Military Wiki

Detainees upon arrival at Camp X-Ray, January 2002

In 2004, the US government claimed that newly released captives from Guantanamo Bay detainment camp "returned to the battlefield".[1] Guantanamo Bay detainment camp is a joint military prison and interrogation camp under the leadership of Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) which has occupied a portion of the United States Navy's base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba since 2002.[2] The prison holds people suspected by the executive branch of the U.S. government of being al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives, as well as those no longer considered suspects who are being held pending relocation elsewhere.


American spokesmen have been asserting, as early as 2004, that newly released captives "returned to the battlefield". The story, as told by American spokesmen as senior as Vice President Dick Cheney, is that these captives tricked their interrogators about their real identity, and made them think they were harmless villagers, and thus were able to "return to the battlefield."[1] Initially these government spokesmen claimed relatively small numbers of former Guantanamo captives had returned to the battlefield. On April 2, 2007, JTF-GTMO commander Harry Harris asserted that thirty former captives "resumed terrorist activities".[3]

In a press briefing on March 6, 2007 a "Senior Defense official" commented:[4]

"I can tell you that we have confirmed 12 individuals have returned to the fight, and we have strong evidence that about another dozen have returned to the fight."

Commentators questioned the credibility of the spokesmen's assertions. H. Candace Gorman, looked into the only three names had been offered of captives who had been returned to the battlefield: Abdullah Mehsud"; "Mullah Shahzada"; and Maulvi Abdul Ghaffar.[5] She wrote, on March 18, 2007, that she found that the name Abdullah Mehsud wasn't listed on the official list of Guantanamo captives released on May 15, 2006.[6] She found that there were captives with names close to those of the two other men. but that the records showed these men were still in custody when according to the spokesmen's assertions they had not only been released, but had been killed in combat.

On Monday, May 14, 2007, Pentagon officials Joseph Benkert and Jeffrey Gordon repeated the assertion that thirty former captives had returned to the battlefield in testimony before the United States Congress.[7] They identified six of the thirty by name.[8] They offered the names of the three men previously identified: "Mullah Shahzada"; "Maulavi Abdul Ghaffar"; and Abdullah Mahsud. They tied "Mullah Shahzada" to Mohamed Yusif Yaqub, a Guantanamo captive who was listed on the official list.[6] The other three names they offered were: Mohammed Ismail; Abdul Rahman Noor; and Mohammed Nayim Farouq.[8]

On July 12, 2007 the Department of Defense placed an additional page on their site, entitled: "Former Guantanamo Detainees who have returned to the fight".[9] This list contained one additional name, not on the list released on May 14, 2007, for a total of seven names. The new name was Ruslan Odizhev, a Russian who Russian police reported died while resisting arrest on June 27, 2007.[10]

On 13 January 2009, the Pentagon said that 18 former detainees are confirmed to have participated in attacks, and 43 are suspected to have been involved in attacks.[11] A Spokesman said evidence of someone being "confirmed" could include fingerprints, a conclusive photograph or "well-corroborated intelligence reporting." He said the Pentagon would not discuss how the statistics were derived because of security concerns. National security expert and CNN analyst Peter Bergen, states that some of those "suspected" to have returned to terrorism are so categorized because they publicly made anti-American statements, "something that's not surprising if you've been locked up in a U.S. prison camp for several years." If all on the "confirmed" list have indeed returned to the battlefield, that would amount to 4 percent of the detainees who have been released.[12]

Lists of alleged returnees

2006 list

92 Abdullah Mahsud
363 Maulvi Abdul Ghaffar
367 Mohamed Yusif Yaqub
582 Abdul Rahman Noor
633 Mohammed Nayim Farouq
930 Mohammed Ismail

2007 list

name On July 2007
Press Release
Disposition Citizenship Country of
92 Said Mohammed Alim Shah Yes Killed Afghanistan Afghanistan
203 Ravil Shafeyavich Gumarov No Arrest Russia Russia
69 Khaatamul Anbiya bin Daleel ul Khyayraat aka "Donkey Master" Yes Arrest Russia Russia
220 Abdallah Saleh Ali Al Ajmi No Killed Kuwait Iraq[13]
294 Mohammed Mizouz No Arrest Morocco Morocco
297 Ibrahim Shafir Sen No Arrest Turkey Turkey
363 Shai Jahn Ghafoor Yes Killed Afghanistan Afghanistan
587[14] Mohammed Yusif Yaqub Yes Killed Afghanistan Afghanistan
587[14] Ibrahim Bin Shakaran No Arrest Morocco Morocco
633 Mohammed Nayim Farouq Yes At Large Afghanistan Afghanistan
674 Timur Ravilich Ishmurat No Arrest Russia Russia
930 Mohammed Ismail Yes Capture Afghanistan Afghanistan

