On Thursday, 21 July 2016, Omar Mohammed Ali al-Rammah (ISN 1017), who is a Guantanamo Bay detainee from Yemen, will likely tell a group of U.S. officials that he is not a threat to U.S. national security, and he should be repatriated to Yemen or resettled in a 3rd country.
al Rammah is about 40 or 41 years of age, was born in Yemen, and has been held at Guantanamo Bay for just over 13 years. He will argue for his freedom from the prison where he has lived for almost a third of his life.
This hearing at which al Rammah will argue is called a Periodic Review Board (PRB), and will be conducted pursuant to a 2011 Executive Order which has required most detainees to have a “periodic review” of their detention status. Though Al Rammah has had similar reviews under now defunct processes, this is his “initial review” (or “initial PRB”) under the 2011 procedure.
If a detainee is cleared for release after his initial review, he would have no additional hearings. If he is not cleared for release he would have a “file review” every six months. If he remains uncleared, he would have a “full review” every three years.
About 60 the 76 men remaining captive at Guantanamo are entitled to PRBs per the rules, and about 55 have had an initial review. Many who have had initial reviews were subsequently cleared for release, and many of those have actually been released post-initial review.
PRBs do not assess the defendant’s guilt or innocence, and are not criminal proceedings.
What will al Rammah’s PRB be like?
al Rammah’s initial review on Thursday will likely be similar to the 55 or so initial reviews held since the 2011 Executive Order was implemented in 2013. His will be the second PRB I attend, with my first being that of Ismael Ali Farag al Bakush held on Thursday, 14 July 2016, after my being denied permission to attend earlier PRBs multiple times. I now have a clearer idea of what to expect.
I suspect that representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) will be present with me at the Pentagon on Thursday, and possibly some media.
Others present for the hearing will include members of the “Board” itself that conducts the PRBs, and that consisted of one representative each from the Departments of Defense, State and Homeland Security; the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Presumably each of those representatives will watch remotely in his or her office in the DC area. Also likely to be present for the hearing are the Legal Advisor to the Board; the Case Administrator; a Hearing Clerk; and a Security Officer, though it is not clear where these individuals would be located at Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere.
Intelligence gathered on al Rammah
It was been contended that al Rammah traveled to Afghanistan to help support the Mujahedin, and later joined and fought for the Taliban and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). He allegedly trained at various camps, developed expertise in explosives, and pledged to overthrow the government of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. It has been said that if he is not repatriated to his home country of Yemen and is instead resettled to a 3rd country, he would prefer that it be any Arabic-speaking country other than Libya.
He is said to have been captured in the Republic of Georgia, while living in the Pankisi Gorge area of that country.
The Government is expected to release additional PRB-related documents over the next couple of days.
FYI, the New York Times has posted 5 documents related to this detainee, and prior reviews for possible release (http://projects.nytimes.com/guantanamo/detainees/1017-omar-mohammed-ali-al-rammah):
- Combat Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) Summary (1 document)
- Administrative Review Board (ARBs) (3 documents)
- Joint Task Force – Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) Assessment (1 document)