Guantanamo Bay frees mistaken Karachi taxi driver after 17 years

Posted: 23-Oct-2021 | Last Updated: 1 month ago

Ahmad Rabbani was picked up in Karachi. Image: Reprieve NGO

A man called Ahmad Rabbani, who once worked as a taxi driver in Karachi, has been released from Guantanamo Bay after 17 years after being cleared of all charges.

Ahmad Rabbani’s release was announced late Friday night by Reprieve, a legal action NGO, that works on such cases.

According to Reprieve, Rabbani’s case was of a mistaken identity. He was identified in 2002 as a wanted man called Hassan Ghul and sold to US personnel in Pakistan. “Although they soon realised they had the wrong man, they took him to Afghanistan and tortured him in black sites for 545 days,” said the Reprieve press release. “The abuse he was subjected to is documented in the US Senate torture report.”

According to the New York Times coverage of the case, Rabbani and his brother were captured in a raid in Karachi in September 2002. They were detained for about 550 days in the custody of the Central Intelligence Agency and transferred to Guantánamo Bay in 2004. “The Guantánamo Review Task Force (2009-10) had recommended he be considered for prosecution, but the case was not pursued,” the newspaper reported.

Heart-breaking story of torture

The LA Times asked Rabbani to write about his experience in an Op-ed in 2018. In it he said he was “captured by Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s government and sold to the CIA for a bounty”. He stopped eating and at one point he could not eat without vomiting blood.

“[T]he Americans took me to a black site in Kabul known as the Dark Prison, where my hands were shackled overhead for days on end,” he wrote. He tried to cut off his own hand to end the pain.

What is Guantanamo Bay

Guantanamo Bay is located off the coast of Cuba and has been American territory since the early 1900s. It was turned into a prison camp as it was an “island outside the law” as the US needed a place to detain terrorism suspects without giving them proper legal rights.

“At home and around the world, Guantánamo has become a symbol of injustice, abuse, and disregard for the rule of law,” according to the ACLU.  

The prison and torture camp opened in 2002 and an estimated 800 men have been kept there. Many of them were tortured and given brutal treatment.