Lotfi Bin Ali

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For the person tortured by the CIA, then held in Bagram, see Lufti Al-Arabi Al-Gharisi .

Lotfi Bin Ali
Born 1965
Tunis, Tunisia
Died 2021 (aged 55–56)[1]
Other names Mohammed Abdul Rahman

Lotfi Bin Ali was a Tunisian whom the United States held in extrajudicial detention for over thirteen years in the Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba.[2][3] He was one of five men transferred to Kazakhstan in 2014. He was extensively quoted following the death by lack of medical care of one of the other captives transferred to Kazakhstan. In a September 2016 profile in The Guardian, he described exile in Kazakhstan as being very isolating, and, in some ways, almost as bad as Guantanamo.[4] Bin Ali death, in Kazakhstan, on March 9, 2021, was also attributed to heart disease.[1]


Lotfi's health is poor.[5][6][7] A 2004 medical summary stated he had chronic heart disease that had required the placement of a mechanical heart valve; that he had kidney stones; latent tuberculosis, depression and high blood pressure. It stated he needed to have his blood tested, twice a month, to ensure he was receiving the right dose of anti-coagulants.

Vice magazine, who visited him in October 2015, ten and a half months after his transfer to Semey, Kazakhstan, said his local doctors didn't speak Arabic, and no translators were available. [8] It reported that there were no cardiologists in Semey, and the security conditions agreed to by the USA and Kazakhstan, when he was transferred, did not permit him to leave Semey.

According to his Guantanamo weight records he was 76.5 inches tall, and weighed 225 pounds upon his arrival.[9] His weight showed a sudden drop in late fall of 2005 and he weighed 218 pounds on November 27, 2005. On December 10, 2005, his weight had dropped to 192.5 pounds. On both December 12 and 13 his weight was recorded as exactly 173.4 pounds. On December 16, his weight was recorded as exactly 163.9 pounds. By December 29, his records showed he had gained 29 pounds. By January 27, 2006, his weight had risen to 201.4 pounds, and his weight oscillated around that weight for the rest of 2006.

On November 12, 2016, The New York Times published an article on the attempts to offer psychiatric care to detainees.[10] The article used a quote from bin Ali, where he described captives not trusting that those who represented themselves a mental health professionals, weren't part of another cruel ploy from their interrogators.

Official status reviews

Originally, the Bush Presidency asserted that captives apprehended in the "war on terror" were not covered by the Geneva Conventions, and could be held indefinitely, without charge, and without an open and transparent review of the justifications for their detention.[11] In 2004, the United States Supreme Court ruled, in Rasul v. Bush, that Guantanamo captives were entitled to being informed of the allegations justifying their detention, and were entitled to try to refute them.

CIA custody

Lofti bin Ali was held in the Central Intelligence Agency's archipelago of black sites, for several months, prior to his transfer to Guantanamo.[12]

Office for the Administrative Review of Detained Enemy Combatants

Combatant Status Review Tribunals were held in a 3x5 meter trailer where the captive sat with his hands and feet shackled to a bolt in the floor.[13][14]

Following the Supreme Court's ruling the Department of Defense set up the Office for the Administrative Review of Detained Enemy Combatants.[11][15]

Scholars at the Brookings Institution, led by Benjamin Wittes, listed the captives still held in Guantanamo in December 2008, according to whether their detention was justified by certain common allegations:[16]

  • Lofti Bin Ali was listed as one of the captives whom the Wittes team were unable to identify as presently cleared for release or transfer.[16]
  • Lofti Bin Ali was listed as one of the captives who "The military alleges ... are associated with both Al Qaeda and the Taliban."[16]
  • Lofti Bin Ali was listed as one of the captives who "The military alleges that the following detainees stayed in Al Qaeda, Taliban or other guest- or safehouses."[16]
  • Lofti Bin Ali was listed as one of the captives who "The military alleges ... took military or terrorist training in Afghanistan."[16]
  • Lofti Bin Ali was listed as one of the captives who was a member of the "al Qaeda leadership cadre".[16]
  • Lofti Bin Ali was listed as one of "two alleged Al Qaeda leaders who have been cleared for release or transfer." [16]

Formerly secret Joint Task Force Guantanamo assessment

On April 25, 2011, whistleblower organization WikiLeaks published formerly secret assessments drafted by Joint Task Force Guantanamo analysts.[17][18] His two-page Joint Task Force Guantanamo assessment was drafted on June 27, 2004.[5] It was signed by camp commandant Jay W. Hood. He recommended release due to Lotfi's serious health problems, but noted the Criminal Investigative Task Force regarded him as a high risk.