2008 list

Names of Guantanamo captives who are alleged to have "returned to the battlefield"
ID Name Notes
363 Maulvi Abdul Ghaffar AKA Shai Jahn Ghafoor
  • Had been a senior Taliban military leader prior to capture.
  • Allegedly captured in Afghanistan in December 2001, was one of the twenty-three prisoners released from Camp Delta in late January 2004. After his release, he joined the remnants of the Taliban and was killed in a gunfight on September 26, 2004.[1][1][15][16][17][18]
  • The official list of Guantanamo captives included two men with the same name, who remained in custody years after Maulvi Abdul Ghaffar had been reported to have been released, and killed in combat.[6]
92 Abdullah Mehsud
  • Reportedly captured in Afghanistan in December 2001 after surrendering to Abdul Rashid Dostum.
  • That he was ever been captured, and sent to Guantanamo has been challenged.[5]
  • Allegedly masterminded the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers in Pakistan's South Waziristan region.
  • Allegedly returning to his position as an Al-Qaeda field commander.[16] One of the Chinese engineers died during a rescue mission, the other was rescued.[2]
  • Mehsud also claimed responsibility for the bombing at Islamabad's Marriott Hotel in October 2004. The blast injured seven people, including a U.S. diplomat, two Italians and the Pakistani prime minister's chief security officer. Mehsud was subsequently reported to have been killed in combat.
203 Ravil Shafeyavich Gumarov
  • Reported to have had military training in Chechnya.[19]
  • Convicted of bombing a natural gas pipeline on May 9, 2006.[20]
  • Sentenced to 13 years.[21]
69 Khaatamul Anbiya bin Daleel ul Khyayraat aka "Donkey Master"
  • Was known for putting severed donkey heads on his victims.[22]
294 Mohammed Bin Ahmad Mizouz
  • One of the first 200 captives to be repatriated.[23][24]
  • Reported seeing guards urinate on the Koran.[24]
  • Reported being tortured while in US custody, reported that all the techniques used in Abu Ghraib were first used on captives like him in Bagram.[24]
  • Convicted in September 2007 of recruiting fighters to send to Iraq.[21]
297 Ibrahim Shafir Sen
  • Sued Donald Rumsfeld upon his release.[25]
  • Ibrahim Shafir Sen was transferred to Turkey in November 2003.[21] In January 2008, Sen was arrested in Van, Turkey, and charged as the leader of an active al-Qaida cell.
367 Mohammed Yusif Yaqub
Mullah Shahzada
  • Reports of the release, return to the battlefield, and subsequent death in combat of Mullah Shahzada, while reported in the press, is always attributed to unnamed insiders.[26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][28][32]
  • The official list of Guantanamo captives included a man the same name, Haji Shahzada who remained in custody years after the stories that Mullah Shahzada had been reported to have been released, and killed in combat. Haji Shahzada was one of the 38 captives whose Combatant Status Review Tribunal determined they had not been an enemy combatant in the first place.
  • On Monday, May 14, 2007, Pentagon officials, for the first time, tied the reports that "Mullah Shahzada" had returned to the battlefield to the name of one of the captives on the official list of Guantanamo captives, Mohammed Yusif Yaqub.[8] According to Reuters summary of their testimony:
"Released May 8, 2003, he assumed control of Taliban operations in Southern Afghanistan and died fighting U.S. forces on May 7, 2004."
587 Ibrahim Bin Shakaran

The Defense Intelligence Agency asserted Ibrahim Bin Shakaran had "returned to terrorism". The DIA reported:

