Mohammed Ahmed al Kandari has been in Guantanamo Bay detention center for almost a decade and, according to his lawyer Lt. Col. Barry Wingard, now defending him before a military tribunal, is likely to be detained indefinitely.
A Kuwaiti national, Kandari went to Afghanistan in the summer of 2001 to do charity work and was captured by the Northern Alliance, who was paid large sums of money by the U.S. for rounding up Arabs following the invasion in October of that year. Held for years without charge or trial, he is suspected of having been a member of al-Qaeda. But a legal study of his proceedings quoted the Tribunal’s legal advisor as saying, “Indeed, the evidence considered persuasive by the Tribunal is made up almost entirely of hearsay evidence recorded by unidentified individuals with no first hand knowledge of the events they describe.”
Presently, Kandari is locked in solitary confinement for going on a hunger strike after his personal belongings, including his mail, was taken. In the past, Al Kandari was tortured by U.S. guards, including being kicked, beaten with a metal chain, put in stress positions for up to 36 hours, he “was drugged, his ears were plugged, he was diapered and a sandbag was shoved over his head.”
About 600 Guantanamo detainees, of 779, have been released and fewer than 200 remain, but President Obama’s March executive order institutionalizing indefinite detention is not promising to those still detained, and Kandari’s lawyers are not optimistic. “Forty-eight unfortunate souls in Guantanamo Bay will never get a trial, will be presumed guilty and will die in Guantanamo without ever having stepped into a courtroom,” Wingard said.
Kandari has maintained his innocence throughout the years, and his friends and family corroborate claims that he never had any affiliation with terrorist organizations. As part of the charity work he traveled to Afghanistan for, Kandari was to repair a mosque. After finishing the repairs, he says he placed a plaque there. His defense team are still trying to trace that mosque. Adel Abdul Hadi, his lawyer, says that “if found, it will be yet more proof that U.S. intelligence is again wrong.”
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