In this identity portrait Norullah Noori wears the white uniform issued to compliant captives while detained at Guantanamo Bay.
|Governor of Balkh Province|
|Born||1967 Shajoie, Afghanistan|
|Years of service||1994-2001|
|Battles/wars||Afghan civil war
War in Afghanistan
Mullah Norullah Noori is a citizen of Afghanistan who spent more than 12 years in extrajudicial detention in the United States's Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba. His Guantanamo Internment Serial Number was 6. Noori was released from the detention camp on May 31, 2014, in a prisoner exchange that involved Bowe Bergdahl and the Taliban five, and flown to Qatar.
Intelligence analysts estimated he was born in 1967 in Shajoie, Afghanistan.
Norullah Noori was the Taliban's Governor of Balkh Province. 2001 press reports describe General Rashid Dostum bringing Noori with him when he toured the ruins the Qala-i-Jangi fortress, after over 400 captives died there in what is usually described as a failed prison uprising. Noori was reported to have ordered the Taliban fighters in his jurisdiction to peacefully surrender to Dostum's Northern Alliance forces.
Norullah Noori arrived at Guantanamo on January 11, 2002, and had been held there for 12 years. The allegations used to justify his detention in Guantanamo asserted he was an interim Provincial Governor of Jalalabad, temporary governor of Mazari Sharif and Governor of Balkh Province.
Throughout the fall of 2011 and the winter of 2012, the United States conducted peace negotiations with the Taliban and widely leaked was that a key sticking point was the ongoing detention of Norullah and four other senior Taliban. Negotiations hinged on a proposal to send the five men directly to Doha, Qatar, where they would be allowed to set up an official office for the Taliban.
- 1 Governor under the Taliban
- 2 Held aboard the USS Bataan
- 3 Combatant Status Review Tribunal
- 4 Administrative Review Board hearing
- 5 Writ of habeas corpus
- 6 Joint Review Task Force
- 7 Release negotiations
- 8 Release from Guantanamo Bay
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Governor under the Taliban
Fareeda Kuchi Balkhi, a Kuchi nomad tribeswoman who ran as a candidate for the Wolesi Jirga in 2005, described her delivery of a list of 1000 Kuchi stranded in an impromptu refugee camp to then Governor of Balkh Noori as the beginning of her political activism in 1998. Fareeda told Carlotta Gall, of the New York Times that Noori accepted her list, and forwarded to humanitarian agencies, and aid did arrive.
In the fall of 2001, when the United States, allied with the Northern Alliance and other anti-Taliban forces, started to use military force to seek out al Qaeda, Noori was one Taliban leader who is reported to have directed the Taliban fighters in his province to lay down their weapons and surrender.
In December 2001, shortly after the overthrow of the Taliban, Human Rights Watch called for a human rights tribunal to be convened against Noorullah and two other former Taliban Governors of Northern Provinces to investigate claims they had been responsible for alleged massacres of Hazara and Uzbek civilians. The reports of civilian massacres were alleged to have occurred during the previous three years (1998-2001). The two other Taliban leaders were Mullah Dadullah and Mullah Mohammed Fazil. Fazil, like Norullah, had already surrendered and would be sent to Guantanamo.
Held aboard the USS Bataan
Former Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Salam Zaeef described being flown to the United States Navy's amphibious warfare vessel, the USS Bataan, for special interrogation. Zaeef wrote that the cells were located six decks down, were only 1 meter by 2 meters. He wrote that the captives weren't allowed to speak with one another, but that he "eventually saw that Mullahs Fazal, Noori, Burhan, Wasseeq Sahib and Rohani were all among the other prisoners." Historian Andy Worthington, author of The Guantanamo Files, identified Noori as one of the men Zaeef recognized. He identified Mullah Wasseeq as Abdul-Haq Wasiq, Mullah Rohani as Gholam Ruhani and Mullah Fazal as Mohammed Fazil.
Combatant Status Review Tribunal
Initially, the Bush administration asserted that they could withhold all the protections of the Geneva Conventions to captives from the war on terror. This policy was challenged before the Judicial branch. Critics argued that the U.S. could not evade its obligation to conduct competent tribunals to determine whether captives are, or are not, entitled to the protections of prisoner of war status.
