A Yemeni man detained for more than 13 years at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay was arrested due to a case of mistaken identity, U.S. officials said Tuesday, the Guardian reported. Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri, 37, was suspected of being a prominent al Qaeda courier and trainer, but was actually a low-level Islamic fighter, according to documents.
On Tuesday, Shamiri appeared before the Periodic Review Board, a panel of government officials who will determine whether he can be released from Guantanamo as part of the ongoing effort to remove the detainees and shut the base down.
“Mustafa Abd-al-Qawi Abd-al-Aziz al-Shamiri (YM-434) fought in several jihadist theaters and associated with al Qaeda members in Afghanistan,” his detainee profile read. “It was previously assessed that YM-434 also was an al Qaeda 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.”
Shamiri’s personal representative described him as cooperative, enthusiastic and supportive in preparation for the hearing, and said he would show the panel he is not a continuing significant threat to the U.S.
“From the onset, he has demonstrated a consistent positive attitude towards life after Gitmo,” the representative said in a statement. “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.”
Shamiri was captured in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, and held as an enemy combatant without charge for more than 13 years. His detainee profile linked him to fighting in Bosnia in 1995, and he reportedly told interrogators that he fought in Yemen’s 1996 civil war and in Afghanistan for the Taliban, against U.S. forces, between 2000 and 2001 before his capture.
Besides Shamiri, 106 detainees remain at Guantanamo, including nearly 50 who have been approved for release and are awaiting transfer. In November, five Yemeni inmates were released and sent to the United Arab Emirates after they were held for more than a decade on suspicion of being affiliated with al Qaeda.