Mohammed El-Gharani, captured at fourteen, mistreated by captors, never charged in over seven years, finally going home...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2009, 5:20pm PT  

Remember, these are 'the worst of the worst,' right?

Mohammed El-Gharani, the youngest prisoner at Gitmo, just 14 when he was captured in 2001, is finally being "freed five months after a U.S. federal judge ordered him released having reviewed the evidence against him and ruled that there was nothing to suggest he was ever an 'enemy combatant.'" El-Gharani has never been charged.

Andy Worthington, the man who literally wrote the book on the Guantanamo travesties, offers the sad background on the breaking news of the release of “Guantánamo’s Forgotten Child,” including details of alleged abuse such as being hanged by his wrists, and scissors held to his penis with threats of cutting it off. But we're supposed to look forward, not back, right?...

The long ordeal of Mohammed El-Gharani, Guantánamo’s youngest prisoner, has finally come to an end. Reprieve, the legal action charity that represents him, reports today that he has been sent back to Chad.

A Saudi resident and Chadian national, El-Gharani was just 14 years old when he was seized by Pakistani forces in a random raid on a mosque in Karachi, but was treated appallingly both by the Pakistanis who seized him, and by the US military. I provided a detailed explanation of the abuse to which he was subjected in an article last year, “Guantánamo’s Forgotten Child,” which I condensed for an article in January, when I explained:

As with all but three of the 22 confirmed juveniles who have been held at Guantánamo, the US authorities never treated him separately from the adult population, even though they are obliged, under the terms of the UN’s Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (on the involvement of children in armed conflict) to promote “the physical and psychosocial rehabilitation and social reintegration of children who are victims of armed conflict.”

Instead, El-Gharani was treated with appalling brutality. After being tortured in Pakistani custody, he was sold to US forces, who flew him to a prison at Kandahar airport, where, he said, one particular soldier “would hold my penis, with scissors, and say he’d cut it off.” His treatment did not improve in Guantánamo. Subjected relentlessly to racist abuse, because of the color of his skin, he was hung from his wrists on numerous occasions, and was also subjected to a regime of “enhanced” techniques to prepare him for interrogation — including prolonged sleep deprivation, prolonged isolation and the use of painful stress positions — that clearly constitute torture. As a result of this and other abuse, including regular beatings by the guard force responsible for quelling even the most minor infractions of the rules, El-Gharani has become deeply depressed, and has tried to commit suicide on several occasions.

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In his habeas petition, El-Gharani insisted, as he had throughout his detention, that he “traveled to Pakistan from Saudi Arabia at the age of 14 to escape discrimination against Chadians in that country, acquire computer and English skills, and make a better life for himself,” and that he “remained there until his arrest,” although the government claimed that he “arrived in Afghanistan at some unspecified time in 2001,” and was “part of or supporting Taliban or al-Qaeda forces,” for a variety of reasons, including claims that he received military training at an al-Qaeda-affiliated military training camp, fought against US and allied forces at the battle of Tora Bora, and was a member of an al-Qaeda cell based in London.

Noting that the government’s supposed evidence against El-Gharani consisted of statements made by two other prisoners at Guantánamo, and that, moreover, these statements were “either exclusively, or jointly, the only evidence offered by the Government to substantiate the majority of their allegations,” Judge Leon stated that “the credibility and reliability of the detainees being relied upon by the Government has either been directly called into question by Government personnel or has been characterized by Government personnel as undermined,” and dismissed all the claims, reserving particular criticism for the claim that El-Gharani had been a member of a London-based al-Qaeda cell.

See Worthington for more...