Subsequently, the Department of Defense instituted the Combatant Status Review Tribunals. The Tribunals, however, were not authorized to determine whether the captives were lawful combatants—rather they were merely empowered to make a recommendation as to whether the captive had previously been correctly determined to match the Bush administration's definition of an enemy combatant.
Summary of Evidence memo
- a. The detainee is a member of the Taliban.
- The detainee traveled to Kabul to serve as a security guard for a Taliban official.
- He later worked as a security guard for the governor of Jalalabad carrying a Kalashnikov rifle.
- In 2000 the detainee moved to Mazar-E Sharif where he was a member of a 10-12 man team who provided security to the governor.
- He was armed with a Kalashnikov while on guard duty.
- The detainee served as the acting governor in Mazar-E Sharif for 8 to 9 months prior to his capture.
- b. The detainee participated in military operations against the coalition.
- He was fighting on the front lines at Mazar-E-Sharif as a Taliban fighter. As the front lines in Mazar-E-Sharif fell, he moved with a majority of the remaining fighters to Kunduz to reestablish the front lines.
- He participated in a meeting where Taliban leaders decided to surrender to the Northern Alliance.
- He was captured by Northern Alliance forces along with a Taliban leader and five Taliban soldiers.
Noori chose to participate in his Combatant Status Review Tribunal. On March 3, 2006, in response to a court order from Jed Rakoff the Department of Defense published a five-page summarized transcript from his Combatant Status Review Tribunal.
Administrative Review Board hearing
Detainees who were determined to have been properly classified as "enemy combatants" were scheduled to have their dossier reviewed at annual Administrative Review Board hearings. The Administrative Review Boards weren't authorized to review whether a detainee qualified for POW status and they weren't authorized to review whether a detainee should have been classified as an "enemy combatant".
They were authorized to consider whether a detainee should continue to be detained by the United States because they continued to pose a threat—or whether they could safely be repatriated to the custody of their home country, or whether they could be set free.
First annual Administrative Review Board
The following primary factors favor continued detention
- a. Commitment
- The detainee worked as a security guard for the governor of Jalalabad carrying a Kalashnikov rifle.
- In 2000 the detainee moved to Mazar-E-Sharif where he was a member of 1 10-12-man team who provided security to the Governor.
- The detainee served as the acting governor in Mazar-E-Sharif for 8 or 9 months prior to his capture.
- b. Connections/Associations
- The detainee traveled to Kabul to serve as a security guard for a Taliban official.
- c. Other relevant data
- The detainee participated in a meeting where Taliban leaders decided to surrender to the Northern Alliance.
The following primary factors favor release or transfer
- a. CSRT
- The detainee testified: "I needed to survive, so I did work with the government, which was at the time the Taliban government and I work with them and that's the only mistake I made if you want to call it that, or that's the only thing I did."
- b. Exculpatory
- The detainee emphasized this was merely a civilian position and he had no real political responsibilities within the Taliban. Additionally, he had no interaction with the leaders in the Taliban.
- The detainee admitted his allegiance with the Taliban as he was fearful of standing against the current governing body in Afghanistan.
- The detainee does not know any of the al Qaeda members detained at Guantanamo. He cannot interact with the Arabs as he does not speak their language.
Noori chose to participate in his Administrative Review Board hearing.
Second annual Administrative Review Board
Third annual Administrative Review Board
The following primary factors favor continued detention
- a. Commitment
- In September 1995 the detainee fought alongside al Qaida as a Taliban military general, against the Northern Alliance. The detainee was responsible for the line near Murghab, Afghanistan in the vicinity of Herat, Afghanistan.
- The detainee claimed he joined the Taliban in 1999. He worked for the governor of Jalalabad, Afghanistan until December 1999. In February 2000 the detainee arrived in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan.
- The detainee began working for the Taliban government as one of eight assistants to the Governor of Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan.
