November 29, 2022

Thiago Lontra

Art News Collection

Guantanamo “endlessly prisoner” Khalid Ahmed Qasim cleared for unlock after two decades, hopes for “some other lifestyles” together with his artwork

A U.S. executive evaluation board has cleared some of the longest-held prisoners at Guantanamo Bay for unlock. The Periodic Evaluate Board mentioned in its July 19 “ultimate decision” that there used to be not enough purpose to stay Khalid Ahmed Qasim imprisoned on the base. 

After spending greater than two decades on the jail camp, Qasim must be launched to an as-yet unspecified nation “with a robust rehabilitation and reintegration program,” the board mentioned.

One of the most so-called “endlessly prisoners” at Guantanamo, Qasim used to be in his twenties when he arrived in Afghanistan in 2000. It used to be his first actual shuttle out of his local Yemen. He went, in line with statements he and his legal professionals have remodeled the following two decades, to paintings offering help to folks in want.

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An undated record photograph presentations Guantanamo Bay detainee Khalid Ahmed Qasim, a Yemeni nationwide who, as of the summer season of 2022, had spent part of his lifestyles on the U.S.-run jail camp with out being charged with any crime. 

After the assault on the usCole and the assassination of Afghan chief Ahmed Shah Massoud by way of al Qaeda, the Northern Alliance — a coalition of Uzbek, Tajik and Hazara warlords who adverse al Qaeda and the Taliban and turned into key companions of U.S. forces within the nation — stepped up its efforts to seize any one of Arab descent in Afghanistan. 

They passed their prisoners over to U.S. forces and, in line with Gary Schroen, a former CIA intelligence officer who helped lead the seek for Osama bin Encumbered, and testimony from the detainees themselves, have been continuously paid vital bounties.

Qasim’s legal professionals have mentioned that, fearing the worst, he determined to show himself in, assured that he could be launched as he had no involvement in any assaults. As a substitute, he claims he used to be brutally interrogated, tortured and coerced into giving a false confession to coaching with al Qaeda. He used to be in the long run became over to U.S. forces, who despatched him to Guantanamo Bay in Would possibly 2002.


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Qasim has now spent part of his lifestyles there as “prisoner 242.” He used to be by no means placed on trial and not charged with against the law. He claims he spent the primary 9 years of his incarceration in solitary confinement, and that he used to be subjected to each bodily and psychological torture and spent seven years on starvation strike.

The periodic evaluation board— a parole mechanism established beneath the Obama management particularly to guage Guantanamo instances — had prior to now stated Qasim’s “low degree of coaching and loss of management in al Qaeda or the Taliban,” however till remaining week maintained that he used to be no longer eligible for unlock because of an “incapacity to regulate his feelings and movements” and his “loss of plans for the long run if launched.”

His legal professional disagrees with that evaluate. 

“Khalid continues to be younger and is worked up for the alternatives sooner than him,” Mark Maher, a U.S.-based legal professional for the British charity “Reprieve,” who represents Qasim and a handful of different Guantanamo detainees, instructed CBS Information.

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Prisoner Khalid Ahmed Qasim speaks to CBS Information and presentations his paintings from at the back of a fringe fence on the U.S.-run army jail camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2016. 

CBS Information


All through his incarceration, Qasim has taught himself English and Spanish. He additionally began writing poetry however, maximum significantly, he is develop into an achieved artist. 

A few of his paintings used to be displayed at an show off hosted by way of the CUNY Regulation Faculty in New York in 2020.

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A portray by way of Guantanamo Bay detainee Khalid Ahmed Qasim is observed in a photograph equipped by way of the U.Ok.-based human rights group Reprieve.

Khalid Ahmed Qasim/Reprieve


“Portray has been my reduction,” Qasim mentioned in an open letter he addressed to President Joe Biden in January 2022. “I’m happy with my artwork… Once they have been exhibited in New York, I considered the artwork taking a look out onto the chic streets and the massive structures, and of the folks of their great town taking a look in, and the way they can not perhaps consider what our lives are like.”

When CBS Information’ Margaret Brennan visited the jail camp at Guantanamo Bay in 2016, Qasim noticed her workforce over a fringe fence and used to be prepared to percentage his artwork with them, protecting it aloft for the cameras to peer. From at the back of the fence he shouted descriptions of every portray in a mixture of English and Arabic.


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Maher mentioned he hadn’t had an opportunity to talk with Qasim because the board’s resolution remaining week, however he mentioned the Yemeni has some plans going ahead, together with getting again into training, pursuing a profession as an English or Arabic tutor, and additional growing his inventive skill.

“His primary precedence is to go away together with his paintings,” Maher mentioned. “As you can be mindful, the Trump management stopped permitting detainees to ship their artwork out of the jail; a coverage that the Biden management has no longer reversed.”

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A work of artwork by way of Guantanamo Bay detainee Khalid Ahmed Qasim is observed in a photograph equipped by way of the U.Ok.-based human rights workforce Reprieve.

Khalid Ahmed Qasim/Reprieve


It nonetheless wasn’t transparent Monday precisely when Qassim would have the ability to depart Guantanamo, or which nation the U.S. may make a maintain for his switch. It may not be his house nation of Yemen, as home U.S. regulation prohibits the switch of Guantanamo detainees to that war-torn nation, his legal professional mentioned. 

The board’s directions are only for him to be despatched to “a rustic with a robust rehabilitation and reintegration program and suitable safety assurances as agreed to by way of the related USG (U.S. executive) departments and businesses.” 

His long term nonetheless rests with the U.S. Secretaries of State and Protection. It has taken the U.S. executive years to seek out appropriate nations to switch any other launched Guantanamo detainees.

“That mentioned, Khaled is multilingual, so there are reasonably a couple of nations that I feel he may combine into simply,” Maher instructed CBS Information. “We are hoping that this management is eager about getting folks out of Guantanamo, and swift motion is vital to meet that promise.”

Judging from his letter to Mr. Biden in January, the prisoner himself turns out keen to start out all over again, some distance clear of Guantanamo Bay.

“I have no idea the place I will be able to cross, or what I will be able to do,” he mentioned then, “however there’s some other lifestyles for me outdoor this jail.”

Editor’s word: This tale has been up to date to take away an inaccurate connection with Qasim taking on making a song.