Cleared for release by the Guantanamo Joint Task Force

President Barack Obama enacted three Executive Orders pertaining to Guantanamo on the day he took office.[7] Executive Order 13492 established the Guantanamo Joint Task Force, which established a new review process for the remaining captive, one where those reviewing their status were senior officials representing several cabinet departments, including the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Lotfi was cleared, yet again, by his review.

Transfer to Kazakhstan

On December 30, 2014, Lotfi and four other men were transferred to Kazakhstan, where they were kept under onerous security conditions.[19][20][21] Fox News said that al Lufti and the four other men were the first to be transferred to Kazakhstan.[22] Carol Rosenberg, of the Miami Herald, noted that al Lufti arrived in Guantanamo with serious heart disease, and his transfer had first been recommended in 2004, because his heart disease made him a low risk.[23] Three Yemenis, Asim Thabit Abdullah Al-Khalaqi, Muhammad Ali Husayn Khanayna and Sabri Mohammad al Qurashi and fellow Tunisians Adel Al-Hakeemy, were also transferred. Reuters said that the 2009 reviews by the Joint Review Task Force had reclassified all five men as "low risk".[24]

National Public Radio said that all the agencies with representatives on the Joint Review Task Force had unanimously agreed to release the five men.[25]

Al Lufti and fellow Tunisian Al Hakeemy were relocated to Semey, while the Yemenis were relocated to Kyzylorda.[20]

Vice News described the men transferred to Kazakhstan as only nominally being free.[20] Vice News interviewed al-Lutfi shortly after the May 7, 2015 death of his friend Asim Thabit Abdullah Al-Khalaqi, who was transferred to Kazakhstan at the same time he was. Al-Lufti had been in regular contact with him via Skype, and had last spoken to him just three days before his death. He told Vice News that Kazakhstan security officials regularly inspected the former captives' living quarters, initially doing so almost every day:

The police used to come almost every day to the apartment. They would open the door and enter and check the place for a minute or two, then they would leave... It's as if it's Guantanamo 2, to be honest.[20]

Al Lufti contradicted Guantanamo spokesmen, who claimed al Khalaqi would not have been transferred if his health was compromised—saying that al-Khalaqi regularly fell into comas at Guantanamo, needing prompt medical care.[20] Al Lufti said al Khalaqi had been hospitalized multiple times, in Kazakhstan, prior to his death.

Vice News reported that "In cooperation with the Kazakh government, the local chapter of the ICRC is charged with the care of the former detainees, and provides healthcare, food stipends, language classes, and transport."

Kazakhstan security officials routinely enter the men's homes without a warrant.[20]

Vice magazine profiled Lofti in October 2015.[8][26] It reported Kazakh authorities still hadn't issued him with identity documents, meaning he had to rely the Red Crescent Society to manage his affairs.

Vice was able to accompany Lofti to a meeting with Alfiya Meshina, the head of the Semey office of the Red Crescent Society. She interrupted Lofti, when he was talking about his health, saying:

I don't want to listen to this bullshit about his health problems. Since he arrived here on the 31st of December last year and until today, all we have been doing is taking care of his health... We have so many poor and elderly people, so many large families that live much worse than he does. What is he, a national hero of Kazakhstan? Why should he enjoy special treatment and privileges?[8]

The World Weekly profiled Lofti in October 2016.[12] They reported that he had kept his orange Guantanamo jumpsuit, now faded to pink, and, when he was at his most depressed, he would put it on to remind himself conditions were once worse, for him.

