Full name: Abdel Malik Abdel Wahab|
Family status: Married with a four-year-old daughter
"We have nothing here, no rights, no trials, nothing."
Abdel Malik Abdel Wahab, speaking about detention in Guantánamo Bay
Abdel Malik Abdel Wahab travelled to Pakistan in November 2000 reportedly to
teach Islamic studies. He spent the next year or so travelling around
Pakistan and Afghanistan teaching. When the international conflict in
Afghanistan started in October 2001, he was in Kandahar, Afghanistan, with
his family. His wife and daughter managed to return home to Yemen. Abdel
Malik Abdel Wahab thought it would be safer to return via Pakistan.
At the Afghan/Pakistan border, he attempted to contact the Yemeni embassy by
presenting himself to the Pakistani authorities. According to Abdel Malik
Abdel Wahab, the Pakistani authorities then "sold" him to the US authorities
who at the time were offering substantial rewards for suspected al-Qa’ida
members. He was held in US custody in Kandahar and then transferred to
Guantánamo Bay, where he remains.
Abdel Malik Abdel Wahab’s family found out that he was in Guantánamo Bay
through newspaper reports, and have only intermittently received
correspondence from him. In December 2004 Abdel Malik Abdel Wahab said that
the last mail he had received was in July, and that the letter had taken 10
months to reach him. The mail that detainees receive in Guantánamo is often
heavily edited by the US authorities, even though it is often the only
contact detainees have with the outside world.
Abdel Malik Abdel Wahab’s father says: "The family has suffered because
Abdel Malik Abdel Wahab has been in Guantánamo. We have received only very
limited correspondence from him, and it was nine months since we last heard
from him, before we recently received two letters, both censored and months
"I ask God for your soon return. All I have for you is prayers." Letter to
Abdel Malik Abdel Wahab from his father.
In custody in Kandahar, Abdel Malik Abdel Wahab says that:
- he was "tortured by beatings";
- his thumb was broken by US interrogators;
- he was threatened with being held underground and deprived of daylight until
In Guantánamo Bay, Abdel Malik Abdel Wahab says that he was:
- subjected to "psychological persuasion";
- left for long periods in rooms with the air conditioning on full;
- subjected to prolonged periods of sleep deprivation;
- threatened with transfer to Egypt or Jordan where he would be tortured;
- interrogated by a Jordanian secret agent who beat him with a belt.
In a habeas corpus petition, Abdel Malik Abdel Wahab’s lawyers state that he
and other detainees from Yemen held in Guantánamo Bay have been:
- held virtually incommunicado;
- forced to provide statements;
- incarcerated "under conditions that violate their international and
constitutional rights to dignity and freedom from cruel, unusual and
degrading treatment or punishment".
"If you have any evidence against me that shows I am an enemy of the United
States or that I fought against the United States, I am willing to face that
These words were spoken by Abdel Malik Abdel Wahab at his Combatant Status
Review Tribunal. The President of the Tribunal replied: "This is not a trial
This is not a legal proceeding. This is a military tribunal to determine
whether you have been properly classified as an enemy combatant". This was
after Abdel Malik Abdel Wahab had been detained for nearly three years.
In June 2004 the US Supreme Court ruled, in Rasul v Bush, that the federal
courts have jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus petitions from foreign
nationals detained in Guantánamo Bay. Yet none of the detainees still held
there has had the lawfulness of his detention judicially reviewed. Instead,
the administration set up Combatant Status Review Tribunals to determine if
each detainee was an "enemy combatant" as labelled. For this process, the
detainee had no access to secret evidence used against him or to legal
counsel. Meanwhile, the Tribunals were allowed to draw on evidence extracted
under torture or other ill-treatment.
When Abdel Malik Abdel Wahab tried to call witnesses during his Tribunal
hearing, including detainees who were with him when he was arrested and
allegedly tortured in Afghanistan, the Tribunal ruled that they were "not
relevant". Abdel Malik Abdel Wahab repeatedly asked for proof or evidence
that he was a member of al-Qa’ida from those who would be determining his
status, but his appeals were ignored.
The Tribunal ruled that Abdel Malik Abdel Wahab had correctly been
designated as an "enemy combatant" and should remain in Guantánamo Bay.
After the 2004 Supreme Court’s Rasul ruling, lawyers representing Abdel
Malik Abdel Wahab filed a habeas corpus petition with the US District Court
in Washington DC. The petition challenged his long detention, the lack of
charges against him and numerous other aspects of his detention, including
allegations of torture in Guantánamo Bay.
The first judge on the DC District Court to interpret the Rasul decision,
Judge Richard Leon, ruled in favour of the executive authority of the US
President during war time, holding that the Guantánamo detainees had no
right to challenge the lawfulness of their detention. Two weeks later, Judge
Joyce Hens Green gave a contrasting opinion. She rejected the government’s
argument that the detainees have no substantive rights, concluding that they
must have more than just the procedural right "to file papers in the Clerk’s
Specifically, she held that the detainees had the US constitutional right
not to be deprived of liberty without due process of law. The government is
seeking to have a higher court, the US Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia Circuit, resolve the conflict between Judge Leon’s and Judge
Green’s opinions in its favour. Meanwhile, the legal limbo of the detainees
continues, with no detainee having yet had the lawfulness of his detention
Whatever the outcome of the appeal currently before the Court of Appeals, the case is likely to be appealed to the US Supreme Court. This would keep the detainees in their legal limbo and leave the lawfulness of their detention unreviewed by the courts.