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Guantanamo prisoner held for 13 years over mistaken identity: US

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US military guards walk within Camp Delta military-run prison at the Guantanamo Bay US naval base. (file photo)

US officials have admitted that they had imprisoned a man in the Guantanamo Bay military prison for 13 years simply because of a case of mistaken identity.

Mustafa Abd-al-Qawi Abd-al-Aziz al-Shamiri (YM-434), 37, was mistaken for an al-Qaeda courier and trainer who had a similar name, US officials conceded on Tuesday.

They said the Yemeni Muslim was a low-level foot soldier who has been held in prison without charge since 2002, yet it is not certain whether he will be cleared for release or not.

“It was previously assessed that YM-434 also was an al-Qaeda facilitator or courier, as well as a trainer, but we now judge that these activities were carried out by other known extremists with names or aliases similar to YM-434’s,” the unclassified detainee profile said.

Although US officials have considered him too dangerous to be released, they have never had adequate evidence to bring to trial.

A statement from al-Shamiri’s personal representative read that “from the onset, he has demonstrated a consistent positive attitude towards life after Gitmo.”

“He has a strong desire to obtain an education in order to provide for a future spouse that his family has already located for him.”

Washington currently holds 107 prisoners at Guantanamo and 48 of them have been cleared for release. The prison was set up after the 9/11 attacks.

President Barack Obama has previously promised to close the Gitmo, but his administration has so far failed to do so. They have even rejected as too expensive a new proposal by the Pentagon to close the detention facility.

The Department of Defense has estimated the cost for closing the prison and building a replacement, as high as $600 million, including $350 million for construction, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing officials familiar with the plan.

Presently, operating the Guantanamo facility costs the US about $400 million. However, under the Pentagon plans, operating a US-based facility would cost below $300 million, after the one-time costs, according to a defense official.


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