UNESCO reported in 2019 that Lofti said he would prefer to live in actual detention in Guantanamo rather than in hostile Kazakhstan.[27]


Lofti died, in Kazakhstan, on March 9, 2021.[1] Kazakhstan authorities attributed his death to heart disease.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Maha Hilal (2021-04-03). "The death of a former Guantanamo prisoner exposes how the US controls the life and death of its captives". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 2021-04-03. https://web.archive.org/web/20210403125232/https://www.businessinsider.com/former-guantanamo-bay-prisoners-us-terrorism-release-lufti-bin-ali-2021-3. Retrieved 2021-04-04. "Lutfi bin Ali died on March 9th, 2021 from complications due to heart disease." 
  2. OARDEC. "List of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from January 2002 through May 15, 2006". United States Department of Defense. http://www.dod.mil/news/May2006/d20060515%20List.pdf. Retrieved 2006-05-15. 
  3. Margot Williams (2008-11-03). "Guantanamo Docket: Lotfi Bin Ali". New York Times. http://projects.nytimes.com/guantanamo/detainees/894-lotfi-bin-ali. Retrieved 2016-07-09. 
  4. Shaun Walker (2016-09-30). "'Here I have nobody': life in a strange country may be worse than Guantánamo". The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/30/worse-than-guantanamo-ex-prisoner-struggles-with-new-life-in-kazakhstan. Retrieved 2016-10-06. "Lonely and isolated in the Kazakh steppe, the 51-year-old Tunisian has found life since his release from Guantánamo no easier than life inside." 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Abdullah Bin Ali Al Lutfi: Guantanamo Bay detainee file on Abdullah Bin Ali Al Lutfi, US9TS-000894DP, passed to the Telegraph by Wikileaks". The Telegraph (UK). 2011-04-27. Archived from the original on 2021-04-04. https://web.archive.org/web/20210404155656/https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wikileaks-files/guantanamo-bay-wikileaks-files/8477433/Guantanamo-Bay-detainee-file-on-Abdullah-Bin-Ali-Al-Lutfi-US9TS-000894DP.html. Retrieved 2016-07-09. 
  6. Diana Cariboni; Raya Jalabi; Jonathan Watts (2015-05-22). "Former Guantánamo detainee dies in Kazakhstan six months after release". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2021-04-04. https://web.archive.org/web/20210404155656/https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/may/22/guantanamo-detainee-asim-thabit-abdullah-al-khalaqi-dies-kazakhstan. Retrieved 2016-10-06. "The most seriously ill of the group sent to Kazakhstan is Tunisian Abdullah Bin Ali al-Lutfi, who has a mechanical heart valve and suffers from chronic heart rhythm, kidney stones and high blood pressure. He is 49 years old." 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Andy Worthington (2012-10-25). "Who Are the 55 Cleared Guantánamo Prisoners on the List Released by the Obama Administration?". Archived from the original on 2021-04-04. https://web.archive.org/web/20210404155656/http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2012/10/25/who-are-the-55-cleared-guantanamo-prisoners-on-the-list-released-by-the-obama-administration/. Retrieved 2016-10-06. "Noticeably, one of these men, Mohammed Abdul Rahman (also known as Lotfi bin Ali), who was first cleared in 2004, is also ill, as I explained in the report on the 40 cleared prisoners in June..." 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Simon Ostrovsky (2015-10-15). "After Being Imprisoned at Guantanamo, Two Men Find Themselves Trapped in Kazakhstan". Vice magazine. Archived from the original on 2021-04-04. https://web.archive.org/web/20210404155656/https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/3kwkdw/after-being-imprisoned-at-guantanamo-two-men-find-themselves-trapped-in-kazakhstan. Retrieved 2019-09-28. "Bin Ali entered US custody with a pre-existing heart condition for which he'd been fitted with an artificial heart valve in the late 1990s. His poor health is part of the reason he was deemed by the Defense Department to be "low risk," and recommended for release or transfer to another country in 2004. He then languished in Guantanamo for 10 more years while the Defense Department debated what to do with him." 
  9. "The DoD published captives' weights in 2007 -- ISN 839-ISN 1011". JTF-GTMO. Archived from the original on 2021-04-05. https://web.archive.org/web/20210404155656/https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9e/The_DoD_published_captives%27_weights_in_2007_--_ISN_839-ISN_1011.pdf#page=20. Retrieved 2016-10-06. 
