Brothers Freed After 19 Years at Guantanamo Bay

Pakistani brothers were never charged with a crime during years in US custody
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 24, 2023 4:19 AM CST
Brothers Freed From Guantanamo After 20 Years in US Custody
The control tower of the Camp VI detention facility in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Two Pakistani brothers held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay military prison for two decades were freed by US officials and returned home on Friday, officials said. They will be reunited with their families after formal questioning by Pakistani authorities, according to security officials and a Pakistani senator. Pakistan arrested Abdul and Mohammed Rabbani on suspicion of their links to al-Qaeda in 2002 in Karachi, the country's largest city, the AP reports. It was the same year Ramzi Binalshibh, a top al-Qaeda leader, was arrested by Pakistan's spy agency on a tip from the CIA. The releases come months after a 75-year-old Pakistani, Saifullah Paracha, was freed from the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

Mohammed Rabbani, 53, and Abdul Rabbani, 55, were never charged with any crimes during their 20 years in US custody, the New York Times reports. They were held at a CIA site in Afghanistan before they were sent to Guantanamo Bay in 2004. The two brothers arrived at an airport in the capital, Islamabad on Friday. Pakistani Sen. Mushtaq Ahmed Khan, the chairman of the human rights committee in the upper house of Pakistan's Parliament, tweeted Friday that the men were “innocently imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay for 21 years. There was no trial, no court proceedings, no charges against them. Congratulations on their release. Thank you Senate of Pakistan." Khan later told the AP that the brothers were being sent to Karachi and he hoped the men will be reunited with their families soon.

US officials accused the brothers of helping al-Qaeda members with housing and other logistical support. The brothers alleged torture while in CIA custody before being transferred to Guantanamo. US military records describe the two as providing little intelligence of value, and that they did not recant statements made during interrogations on the grounds they were obtained by physical abuse. Some 32 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay, including 18 eligible for transfer if stable third-party countries can be found to take them, the Pentagon said. (Read more Guantanamo Bay stories.)

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