Sufyian Barhoumi

25.10.2016
Trial Watch would like to remind its users that any person charged by national or international authorities is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Facts

Sufyain Barhoumi was born in Alger, Algeria on 28 July 1973. He left Algeria as a migrant worker in 1995 to Europe (Spain, France then England).

Barhoumi was recruited in 1999 at the Cultural Islamic Centre of London to receive military training in Afghanistan and to participate in the Jihad in Chechnya.

Barhoumi travelled to Pakistan with a false French passport under the name of Khalid Stouf. Thereafter, he travelled to Afghanistan where he attended Al-Qaeda sponsored military training at various small camps from March 1999 to February 2000.

After the 11 September 2001 attack in the United States, Barhoumi left Afghanistan for Pakistan. In March 2002, he travelled to Faisalabad, Pakistan where he was captured two weeks later by Pakistan Security forces during a night raid on 28 March 2002.

Barhoumi was afterwards transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on 18 June 2002. The reasons for his transfer to Guantanamo Bay included among others his acquaintance with Al-Qaida members in the United Kingdom and his alleged knowledge of Al-Qaida leadership and training camps.

Other Guantanamo detainees accused him of being as a trainer in Al Quaida camps. According to the Joint task force Guantanamo, Barhoumi was allegedly specialized in explosive devices. He was classified as the high intelligence value.

Legal Procedure

Barhoumi was initially charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism on 7 November 2005 before the Military Commission. In 2006, the US Supreme court, in its decision Hamdan V Rumsfield, ruled that military commission lacked power because its procedures violated both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions.

Subsequently, in September 2006, the US Congress passed the Military Commissions Act authorizing military commissions. New charges were brought against Barhoumi on 29 May 2008. However, in October 2008, the charges were briefly dropped only to be filed again in January 2009. In that same year, Sufyian’s habeas corpus petition was unsuccessful.

On 10 August 2010, Barhoumi filed a motion for relief, a habeas corpus. His motion was denied on 5 May 2013.

In 2013, a high-level inter-agency US government review process known as the Periodic Review Board (PRB) was established. The mandate of the PRB is to determine whether detainees may be approved for transfer.

In May 2016, Barhoumi statute was reviewed by the PRB, and on 9 August 2016, the board approved his transfer.

Context

The republic of Afghanistan was promulgated in 1973, after the coup d’état of Mohammed Daud on 17 July 1973, overthrowing King Zaher Chah.

In spring 1998, pro-soviet officers of the Afghan army murdered Mohammed Daud and developed a socialist government with nationalizations and agrarian reforms. This communist ambition did not reach a consensus within the Afghan people.

From this new political situation emerged an armed insurgency organized by radical Islamists: the Mujahidin’s. In December 1979, the soviet troops, preoccupied by the progress made by these groups, invaded Afghanistan to regain controlled over the rebel area and Babrak Karmal was installed as head of State in 1980.

This occupation lasted 10 years and transformed the country into a true battleground, between the United-States, supporting the Mujahidin’s and the USSR occupying the country. A large part of the civilian population was forced to exile in Pakistan and Iran. In 1986, Babrak Karmal was replaced by Najibullah as the head of the pro-soviet regime.

In 1988, the United-States, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the USSR signed a peace agreement and the soviet troops left the country in 1989.

In 1996, the Taliban, armed Islamic students, lead by the Mullah Mohammed Omar Akhund, seized power and forced the government members out of Kabul. They established a strong Islamic state with a strict vision of the sharia: prohibition for women to work; introduction of stoning and amputation as sentences. They welcomed the same year, the leader of Al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, accused of bombing several US embassies in Africa. This authoritarian regime was recognized by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia as the legitimate authority in the country.

On 9 September 2001, the commandant Ahmad Shah Masood, chief of the northern alliance, main opposition groups against the Taliban, was killed. Two days later, on 11 September 2001, the United-States were hit by an aerial attack against the twin towers of Wall Street, and accused Osama Ben Laden of being behind this attack.

The United-States decided to intervene militarily in Afghanistan when the Taliban regime refused to surrender Ben Laden: this was the operation “enduring freedom”, set in cooperation with the British army, which degenerate into the afghan quagmire.

On 7 October 2001, the British and American aircrafts backed the northern Alliance and bombed strategic positions of the Taliban. By the end of the month, the Northern Alliance had retaken many main cities like Kabul and Kandahar and overturned the regime.

In December 2001, a peace agreement was signed in Bonn during a UN conference to organize the future of the country. Hamid KARZAI was assigned acting President of the transitory government.

After the signature of the peace agreement, a second army, the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) was set up for the country. Created pursuant to chapter VII of the United Nation Charter, the ISAF was set up to help the Afghan government restore its authority on the whole territory.

In January 2004, a new constitution is promulgated, providing the President with an important role in the government. In October 2004, the first free election took place and Hamid KARZAI was elected President for 5 years.

An international coalition, leaded by the United-States, focused on the State reconstruction. In one hand, the US Regional command pursued his fight against terrorism and in another hand, the ISAF organised training and supported afghan security forces and development.

Between 2005 and 2006, the rejection of the foreign occupation by the population, combining with the strong resilience of the Taliban lead to the resumption of violence. The Taliban presented a united front against the international coalition.

They adopted a new means of warfare: suicide bombings, buried mines and homemade bombs. Between January 2005 and August 2006, 64 suicide attacks devastated the country, including the explosion of the Indian embassy in July 2008. The afghan government accused members of the Pakistanis’ secret services to be behind these attacks. The American troops and the international coalition lose gradually ground in the field.

When the Obama administration arrived in 2009, it showed a change in the strategy of the Afghan war. They increased troops on the ground from 68’000 to 98’000 to gain the support of the population.

On 2 November 2009, after an election marred with irregularities , the president Hamid KARZAI was re-elected for another mandate.