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DOD identifies Guantanamo suicide detainee

[JURIST] US military officials Thursday identified [press release, PDF] a deceased Saudi Arabian detainee who apparently committed suicide [JURIST report] at the military prison Wednesday as Abdul Rahman Ma'ath Thafir al-Amri. Joint Task Force-Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO)[official website] said in press release that al-Amri, a 34-year-old Saudi military veteran held at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] since February 2002, had admitted that he "volunteered to fight with the local Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Al Hanan." JTF-GTMO also said that al-Amri fought US forces in Tora Bora Mountains in November 2001, and had connections with al Qaeda as a "mid-level" operative with direct ties to "higher-level members including meeting with Osama bin Laden." The New York Times reported Friday that according to government documents, al-Amri had been involved in persistent hunger strikes at the prison and had dropped his weight from approximately 150 pounds to 88.5 pounds by November 2005. The Miami Herald reported on Thursday that al-Amri, like the three Guantanamo detainees who committed suicided in June 2006 [JURIST report], was among a group of detainees who had never met with an American attorney.

The Herald also said that according to a report written by an unnamed officer during Al-Amri's Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) [DOD materials], al-Amri intended "to go [to Afghanistan] and fight for a cause that he believed in as a Muslim towards jihad, not to go and fight against the Americans." Government documents indicate that al-Amri had maintained he did not travel to Afghanistan to fight Americans, stating that Americans had trained him while al-Amri was serving in the Saudi military and he "could have [killed Americans] while he was side by side with them in Saudi Arabia." Guantanamo officials say that an autopsy on al-Amri will be performed by a pathologist from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) with an independent observer from the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner's Office of Florida. Al-Amri's remains will be returned to Saudi Arabia for burial. The New York Times has more. The Miami Herald has additional coverage.

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