  • In September 2007 he was convicted in a Moroccan court for recruiting fighters for Al Qaida in Iraq in 2005.[21]
  • Allegedly he was working to create an al Qaida in the Lands of the Maghreb.[21]
  • Allegedly he was coordinating "sleeper cells" to go for training and return to Morocco.[21]
930 Mohammed Ismail
  • First identified as a former captive who had returned to the battlefield in Testimony before Congress on Monday May 14, 2007.[8] According to Reuters summary of their testimony:
"Released from Guantanamo in early 2004, he was recaptured four months later in May while participating in an attack on U.S. forces near Kandahar. When captured, Ismail carried a letter confirming his status as a Taliban member in good standing."
582 Abdul Rahman Noor
  • First identified as a former captive who had returned to the battlefield in Testimony before Congress on Monday May 14, 2007.[8] According to Reuters summary of their testimony:
"Released in July 2003, he has since participated in fighting against U.S. forces near Kandahar. After his release, he was identified as the man described in an October 7, 2001, interview with Al Jazeera television as the "deputy defense minister of the Taliban."
633 Mohammed Nayim Farouq
  • First identified as a former captive who had returned to the battlefield in Testimony before Congress on Monday, May 14, 2007.[8] According to Reuters summary of their testimony:
Released from U.S. custody in July 2003, he quickly renewed his association with Taliban and al Qaeda members and has since become "reinvolved in anti-coalition militant activity."
930 Mohammed Ismail Agha
  • Reports have circulated that one of the three children who was held for a year and a half, in Camp Iguana, and released on January 28, 2004, was subsequently captured, or subsequently killed in combat — accounts vary.[28]
  • As with "Mullah Shahzada" this information is attributed to unnamed insiders.
  • Accounts of when he was captured, or killed, vary.
  • Oliver North claimed that the released child was "Mullah Shahzada".[32] North claimed that "Mullah Shahzada" was killed in combat weeks after his release. Mullah is an honorary title, meaning "educated man". However the only schooling the three children held in Camp Iguana ever received was the lessons they received at the camp.[34][35][36] North's account that a released child from Camp Iguana was killed in combat, weeks after his release, is at odds with the accounts of the journalists who interviewed the children during the months following their release.

2009 reports

Department of Defense spokesmen claimed in January 2009 that at least 61 former captives had returned to the fight. But they did not publish any of the men's names.

Saudi list

On February 3, 2009, the government of Saudi Arabia published a list of 85 most wanted suspected terrorists that included two former Guantanamo captives who had appeared in an alarming video, and nine other former captives.

BBC report

On February 18, 2009, the BBC News reported that UK officials had told them that an Afghan former captive repatriated in the Spring of 2008 had risen to a high-ranking position in the Taliban, in Pakistan, following his return. The BBC reports they had been told his name was Mullah Abdul Kayum Sakir. The USA did not list any captives with names close to Abdul Kayum Sakir. The five captives repatriated on April 30, 2008, are: Nasrullah, Esmatulla, Rahmatullah Sangaryar, Sahib Rohullah Wakil, and Abdullah Mohammad Khan.

Department of Defense

In March 2009, U.S. officials revealed that Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul (detainee #8) is now leading the Taliban's operations in southern Afghanistan.[37][38]

The May 2009 "one in seven" claims

On May 21, 2009, Elizabeth Bumiller, writing in the New York Times, reported that they had secured access to an unreleased Pentagon report that asserted "one in seven" former captives "are engaged in terrorism or militant activity."[39][40][41] According to the New York Times Pentagon officials had asserted 74 former captives had returned to terrorism, and had named 29 individuals. But, by May 21, 2009, the New York Times chose to publish only 15 of those 29 names because they couldn't correlate the names on the recent Pentagon lists with the earlier official lists of captives' names.

On June 6, 2009 Clark Hoyt, whose byline lists him as the New York Times "public editor" wrote an apology to the New York Times readers for Bumiller's article.[42][43][44][45]

