Shamsullah: Wikis


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Shams Ullah (also transliterated as Shamsullah) is a citizen of Afghanistan who was held in extrajudicial detention in the United States Guantanamo Bay detainment camps, in Cuba.[1] His Guantanamo Internment Serial Number was 783. Department of Defense intelligence analysts estimated he was born in 1986.

Shams Ullah was transferred to Afghanistan on Oct. 11, 2006.[2]

American intelligence analysts estimate that Ullah was born in 1986, in Gulnoon Khan, Afghanistan.[1]

One of Shamsullah's uncles, Bostan Karim, is also detained at Guantanamo.[3] Karim said that Shamsullah was captured together with his father, another uncle, and a cousin. Shamsullah's father and cousin were eventually released. His other uncle remains held in detention in Bagram.

Uncle Karim suggested that suspicion that had been cast on him by false allegations from his former partner Abaidullah had lead American forces to capture his male relatives.[3] Abaidullah has since recanted the allegations he made. He asserts he made them during abusive interrogation while held at Bagram.[4]



Reprieve says that Shamsullah was shot in the leg when he was captured, and his leg was so badly injured that amputation was considered.[5]

Combatant Status Review Tribunal

Combatant Status Review Tribunals were held in a trailer the size of a large RV. The captive sat on a plastic garden chair, with his hands and feet shackled to a bolt in the floor.[6][7] Three chairs were reserved for members of the press, but only 37 of the 574 Tribunals were observed.[8]

Initially the Bush administration asserted that they could withhold all the protections of the Geneva Conventions to captives from the war on terror. This policy was challenged before the Judicial branch. Critics argued that the USA could not evade its obligation to conduct a competent tribunals to determine whether captives are, or are not, entitled to the protections of prisoner of war status.

Subsequently the Department of Defense instituted the Combatant Status Review Tribunals. The Tribunals, however, were not authorized to determine whether the captives were lawful combatants -- rather they were merely empowered to make a recommendation as to whether the captive had previously been correctly determined to match the Bush administration's definition of an enemy combatant.


Summary of Evidence memo

A Summary of Evidence memo was prepared for Shams Ullah's Combatant Status Review Tribunal, on 1 September 2004.[9 ] The memo listed the following allegations against him:

a. He fought United States forces and its coalition partners.
  1. Detainee was found in possession of an AK-47/Kalishnikov [sic] rifle in Khost, Afghanistan.
  2. Detainee was told by United States and Afghanistan Military Forces to stop. Detainee subsequently fired a full magazine of ammunition at the United States and Afghanistan Military forces.
  3. Detainee was wounded in a firefight against the United States and its coalition forces.


Ullah chose to participate in his Combatant Status Review Tribunal.[10]


Shamsullah started his testimony with this statement:

“What else can I tell the committee? I can’t say anything further. If you look at what I have written and all the evidence I presented to my Personal Representative. I really don’t have anything to say.”

The written statement and evidence supplied to his Personal Representative were not released by the Department of Defense. Other detainee's written statements were released together with the transcripts that reference them.


In answer to questions from the Tribunal officers Ullah stated he worked as a store vendor. He acknowledged owning an AK-47 to protect his family.

He explained that he didn’t immediately co-operate when American soldiers came to his door because he thought they were thieves.

Administrative Review Board hearing

Hearing room where Guantanamo captive's annual Administrative Review Board hearings convened for captives whose Combatant Status Review Tribunal had already determined they were an "enemy combatant".[11]

Detainees who were determined to have been properly classified as "enemy combatants" were scheduled to have their dossier reviewed at annual Administrative Review Board hearings. The Administrative Review Boards weren't authorized to review whether a detainee qualified for POW status, and they weren't authorized to review whether a detainee should have been classified as an "enemy combatant".

They were authorized to consider whether a detainee should continue to be detained by the United States, because they continued to pose a threat—or whether they could safely be repatriated to the custody of their home country, or whether they could be set free.

Summary of Evidence memo

A Summary of Evidence memo was prepared for Shams Ullah's Administrative Review Board, in January 2005.[12 ] The memo listed factors for and against his continued detention.

The following primary factors favor continued detention

a. Commitment to Jihad and Extremism.
  1. Detainee was wounded in a firefight against the United States and its coaliiton forces.
  2. Detainee was told by United States and the Afghanistan Military forces to stop. The detainee subsequently fired a full magazine of ammunition at the United States and Afghanistan Military forces.
b. Connections and Associations
  1. Detainee was associated with a suspected member of Jama’at Tablighi.
  2. Jama'at Tablighi, a Pakistan based Islamic missonary organization is being used as a cover to mask travel and activities of terrorists including members of al Qaida.
  3. Detainee is assessed as having familial ties to al Qaida.
  4. Detainee is associated with a possible al Qaida cell leader.

