Murder at Guantanamo? The Mysterious, Unsolved Death of Mohammad Saleh al Hanashi
Continued from previous page
The Qala-i-Janghi uprising came only days before a mass prisoner exchange took place with CIA-supported warlord Dostum, which, as New York Times writer James Risen noted recently, resulted in the killing of perhaps as many 2,000 Taliban fighters, who had surrendered at Kunduz. Serious questions have been raised about U.S. involvement or knowledge of the mass killings. Physicians for Human Rights has initiated a campaign to expose the truth about the massacre, having documented the existence of mass graves at Dasht-e-Leili, as well as tampering with the grave sites. According to a U.S. State Department account, witnesses to the killings have been murdered.
General Dostum is a supporter of the Karzai government, and was back in Kabul earlier this month to claim a post in the government's cabinet. According to a McClatchy report, he had to return to Turkey (where he resides periodically in exile) when the U.S. complained about his presence to the Karzai government. The U.S. has been trying to convince both domestic and international critics of its Afghanistan policy that the Afghanistan government can clean up its act, even though President Karzai's claim to legitimacy rests on a phony election that saw over one million fake ballots (about one-quarter of the total votes case, according to a New York Times story). The other major candidate recently pulled out of a run-off election, claiming it couldn't be fairly run.
Al Hanashi's Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) record documents the fact of his November 2001 surrender, his imprisonment and wounding at Qala-i-Janghi, and the fact he was shipped off to Shabraghan Prison, where he spent the next four weeks or so recuperating in the prison hospital. Also in the hospital were survivors of the Northern Alliance transfer from Kunduz, victims of a war crime as thousands were "stuffed into closed metal shipping containers and given no food or water; many suffocated while being trucked to the prison. Other prisoners were killed when guards shot into the containers" ( New York Times story). Some of the survivors ended up in Shabraghan Prison, the wounded in its meager hospital facilities.
Did al Hanashi talk with survivors of the Dostum mass killings? Did he hear tales of U.S. Special Operations soldiers or officers involved? Was he killed to keep his silence? We don't know, but there are plenty of other reasons that U.S. authorities may have wanted al Hanashi silenced.
Former Guantanamo inmate, Binyam Mohamed, who knew al Hanashi, believes the 31-year-old Yemeni force-fed hunger striker didn't commit suicide. He told Naomi Wolf recently that reports that al Hanashi was "an upbeat person with no mental problems and would never have considered suicide." As Wolf noted in an article last September:
As their designated representative, al-Hanashi knew which prisoners had claimed to have been tortured or abused, and by whom.
Hence, another theory of possible homicide would be that al Hanashi knew too much about U.S. torture and abuse. A person with some knowledge of the situation at Guantanamo has told me that it's possible that al Hanashi was removed, or allowed to die, simply because he had been too independent, too rebellious and a potential leader inside the prison. Naomi Wolf explained in an article last September how a hunger striker might die from force-feeding.
It is worth considering how easy it would be to do away with a troublesome prisoner being force-fed by merely adjusting the calorie level. If it is too low, the prisoner will starve, but too high a level can also kill, since deliberate, liquid, overfeeding by tube, to which Guantanamo prisoners have reported being subjected, causes vomiting, diarrhea and deadly dehydration that can stop one's heart.