Fifteen former captives as reported by the New York Times[40]
isn name transfer
nation notes
8 Abdullah Gulam Rasoul 2007-12-12 Afghanistan
  • In 2007 he was transferred to the American wing of the Pul-e-Charkhi prison.[46]
  • British officials believed Rasoul became the Taliban's operations commander in southern Afghanistan soon after his release and blamed him for masterminding an increase in roadside attacks against British and American troops.[46]
  • The New York Times reported that Rasoul led a December 2008-January 2009 delegation to the Pakistani Taliban to convince them to refocus their efforts away from the Pakistani government and towards the American-led forces in Afghanistan.[47]
23 Isa Khan[40] 2004-09-17 Pakistan
25 Majeed Abdullah al Joudi[40] 2007-02-20 Saudi Arabia
67 Abd al Razaq Abdallah Hamid Ibrahim al Sharikh[40] 2007-09-05 Saudi Arabia
82 Rasul Kudayev 2004-02-27 Russia
  • Was an athlete who fled persecution in Russia when he was a teenager.
  • Was captured in 2006 following an attack on Russian government facilities in October 2005.[48][49][50][51][52]
  • His family reports that his stay in Afghanistan and Guantanamo had left him with serious health problems, and that he was at home, under his mother's care, at the time of the attack.
154 Mazin Salih Musaid al Awfi[40] 2007-07-15 Saudi Arabia
159 Abdullah al Noaimi 2005-11-04 Bahrain
  • Knew the three men who died in the camp on June 10, 2006.[54] He expressed skepticism about the official version, and questioned the credibility of the allegations against them.
  • In October 2008 Saudi authorities apprehended and detained al Noaimi when he was on a visit to Saudi Arabia.[55]
  • Saudi authorities continue to hold him—without charge.[56][57][58]
203 Ravil Shafeyavich Gumarov[41] Russia
209 Almasm Rabilavich Sharipov[41] Russia
211 Ruslan Odijev[41] Russia
230 Humud Dakhil Humud Said al Jadan[40] 2007-07-15 Saudi Arabia
231 Abdulhadi Abdallah Ibrahim al Sharakh[40] 2007-09-05 Saudi Arabia
294 Mohammed bin Ahmad Mizouz July 2004 Morocco
  • Accused of recruiting for Al Qaeda in Iraq.[53]
333 Muhammad al Awfi 2007-11-09 Saudi Arabia
  • Graduated from the Saudi jihadist rehabilitation center.[59][60][61]
  • Unexpectedly left Saudi Arabia without government permission in December 2008.
  • Appeared in a threatening video published by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in January 2009.
  • Was named on a Saudi Arabian list of most wanted suspected terrorists in February 2009.
  • Voluntarily surrendered himself to Saudi security officials in March 2009.[62][63][64][65][66]
372 Said Ali al Shihri 2007-11-09 Saudi Arabia
  • Graduated from the Saudi jihadist rehabilitation center.[59][60][61]
  • Unexpectedly left Saudi Arabia without government permission in December 2008.
  • Appeared in a threatening video published by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in January 2009, where he was described as the group's second in command.
  • Was named on a Saudi Arabian list of most wanted suspected terrorists in February 2009.
  • Called upon Somali pirates to increase their attacks on western shipping.[67]
546 Muhibullah[40] 2005-07-19 Afghanistan
571 Saad Madi Saad al Azmi 2005-11-02 Kuwait
  • Faced charges in Kuwait following his repatriation on November 4, 2005.[68] The charges were based on evidence supplied by the USA that he had ties to Al Wafa.[69][70] The Kuwaiti court acquitted Al Azmi.
587 Ibrahim bin Shakaran July 2004 Morocco
  • Accused of recruiting for Al Qaeda in Iraq.[53]
674 Timur Ravilich Ishmurat 2004-02-17 Russia
  • Arrested in Russia in March 2006.[71]
798 Haji Sahib Rohullah Wakil[40] 2008-04-30 Afghanistan
  • Member of Jama'at-ud-Da'wah Pakistan, a group created in 1985 to fight the Soviet occupation. Although designated a terrorist organization in 2008 by the State Department, it is not on any of the official U.S. watchlists as it has worked as a charity with no military wing since 1991.
  • Commander of Kunar anti-Taliban forces.
  • In 2002, represented Kunar Province in the Grand Assembly.
  • Arrested in August 2002 after an informer claimed he had helped members of al Qaida escape from Kunar. The Afghanistan government believes the head of the rival Mushwani tribe had turned Wakil in because the Mushwani tribe opposed a poppy eradication program that Wakil had begun in Kunar.
  • Released in April 2008. Upon his release Wakil met with President Hamid Karzai who apologized for his detention.
  • Currently a tribal elder representing Kunar province in the Afghanistan government.[72]
1010 Nahir Shah[40] 2007-11-02 Afghanistan
  • Transferred from Guantanamo to the Pul-e-Charkhi prison near Kabul on November 2, 2007.[73]

DoD list of May 27, 2009

On May 27, 2009 the Defense Intelligence Agency published a "fact sheet" Former Guantanamo Detainee Terrorism Trends that contained a Partial Listing of Former GTMO Detainees Who have Reengaged in Terrorism.[74] Although it was published on May 27, it bears the date April 7, 2009.

