Fadi al-Maqaleh was held in U.S. custody at Abu Ghraib and Bagram for approximately 10 years before being released to his home country.
Abduction and Secret Detention
Fadi al-Maqaleh is a Yemeni citizen who was held in U.S. custody for approximately ten years. Throughout his decade-long detention, he was held virtually incommunicado without charge or access to a court of law to challenge his detention. As a result, very little is known about when, where, or by whom Mr. al-Maqaleh was initially seized. We believe that his suffering began when he was illegally rendered to one or more “black sites,” secret prisons run by or at the behest of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”). At these sites, detainees have been denied all access to the outside world, including access to the ICRC, and have been subjected to torture and harsh interrogation techniques. Mr. al-Maqaleh was also held by U.S. forces at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq before being transferred to the US Military's Bagram prison in Afghanistan.
Detention at Bagram
Mr. al-Maqaleh’s family first learned that Mr. al-Maqaleh was in the custody of U.S. forces at Bagram when they received a handwritten letter from him in 2004 via the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). While imprisoned at Bagram, Mr. al-Maqaleh’s only contact with his family was through heavily redacted letters and brief telephone conversations that were closely monitored by the U.S. Government. While the family received additional letters from Mr. al-Maqaleh, they were heavily censored and redacted by the U.S. military. Many letters had “BT” written at the top of each page, indicating that they had been screened and processed by personnel at “Bagram Theater.” The U.S. Government prevented Mr. al-Maqaleh from revealing the details of his seizure, sites of detention, or conditions of his confinement at Bagram. Mr. al-Maqaleh repeatedly requested to meet with counsel, but the U.S. Government denied him this essential right.
From 2004 through 2009, Mr. al-Maqaleh was held at the Bagram Theater Internment Facility (“BTIF”). It is well documented that detainees at the BTIF were confined in squalid conditions and subjected to repeated physical and mental abuse, including being threatened with dogs, stripped and photographed in uncomfortable or obscene positions, and being placed in cages with hooks and hanging ropes from which they were blindfolded and hung for days. Two detainees were shackled to the ceiling for days, tortured, and then savagely beaten to death by U.S. interrogators.
In late 2009, Mr. al-Maqaleh was transferred to the adjacent Detention Facility in Parwan (“Parwan Facility”), where he remained until his release in August 2014. While the U.S. military has promoted the Parwan Facility as an improvement over Bagram Prison in terms of the physical living conditions, Mr. al-Maqaleh continued to be held there without charge, access to a court of law, or access to an attorney. Any communications he was permitted with his family were via letters and occasional telephone calls, which were strictly monitored by his captors. Under such circumstances, it was impossible to determine whether there has been any meaningful improvement in the conditions of Mr. al-Maqaleh’s confinement or treatment at Parwan.
Inability to Challenge Indefinite Detention
To date, the U.S. Government has neither brought charges against Mr. al-Maqaleh nor presented any evidence alleging that he engaged in hostilities against the U.S. or its allies. Rather, without citing any specific allegations against Mr. al-Maqaleh, the U.S. Government simply designated him an “unlawful enemy belligerent,” without legal due process. This designation formed the sole justification of the U.S. government for Mr. al-Maqaleh's continued detention.
Because Mr. al-Maqaleh was being detained with virtually no communication to the outside world, his father authorized the International Justice Network (IJN) to act as his son’s legal counsel. In September 2006, IJN filed a habeas petition on behalf of Mr. al-Maqaleh. It was the first legal case filed on behalf of a Bagram detainee in U.S. courts. Mr. al-Maqaleh alleged that he was being held without legal or factual justification. Rather than responding to Mr. al-Maqaleh’s claims, the U.S. government instead argued that Mr. al-Maqaleh had no right to challenge his detention in U.S. courts. The U.S. courts consistently agreed with the U.S. government's position, and Mr. al-Maqaleh's case was never heard.
Release from Bagram
Within weeks of IJN bringing Mr. al-Maqaleh's case to the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. government released Amanatullah from Bagram. On the evening of August 25, 2014, Mr. al-Maqaleh was transferred to Yemen, and released to his family soon after.