Last Pakistani in Guantanamo Bay goes home

Saifullah Paracha has been in Guantanamo Bay detention centre since he was taken into custody in Bangkok in 2003. The 74 year old was never charged with anything, nor was he accused of any crime, merely “having links” with the al-Qaeda leadership.

The oldest inmate at Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba and an innocent man by every legal definition, Paracha survived the inhumane conditions in the camp for nearly 20 years without trial.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said…

“Saif Ullah Paracha, a Pakistani national who was detained in Guantanamo Bay, has been released and reached Pakistan on Saturday, October 29, 2022. The Foreign Ministry completed an extensive inter-agency process to facilitate repatriation of Mr Paracha. We are glad that a Pakistani citizen detained abroad is finally reunited with his family.”

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Businessman Paracha has maintained his innocence throughout his illegal incarceration. Paracha, who studied in the United States, had an import-export business supplying major US retailers. US authorities accused him of having contact with al-Qaeda figures, including Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. In 2008, Paracha’s lawyer said the businessman had met bin Laden in 1999, and again a year later, in connection with the production of a television programme.

The Guantanamo Bay detention camp, perhaps the biggest human rights outrage of the millennium so far, is a US military prison opened by President George W Bush to hold suspects captured overseas during the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. The camp was central to an illegal system of torture and illegal rendition the US regime enacted against Muslims, terrorists and so-called terrorists around the world. Only one man still at Guantanamo has been convicted of a crime. Of the other prisoners, 10 are awaiting trial, including the five charged with the September 11 attacks.

Over the past few years, the inmate population has come down. Last month, Paracha’s son Mustafa appeared before a senate standing committee discussing the status of overseas citizens who were illegally detained in the prison.

Last Pakistani in Guantanamo Bay goes home | News by Thaiger
Guantanamo Bay opened by President George W. Bush was central to an illegal system of torture and secondary rendition the United States regime enacted against Muslims around the world.

In May, the US approved Paracha’s release concluding only that he was “not a continuing threat” to the US. Like most prisoners at Guantanamo, Paracha was never charged with anything and had little legal power to challenge his detention.

Of the 780 inmates – everyone innocent until proven guilty – held during the so-called “war on terror,” 732 have been released without charge. Many of them were imprisoned for more than a decade without any justification for their detention. Only about 40 prisoners remain in the world’s most infamous detention facility and symbol of systematic human rights abuse.

Paracha’s release was approved by US President Joe Biden last year, along with that of another Pakistani national 55 year old Abdul Rabbani, and 41 year old Yemen native Uthman Abdul al-Rahim Uthman.

Biden is under pressure to clear out illegally detained prisoners at Guantanamo and move ahead with the trials of any who have been found to have direct ties to al-Qaeda. Among those left are several who allegedly had direct roles in 9/11 and other al-Qaeda attacks.

Last Pakistani in Guantanamo Bay goes home | News by Thaiger
The events at Guantanamo have allowed the world to form a view the United States as the greatest perpetrator of human rights abuses.

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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