Appendix A: Partial Listing of Former GTMO Detainees Who have Reengaged in Terrorism[74]
Name Nationality Repatriated Activity Status
  • Sabi Janh Abdul Ghafour also
  • Maulvi Abdul Ghaffar
Afghanistan March 2003 Died fighting Afghan forces Suspected
Shah Mohammed Pakistan May 2003 Killed fighting US forces in Afghanistan Confirmed
  • Yousef Muhammed Yaaqoub also known as
  • Mullah Shahzada
Afghanistan May 2003 Taliban commander in Afghanistan; Organized jailbreak in Kandahar; killed on 7 May 2004 fighting US forces Confirmed
Mohammed Nayim Farouq Afghanistan July 2003 Association with Taliban and al-Qaida; involved in anti-coalition activity Suspected
Ibrahim Shafir Sen Turkey November 2003 Leader of al-Qaida cells in Van; recruited and trained members, provided illegal weapons and facilitation Confirmed
Mohammed Ismail Afghanistan January 2004 Participated in an attack against US forces Taliban member Confirmed
Abdullah D. Kafkas Russia March 2004 Suspected involvement in an attack against a traffice police checkpoint in Nalchik in October 2005 Suspected
Almasm Rabilavich Sharipov Russia March 2004 Association with terrorist group Hezb-e-Tahrir Suspected
Timur Ravilich Ishmurat Russia March 2004 Involved in a gas line bombing Confirmed
Ruslan Anatolivich Odijev Russia March 2004 Participated in several terrorism acts including an October 2005 attack in the Caucasus region that killed and injured several police officers Suspected
Afghanistan March 2004 Kidnapped two Chinese engineers; Claimed responsibility for an Islamabad hotel bombing; directed a suicide attack in April 2007 killing 31 people Confirmed
Ravil Gumarov Russia March 2004 Involved in a gas line bombing Confirmed
Abdullah Ghofoor Afghanistan March 2004 Taliban commander; planning attacks on U.S. and Afghan forces; killed in a raid by Afghan security forces Suspected
Mohammed Bin Ahmad Mizouz Morocco July 2004 Recruiter for al-Qaida in Iraq Confirmed
Ibrahim Bin Shakaran Morocco July 2004 Recruiter for al-Qaida in Iraq Confirmed
Isa Khan Pakistan September 2004 Association with Tehrik-i-Taliban Suspected
Muhibullah Afghanistan July 2005 Association with the Taliban Suspected
Abdallah Saleh Ali al-Ajmi Kuwait November 2005 Conducted a suicide attack in Iraq Confirmed
Abdullah Majid Al-Naimi Bahrain November 2005 Arrested in October 2008; involved in terrorist facilitation; has known associations with al-Qaida Confirmed
Saad Madhi Saad Hawash al Azmi Kuwait November 2005 Association with al-Qaida Suspected
Majid Abdullah Lahiq al Joudi Saudi Arabia February 2007 Terrorist facilitation Confirmed
  • Mazin Salih Musaid al-Alawi al-Awfi also known as
  • Abu al-Hareth Muhammad al-Awfi
Saudi Arabia July 2007 Leadership figure in al-Qaida in Arabian Peninsula Confirmed
Abd al Razzaq Abdallah Ibrahim al-Sharikh Saudi Arabia September 2007 Arrested in September 2008 for supporting terrorism Suspected
Abd al Hadi Abdallah Ibrahim al Sharikh Saudi Arabia September 2007 Arrested in September 2008 for association with terrorist members; supporting terrorism Suspected
Zahir Shah Afghanistan November 2007 Participation in terrorist training Confirmed
Abu Sufyan al Azdi al-Shihri Saudi Arabia November 2007 Leadership figure in al-Qaida in Arabian Peninsula Confirmed
Abdullah Gulam Rasoul Afghanistan December 2007 Taliban military commander for Afghanistan; Organizaed an assault on U.S. military aircraft in Afghanistan Suspected
Hajji Sahib Rohullah Wakil Afghanistan April 2008 Association with terrorist groups Suspected

Third party comments

In August 2011 UK captive Tarek Dergoul got into a scuffle with a parking official, who was giving his car a ticket at an expired parking meter.[75] He received a one year conditional sentence, and had to undergo a mental health assessment. Benjamin Wittes, a legal scholar who focuses on counter-terrorism issues, referred to the controversial issue of competing assessment as to what percentage of former Guantanamo captives should be considered “Guantanamo recidivists”, when he asked whether Dergoul's conviction would make him a recidivist.[76]


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