About 780 inmates have been held at Guantanamo since it opened in 2002. Today, 80 remain.
Most have not been charged with any crimes, according to a comprehensive database maintained by The New York Times. All are men, mostly in their 30s and 40s. The youngest is about 30 or 31; the oldest is 68. Most have been there for more than 13 or 14 years. Some have gone on hunger strikes and were force-fed with liquid nutrients through nasal tubes.
The inmates come from 17 countries and the Palestinian territories. The majority of inmates—43—are from Yemen. Eight are from Afghanistan, and six each from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The rest are from Tajikistan, Tunisia, Iraq, Algeria, Indonesia, Kenya, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Russia, and Somalia. One inmate’s native country is unknown.
At least 26 inmates, including Bwazir, have been cleared for release; a review board system President Obama created by executive order in 2011 has determined they no longer pose a security threat to the United States. This week, the board cleared for release Salem Ahmed Hadi, a suspected jihadist who left Yemen for Afghanistan before 9/11 and arrived at Guantanamo in its second week of existence. It was his fifth time before the board, which had previously rejected releasing him.
At least 43 inmates are being held indefinitely and have not been recommended for release by the review boards. These indefinite detainees are known as the “forever prisoners,” the captives deemed too dangerous to release but who have not been charged with any crimes. Indefinite detention without trial is illegal under the Geneva Conventions, but the Bush administration argued that international laws did not apply to the “unlawful enemy combatants” who were taken to Guantanamo.
Seven inmates have been charged with war crimes in Guantanamo’s military commissions, the judicial system set up by the Bush administration and tweaked by the Obama administration. They include Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged organizer of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and his four alleged co-conspirators. The others are Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi detainee charged for allegedly organizing the bombing of a U.S. Navy destroyer in Yemen in 2000 that killed 17 sailors, and Abd al Hadi al Iraqi, an Iraqi detainee who allegedly led al-Qaeda’s military operations from 2002 to 2004.
Three inmates have been convicted of war crimes, but the conviction of one was overturned on appeal. Majid Khan, a Pakistani native who once lived in Baltimore, pleaded guilty to war crimes in 2012, acknowledging he returned to Pakistan after 9/11 to work for Khalid Sheik Mohammed. Ahmed Muhammed Haza al-Darbi, a Saudi citizen, pleaded guilty in 2014 over the 2002 al-Qaeda attack on a French oil tanker off the coast of Yemen. Ali Hamza Ahmad Suliman al-Bahlul, a Saudi citizen accused of being Osama bin Laden’s “media secretary,” was convicted in 2008 of conspiracy, terrorism-related charges, and other charges. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his conviction in 2013, saying the crimes of which he was convicted were not recognized as war crimes at the time he committed them.