Department of Defense officials admitted on Monday that a man who has been held in the United States prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for the last 13 years as a suspected al-Qaeda trainer, was held due to a case of mistaken identity.
Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri, 37, has been held as an indefinite detainee at Gitmo since 2002, despite the fact that he was never charged and prosecutors lacked adequate evidence for a trial.
During a panel meeting on Tuesday to evaluate whether al-Shamiri can be released, officials admitted he was actually a low-level Islamist foot soldier from Yemen who was taken into custody because he was confused with someone with a similar name.
In the DoD’s detainee profile on al-Shamiri, referred to as YM-434, it said he “fought in several jihadist theaters and associated with al-Qaida members in Afghanistan,” but also said he did not carry out the terrorist acts that were the basis of his detainment.
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.
In a statement from al-Shamiri’s personal representative, he was described as “cooperative, enthusiastic and supportive,” and his rep noted that he “does have remorse for choosing the wrong path early in life.”
The statement also said al-Shamiri “wants to make a life for himself,” and he is “aware that Yemen is not an option, and he is willing to go to any country that will accept him.”
President Obama, who has promised to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay on numerous occasions, rejected a plan to relocate the prison to U.S. soil, labeling it as too expensive with a price tag of over $600 million, and sent it back for revision.