- The detainee eventually became the governor of the Balkh Province, Afghanistan as was one of a very few tribal members who could read and write. The detainee held this position for about eight to ten months. The detainee received the title of Mullah due to his education and political position.
- The detainee was fighting on the front lines at Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan as a Taliban fighter. As the front lines in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan fell the detainee moved with a majority of the remaining fighters to Kunduz, Afghanistan to reestablish the front lines.
- While traveling from Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan to Zabol Province, Afghanistan, the detainee agreed to negotiate with Dostums forces regarding surrender of Taliban forces.
- b. Training
- The detainee's job required him to stand guard duty, armed with a Kalashnikov, at buildings. The detainee denied ever receiving any training for this position. The detainee stated that he never learned how to take the weapon apart, but he knew how to use it.
- c. Connections/Associations
- The detainee was identified as the Taliban leader in charge of Mazar Bal, Afghanistan.
- The detainee's name appears on a list of key Taliban personalities.
- The detainee is a close associate of a high-ranking Taliban leader.
- The detainee hosted al Qaida commanders.
- The detainee held a meeting with the head of the Islamic movement of Uzbekistan, who discussed jihad in Uzbekistan.
- While serving as the governor of Balkh province in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan the detainee met a subordinate of Usama bin Laden to pass a message from the Taliban supreme leader.
- d. Intent
- As of late July 2003, Taliban leaders close to the detainee were leading efforts in Zabol province, Afghanistan to destabilize the Afghan transitional administration.
- As of early November 2003, while he as the Taliban zone chief, the detainee provided assistance to a friend who was using profits from the sale of narcotics to provide material support to the Taliban and al Qaida. The detainee had given him money and provided him with a money exchange shop.
- A group of individuals, including a Taliban member, continue to work to support the detainee.
- e. Other Relevant Data
- The detainee was in charge of about 150 combat troops and one helicopter.
The following primary factors favor release or transfer
- a. The detainee does not consider himself an enemy of the United States. The detainee has never believed that the United States. The detainee has never believed that the United States is an enemy of Afghanistan. The detainee reiterated that he never fought with or shot a gun at anyone.
- b. The detainee advised that he did not know much about Usama bin Laden and had only heard of him on the radio. The detainee has never seen Usama bin Laden.
- c. The detainee said that he is not against the United States in any way. If the detainee were allowed to return home, he would attempt to obtain a position in the new government with the hope of being able to provide for his family. The detainee would hold nothing against the United States and would not give support to anyone who was against the United States.
In early September 2007, the Department of Defense released two heavily redacted memos from this board to Gordon R. England, the Designated Civilian Official. The review board convened on January 31, 2007. The board's recommendation was unanimous but was also redacted. The Board's recommendation was forwarded to England on March 29, 2007 and England authorized his continued detention on April 2, 2007.
Writ of habeas corpus
Norullah Noori had a writ of habeas corpus, Civil Action No. 08-cv-1828, filed on his behalf in late 2008 before US District Court Judge Ricardo M. Urbina. On December 17, 2008, Patricia A. Sullivan filed a "status report" on his behalf. She reported that Norullah Noori had a DTA appeal filed on his behalf in 2007.
Joint Review Task Force
When he assumed office in January 2009, President Barack Obama made a number of promises about the future of Guantanamo.  He promised the use of torture would cease at the camp and also promised to institute a new review system. That new review system was 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. On April 9, 2013, that document was made public after a Freedom of Information Act request. Norullah Noori was one of the 71 individuals deemed too innocent to charge, but too dangerous to release. Although Obama promised that those deemed too innocent to charge but too dangerous to release would start to receive reviews from a Periodic Review Board, less than a quarter of men have received a review.
Most Afghans who had been held in detention at the U.S. facility had been repatriated to Afghanistan by 2009. Throughout the fall of 2011 and the winter of 2012, the United States conducted peace negotiations with the Taliban and widely leaked that a key sticking point was the ongoing detention of Norullah and four other senior Taliban, Khirullah Khairkhwa, Mohammed Fazl, Abdul Haq Wasiq and . Negotiations hinged on a proposal to send the five men directly to Doha, Qatar, where they would be allowed to set up an official office for the Taliban.
