Khalid Qassim, from Yemen, has been held at Guantánamo Bay since 2002. He has never been tried or charged with a crime. Khalid has spent most of his adult life in Guantánamo. He now wants nothing more than to be free so he can reunite with his family and rebuild his life.
Khalid comes from a small town in Yemen. He grew up with little money or prospects, and travelled to Afghanistan in search of work in 2000. After a political assassination in the country saw the government go on a manhunt for Arabs, Khalid turned himself into the authorities, confident that they would see he was not the man they were looking for.
However, the Afghan authorities turned Khalid over to the American forces now in the country. It has since emerged that in the aftermath of 9/11, the Americans paid life-changing amounts of money to local forces and individuals, in exchange for Arab prisoners.
Khalid was soon shipped to Guantánamo, where he has spent the last 14 years. He has never faced trial or formal charges. It is believed that he is held – like many others before him – on the basis of a mix of statements from informants, made either under torture or coercion. This kind of bogus ‘evidence’ has long been debunked, most notably by the U.S. Senate’s exhaustive 2014 investigation into the use of torture by US forces after 9/11.
A bright and capable person, Khalid has tried to use his time at Guantánamo positively, learning English and Spanish. His excellent English has seen him become an interlocutor between the guards and other prisons. Khalid also has an artistic sensibility, and loves to paint and write poetry. During a 2016 visit to the prison by CBS, Khalid was able to show his artwork to the camera crew.