Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Guard lapses cited in 3 Guantanamo suicides

WASHINGTON — As the lights flickered off above them, more than two dozen detainees began to raise their voices in prayer and other songs, a din the guards dismissed as harmless.

Three of the detainees stuffed water bottles and toilet paper under their bedsheets to create the illusion of sleeping bodies, and they each strung up walls of blue blankets in their metal mesh cells, seeking cover from their captors' glances.

Then, with strips of white sheets, T-shirts and towels wound into nooses, the three detainees in Guantanamo Bay's Camp 1, Block Alpha, hid behind the blankets and hanged themselves. For hours, the guards failed to notice the first deaths to occur at the controversial U.S. military detention facility.

The simultaneous suicides on June 10, 2006, raised claims from top U.S. military commanders that the detainees were engaging in "asymmetric warfare" against the United States. More than two years later, a Naval Criminal Investigative Service inquiry and other documents reveal that the men took advantage of lapses in guard protocol and of lenient policies toward compliant detainees to commit what suicide notes described as an attack on the U.S.

"I am informing you that I gave away the precious thing that I have in which it became very cheap, which is my own self, to lift up the oppression that is upon us,'' wrote Ali Abdullah Ahmed Naser al-Sullami of Yemen, 25, who had been on one of the longest hunger strikes at Guantanamo. In a note folded into his shirt pocket, Sullami wrote: "I did not like the tube in my mouth, now go ahead and accept the rope in my neck."

Contained in more than 3,000 pages of U.S. military investigative documents, medical records, autopsies and statements from guards and detainees is a rare view inside the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and one of the worst episodes of its six-year history. The documents from the NCIS investigation, which will be released under the Freedom of Information Act, were obtained Friday by the Washington Post.

They make clear that Sullami and Saudis Yasser Talal al-Zahrani, 22, and Mana Shaman Allabard al-Tabi, 32, carefully planned their suicides so that they would be able to prepare and carry them out without their guards taking notice.

Investigators and U.S. military officials believe, according to the documents, that other detainees were aware the suicides were about to happen and at one point chanted a song called "kill them all" — used by al-Qaida and the Taliban after killing Americans — possibly to mask the sounds of death on the cellblock.

Investigators found that guards had become lax on certain rules because commanders wanted to reward the more compliant detainees, giving them extra T-shirts, blankets and towels. An internal investigation found six violations of Guantanamo's procedures.

Guard lapses cited in 3 Guantanamo suicides 08/22/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 1:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Video captures shark attack on seal at crowded beach

    Nation

    ORLEANS, Mass. — A shark attack on a seal at a Cape Cod beach sent beachgoers scrambling, and surfers a few yards away had to frantically swim to shore.

    Thayer Wade captured video of  a shark attacking a seal off a Cape Cod beach. His uncle Pat O'Brien shared the video on Twitter.
  2. Florida firefighter spears giant 409-pound grouper in St. Pete Beach competition

    Wildlife

    ST. PETERSBURG — It took six sets of hands to drag a 409-pound Warsaw Grouper to the stage.

    James Taylor, a Bradenton firefighter, speared a 409-pound grouper near St. Pete Beach during a competition over the weekend. (Courtesy of Michelle Taylor)
  3. Don't know what to do with those eclipse glasses? Donate them.

    Human Interest

    Those who were able to snag a pair of coveted solar eclipse glasses for Monday's event witnessed a moment in history. But now that the eclipse is over, many are left wondering: What do I do with my …

    Workers pass out eclipse viewing glasses during a solar eclipse party on August 21, 2017 at the Museum of Science and Industry, in Tampa, Fla. Tampa experienced a partial eclipse. [MONICA HERNDON  |  Times]
  4. Treasury secretary's wife boasts of travel on government plane, touts high fashion

    National

    U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's wife, Louise Linton, boasted of flying on a government plane with her husband to Kentucky on Monday and then named the numerous fashion brands she wore on the trip in an unusual social media post that only became more bizarre minutes later.

    Steven Mnuchin and his then- financee Louise Linton watch as President Donald Trump speaks during Mnuchin's swearing-in ceremony as  treasury secretary in the Oval Office of the White House on Feb. 13. [Mandel Ngan | AFP via Getty Images]
  5. Ford, Chinese partner look at possible electric car venture

    Autos

    BEIJING — Ford Motor Co. and a Chinese automaker said Tuesday they are looking into setting up a joint venture to develop and manufacture electric cars in China.