By Britain Eakin, Courthouse News Service
WASHINGTON – A Guantanamo detainee whom the U.S. says it “probably misidentified” 14 years ago finally got a hearing Thursday on his bid for a transfer.
Abdul Zahir, 44, arrived at Guantanamo in October 2002 after the United States captured him during an Afghanistan raid.
U.S. forces were actually targeting another individual named Abdul Bari, which happens to be an alias Zahir used. The U.S. says it believed Bari was involved in chemical and biological weapons production and distribution for al-Qaida.
The supposed chemical or biological agents that U.S. forces seized during the raid turned out to be salt, sugar and petroleum jelly.
An anonymous female voice described the revelation at Thursday’s hearing of the Periodic Review Board while reading aloud Zahir’s unclassified profile.
Calling Zahir by his internment serial number, the female voice said he has offered “no actionable information relative to al-Qaida’s weapons network, and we assess that AF-753 was probably misidentified as the individual who had ties to al-Qaida weapons facilitation activities.”
The closed-circuit television broadcasting this morning’s hearing to the Pentagon showed Zahir dressed in a white shirt, with a long, dark and bushy beard. He slipped his glasses on and off as he read his hearing documents during the proceedings.
A statement from Zahir’s attorney says the Afghan was picked up because of his association with high-value detainee Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, an alleged senior member of al-Qaida who the U.S. charged with war crimes.
Though the statement is attributed…