Muhammad Rahim is a high value detainee, currently held at Guantanamo Bay prison since 2008. His story is one of kidnap, rendition and torture. He was the last detainee to go through the infamous CIA ‘detention and interrogation’ programme. You can read his full story with details exclusively revealed by CAGE here.
On the 4th of August 2016, Rahim appeared before a parole review board seeking his release from Guantanamo. He is the first high value detainee to be considered for release and a decision on his case is expected in the very near future. If he is refused, the next time he will be eligible for a review will be in another two years.
CAGE exclusively interviewed, Lt. Commander Kevin Bogucki, Rahim’s former military lawyer, about his client, the alleged charges against him and his prospects of freedom.
CAGE: Can you describe your client as a man?
KB: Muhammad Rahim is one of the most intelligent and personable men I have ever met. He is genuinely friendly and has a rare sense of humor that keeps me smiling throughout our meetings. In fact, I am consistently impressed by Muhammad Rahim’s ability to maintain a positive attitude in such a hostile and uncomfortable environment. It is a testament to his faith and his strength of character.
CAGE: How did the people who knew him and whom you’ve met describe him ?
KB: When I visited Jalalabad, Afghanistan, I met with more than thirty elders of the Nangarhar province, each of whom had clear memories of Muhammad Rahim. They described him as a peaceful, caring teacher, who would go out of his way to help people. Each elder provided a letter, attesting to Muhammad Rahim’s peaceful nature and personally guaranteeing his good conduct if he were returned to Afghanistan.
CAGE: What impact did the treatment he suffered at the hand of the CIA have on him?
KB: [I prefer not to answer this question.]
CAGE: What is his legal status and does he have any hope for release?
KB: Muhammad Rahim’s legal status is truly unfortunate. I often describe Guantanamo as an upside-down and backward world, where the guilty have more rights than the innocent. If a Guantanamo detainee is actually guilty of a war crime, and the United States has evidence to prove it, the United States will take him to trial and he will have an opportunity to plead his case to a judge. If he is convicted, he will serve a sentence and then be released and returned home (e.g., Salim Hamdan). But if a Guantanamo detainee has not committed any crime, the United States will never take him to trial, he will never have an opportunity to prove his innocence, and he will remain confined indefinitely. This is the case with Muhammad Rahim. Since he is not guilty of any war crime, the United States will never take him to trial. And, if he never goes to trial, he will never have an opportunity to prove his innocence. He will remain confined at Guantanamo indefinitely.
In fact, Muhammad Rahim’s situation is worse than that of other Guantanamo detainees, because the United States has labeled him a “High Value Detainee.” This was not because Muhammad Rahim committed a serious crime against the United States (like the alleged planners of the 9/11 attacks), but only because the United States once believed he had valuable information. Nonetheless, Muhammad Rahim now shares the same label as men like Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and no United States government official has the political will to release him. As a “High Value Detainee,” Muhammad Rahim may remain confined for the rest of his life, even though he is not guilty of any crime.
CAGE: What do you say about the accusations made against him?
KB: The United States claims Muhammad Rahim, who speaks both Arabic and Pashto, was an interpreter for the senior-most members of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. But, even if this were true, it does not constitute a war crime. At most, it would amount to “material support for terrorism,” something the United States Federal Courts have said is not a crime that can be tried at a military commission (the only court system available to try Guantanamo detainees). Thus, the United States cannot possibly convict Muhammad Rahim of a crime and will not take him to trial. Instead, the United States will continue to hold Muhammad Rahim at Guantanamo, without a trial of any kind. This is contrary to any notion of due process or fundamental fairness.
CAGE: What could he do if released?
KB: While it is unlikely the United States will ever release Muhammad Rahim, he remains hopeful he will one day be able to return to his family, who are struggling terribly without him. I have no doubt that if Muhammad Rahim were returned to Afghanistan, he would contribute greatly to his community as a teacher and a businessman. Afghanistan needs intelligent and peaceful men like Muhammad Rahim, and there is no reason he should continue to be held at Guantanamo Bay.
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(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)