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Home / Info / Case of mistaken identity: A man spent 13 years in prison because his name is similar to the name of the actual culprit

Case of mistaken identity: A man spent 13 years in prison because his name is similar to the name of the actual culprit


The Guantanamo Bay is considered to be one of the most vicious prisons in the US because the most dangerous prisoners are held there. In addition to this, a man was wrongly imprisoned for 13 years in this facility due to a case of mistaken identity.

Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri (YM-434) was a low level Islamist foot soldier who had a similar name to some high level al-Qaida terrorists.

Officials admitted that Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri, 37, was a low-level Islamist foot soldier and not an al-Qaida courier and trainer as previously thought, during a Guantánamo hearing.

Wearing a beard and voluminous white T-shirt, and accompanied by a linguist and two personal representatives, the Yemeni appeared before a panel assessing whether he can be released.

A profile published by the Department of Defense maintains he fought in Afghanistan and mixed with members of al-Qaida. But officials concede that they wrongly believed he had a more significant role because he was confused with others who had a similar name.

The profile added that fragmentary reporting links al-Shamiri to fighting in Bosnia in 1995, and he told interrogators that he fought in Yemen’s civil war in 1996 and in Afghanistan for the Taliban from 2000 to 2001 – including against the Northern Alliance and US forces – before his capture near Mazar-e-Sharif. He has since been an indefinite detainee, considered too dangerous to release but without adequate evidence to bring to trial.

A statement from al-Shamiri’s personal representative described him as very cooperative, enthusiastic and supportive in the preparation for the board hearing. “From the onset, he has demonstrated a consistent positive attitude towards life after Gitmo,” he said. “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.

“Mustafa will show you today that he is not a continuing significant threat to the United States of America. He is earnestly preparing for his life after Gitmo. During his time in detention, he has attended English and art classes, in addition to acquiring carpentry and cooking skills.

Despite this acknowledgement, he is still imprisoned, and it is not clear if and when he may be freed.





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