Muhammad Ismail Agha
|Muhammad Ismail Agha|
|Released||January 29, 2004
|Detained at||Girishk; Bagram; Guantanamo Bay detention camp|
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. 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.
Agha was born in Durabin (also written as Doorbini), a poor farming village near Nawzad, Afghanistan. There is some confusion about his date of birth: U.S. Department of Defence records indicate he was born in 1988,, while first-hand reports suggest it was after December 1988, but before February 1989.[a]
Detention in 2002
Shortly after leaving home to look for work in December 2002, Agha was detained by Afghan soldiers in Girishk, before being transferred to the United States at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. During this time he says he was held in solitary confinement and subjected to sleep deprivation and stress position, both enhanced interrogation techniques used at the time by the U.S. Armed Forces.
He was then transferred on 7 February 2002 to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He was put with two other teenagers in Camp Iguana, the section of Guantanamo built for juveniles. Unlike other detainees, those in Camp Iguana were not shackled and hooded, and did not wear orange boiler suits.
They were given classes in Pashto (their own language), English, Arabic, Islam, math, and art. While there, 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.
- a. Agha was interviewed by reporters on 11 February 2004. They variously reported him as being aged 15 then, and as being 13 when detained, which occurred early in December 2002.
- 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 2016-12-30.
- 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.
- "(S) Transfer Recommendation for Guantanamo Detainee, Mohammed Ismail, ISN: US9AF-00930DP". U.S. Department of Defence. 23 July 2003 – via New York Times.
- "An Afghan Boy's Life in U.S. Custody". The Washington Post. 12 February 2004 – via MSNBC.
- "Am I Human or Not? Guantánamo Detention Undermines Human Rights Worldwide". Amnesty International. June 2004.
- "Boy praises Guantanamo jailers". BBC News. 14 February 2004.
- "Cuba? It was great, say boys freed from US prison camp". The Guardian. 6 March 2004.
- "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.
- "Freed Afghan youth tells of Guantanamo". Boston Globe. 12 February 2004.
- "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..."[permanent dead link], 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.