Saifullah Paracha is a 57-year-old Pakistani national who was detained on July 5, 2003 while en route to a business meeting in Thailand. He was taken to Bagram and detained in Afghanistan from July 2003 until September of 2004, at which time he was taken to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba. During his Combatant Status Review Trial in December of 2004, despite numerous character reference submissions to the contrary, and despite his oral and written statements of denial, Mr. Paracha was still considered an Enemy Combatant.
Amnesty International provides the following summary of what is known about the detention of Saifullah Paracha:
- "Saifullah Paracha, a Pakistan national, was scheduled to fly to Thailand for a business meeting on 5 July 2003. He rang his daughter from Karachi airport just before boarding his flight but he never arrived at the meeting. For the next month his family had no idea of his whereabouts.
- "Saifullah Paracha’s wife made enquiries with the Pakistan and Thai authorities in an attempt to find out what had happened to her husband, but received no answers. After a month the family heard on NBC news that Saifullah Paracha and his son had been detained by the US authorities. Some time afterwards his wife received a letter via the International Committee of the Red Cross explaining that Saifullah Paracha was being held at Bagram, a US air base north of Kabul, Afghanistan. It appears that he had been transferred into US custody without reference to any legal safeguards."
Mr. Paracha disputed the allegations made by the U.S. military against him, and provided both oral and written testimony on his own behalf at his Combatant Status Review Trial (CSRT).
Combatant Status Review Tribunal dossier
On November 26, 2004, the U.S. military held a Combatant Status Review Tribunal for Saifullah Paracha as part of the twenty-fourth set of such tribunals.
According to the unclassified summary of the evidence, Mr. Paracha was alleged to have
- "met and associated with high-level Al Qaida operatives including Usama Bin-Laden, held large amounts of Al Qaida money, helped locate homes for Al Qaida members, and used his media facilities to translate extremist materials into Urdu."
The summary also notes that Mr. Paracha initially denied each allegation except that he noted that he had met Usama Bin Laden on two occasions. Mr. Paracha testified on his own behalf in English (a translator was present but Mr. Paracha was able to testify directly).
As the summary notes, the unclassified summary itself was not supported by the submitted statements made by others on Mr. Paracha's behalf; therefore the Tribunal had to rely on classified evidence to support the allegations contained in the unclassified summary.
Mr. Paracha denied each allegation in his oral and written statements to the tribunal. He described the many business and charity ventures he has undertaken. He provided alternate explanations for some of the charges against him (for example, that a large sum of money he was charged with holding was seed money for a multimedia project; when the project fell through, the money was returned). He denied associating with or being supportive of Al Qaida or its partners; denied investing Al Qaida money; and denied discussing explosives, chemicals, or other weapons with Al Qaida operatives.
Notable quotes from the CSRT questioningQ: Regarding (allegation) #5, did you ever recommend to Al Qaida to use nuclear weapons against U.S. troops?
A: Never, sir.<p>Q: Did you ever recommend this to anyone?<p>A: No, sir. I told interrogator about this. Is a nuclear weapon something I could buy off the shelf? Can you buy it from Tony Blair? Is that something to say to anybody?<p> ...<p> Q: No company that you owned dealt with chemicals?<p>A: No, sir. I believe in the Koran--that killing one innocent person, is equal to killing all humanity. I believe on that, and practice that.<p> ...<p> Tribunal President: Let me clarify that; you do understand that this is an administrative hearing, and this is not a legal proceeding. I do know that you had some questions about the legality of your detention. That would be referred to other organizations of the government, but you will be receiving more specific instructions shortly of how to bring your question to U.S. courts.<p> Detainee: Your honor, I have been here over 17 months; would that be before I expire?<p> Tribunal President: I would certainly hope so, especially since you are under the care of the U.S. government while you are here. As far as some of the other statements you made about jurisdiction, this is a U.S. government executive decision in regards to the detention of enemy combatants; this is an administrative hearing being conducted to review, on an independent basis, the government's information and the statements you provide us, to consider or reconsider whether you are an enemy combatant. I believe you've previously read our definition of an enemy combatant.<p> Detainee: Your honor, my question is that is your Executive Order applicable around the earth?<p> Tribunal President: It is a global war on terrorism.<p> Detainee: I know, sir, but you are not master of the earth, sir.<p>
CSRT dossier (58 pages)
Tribunal panel #24
Page Document Date Signatory Ref# ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1-2 Cover sheet 21 Dec 2004 James R. Crisfield, Jr. 3 Status review 21 Dec 2004 J.M. McGarrah 4-5 Sufficiency review 20 Dec 2004 James R. Crisfield, Jr. 6 Appointing order 26 Nov 2004 J.M. McGarrah 7 Forwarding memorandum 17 Dec 2004 Charles E. Jamison 8 Decision report (tribunal president) 9-12 Unclassified summary (tribunal president) 13-24 Summarized sworn statement (tribunal president) 25 Election form 2 Dec 2004 (personal representative) 26-27 Summary of evidence 12 Nov 2004 (CSRT officer in charge) R1 28 Letter on behalf of Paracha 3 Nov 2004 Gaillard T. Hunt R2 29-31 Letter on behalf of Paracha 3 Nov 2004 Syed Abul Mahasin R2 32-33 Letter on behalf of Paracha 11 Nov 2004 Gaillard T. Hunt R3 34 Letter on behalf of Paracha 11 Nov 2004 Bakhtiar Ahmad R3 35 Letter on behalf of Paracha 12 Nov 2004 Gaillard T. Hunt R4 36-38 Statement obo Paracha 11 Nov 2004 (redacted-nephew) R4 39-40 e-mail on behalf of Paracha Khalid Khawaja R4 41-42 Letter on behalf of Paracha 20 Nov 2004 Gaillard T. Hunt R5 43 Letter on behalf of Paracha 12 Nov 2004 Khawaja Naveed Ahmed R5 44 Letter on behalf of Paracha 18 Nov 2004 Samin Khan R5 45 e-mail on behalf of Paracha 18 Nov 2004 (redacted-nephew) R5 46 e-mail on behalf of Paracha 18 Nov 2004 Sher Afzal R5 47-50 Statement obo Paracha 18 Nov 2004 Haroon Rasheed R5 51-57 Paracha's wirrten statement 8 Dec 2004 Saifullah Paracha D6 58 Representative review 13 Dec 2004 (personal representative) Encl(5)