GUANTANAMO ISN 1461
PAKISTANI NATIONAL DETAINED FOR 19 YEARS
WITHOUT CHARGE OR TRIAL IN GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA
Name: Ahmed Rabbani
Nickname: Badr (Moon)
DOB: 12 June 1969
Held: without legal process since September 10, 2002
Current status: NVD (No Value Detainee). Ahmed was finally cleared for release on October 7th, 2021, after a Periodic Review Board hearing on August 17th, 2021. He awaits a release date.
Ahmed was sold for a bounty, mistaken as the terrorist Hassan Ghul, when he was actually a taxi driver who aspired to being a chef
Ahmed was living in Karachi with his second wife, when, on 10 September 2002, he was kidnapped by Pakistani authorities, along with his brother Abdul Rahim, and handed over to the U.S. Ahmed had a son, Saad and daughter, Khadija, from a previous marriage. At the time he was captured, his second wife was pregnant. His youngest son, Jawad, is now 18, yet father and son have never been allowed to touch each other. President Trump did not bother to reply to Jawad’s letter in 2019 asking that he be allowed to come to meet his father for the first time.
Captured and Tortured
Ahmed had been mistaken for notorious terrorist, Hassan Ghul and ‘sold’ to the US for $5,000. As President Musharraf boasted, Pakistan government officials were paid “millions of dollars” in bounties and were responsible for turning in half of the detainees who ended up in Guantánamo.
Between 2002 and 2004, Ahmed was tortured for 540 days and nights in the notorious Dark Prison in Kabul. He refused to admit he was Hassan Ghul, but under extreme duress, eventually acquiesced to many false statements that his abusers wanted to hear.
We have documented 62 different forms of abuse, including strappado, the ghastly Inquisition technique in which he was hanged from his wrists for a week as his shoulders gradually dislocated.
When the redacted Senate Torture Report was released in 2014, it corroborated the torture Ahmed went through, but added two new facts: “Enhanced interrogation techniques” were applied to him “without authorisation”. Ahmed is nonplussed by this as he does not understand whether this makes it better or worse. Ghul, the original target, was captured and brought to the Dark Prison, where he spent 2 days, but was later freed back to Pakistan. Ghul went back to his terrorist ways and was killed by a drone strike in 2012.
Detention in Guantánamo
After 2 years in Kabul’s Dark Prison, Ahmed was rendered to Guantánamo in September 2004, on the “Torture Flight”, along with a dozen other men who had been through the torture program. Ahmed is a fine artist and when we were able to get art supplies to him he did a series of eight pictures, requested by his counsel as therapy for his torture. These were inevitably censored by the authorities but we got a description of each through the censors, and twelve Pakistani artists are planning an exhibit in March 2022, inspired by his work. The following works of art were cleared for release.
Table set for Tea, 2016
Looking at the Moon, 2016
Empty Glassware, 2015
Ahmed complied with the Guantánamo rules for years (Sept. 2004 to Feb. 5, 2013) but finally lost patience and went on a peaceful hunger strike as the years went by. He was force fed almost every day for eight years as his weight dropped from 160 lbs (72.6kg) at the time of his arrest, to 68 lbs (30.8kg).
Ahmed likes to say that 57.5% of him has “escaped” from Guantánamo. Ahmed has been punished for going on hunger strike.
As he says: “The dreaded Camp V Echo block is back in use. There are ten of us being held there, mainly disciplinary punishment for being on hunger strike. I am here for being on hunger strike. It is a peaceful protest that merely asks that each person should get a fair trial, or be set free. That does not sound too much to ask.”
When fed, he is strapped with his hands and legs to a chair. General Craddock of SOUTHCOM announced that they would make it “less convenient” to do a peaceful protest, and started using larger (more painful) 110 cm tubes and pulling them out and inserting them at each feeding. The UN declared this to be torture itself. Ahmed is force-fed so much that he vomits blood every day and his body has difficulty digesting solids.
Cleared for Release
Ahmed was finally cleared for release on October 7th, 2021, after a Periodic Review Board hearing on August 17th, 2021. However, nothing is certain.
Two of the remaining 39 prisoners were cleared for release in 2010, but still remain incarcerated 11 years later.
Thus we are pressing for his expedited release to Pakistan. Ahmed has suspended his hunger strike to ensure that he is healthy enough to fly home when we can work it out. Ahmed’s brother Abdul Rahim was also cleared for release in May 2021 and also awaits a date for his return home.
Continuing Ill Health
The last 19 years of detention, torture, and separation from his family have, understandably, taken their toll on Ahmed’s health: He is emaciated from hunger strike, and the effects of torture and sleeping on a steel bed have resulted in him suffering significant back pain, making it difficult to use the hole in his cell that acts as a toilet. He has a series of other physical ailments, but he can only go to the doctor with two guards who listen into any intimate matter he discusses.
Ahmed also suffers from PTSD. He cannot get therapy as he is still in the custody of the very people who abused him. The BISCUIT team (Behavioural Health) are the very people who worked with the interrogators in the early days to identify his weaknesses and “break” him. He subsides into despair. He was so despondent that he forgot to talk to his brother on one occasion. Ahmed says his mind is heavy and it is hard for him to remember anything.
Plans for the future
Ahmed ultimately aspires to be a chef and is working with counsel on a Guantánamo Cook Book. A British chef in Yorkshire (Damon Wright) is helping him to create the cookbook. 3DC volunteer Alex Dorman has been raising funds to help put Ahmed’s children through college in Pakistan – which is inexpensive in Western terms.
Ahmed’s son, Jawad, wants to become a human rights lawyer and embarrassingly he explains that his inspiration is half from Abraham Lincoln and half from 3DC founder Clive Stafford Smith.