29 Sep 2012

Last western detainee in Guantanamo moved to Canada

The last western detainee held at the Guantanamo Bay military base, home to hundreds of suspected terrorists captured by the United States, has been returned to Canada.

Omar Khadr (Reuters)

Omar Khadr was flown to a military base in Trenton, Ontario, where he will serve the rest of his sentence. Khadr was the youngest detainee held at Guantanamo having been captured in Afghanistan in 2002 when he was 15 years old.

On arrival in Canada he was transferred to the Millhaven maximum security prison in Bath, Ontario.

Khadr, who is now 26, pleaded guilty in 2010 to killing a US soldier with a hand grenade in Afghanistan. He was given an eight year sentence. His lawyer, John Norris, said Khadr could be eligible for parole in Spring 2013.

Defence attorneys have said that Khadr was pushed into fighting in Afghanistan by his father, Ahmed Said Khadr, an alleged Al-Qaeda financier who brought his family to stay with Osama bin Laden when Omar was a boy. Khadr Senior died in 2003 when a Pakistani military helicopter shelled the house he was staying in with senior al-Qaeda operatives.

The U.S. Defense Department confirmed the transfer in a statement and said 166 detainees remain in detention at Guantanamo Bay.

Who is left in Guantanamo?

Guantanamo Bay (Reuters)

According to an investigation by The New York Times and NPR News, The Guantanamo Docket, there were 167 detainees left in Guantanamo Bay (pictured, right) as of 23 September this year. At its peak in June 2003 the military base, located in Cuba, held 684 detainees.

Of the detainees that remain, 89 are from Yemen, the docket says. Two of these are “high value detainees” – Ramzi Bin al-Shibh and Walid Bin Attash, Al-Shibh is believed to have been a collaborator in the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States and Attash is believed to have been involved in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in East Africa.

Around 11 per cent of detainees are from Afghanistan, 6.5 per cent are from Saudi Arabis and 3.5 per cent are from Pakistan. Detainees also ceom from countries such as China, Malaysia, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (Reuters)

There are understood to be 16 high-profile detainees left in Guantanamo, including:

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (pictured, left), who is believed to be the mastermind behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, a senior figure within al-Qaeda who reported directly to Osama Bin Laden. He is linked to the suicide bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 which claimed the lives of seventeen American sailors, and a 2002 attack on French tanker.

Abu Faraj al Libi, who was believed to be al-Qaeda’s operational chief. It is alleged he planned and executed operations against various countries, including an attempted assassination attempt against President Musharraf of Pakistan in 2003.

In February 2009 Barack Obama vowed to close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre by the end of the year. Suzanne Nossel, Amnesty International’s US executive director said that promise needs to be fulfilled.

“Given the Obama administration’s glacial pace towards closing the U.S.-controlled detention center, little and late though it is, today’s news represents progress,” she said. “Khadr was imprisoned at the age of 15, subjected to ill-treatment and then prosecuted in a military commissions system that does not meet international fair trial standards. Growing up in Guantanamo and facing more prison time in Canada, his future remains uncertain.”