Mohammed el Gharani

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Mohammed el Gharani
Born1986 (age 35–36)
Medina, Saudi Arabia
Detained atGuantanamo
Alternate nameMohammad El Gharani
Muhammed Hamid al Qarani
Muhammad Hamid (Yousef Akbir Salih) al Qarani
Charge(s)No charge (unlawfully detained)
StatusRepatriated after winning his habeas corpus

Mohammed el Gharani is a citizen of Chad and native of Saudi Arabia[1] born in 1986, in Medina. He was one of the juveniles held for seven years at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp where they estimated his age to be 15–16,[2] though Al Jazeera reports his age to have been 14 at the time of his arrest.[3] Human Rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith identified Al Qarani as one of a dozen teenage boys held in the adult portion of the prison.[4]

The Independent said Gharani was accused of plotting with Abu Qatada, in London, in 1999 – when he was a 12-year-old, living with his parents, in Saudi Arabia.[5] He was detained for seven years in the United States Guantanamo Bay detention camps.[6][7]

On January 14, 2009, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon ordered the release of Gharani because the evidence that he was an enemy combatant was mostly limited to statements from two other detainees whose credibility had been called into question by US government staff. Gharani's attorney Zachary Katznelson said after the ruling "Judge Leon did justice today. This is an innocent kid when he was seized illegally in Pakistan and should never have been in prison in the first place."[8][9]


After his parents immigrated from Chad, Mohammed was born and grew up in Saudi Arabia. Here he was subjected to discrimination as a Chadian, and was denied schooling. Consequently, he went to Pakistan in order to study English and computer studies. It was in Pakistan that he was arrested by Pakistani police, and given over to US forces.[10]

Following this, Mohammed was taken to the US run Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. Here it is claimed that he was kept naked for days, and subjected to racial abuse.[10] After being held in Bagram for two months, Mohammed was transferred to Guantanamo Bay where he remained for seven and a half years. Eventually, in 2009 with the help of Reprieve lawyers, Mohammed won a court order for his release. He was subsequently released and sent to Chad.[10]

Boston Globe investigations[edit]

On July 14, 2006, the Boston Globe reported on investigations they made to test the credibility of the allegations against Guantanamo detainees.[11] Al Gharani was one of the detainees whom they profiled.[12]

The Globe reported that Al Gharani was alleged to have been part of a cell, in London, led by Abu Qatada, c. 1998 – when Al Gharani was 11 or 12 years old.[12] According to the Globe:

Chito Peppler, a Pentagon spokesman, said the date referred to when 'Abu Qatada became active.' He maintained that it was possible that Gharani had been a part of the cell before his arrest at 14.

Al Gharani's lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith pointed out that Al Gharani had never traveled to England.[12]

Smith also offered an example of how allegations arose against Al Gharani due to the DoD's lack of qualified translators.[12] In Al Gharani's dialect of Arabic 'zalati' is a tomato. In his translator's dialect of Arabic 'zalati' meant money. His translator asked Al Gharani where he would go to get money, back home, and Al Gharani dutifully listed all the grocery stalls where he could buy tomatoes.

Questioning over the June 10th 2006 suicides[edit]

The Department of Defense reported, on June 10, 2006, that three detainees committed suicide.[13]

The camp commander, Admiral Harry Harris, called the suicides, "an act of asymmetrical warfare". One reaction of the camp authorities to the suicide was to seize all their papers, even their confidential communication with their lawyers. Leaks from the camp authorities fuelled rumors that the camp authorities had reason to believe that detainee's lawyers had actively conspired with the detainees in arranging the suicides. The camp authorities claimed that one of the suicide notes was written on stationery that the camp authorities made available to detainee's lawyers.

The Washington Post reports that the lawyer camp authorities have focused their suspicion on was Clive Stafford Smith.[14] Stafford Smith reports that his client Mohammed el-Gharani, one of the youngest of the Guantanamo detainees, has been interrogated, at length, trying to establish a tie between him and the suicides.[15] In a letter to the Associated Press Stafford Smith wrote:

The interrogator said I told my clients to kill themselves, and word was passed to the three men who did commit suicide.

According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stafford Smith claims: "...soldiers have threatened to move el-Gharani to Camp 5, a maximum-security facility, if he does not implicate Stafford Smith in the suicides.".[15]

Historian Andy Worthington, reporting on April 25, 2008, in the Lebanon Daily Star, described abuse Al Qaranhi reports experiencing.[16] The abuse Al Qaranhi reports include:

  • sleep deprivation;
  • having a cigarette extinguished on his body;
  • having freezing cold water thrown on him;
  • being suspended by his arms, with his feet hanging free from the floor, for extended periods of time;
  • having a soldier hold his penis in his hand, hold a pair of scissors, and threaten to cut it off.

Writ of habeas corpus[edit]

On January 14, 2009, US District Court Judge Richard Leon ordered Al Qarani's released.[17][18] Leon dismissed all the US allegations that Al Garani had been observed in Afghanistan, because there was no evidence to support them—other than denunciations from two other captives—captives whose credibility he questioned.

