After spending two decades of their lives in the notorious Guantanamo Bay detention center on the U.S. Navy base in Cuba without any charge or trial, two Pakistani brothers were finally sent home by the U.S. authorities on February 23.
Abdul Rabbani (55) and Mohammed Rabbani (53) were first arrested by Pakistani authorities in 2002 from Karachi and were transferred to the CIA’s custody. The detention center at Guantanamo Bay was first established under former U.S. President George W. Bush’s administration as part of the so-called “global war on terrorism” after the September 11, 2001, attacks, with the objective of bypassing legal obligations related to detainees.
The brothers were accused by the U.S. of helping Al Qaeda operatives by providing them with shelter and other logistical support. However, they were never charged or tried formally.
They have accused the CIA of torturing them in custody before transferring them to Guantanamo Bay.
According to reports, at least 779 people have been detained at Guantanamo Bay since it was established in January 2002—it was constructed illegally in a U.S.-occupied part of Cuba. Over the years, many prisoners have been transferred to third countries or repatriated, especially after global attention was directed toward the human rights violations taking place at the facility following the publication of the Gitmo files by WikiLeaks.
According to the Associated Press, there are 32 more detainees in Guantanamo, of whom 18 are “eligible” for transfer—meaning they are not facing any charges or trial and will be transferred once countries willing to take them are found.