Leaked Files Detail Gitmo’s History of Child Prisoners

Over 60 Detainees Were Under 18 When Captured

Guantanamo Bay’s detention center hasn’t just been home to aging militants, like 89 year old Mohammed Sadiq, who was described in his 2002 assessment as suffering from senile dementia. It is also the home to many children.

Of course we all know the Omar Khadr case, the Canadian citizen and child soldier who was put up before a military tribunal at the detention center. But the story doesn’t begin and end with Khadr, and the leaked files released by WikiLeaks show that the facility has hosted over 60 detainees who were under the age of 18 when captured.

The stories range from the common to the absurd, with one former detainee, Saudi-born Yousef Gharani, accused of being involved in a London al-Qaeda cell before his capture in Pakistan. Gharani was presented initially in the file as 20 in 2001, but his birth certificate later showed him to be only 14. This meant that he was supposedly a top member of a London terror cell at the tender (or ridiculous) age of 11. He spent seven years at Guantanamo Bay before being released and sent to Chad, a nation in which he had never lived.

The argument over child soldiers sometimes took odd turns. Mohammed Omar was sent to Guantanamo in June 2002, at age 16. Doctors argued he was an adult on the grounds that his “long bone growth plates are fully mature” and that there he “is an adult, anatomically.” Omar was captured after the “sports camp” he thought he was joining turned out to be a terror camp, and he tried to flee the camp and return home to Pakistan. He was released in 2004.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.