  10. Sheri Fink (2016-11-13). "Where Even Nightmares Are Classified: Psychiatric Care at Guantánamo". The New York Times: p. A1. Archived from the original on 2021-03-14. https://web.archive.org/web/20210314191300/https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/13/world/guantanamo-bay-doctors-abuse.html. Retrieved 2021-04-04. "'Nobody trusted them,' said Lutfi bin Ali, a Tunisian who was sent to Guantánamo after being subjected to harsh conditions at what he described as an American jail overseas. 'There was skepticism that they were psychiatrists and that they were trying to help us,' he said by phone from Kazakhstan, where he was transferred to in 2014. He still suffers intermittently from depression." 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "U.S. military reviews 'enemy combatant' use". USA Today. 2007-10-11. Archived from the original on 2012-08-11. https://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.usatoday.com%2Fnews%2Fwashington%2F2007-10-11-guantanamo-combatants_N.htm&date=2012-08-11. "Critics called it an overdue acknowledgment that the so-called Combatant Status Review Tribunals are unfairly geared toward labeling detainees the enemy, even when they pose little danger. Simply redoing the tribunals won't fix the problem, they said, because the system still allows coerced evidence and denies detainees legal representation." 
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Life after Guantanamo in the town that drove Dostoevsky to distraction". The World Weekly. 2016-10-06. Archived from the original on 2021-04-04. https://web.archive.org/web/20210404154102/https://www.theworldweekly.com/reader/view/16028/life-after-guantanamo-in-the-town-that-drove-dostoevsky-to-distraction. Retrieved 2021-04-04. "On really bad days, Lutfi Bin Ali retrieves his Guantánamo Bay suit from under a pile of clothes and pulls it on. The outfit, which by this point has faded from its infamous orange colour to more of a salmony pink, reminds him he was once worse off than he is now, and helps him to calm down." 
  13. Guantánamo Prisoners Getting Their Day, but Hardly in Court, New York Times, November 11, 2004 - mirror Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. Inside the Guantánamo Bay hearings: Barbarian "Justice" dispensed by KGB-style "military tribunals", Financial Times, December 11, 2004 Archived December 20, 2017, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. "Q&A: What next for Guantanamo prisoners?". BBC News. 2002-01-21. Archived from the original on 24 November 2008. https://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fnews.bbc.co.uk%2F2%2Fhi%2Famericas%2F1773140.stm&date=2008-11-24. Retrieved 2008-11-24. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 16.6 Benjamin Wittes, Zaathira Wyne (2008-12-16). "The Current Detainee Population of Guantánamo: An Empirical Study". The Brookings Institution. Archived from the original on 2012-06-22. https://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.brookings.edu%2F%7E%2Fmedia%2Fresearch%2Ffiles%2Freports%2F2008%2F12%2F16%2520detainees%2520wittes%2F1216_detainees_wittes.pdf&date=2012-06-22. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  17. Christopher Hope; Robert Winnett; Holly Watt; Heidi Blake (2011-04-27). "WikiLeaks: Guantanamo Bay terrorist secrets revealed -- Guantanamo Bay has been used to incarcerate dozens of terrorists who have admitted plotting terrifying attacks against the West – while imprisoning more than 150 totally innocent people, top-secret files disclose". The Telegraph (UK). Archived from the original on 2012-07-13. https://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.telegraph.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fworldnews%2Fwikileaks%2F8471907%2FWikiLeaks-Guantanamo-Bay-terrorist-secrets-revealed.html&date=2012-07-13. Retrieved 2012-07-13. "The Daily Telegraph, along with other newspapers including The Washington Post, today exposes America's own analysis of almost ten years of controversial interrogations on the world's most dangerous terrorists. This newspaper has been shown thousands of pages of top-secret files obtained by the WikiLeaks website." 
  18. "WikiLeaks: The Guantánamo files database". The Telegraph (UK). 2011-04-27. Archived from the original on 2015-06-26. https://web.archive.org/web/20150626204100/http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wikileaks-files/guantanamo-bay-wikileaks-files/8476672/WikiLeaks-The-Guantanamo-files-database.html. Retrieved 2012-07-10. 
