Tuesday May 10, 2022
Mohammed Abdul Malik Bajabu, the only Kenyan being held at
the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, wants to do charity work
The 48-year-old father of three was arrested in February
2007 on suspicion of terrorism in Mombasa and was transferred to Guantanamo on
March 26, 2007.
He has been held at the facility for 15 years, but was never
been charged with any terrorism-related offences, his lawyer Mark Maher said.
Maher is an attorney working for Reprieve US, a non-profit
legal charity in Washington DC.
Last December, the US government ordered Malik be released
from Guantanamo Bay after a successful review of his charges by the Periodic
PRB is composed of senior officials from the US Departments
of Defence, Homeland Security, Justice and National Intelligence.
The board reviews whether continued detention of particular
individuals held at Guantanamo remains necessary to protect against a
significant threat to the security of the US.
The PRB concluded that Abdul Malik could be safely
transferred to another country.
This is in light of his “low level of training and lack of a
leadership role in his pre-detention activities", according to PRB.
According to the PRB, once a detainee is cleared for
release, he cannot leave the prison until the US works out a diplomatic
arrangement with another country for them to be released to.
In an exclusive interview with the Star, Maher said Malik
has insisted that he wants to come back to Kenya after his release.
He said at detention, Malik has proven to be “a kind and
thoughtful human being.”
“Despite spending so long in one of history’s most notorious
prisons, Abdul Malik is focused on the future – he is excited to see his family
once again and to spend his life focused on positivity and charity,” Maher
“I am looking forward to the day when we can celebrate his
According to Maher, Malik’s transfer to Kenya is being
negotiated between the American and the Kenyan authorities.
Reprieve US acts as a partner to the governments because
they have assisted over 60 former detainees after their release from Guantanamo
“We hope the governments (Kenya and US) will move swiftly.
Abdul Malik has never been charged with a crime, so his return home is long
overdue,” Maher said.
Malik’s family is anxious about his return to Kenya and has
been calling on the government to assure him of his safety once he is back.
Maher said Malik’s details of the transfer are determined
between the United States and Kenyan governments.
“We understand that the US always secures humanitarian
assurances prior to transfer. I certainly hope that Abdul Malik’s security will
be assured," he said.
"Fifteen years of detention without charge or trial is
punishment enough for anyone."
There have also been reports that Malik might be transferred
to another country that is willing to accept him, if the Kenyan authorities
will deny him entry.
“Abdul Malik is a son
of Kenya who has been illegally detained by the United States," Maher
“He wants to return to his home and to his family and spend
the rest of his life as a proud and happy Kenyan. That's what we are aiming
Early April this year, Maher was in Kenya and had an
opportunity to meet with Malik’s family.
Maher said his family is very anxious about his return and
confused as to why it has not happened yet.
“For 15 years, they have been kept in limbo. Abdul Malik has
never been charged with any crime and yet the United States has kept him in
prison," he said.
"That is difficult for any family member to understand.
But for now, they are trying to remain positive and look forward to his
Malik’s wife and three children are said to be living in
Somalia and his siblings are living in Mombasa.
Maher said there are plans to reunite Malik and his wife and
children once he is allowed back to Kenya.
“That is his (Abdul Malik’s) goal, but we will have to work
out those details after his release. The first step is to get him out of
Guantanamo and end his 15-year incarceration,” he said.
“We will continue to work with Abdul Malik after his release
to ensure he is supported and able to live a happy life with his family.”
Malik was being held as “a law-of-war detainee” at the
Guantanamo maximum security facility.
He is allowed to talk to his family once every three months.
He was the only Kenyan captive held at the US military base,
which is used to detain suspected militants and terrorists captured by US
Another suspect who is set to be released from Guantanamo is
a Somali national, Guled Hassan Duran, who has been held at the facility since
Since 2002, roughly 780 detainees have been held at the
facility with only 39 currently remaining at the prison.
Of the 39 detainees, 12 have been charged with war crimes in
the military commission’s system, while 10 are awaiting trial and two have been
In addition, nine detainees are held in indefinite
law-of-war detention and are neither facing tribunal charges nor being
recommended for release.
Another 18 are held in law-of-war detention, but have been
recommended for transfer with security arrangements to another country.
Following Joe Biden’s election, his administration has
confirmed that they intend to finally close the US’s most infamous prison.
While no one has yet been released since Biden assumed
office, five men have been cleared for transfer in a strenuous process by the