Guantanamo Inmate Held for 13 Years in Case of Mistaken Identity, Says Pentagon

File photo of the exterior of Camp Delta at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay
Definitely not Summer Camp Photo: Bob Strong/Corbis

A report from U.S. defense officials released late Tuesday concluded that a man who has been a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay since 2002 was being held there due to a case of mistaken identity.

Mustafa Abd-al-Qawi Abd-al-Aziz al-Shamiri, now 37, was taken prisoner in Afghanistan after he was thought to be an Al Qaeda trainer fighting for the Taliban. Al-Shamiri did indeed fight for the Taliban in his youth, but U.S. forces confused him with another fighter with a similar name.

“Mustafa Abd-al-Qawi Abd-al-Aziz al-Shamiri (YM-434) fought in several jihadist theaters and associated with al-Qaida members in Afghanistan,” the report says. “It was previously assessed that YM-434 also was an al-Qaida facilitator or courier, as well as a trainer, but we now judge that these activities were carried out by other known extremists with names or aliases similar to YM-434’s.”

The report went on to say that “fragmentary reporting” linked al-Shamiri to a role fighting in the Bosnian civil war in 1995. It is unknown whether al-Shamiri knew this, and the fact that he told interrogators about his participation in Yemen’s civil war in 1996 may have contributed to the case of mistaken identity.

A statement submitted by al-Shamiri’s representation at a hearing on Tuesday said he felt “remorse for choosing the wrong path early in life.” According to the statement, al-Shamiri “Attended English classes, in addition to acquiring carpentry and cooking skills” while in detention.

There is no official decision yet on whether or when al-Shamiri will be the 49th prisoner cleared for release from Guantanamo Bay. The center currently holds 107 inmates.

Gitmo Prisoner Held for 13 Years Due to Mistake