror suspect transferred to Guantanamo Bay prison". The Jurist. Archived from the original on May 9, 2009. Retrieved 2007-06-22.
- Margot Williams (2008-11-03). "Guantanamo Docket: Haroon al-Afghani". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2011-04-29. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
- "Terror Suspect Transferred To Guantanamo". Department of Defense. June 22, 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-22.
- Deb Reichman (June 22, 2007). "U.S. says Afghan prison not meant to be Gitmo alternative". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-06-22.
- "Afghan insurgent commander lands in Guantanamo". Indiainfo. June 23, 2007. Archived from the original on December 2, 2008. Retrieved 2007-06-22.
- Sami Yousafzai, Jenifer Fenton (2016-01-20). "Gitmo 'forever prisoner' Haroon al-Afghani remains virtually unknown: Details surrounding the life and alleged crimes of one detainee at the notorious facility are essentially a mystery". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 2016-01-21.
In official documents, almost nothing certain is known about Afghani’s background and activities. Yet he has been held for more than eight years without being charged. Afghani is a so-called forever prisoner, a detainee at Guantánamo who has not been charged with a crime but has not been cleared for transfer. Nor does he even have a lawyer.
- Andy Worthington (2012-10-25). "Who Are the 55 Cleared Guantánamo Prisoners on the List Released by the Obama Administration?". Retrieved 2015-02-19.
I have already discussed at length the profound injustice of holding Shawali Khan and Abdul Ghani, in articles here and here, and noted how their cases discredit America, as Khan, against whom no evidence of wrongdoing exists, nevertheless had his habeas corpus petition denied, and Ghani, a thoroughly insignificant scrap metal merchant, was put forward for a trial by military commission — a war crimes trial — under President Bush.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- "71 Guantanamo Detainees Determined Eligible to Receive a Periodic Review Board as of April 19, 2013". Joint Review Task Force. 2013-04-09. Archived from the original on 2015-05-19. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
- "Periodic Review Secretariat: Review Information". Periodic Review Secretariat. Archived from the original on 2016-04-15.
- Myopic Pentagon keeps filling Guantánamo Andy Worthington
- Who Are the Remaining Prisoners in Guantánamo? Part Eight: Captured in Afghanistan (2002-07) Andy Worthington