Kandahar Five

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The Kandahar Five is a term used to refer to five men who had been held, for years, in a Taliban prison in Kandahar, Afghanistan, only to end up in extrajudicial detention in the United States Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba.[1][2]

Several of the men were interviewed by international reporters during a brief period of partial freedom when they were held in a refugee camp following the liberation of the prison by Northern Alliance forces, who freed 1500 men. They men say they ended up being traded or sold to the Americans in return for a bounty.[1]

According to the Associated Press, in June 2007 Commander Jeffrey Gordon, a Department of Defense spokesman defended some of the men's continued detention:[1]

“Multiple reviews and designations have been conducted since each unlawful enemy combatant was captured, to include during initial detention overseas to lengthy procedures at Guantanamo,”

Abd Al Rahim Abdul Rassak Janko (Syrian Kurd)
  • Imprisoned by the Taliban on suspicion of spying.[1] He is being defended by Steve Sady of Portland, Oregon, who says, he "provided valuable testimony to U.S. investigators on Taliban abuses and should have received protection."[1] Suffering from PTSD, he is being treated with medication.[2]
Jamal Udeen Al-Harith (UK)
  • Claims he paid a driver to take him from Pakistan to Iran, without realizing that his driver would take a shortcut that would take him through Afghanistan, where the Taliban seized him as an American spy, based on his British passport.[3]
  • Went directly from custody in a Taliban jail to US custody. Repatriated in March 2004 and immediately released.
Sadik Ahmad Turkistani
  • Turkistani was imprisoned by the Taliban for four and a half years, because he was alleged to have been involved in a plot to kill al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Turkistani admits being opposed to the Taliban, Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, but he denies that he was involved in any plots.[4]
Airat Vakhitov (Russia)
  • Fled Russia for Tajikistan, in 1999, to avoid harassment by the Russian authorities; was forced by members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, to travel to Afghanistan; when he was thrown into prison because the Taliban suspected he was a Russian spy.[5] Repatriated in February 2004, he lives in Tatarstan, Russia and works as a freelance writer under a pseudonym. He has been intermittently detained and harassed by authorities.[1]
Abdul Hakim Bukhary


  1. ^ a b c d e f Paul Haven (June 30, 2007). "From Taliban jail to Gitmo – hard-luck prisoners tell of unending ordeal". San Diego Union Tribune. Archived from the original on July 25, 2008. Retrieved 2007-07-01. 
  2. ^ a b Tim Reid (2009-01-16). "Guantánamo inmate tortured by al-Qaeda and entombed by the US". The Times. London. Archived from the original on 2009-01-16. Retrieved 2009-01-16. In January 2002, shortly after the Taleban had fled Kandahar after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, I arrived in the city. Amid the chaos and confusion there was a bizarre scene playing out in the jail. The entire prison had been emptied, except for five men who had chosen to stay there because they had nowhere else to go. There was a man from Manchester called Jamal Udeen, two Saudis, a student from Tartarstan - and Mr al-Ginco. They became known as the “Kandahar Five”. 
  3. ^ "The most hapless tourist in the world: It's no holiday when the Taliban deem you a spy and the US labels you a terrorist". The Age. 2004-03-13. Archived from the original on 2013-02-08. Next it was on to a backpacking trek through Afghanistan, where he was jailed by the Taliban as a suspected spy. Finally, he was rescued by American troops, only to be promptly packed off to a cage in Guantanamo Bay. 
  4. ^ Josh White, Robin Wright (2005-12-14). "Detainee Cleared for Release Is in Limbo at Guantanamo". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2013-02-08. He professed hatred for al Qaeda and the Taliban -- groups he said tortured him in prison -- and offered to help the United States. Intelligence officials and U.N. representatives told Turkistani they would seek to find him refuge, possibly in Pakistan, according to accounts he later gave his lawyers. Instead, Turkistani was taken to a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, where he was stripped, bound and thrown behind bars. 
  5. ^ "Thumbnails of the 9 men at Guantanamo Bay who were once Taliban prisoners". International Herald Tribune. June 30, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  6. ^ "Guantanamo Bay: The testimony". BBC News. 2006-03-04. Archived from the original on 2013-02-08. Said he was jailed by the Taleban as he was suspected of being a spy after admitting admiration for anti-Taleban warlord Ahmed Shah Massood. 
  7. ^ Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Abdul Hakim Bukhary'sCombatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 56-65