First phone call home[edit]

Muhammad Al Qarani was allowed his first phone call home on April 16, 2009.[19] However, instead, he phoned former captive, recently released Al Jazeera journalist Sami Al Hajj.[20] He told Al Hajj that conditions had worsened after the election of United States President Barack Obama. Al Qarani was repatriated less than two months after the call, on June 13, 2009.[21]


On June 11, 2009, the Department of Justice reported that they had repatriated an Iraqi captive and a Chadian captive from Guantanamo to their home countries.[22]

Andy Worthington, the author of The Guantanamo Files, reported that he was still not free after his repatriation, that he being held by Chadian security forces, who described his Chadian detention as a formality.[23]

Reuters reports that Commander Jeffrey Gordon continued to insist that Al Garani was older than he claimed.[24]

The BBC reports that after his repatriation Al Garani has not been able to receive any official identity documents, because Chad officials are not sure he is actually a citizen.[25] They report that since Al Garani grew up in Saudi Arabia he is unable to speak to any other Chadians in their local language. Saudi Arabia had, as of 2009, refused to allow Al Qarani to return and be united with his parents.[3]

Performance with Laurie Anderson[edit]

Avant Garde musician Laurie Anderson collaborated with al Garani in a work entitled Habeas Corpus, based on his life.[26] Al Garani can't travel to the United States, so his participation will be via telepresence. Anderson called al Garani very articulate.

Literature and Comic Book[edit]

Jérôme Tubiana published the story from El-Gharani's point of view. This was adapted to a graphic novel drawn by Alexandre Franc [fr] under the title Guantánamo Kid [fr].[27] The comic is released in English, French and German (Dargaud) translation and endorsed by Amnesty International.

  • Guantánamo Kid, the true story of Mohammed El-Gharani - Jérôme Tubiana & Alexandre Franc, SelfMadeHero 2019, ISBN 978 1 910593 66 0


  1. ^ Glaberson, William; Savage, Charlie (2011-04-26). "Guantánamo Files: Secret Case Against Detainee Crumbles". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-09-11.
  2. ^ 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. Retrieved 2007-09-29.
  3. ^ a b Al Jazeera Arabic قناة الجزيرة (2009-06-27), الجزيرة تنفرد بأول لقاء مع أصغر السجناء في غوانتانامو, archived from the original on 2021-12-14, retrieved 2019-07-08
  4. ^ Clive Stafford Smith (2005-06-15). "Kids of Guantanamo". Reprieve via Cageprisoners. Archived from the original on 2009-08-06. Retrieved 2009-08-06.
  5. ^ The children of Guantanamo Bay Archived 2006-06-02 at the Wayback Machine, The Independent, May 28, 2006
  6. ^ "Mohammed El Gharani - The Guantánamo Docket". The New York Times.
  7. ^ "U.S. judge orders Chad citizen freed from Guantanamo". Reuters. 2009-01-14.
  8. ^ "Judge Orders Release of Guantanamo Bay Detainee". The Washington Post. 2009-01-15.
  9. ^ Musharbash, Yassin (15 April 2009). "Accusations of Abuse: Guantanamo Prisoner Calls Al-Jazeera". Der Spiegel.
  10. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-10-05. Retrieved 2015-09-18.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ Guantanamo accusations questioned after review turns up basic errors Archived 2011-01-16 at the Wayback Machine, The Jurist, July 14, 2006
  12. ^ a b c d Factual errors cited in cases against detainees: Lawyers demand new trial system at Guantanamo, Boston Globe, July 14, 2006
  13. ^ "Triple suicide at Guantanamo camp". BBC. 2006-06-11. Retrieved 2015-09-18.
  14. ^ Group Denounces U.S. Over Gitmo Suicides, Washington Post, September 28, 2006
  15. ^ a b Lawyer for detainees speaks on suicides, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 25, 2006
  16. ^ Andy Worthington (April 25, 2008). "When Guantanamo held children". Daily Star. Retrieved 2008-04-25.
  17. ^ "US must free Guantanamo detainee". BBC News. 2009-01-14. Retrieved 2009-01-16.
  18. ^ "Judge orders release of Guantanamo detainee from Chad". Agence France Presse. 2009-01-15. Retrieved 2009-01-16.
  19. ^ "'Nothing changed' at Guantanamo". The Australian. 2009-04-16. Retrieved 2009-06-26.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ "New Guantanamo abuse claims". Al Jazeera. 2009-05-22. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
  21. ^ "US transfers Guantanamo detainees". Al Jazeera. 2009-06-13. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
  22. ^ "United States Transfers Two Guantanamo Detainees to Foreign Nations". United States Department of Justice. 2009-06-11. Archived from the original on 2009-06-11. Retrieved 2009-06-11.
  23. ^ Andy Worthington (2009-06-11). "Guantánamo's Youngest Prisoner Released To Chad". Archived from the original on 2009-06-12.
  24. ^ Luke Baker (2009-06-11). "U.S. frees Guantanamo detainee seized when a teenager". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2009-06-11.
  25. ^ "Guantanamo man left in Chad limbo". BBC News. 2009-07-01. Retrieved 2009-07-01.
  26. ^ "Laurie Anderson Partners with Former Gitmo Detainee in Newest Work: HABEAS CORPUS will fuse different elements of film, sculpture, music, and video at Park Avenue Armory". Tricycle magazine. 2015-09-21. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2015-09-21. Since all ex-detainees from Guantanamo Bay are currently barred from entering the United States, el Gharani will appear as part of this installation live from West Africa, beamed into the Armory Drill Hall via advanced streaming techniques and three-dimensional imaging. It will be the first real-time meeting between a former detainee and American audiences.
  27. ^ Diary - Mohammed el Gorani and Jérôme Tubiana London Review of Books

External links[edit]