In March 2012, it was reported that Ibrahim Spinzada, described as "Karzai's top aide" had spoken with the five men in Guantanamo earlier that month and had secured their agreement to be transferred to Qatar. Karzai, who had initially opposed the transfer, then reportedly backed the plan. It was reported that U.S. officials stated the Obama administration had not yet agreed to transfer the five men.
Release from Guantanamo Bay
Noori and four other prisoners who were known as the Taliban five were released from Guantanamo Bay and flown by U.S. military C-17 aircraft into Qatar on June 1, 2014, where they were set free. Their release was in exchange for that of U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl who had been captured in Afghanistan five years earlier. The exchange was brokered by the Emir of Qatar. Noori and the others were required to stay in Qatar for 12 months as a condition of their release. Upon his release, the Taliban confirmed that Noori was eager to resume his efforts to kill Americans. "After arriving in Qatar, Noorullah Noori kept insisting he would go to Afghanistan and fight American forces there,” a Taliban commander told reporters.
- Deobandi Islam: The Religion of the Taliban U. S. Navy Chaplain Corps, 15 October 2001
- "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 2006-05-15.
- "American soldier held captive in Afghanistan is now free". MSNBC. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
- M K Bhadrakumar (2012-01-10). "There's more to peace than Taliban". Asia Times. Archived from the original on 2012-01-11. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
Nevertheless, Iranian media insist that three high-ranking Taliban leaders have been released - Mullah Khairkhawa, former interior minister; Mullah Noorullah Noori, a former governor; and Mullah Fazl Akhund, the Taliban's chief of army staff - in exchange for an American soldier held by the Taliban.
- "More than 400 killed in fortress battle". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 2001-11-29. p. A1, A11. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
Dostum later toured the area with a couple of surrendered Taliban leaders from Kunduz. Noorullah Noori, former governor of Balkh province where Mazar-e-Sharif is located, claimed the revolt had not been planned. He said he had told the fighters "to submit your guns and armaments to Gen. Dostum's forces" and surrender. "I feel sad about these events. It was really in vain," he said. "It shouldn't have happened."
- "US Likely to Release Top Taliban Leaders from Gitmo". Outlook Afghanistan. 2012-01-05. Archived from the original on 2012-01-12. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
According to Haqyar, Mullah Noorullah Noori was a resident of Shah Joy district in Zabul province and had served as governor for Laghman, Baghlan and Balkh provinces. Mullah Fazil and Noori had an agreement with Gen. Dustam that the Taliban fighters would be evacuated from north safely, but Dustam in violation of that agreement handed both Mullah Fazil and Noori to the US, Haqyar said. The two are very important personalities for the Taliban, who wanted them to be part of the peace talks with the US, he said.
- Carlotta Gall (2001-11-29). "At Site of Quelled Prisoner Revolt, Afghan Fort's Walls Tell a Tale of Death". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
Later he brought along the two most senior former Taliban leaders of the region, the former governor of northern Afghanistan, Mullah Nurullah Nuri, and the former Taliban assistant defense minister, Mullah Fazel, who negotiated the surrender of 6,000 Taliban prisoners from the town of Kunduz last week, including this group of prisoners. The two men said nothing as they visited the scene of the battle. Mullah Nuri was moving his lips in prayer. Mullah Fazel, a heavy man in a large black turban, appeared unmoved.
- "Narrative summaries of reasons for listing: TI.N.89.0.1. Nurullah Nuri". United Nations Security Council. 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
Nurullah Nuri was listed on 25 January 2001 concurrently as Governor of the Balkh Province as well as Head of the Northern Zone of the Taliban regime so falling within the provisions of resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1333 (2000) of the United Nations Security Council regarding acts and activities of the Taliban authorities.
- JTF-GTMO (2007-03-16). "Measurements of Heights and Weights of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba". Department of Defense. Archived from the original on 2008-12-22. Retrieved 2008-12-22.
- "Measurements of Heights and Weights of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (ordered and consolidated version)". Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas, from DoD data. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-12-21.
