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Wrong man held at Guantánamo Bay for 13 years due to mistaken identity

Well, we all make mistakes don't we?

A shocking miscarriage of justice in the controversial Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba has been revealed by The Guardian, who report that a man who has spent 13 years in the US prison camp was arrested partly in a case of mistaken identity.

Officials admitted, during a hearing on Tuesday, that 37-year-old Yemeni Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri was not, in fact, a high-ranking al-Qaida courier and trainer, but actually a 'low-level Islamist foot soldier'.

The profile of him published by the Department of Defense painted him as someone who had fought in Afghanistan and knew key members of al-Qaida - but officials were forced (not by waterboarding, for once) to concede that they thought he had a much more significant role than he actually did, due to being confused with others who had a similar name.

The now-unclassified detainee profile said: “Mustafa Abd-al-Qawi Abd-al-Aziz al-Shamiri (YM-434) fought in several jihadist theaters and associated with al-Qaida members in Afghanistan. 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.”

Al-Shamiri, who was captured near Mazar-e-Sharif in 2002, seemingly told interrogators that he fought in the Yemen civil war in 1996 and in Afghanistan for the Taliban between 2000 and 2001. Since then he has been an 'indefinite detainee' - considered too dangerous to release, but without enough evidence to be brought to trial.

Quite how it took the authorities 13 years to realise their mistake has not been revealed.

A statement from his personal representative at a hearing to see if he will be considered for release said: “From the onset, he has demonstrated a consistent positive attitude towards life after Gitmo. He has a strong desire to obtain an education in order to provide for a future spouse that his family has already located for him. Mustafa will show you today that he is not a continuing significant threat to the United States of America. He is earnestly preparing for his life after Gitmo. During his time in detention, he has attended English and art classes, in addition to acquiring carpentry and cooking skills. During the last feast, Mustafa generously took the time to prepare over 30 plates of pastries for his fellow detainees. When I asked him why he would make pastries for his fellow detainees, he said it’s because it makes him feel like he can give back and share with people.”

It continued: “Mustafa does have remorse for choosing the wrong path early in life. He has vocalized to us that while he cannot change the past, he would definitely have chosen a different path. He wants to make a life for himself. He is aware that Yemen is not an option and he is willing to go to any country that will accept him.”

There is no confirmed date for when a decision will be made. No rush, eh? Well, it gives him a bit more time to brush up on his baking skills, we guess.

(Image: Rex)