  19. Missy Ryan, Adam Goldman (2014-12-31). "Pentagon, moving to close Guantanamo, sends five prisoners to Kazakhstan". Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/pentagon-moving-to-close-guantanamo-sends-five-prisoners-to-kazakhstan/2014/12/31/294c80e8-902d-11e4-ba53-a477d66580ed_story.html. Retrieved 2016-10-06. "A U.S. defense official said the prisoners will be "resettled" in Kazakhstan, a term the Pentagon uses when detainees are set free in a new country but remain subject to some level of monitoring by the host government. Typically, the released detainees are prohibited from leaving the host country for one or two years." 
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 20.5 Claire Ward (2015-05-21). "Former Guantanamo Detainee Dies in Kazakhstan". Vice News. Archived from the original on 2015-05-22. https://web.archive.org/web/20150522061044/https://news.vice.com/article/former-guantanamo-detainee-dies-in-kazakhstan. "Al-Khalaqi, 47, was found unconscious in his apartment in Kyzylorda on May 7 and was brought to the hospital with suspected food poisoning. The autopsy later revealed that he died of kidney failure and showed he had a severe lung infection." 
  21. Andy Worthington (2015-01-04). "Who Are the Five Guantánamo Prisoners Given New Homes in Kazakhstan?". http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2015/01/04/who-are-the-five-guantanamo-prisoners-given-new-homes-in-kazakhstan/. Retrieved 2016-10-06. "I discussed the case of al-Lufti (aka Abdul Rahman) in my article, "Guantánamo Scandal: The 40 Prisoners Still Held But Cleared for Release At Least Five Years Ago," published in June 2012, in which I described his illnesses, and also explained that, disturbingly, he was first cleared for release nearly ten years ago..." 
  22. "US releases 5 more Guantanamo Bay prisoners, sends them to Kazakhstan". Fox News. 2014-12-31. Archived from the original on 2015-04-01. https://web.archive.org/web/20150401062313/http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/12/31/us-releases-5-more-guantanamo-bay-prisoners-sends-them-to-kazakhstan/. Retrieved 2015-05-21. 
  23. Carol Rosenberg (2014-12-30). "U.S. sends 5 detainees to Kazakhstan — a day late after aborted journey". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on 2015-04-14. https://web.archive.org/web/20150414001601/http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/guantanamo/article5216124.html. Retrieved 2015-05-22. "One of them, Tunisian Abdullah Bin Ali al Lufti, 48, got to Guantánamo in February 2003 with heart problems and other health issues. By June 2004, according to leaked U.S. military documents, the prison deemed him “low risk, due to his medical condition” and recommended his release or transfer to detention in another country." 
  24. Matt Spetalnick (2014-12-31). "U.S. sends five Guantanamo prisoners to Kazakhstan for resettlement". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2015-03-25. https://web.archive.org/web/20150325001013/http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/31/us-usa-guantanamo-kazakhstan-idUSKBN0K905W20141231. Retrieved 2015-05-21. "One of the Yemenis, Khalaqi, 46, had been implicated by John Walker Lindh, an American captured in late 2001 working with the Taliban, as having fought with al Qaeda in Afghanistan, according to the documents. But Khalaqi denied any involvement." 
  25. Eyder Peralta (2014-12-31). "U.S. Transfers 5 Guantanamo Detainees To Kazakhstan". National Public Radio. Archived from the original on 2015-05-22. https://web.archive.org/web/20150522095142/http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2014/12/31/374153668/u-s-transfers-five-guantanamo-detainees-to-kazakhstan. Retrieved 2015-05-21. "In a statement, the Pentagon said the interagency task force charged with reviewing detainee releases had approved the transfer of these five men "unanimously."" 
  26. Catherine Putz (2015-10-16). "Former Guantanamo Detainees Exiled to Kazakhstan". The Diplomat. https://thediplomat.com/2015/10/former-guantanamo-detainees-exiled-to-kazakhstan/. Retrieved 2019-09-28. "But more serious than his cultural and social isolation is the simple fact that al-Lutfi, who has a serious heart condition likely worsened by 12 years in prison, cannot communicate with his doctors–none of them speak Arabic–and must rely on the local Red Crescent to obtain medicine. The local Red Crescent head told Vice, 'I don’t want to listen to this bullshit about his health problems.'" 
  27. Lucine Beylerian (May 2019). "Out of Sight Out of Mind: The Detrimental Effects of Guantanamo Bay's Philosophy". USC-UNESCO Journal for Global Humanities, Science & Ethical Inquiry: pp. 105, 106, 107, 108, 109. https://issuu.com/usclevaninstitute/docs/2017-18_usc-unesco_journal_for_glob. Retrieved 2019-09-28. 

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