Walter Michot / Getty Images

Gitmo detainee held for 13 years is victim of mistaken identity, says US

Yemeni Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri was foot soldier, not high-ranking Al-Qaeda member, officials say

A Yemeni prisoner at the U.S. base at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba appears to have been the victim of mistaken identity, suspected of being a significant member of Al-Qaeda when he was in reality just a lowly foot soldier, officials said in documents released Tuesday.

The detainee, Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri, has been held at the U.S. base as an enemy combatant without charge for over 13 years after his capture in Afghanistan.

The documents were part of a packet of materials produced for the Periodic Review Board, a panel of government officials deciding whether prisoner Shamiri should be released from Guantánamo — part of larger effort to reduce the number of men held there and eventually close the prison. Shamiri appeared before the board Tuesday.

A detainee profile of Shamiri, 37, concludes he was a fighter in several theaters of conflict, including Afghanistan, and associated with members of Al-Qaeda. But it says that officials were wrong when they said he was a courier or trainer for the group and that they confused him with higher-level fighters with similar names.

If the board approves his release, he would likely have to be resettled in a country other than Yemen because the U.S. believes that country is too unstable to accept former Guantánamo prisoners.

Representatives appointed by the government to represent him before the board said he is willing to go to any country that will accept him.

"He has vocalized to us that while he cannot change the past, he would definitely have chosen a different path," they said in a written statement to the board. "He wants to make a life for himself."

Shamiri is one of 107 prisoners at the base, including nearly 50 approved for release and awaiting transfer.

The Associated Press

Related News

Find Al Jazeera America on your TV

Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter


Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter