Page last updated at 08:18 GMT, Thursday, 20 December 2007

Profile: UK residents in Guantanamo

Three of the five UK residents held at Guantanamo Bay have been released following a request by the British government.

They are not British citizens but all lived in the UK before being held. Who are they and how did they come to be in US detention?


Jamil el-Banna, a mechanic, is a Jordanian with refugee status in the UK.

He was detained in Cuba in early 2003 following capture in Gambia in November 2002.

The father-of-five has never seen his youngest daughter who was born in April 2003.

Jamil El-Banna
Mr el-Banna was arrested in the Gambia

Human rights group Amnesty argued that the UK was obliged under international refugee law to make representations on his behalf.

Mr el-Banna's case was taken up by the Brent East MP, Sarah Teather.

He was also questioned about his links to imprisoned radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada, but insisted he only met him once in the UK. It was feared he would face torture if returned to Jordan.

He claims he is an "innocent man," reportedly telling his lawyer in May 2007: "I've been here for years and I have never seen a judge. Put me on trial. Just give me a chance."

He returned to the UK in December and was arrested under a Spanish warrant.


Libyan-born Omar Deghayes was granted refugee status with his family in the 1980s.

He grew up in Brighton, was privately educated and studied law at British universities. Amnesty International said he wanted to be a human rights lawyer.

Omar Deghayes
Supporter of Omar Deghayes have fought a long campaign

But he dropped out of university and travelled to Afghanistan, where he married and fathered a son.

He had applied for British citizenship but missed an interview because he was abroad.

Mr Deghayes was arrested in Pakistan shortly after the fall of the Taleban and was transferred to Cuba.

He was accused of committing terrorist acts against the United States, but his lawyer Clive Stafford Smith says it is a case of mistaken identity.

A Chechen terrorist training video purports to show him but Mr Stafford Smith said the man in question was actually Abu Walid, a Saudi who is now dead.

His lawyers claim he has been rendered virtually blind by the use of pepper spray and the gouging of his eye during his detention.

Supporters of Mr Deghayes fought a high profile campaign for his release. In March 2007 they created a sculpture on Brighton beach of nearly 1,740 stones, symbolising each day of his imprisonment.

He returned to the UK in December, where he was arrested under the Terrorism Act. It is thought he might be extradited to Spain.


Abdenour Sameur is an Algerian army deserter who came to Britain in 1999. He was granted refugee status in 2000.

Abdenour Sameur
Abdenour Sameur found it hard to live as a good Muslim in Britain

He lived in south Harrow, London. He was given leave to remain in the UK but travelled to Afghanistan because he found it hard to live as a good Muslim in Britain.

He was arrested in the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan while in the company of a group of Arabs. He was shot in the leg.

Mr Sameur admitted having prior knowledge of the September 11 attacks although he later said this confession was forced out of him by his US captors who said they would not treat his leg wound. He said he feared that if he did not confess his leg would have to be amputated.

His lawyers were refused permission to see him.

He returned to the UK in December and was also arrested under the Terrorism Act on arrival in the country.


Shaker Abdur-Raheem Aamer, originally from Saudi Arabia, had been living in the UK since 1996.

He is reported to have travelled to Afghanistan in August 2001 to carry out voluntary charity work.

Shaker Aamer with two of his children
Cuba detainee Shaker Aamer with his daughter Johina and son Michel
According to Amnesty, his wife heard from newspaper reporters in January 2002 that he had been captured.

His first letter from Guantanamo Bay was dated 16 February 2002.

He had been applying for citizenship and had indefinite leave to stay in the UK when he was captured.

He lived in London with his wife and three children, all British citizens, and worked as an interpreter for a firm of solicitors.

A fourth child has been born since his capture. He has never seen her.

He is expected to return to Saudi Arabia.


Binyam Mohammed al Habashi was born in Ethiopia but sought asylum in the UK in 1994 and was given leave to remain.

After seven years in the UK he converted to Islam. He travelled to Pakistan and Afghanistan and allegedly got firearms and explosives training alongside shoe bomber Richard Reid.

Binyam Mohammad
Binyam Mohammed claims to have been horribly tortured

The US authorities claimed he planned to travel to the US, rent several flats in an apartment block and then blow it up with a timing device.

He was arrested by Pakistani immigration officials at Karachi airport in April 2002 when intending to return to the UK.

He was taken to Morocco and says he was tortured for 18 months. He claimed he was beaten and scalded and had his penis slashed with a scalpel.

He was then sent to Guantanamo.

He was among Guantanamo detainees to go on hunger strike to protest against the conditions and their lack of access to a judicial review.

He will remain at Guantanamo Bay.

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