- Margot Williams (2008-11-03). "Guantanamo Docket: Mullah Norullah Noori". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
- John R. Bolton (2003). "Denied Persons Pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution". United States Federal Registry. Retrieved 2010-11-03.
- Neither Jalalabad or Mazari Sharif is a Province. They are cities.
- Carol Rosenberg (2012-03-12). "Taliban prisoners at Guantánamo OK transfer". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on 2012-03-12. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
Five top Taliban leaders held by the U.S. in the Guantánamo Bay military prison told a visiting Afghan delegation they agree to a proposed transfer to the tiny Gulf state of Qatar, opening the door for a possible move aimed at bringing the Taliban into peace talks, Afghan officials said Saturday.Cite error: Invalid
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- Carlotta Gall (2005-08-21). "A Nomad Campaigns to Serve Her People in Afghanistan". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2012-01-13. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
She waited at the gates and leapt on his car when he drove out. "I fell off and broke my arm," she said. "My face was scratched, and he felt sorry for me and took the list." The governor alerted international aid organizations, which began her career as an organizer of aid for her community. She was appointed director of the camp and reels off the names of international aid workers and agencies with whom she has worked.
- "AFGHANISTAN: Human rights groups call for tribunal". Irin News. 2001-12-04. Archived from the original on 2012-01-13. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
The third, Mawlawi Nurullah Nuri, former governor of the northern Balkh province, has been accused of involvement in the massacre of Afghans of Uzbek ethnic origin in the region. "I think the international community has a responsibility to track down these commanders the same way they are hunting down Osama bin Laden," Khattak said. All three are Taliban commanders and their alleged crimes were committed over the past three years.
- Abdul Salam Zaeef (2010). "Torture and Abuse on the USS Bataan and in Bagram and Kandahar: An Excerpt from "My Life with the Taliban" by Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef". Archived from the original on 2010-12-16.
We were not permitted to talk to each other, but could see one another while the food was handed to us. I eventually saw that Mullahs Fazal, Noori, Burhan, Wasseeq Sahib and Rohani were all among the other prisoners, but still we could not talk to each other.
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- OARDEC (August 8, 2004). "Summary of Evidence for Combatant Status Review Tribunal -- Noori, Mullah Norullah" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 7–8. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 2, 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-01.
- OARDEC (date redacted). "Summarized Statement" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. pp. 35–38. Retrieved 2008-04-20. Check date values in:
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- OARDEC (date redacted). "Unclassified Summary of Evidence for Administrative Review Board in the case of Noori, Mullah Norullah". United States Department of Defense. Retrieved 2008-09-28. Check date values in:
- Summarized transcript (.pdf), from Norullah Noori's Administrative Review Board hearing - page 26
- OARDEC (2006-01-31). "Unclassified Summary of Evidence for Administrative Review Board in the case of Noori, Mullah Norullah". United States Department of Defense. Retrieved 2009-01-18.
- OARDEC (2007-01-27). "Unclassified Summary of Evidence for Administrative Review Board in the case of Noori, Mullah Norullah A" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 8–10. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-01-25. Retrieved 2009-01-18. fast mirror
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- Patricia A. Sullivan (2008-12-17). "Guantanamo Bay Detainee Litigation: Doc 1347 -- PETITIONER MULLAH NORULLAH NOORI'S STATUS REPORT" (PDF). United States Department of Justice. Retrieved 2009-01-28.
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If the president pursues this strategy, though, he will need support from wary politicians in Congress, our correspondent says. Many there see a transfer of what they call the most dangerous inmates at Guantanamo as a step too far, he adds.
- Hamid Shalizi (2012-03-10). "Taliban Guantanamo detainees agree to Qatar transfer - official". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2012-03-12. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
Karzai's top aide, Ibrahim Spinzada, visited the Guantanamo facility this week to secure approval from the five Taliban prisoners to be moved to Qatar.
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- Who Are the Remaining Prisoners in Guantánamo? Part Two: Captured in Afghanistan (2001) Andy Worthington, September 17, 2010