Fadi al-Maqaleh is a 30-year-old Yemeni citizen who has been held in U.S. custody for approximately eight years. Mr. al-Maqaleh was secretly transferred by the U.S. government to Bagram from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in late 2004 or early 2005. Since being taken into U.S. custody, Mr. al-Maqaleh has been held virtually incommunicado without charge or access to a court of law to challenge his detention.
Amin al-Bakri is pictured above (left) prior to his abduction by U.S. agents and (right) after 6 years of imprisonment in U.S. custody—first at secret C.I.A. detention sites known for the use of torture in interrogations, and then at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, where physical and mental torture have been commonly documented. Since 2002 Amin has been confined virtually incommunicado, without access to counsel and with little contact with his family, except through heavily censored letters, and more recently, through rare, monitored phone calls. In a cry for help, Amin’s father, Mohammed al-Bakri, wrote to President Obama, “These pictures show the heavy toll that Amin’s imprisonment has had on him.” No pictures of Amin have been made available subsequent to the one taken above (right) in 2008.
Kidnapped, Tortured and Indefinitely Imprisoned Without Charge
In 2002, Amin al-Bakri, a gem salesman with investments in shrimp farming, was on a five-day business trip to Thailand. After checking out of his hotel, Amin was headed to the airport to fly back to Yemen, eager to celebrate his 34th birthday with his wife and children, when unknown U.S. agents seized him. His wife and children had no idea what had happened to him until a Yemeni newspaper reported that he had been kidnapped by unknown American agents. All of the efforts by the al-Bakri family to find Amin were unsuccessful. They only learned that he was still alive when they received a postcard in his handwriting from the U.S. military prison in Bagram, Afghanistan, forwarded by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In the postcard Amin asked family members to look after his two sons and young daughter.
During the month that U.S. agents seized Amin, two prisoners at Bagram were tortured to death by U.S. interrogators, and at least 84 others died as a result of abusive treatment in U.S. custody at various detention sites worldwide. Documented interrogation methods inflicted on prisoners at C.I.A. “black sites” and at Bagram have included beatings; electric shocks; prolonged suspension from the ceiling; stress positions; solitary confinement in “dog boxes”; sexual abuse and humiliation; starvation; freezing temperatures; water-boarding; simulated drowning; continual blaring of deafening music; intentional subjection to screams from neighboring prison cells; sleep deprivation; sensory deprivation; and mock executions.
Because Amin has been held virtually incommunicado in Afghanistan without access to his attorneys, we cannot know for certain where he was detained between his abduction in 2002 and his eventual imprisonment at Bagram. We do know, however, that Amin was subjected to serious abuse resulting in injuries to his knees and back, and that he has since had unsuccessful surgery on one of his knees. Beyond knowledge of these disclosed injuries, his family can only speculate about what he has endured and is still enduring.
Despite these horrific circumstances, Amin has chosen to utilize his knowledge of English, French, Arabic, Dari, and Urdu to act as an interpreter between U.S. military authorities and other prisoners—and has defused and mediated disputes between these groups.
A Family’s Sorrow
Amin’s disappearance and subsequent imprisonment have caused devastating pain for his entire family throughout the past 8 years. As Amin’s father, Muhammed al-Bakri, has said, “My heart aches when I consider the terrible and degrading treatment he has been forced to endure.” Amin’s father worries for Amin’s children, explaining, “They’ve been robbed of the joy of their childhood. They know they’ve lost something." And he fears for Amin’s wife, who lives “as though half her soul is missing." The resulting prolonged stress has caused health problems for both of Amin’s parents, because they have not seen their son for the past eight years and do not know if they ever will again. In their efforts to win Amin’s release, the family has been grateful for the support of HOOD, a leading human rights organization in Yemen.
Haji Pacha Wazir
Haji Pacha Wazir (now approximately 61 years old) had been imprisoned by the US government at Bagram for 8 years. Though he was never charged with a crime in any court of law, the US government labeled him in the media as"Osama Bin Laden's banker". In fact, he ran a chain of hawalas in Afghanistan and Pakistan and had absolutely no connection to Al Qaeda.
IJN was retained by his family and filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on his behalf in 2006. After diligent diplomatic and legal efforts, Haji Wazir was released in February 2010, before his case had been decided at the DC Circuit of Appeals. Haji Wazir has been home now for almost two years -- he is doing well both he and his family remain very supportive of IJN's work in the Bagram litigation -- you may hear more about this in upcoming special this fall on major US news network.
In May 2002, unknown individuals broke into the home of then 36-year-old Redha al Najar, a Tunisian citizen, who was residing in Karachi, Pakistan. Mr. al Najar was seized in front of his wife and two-year-old child, and disappeared for eighteen months. It was only after receiving a handwritten message in 2004, delivered by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), that his family learned that he was still alive. His son, who is now nine, has not had direct contact with his father since he was two-years-old. At the request of Mr. al Najar’s brother, IJNetwork filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on his behalf in December of 2008.
Jan Sher Khan
Jan Sher Khan was only fifteen years old at the time of his disappearance from his village in Pakistan. He was held virtually incommunicado, without access to his attorneys, and without seeing his family for over five years--until his eventual repatriation to Pakistan from Bagram in 2010.
Amanatullah was taken into custody by British National Forces in Iraq, and illegally rendered to U.S. custody in Afghanistan. Amanatullah has repeatedly asked the U.S. government to allow him to meet or speak with his attorneys, Tina M. Foster and Erin Valentine of the International Justice Network. The U.S. government continues to deny all such requests.