Kuwaiti Undergoes Hearing To Determine Release From Guantanamo

2014.6.4.Prasasouk(Photo credit: Witness Against Torture)Fouzi Khalid Abdullah al-Awda, 37, one of two last Kuwaiti prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay Prison will be the fifth detainee undergoing a Periodic Review Board (PRB) hearing Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Al-Awda’s appearance before the PRB is to re-examine whether he should still be held without charge at the U.S. prison in Cuba for terrorism suspects, or be transferred to Kuwait. The Pentagon profile said al-Awda probably attended extremist training camp and may have fought in Afghanistan. According to his own account, which he gave to a military tribunal at Guantanamo, he took a short holiday from work and traveled to Afghanistan in August 2001 to teach the Koran and provide humanitarian aid.

After graduating from the University of Kuwait in 2000, al-Awda became a teacher. Along with other religious Kuwaitis, al-Awda spent his summer vacations in 2000 and 2001 in Pakistan, teaching and helping to distribute charitable donations he had collected at home to villagers near the Afghan border. Just after 9/11, al-Awda called his family to say that he planned to spend a few weeks working with Afghani refugees. U.S. planes began bombing in Afghanistan and a new war began. Al-Awda along with thousands of other Arab volunteers, fled Afghanistan for the Pakistani border. He said that in Kandahar the Taliban representative “told me that was a dangerous place because it was the capital for the Taliban”, and had advised him to go to Logar, in the east of the country, where he had stayed with a family for a month, and left his passport and belongings for safekeeping. Al-Awda fled to the Afghan-Pakistani border and placed himself in the custody of the Pakistani army with the request that they transfer him to the Kuwait Embassy. Instead, he was transferred to U.S. custody and transferred to Guantánamo in late February 2002.
Al-Awda would like to return to Kuwait and eventually marry. According to his attorney, Eric Lewis, if released from GTMO he will enter a rehabilitation program of at least one year at a Kuwaiti prison, followed by weekly check-ins with police and security monitoring. Three Yemeni who have undergone a PRB hearing have been cleared for release.