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Family of Guantanamo Inmate Doubts Suicide

Publication time: 23 June 2006, 18:37

CAIRO (Egypt): Relatives of a Saudi detainee found dead at the American prison in Guantanamo Bay said they want his body sent home for an autopsy because they do not believe U.S. claims he committed suicide.

 

The Saudi's family has blamed the U.S. military for his death at the naval base in Cuba, and a sister of Mani Shaman Turki al-Habradi al-Utaybi said he was not the sort of person who would consider taking his own life.

 

"He is an extremely devout Muslim who would never, never, never commit suicide," Manyia Shaman Turki al-Habradi al-Utaybi told The Associated Press from Saudi Arabia. "I strongly assure to you that the Americans are behind his death."

 

The U.S. Defense Department said three detainees - al-Utaybi, Saudi Yasser Talal al-Zahrani and Ali Abdullah Ahmed of Yemen - hanged themselves in their cells early Saturday, using nooses made from sheets and clothing.

 

"I hope that they bring his body back so I can see him for the first time in five years, and to be buried in the land of Islam," al-Utaybi's sister said.

 

A lawyer for the families of Saudi detainees, Katib Fahd al-Shammary, said he also found it hard to believe they committed suicide.

 

"I doubt the American suicide story because of the strict security measures applied inside the detention center," he said in a statement.

 

The U.S. military has yet to announce its plans for the bodies, which remain at Guantanamo. Clinical autopsies were completed Sunday but results were not available, and additional lab test were expected to take more time.

 

"The remains of the deceased have been treated with the utmost respect. A cultural adviser has assisted us to ensure that the remains have been handled in a culturally and religiously appropriate manner," said Pentagon spokesman Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon.

 

The deaths have brought renewed pressure on Washington to close the prison in Cuba, where it holds about 460 men on suspicion of links to al-Qaida and the Taliban. Most have not been charged.

 

The facility has been plagued with reports of abuse and human rights violations since opening more than four years ago, though U.S. officials insist detainees are treated humanely.

 

The state-funded Saudi National Human Rights Group blamed U.S. authorities Wednesday for the two Saudis' deaths and questioned whether they had committed suicide. The Saudi government also called for the speedy release of the 134 Saudis still detained.

 

Ahmed's parents said they believe the United States killed their son, and they want his body flown home for burial.

 

"I respect and love the friendly American people, but they should know more what (President) Bush is doing against the Muslims," Mohammed Abdullah al-Aslami said at his home in Yemen.

 

Al-Utaybi's sister said her brother, once an Islamic law student, had beliefs that would not have allowed him to commit suicide. She acknowledged that he had once surprised his family five years ago by leaving abruptly for Pakistan and then Afghanistan to join "holy war" as a mujahedeen fighter.

 

"He left without telling us. He liked jihad and wanted to join the mujahedeen. We didn't expect him to do that," she said from the ultraconservative Saudi province of Al-Qasim.

 

The U.S. military had accused al-Utaybi, 30, of being a member of a militant missionary group, Jama'at Al Tablighi. He was born in Al-Qarara, Saudi Arabia, according to a Defense Department list of Guantanamo detainees.

 

He recently had been recommended for transfer to custody in another country, the military said, though it was unclear if he was informed about the transfer recommendation before his death.

 

Al-Utaybi arrived in Afghanistan three months before the Sept. 11 attacks and was captured after the U.S. invasion. But his sister said she believed her brother had nothing to do with al-Qaida or Osama bin Laden.

 

"I believe that he was working for the Islamic relief associations," she said.

 

When her brother first arrived at Guantanamo more than four years ago, he sent a letter through the International Committee of the Red Cross to his family in Saudi Arabia, sending his regards and letting them know he was all right, she said.

 

That was the last time her family received a letter from him, she said.

 

Source: DailyMuslims.com

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