Khalid Qassim

Image of Khalid Qassim

Painter and writer of Guantanamo since 2002. Tortured. Sold for bounty. No charge or trial.

Khalid was sold to the US for a bounty, like many others who ended up in Guantanamo. The Afghan authorities turned Khalid over to American forces. At the time, the US promised payments of life-changing amounts of money to local forces, and individuals, who were willing to capture and hand in Arabs.

He has spent most of his adult life in Guantanamo, and wants nothing more than to be free, so he can reunite with his family and rebuild his life.

He is a sharp and capable person. He is an artist. He has tried to use his time at Guantanamo positively, learning English and Spanish. His excellent English has seen him become an interlocutor between the guards and other prisons. He 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.

Khalid comes from near Aden, in Yemen. He grew up with little money or prospects, and travelled to Afghanistan in search of work. However, he was soon trapped in the chaotic aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and the start of the ‘War on Terror’.

It is believed that he is held – like many others before him – on the basis of a mix of statements from informants, made under torture or coercion. This kind of bogus ‘evidence’ has long been debunked, most notably by the US Senate’s exhaustive 2014 investigation into the use of torture by US forces after 9/11.

Illustration by @carysboughton

<<< 2018: The end of Guantanamo

16 years since Guantanamo’s opening – all you need to know about America’s illegal prison, and the movement to close it.

Back to Guantanamo Hub