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April 21, 2016

The Guantanamo Review Board Holds Hearing for Another One of the “Karachi Six”

By Adelma Jakupovic

The Periodic Review Board (PRB) held its second hearing of the week, nearly two months after President Obama released a plan to Congress detailing how his administration plans to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. The board heard unclassified statements from the government, the detainee’s private counsel, and his personal representatives as to whether Said Salih Said Nashir continues to pose a serious threat to the United States.

According to his latest intelligence profile, Nashir, a 46-year-old Yemeni national, allegedly traveled to Afghanistan to fight in 2001, trained at an al Qaeda affiliated camp, and associated with several senior members of the group, including al Qaeda operative and 9/11 conspirator Walid bin Attash. Nashir was one of six suspects captured in 2002 in a series of raids in Karachi by Pakistani authorities. He has been detained at Guantanamo for nearly 14 years, and previously recommended by the Guantanamo Review Task Force for continued detention.

The government claims that Nashir sought to minimize his role within al Qaeda, avoided questions, and manipulated interrogators. He expressed continued support for jihad in some circumstances and occasionally requested to see footage of previous al Qaeda attacks. Although the government initially believed that Nashir, along with five other men who became known as the “Karachi Six,” were part of an al Qaeda operational cell designed to support future attacks, it acknowledges that they were likely part of a larger pool of fighters al Qaeda would use to carry out terrorist attacks.

Since arriving at Guantanamo, Nashir committed fewer than 70 infractions. Both his personal representatives and private counsel commended his optimism and hope for the future. Nashir took advantage of the educational opportunities offered at the detention facility. He learned basic computer skills, and attended classes in art, life skills, and English. Nashir even requested additional written materials to supplement his classes. His private counsel noted that he performed well in all of his classes, prompting teachers to speak highly of him. 

Nashir is willing to participate in any rehabilitation or reintegration program. He wants to get married and start a family of his own. According to his personal representatives, his 10 years of experience as an electrician in Yemen, coupled with the classes he took at Guantanamo, will help him to find employment wherever he is transferred. Nashir’s family is also committed to helping him rebuild his life once he is released. 

While Nashir expressed a desire to be sent back home and to be reunited with his family, he is aware that it will likely not happen. The government believes that if he is repatriated to Yemen he may reengage in terrorism. His sister is married to the brother of current detainee Khalid Ahmed Qasim and USS Cole conspirator Yasser Ahmed Qasim. The area where his family lives also reportedly has a strong al Qaeda presence. The United States currently will not transfer cleared detainees to Yemen given the security conditions there. Nashir is prepared to be transferred to any country, preferably an Arabic-speaking country.

Nashir’s PRB hearing comes in the midst of the administration’s commitment to increase the pace of PRBs, as part of the president’s plan to close Guantanamo. Past hearings usually took place every few months. As of today, 11 hearings have already been scheduled through the end of May, with two slated to take place each week. This is encouraging for the 38 detainees who meet the requirements to have their detention reviewed by the PRB. This increased pace must continue so that President Obama can fulfill his stated goal of completing all initial PRB reviews by the fall of 2016.