Full name: Mustafa Ait Idir |
Family status: Married with three young sons
Occupation: Reportedly worked for the humanitarian organization Igasa
"Muhamed was four when Mustafa was taken away. But he still remembers every
moment he spent with him. And every day, I keep telling him that his father
is on business trip, and he will come soon. Lately I noticed that he is not
that happy and excited anymore. I think that he doesn't believe me anymore."
Wife of Mustafa Ait Idir.
Mustafa Ait Idir and five other men were arrested in October 2001 by the
federal police in Bosnia and Herzegovina on suspicion of involvement in an
alleged plot to bomb the US embassy in Sarajevo.
On 17 January 2002 the investigative judge of the Supreme Court ordered
their release as there were no further grounds for their detention. The same
day the Human Rights Chamber of Bosnia and Herzegovina issued an interim
order for provisional measures to be taken to prevent the deportation,
expulsion or extradition of four of the men, following applications made to
the court by the four men on 14 and 16 January 2002.
Despite these rulings, on their release the six men were immediately taken
into custody by the federal police who, along with Sarajevo’s cantonal
police, handed them over to US forces on 18 January 2002. They were
subsequently transferred to Guantánamo Bay, where they remain held.
Mustafa Ait Idir and the five others – Bensayah Belkacem, Hadj Boudellaa,
Saber Lahmer, Boumediene Lakhdar and Mohamed Nechle – are all originally
from Algeria. Most of them went to Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1992-95
war to join the Bosnian Muslim side in the conflict. After the war they
remained in Bosnia and Herzegovina and were granted citizenship or the right
to residency. All but one of the men married local women and had varied
occupations, mostly working for Islamic charities operating in Bosnia and
Torture and ill-treatment allegations
"Shortly after that incident, one half of his face became paralysed. He was
in pain. He could not eat normally; food and drink leaked from his
non-functioning mouth. Guards teased him because of his condition."
from a lawsuit filed in US court in April 2005.
Mustafa Ait Idir says that he has been tortured and ill-treated at
Guantánamo. A lawsuit filed in April 2005 alleges that the following
occurred during a cell search:
his body and head were slammed into the steel bed and floor;
guards stuffed his face into the toilet and repeatedly pressed the flush
a garden hose was pushed into his mouth and the water turned on until the
water came out of his mouth and nose and he couldn’t breathe.
Mustafa Ait Idir also alleges that on another occasion members of an
Immediate Response Force assaulted him by:
forcing him to lie on the floor while men jumped on his back;
throwing him onto crushed stones while a man jumped on the side of his head
with his full weight;
twisting a middle finger and thumb almost to the point of breaking,
dislocating two of his knuckles.
Mustafa Ait Idir states that he was refused any immediate medical treatment
for injuries sustained during these assaults. He is reported to have
suffered a stroke shortly after the second incident, leaving one side of his
face paralysed. Despite his request to go to hospital he did not receive
medical treatment for 10 days.
Combatant Status Review Tribunal
"These are accusations that I can't even answer. I am not able to answer
them. You tell me I am from Al'Qaida, but I am not an Al'Qaida. I don't have
any proof to give you except ask you to catch Bin Laden and ask him if I am
part of Al Qaida."
Mustafa Ait Idir during his hearing before a Combatant
Status Review Tribunal.
After the US Supreme Court ruled that federal courts could hear habeas
corpus petitions from foreign nationals held in Guantánamo Bay, the
authorities established Combatant Status Review Tribunals to determine if
each Guantánamo detainee was an "enemy combatant" as labelled. However, on
31 January 2005, using the case of Mustafa Ait Idir to justify her decision,
Federal District Judge Joyce Hens Green found that the tribunals were an
inadequate vehicle for detainees to challenge their detention. The
government has appealed against her ruling.
During the tribunal hearing the Recorder read out the allegation that
Mustafa Ait Idir had "associated with a known al-Qa’ida operative" while
living in Bosnia. When Mustafa Ait Idir requested the name of the "operative
, the tribunal's President said that he didn’t know it. Mustafa Ait Idir
"This is something the interrogators told me a long while ago. I asked the
interrogators to tell me who this person was. Then I could tell you if I
might have known this person, but not if this person is a terrorist. Maybe I
knew this person as a friend. Maybe it was a person that worked with me.
Maybe it was a person that was on my team. But I do not know if this person
is Bosnian, Indian or whatever. If you tell me the name, then I can respond
and defend myself against this accusation."
When told that he had been arrested because of his alleged involvement in a
plan to bomb the US embassy in Sarajevo, Mustafa Ait Idir again asked to see
the evidence against him. In the absence of such evidence he said: "… to
tell me I planned to bomb, I can only tell you that I did not plan."
Authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina
A government delegation from Bosnia and Herzegovina visited the six men in
June 2004. However, the delegates had to comply with strict conditions
imposed by the US authorities. They only visited four of the men, were not
able to visit the cells in which they were held, and could only question
them in the presence of US authorities. On their return, the head of the
delegation announced that the prisoners were being fairly treated. The
delegation provided little information to the families, in one case stating
that they were unable to be "specific about his condition, as he was not
allowed to respond to the majority of questions they asked him". However,
the wife of one of the men was told that some of the men were in very poor
"If you have evidence, big or small, that I have any relationship with terrorism or if I helped any terrorists, I am prepared for any kind of punishment in any country."
Mustafa Ait Idir.