The following primary factors favor release or transfer


The detainee denied having any knowledge of the attacks in the United States prior to their execution on 11 September 2001.


Detainee said the work he performed as a security force member was to respond to fights within the village when they involved rival tribes.


The detainee said he was just a store vendor.


The detainee denied being a Taliban member.


The detainee claimed he only owned an AK-47 to protect himself and his family.


Shamsullah attended his Board hearing.[13] The Department of Defense released a four page transcript. His transcript does not record his Assisting Military Officer's notes on the Detainee election form. Assisting Military Officers always read out their notes from the detainee election form, which provided the date(s) and duration of their interviews prior to their Board's convening. Assisting Military Officers always described whether the captive was cooperative, and seemed to understand what they were being told, and whether they were wearing the white uniforms issued to compliant captives. Captives whose transcripts were not so briefly summarized record the Assisting Military Officers comments.

Assisting Military Officer's notes

Shamsullah's Assisting Military Officer read from their notes from the interview they conducted prior the Board hearing:

  • In response to the allegation that he fired on US forces:

"He stated while walking at night he was illuminated by a search light and ordered to halt. Thinking it might be personal enemies, he responded "who are you, identify yourself," suddenly many shots were fired at him and he does not remember firing back, but does remember throwing his gun down and attempting to run away but was wounded."

  • Shamsullah acknowledged that his uncle was a member of the Jama'at Tabligh [sic], but that he was not involved with that organization in any way.
  • Shamsullah denied knowledge that al Qaeda members had claimed membership in Jama'at Tabligh as a cover for their travel.
  • Shamsullah denied familial ties to al Qaeda.
  • Shamsullah denied knowing anyone in al Qaeda.

Board questions

Shamsullah's transcripts records his Board only asking a few questions.

  • Shamsullah clarified that he thought those firing on him were local Pashtuns who were enemies of his family.
  • Shamsullah testified that he stopped, when ordered, and dropped his weapon, but that he tried to run away.

Board recommendations

In early September 2007 the Department of Defense released two heavily redacted memos, from his Board, to Gordon England, the Designated Civilian Official.[14][15 ] The Board's recommendation was unanimous The Board's recommendation was redacted. England authorized his transfer on May 20, 2005. His Board's memos were just four pages long—one of the shortest released so far.


  1. ^ a b OARDEC (2006-05-15). "List of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from January 2002 through May 15, 2006". United States Department of Defense. Retrieved 2007-09-29.  
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Summarized transcript (.pdf), from Bostan Karim's Administrative Review Board hearing - page 138
  4. ^ Summarized transcript (.pdf), from Abaidullah's Administrative Review Board hearing - page 219
  5. ^ "Juveniles in Guantanamo (.pdf)" (PDF). Reprieve. May 2, 2006. Retrieved January 6, 2007.  
  6. ^ Guantánamo Prisoners Getting Their Day, but Hardly in Court, New York Times, November 11, 2004 - mirror
  7. ^ Inside the Guantánamo Bay hearings: Barbarian "Justice" dispensed by KGB-style "military tribunals", Financial Times, December 11, 2004
  8. ^ "Annual Administrative Review Boards for Enemy Combatants Held at Guantanamo Attributable to Senior Defense Officials". United States Department of Defense. March 6, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-22.  
  9. ^ OARDEC (1 September 2004). "Summary of Evidence for Combatant Status Review Tribunal -- Shams Ullah". United States Department of Defense. pp. page 10. Retrieved 2007-12-27.  
  10. ^ Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Shams Ullah'sCombatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 11-12
  11. ^ Spc Timothy Book (Friday March 10, 2006). "Review process unprecedented". JTF-GTMO Public Affairs Office. pp. pg 1. Retrieved 2007-10-10.  
  12. ^ OARDEC (date redacted). "Unclassified Summary of Evidence for Administrative Review Board in the case of Shams Ullah". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 10-11. Retrieved 2007-12-27.  
  13. ^ OARDEC (January 19, 2005). "Summarized Administrative Review Board Statement (ISN 783)". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 71-74. Retrieved 2007-12-27.  
  14. ^ OARDEC (16 May 2005). "Administrative Review Board assessment and recommendation ICO ISN 783". United States Department of Defense. pp. page 2. Retrieved 2007-12-27.  
  15. ^ OARDEC (19 January 2005). "Classified Record of Proceedings and basis of Administrative Review Board recommendation for ISN 783". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 3-5. Retrieved 2007-12-27.  


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