Ghaleb Nasser Al-Bihani is a Yemeni citizen who was born in 1979 in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia. In early 2002, Ghaleb was transferred to Guantánamo, where he has been detained ever since without charge. He has been at Guantánamo for more than a third of his life.
Ghaleb has been imprisoned for more than 14 years on the basis of allegations that in 2001 he was an assistant cook for Arab forces supporting the Taliban in an Afghan conflict against the Northern Alliance before 9/11. The group later disbanded. The D.C. District Court upheld his indefinite detention on this basis, and the D.C. Court of Appeals affirmed in an infamous opinion that initially disavowed the relevance of the laws of war in determining the scope of the government’s detention authority. His legal challenge ended in April 2011 when the Supreme Court refused to grant his request for his case to be heard.
In September 2013, Ghaleb received notification that his status would be reviewed by President Obama’s new Periodic Review Board (PRB), which is tasked with determining whether detainees may be approved for transfer. He was the fourth Guantanamo detainee to be reviewed under the process, and appeared before the Board on April 8, 2014. In May 2014, the Obama administration approved Ghaleb for transfer from Guantánamo, determining that his continued detention is unnecessary, finding “credible [his] commitment to building a peaceful life.” Despite being cleared for release, Ghaleb remains imprisoned to this day.
Ghaleb suffers from diabetes and related chronic pain. He has expressed that his “current circumstances have become unbearable,” and his health has been described by medical authorities at Guantánamo as being high risk. He has been admitted to the detention hospital on multiple occasions over the past several years for treatment of complications of diabetes.
"All I think about is the day my freedom will be given back to me, for it will be the day of my re-birth. I want to become a father and hold my baby in my arms, and provide for my family and to my child. I want these people whom I never met to know that I am a human being just like them and I deserve to get a chance just like they do."
Despite dealing with serious health problems and the emotional toll of well over a decade of indefinite detention, Ghaleb has endeavored to educate himself and learn skills to prepare for life after Guantánamo. He is an avid reader, requesting dozens of books and biographies over the years. “I want to learn about other people’s lives and the circumstances they faced, and how they were able to overcome their difficulties and move on with their lives,” he wrote in a personal statement. He has also been learning English and Spanish, developing his GED proficiency, educating himself about his diabetes, and trying to cope with his anxiety and depression through exercise and yoga. Ghaleb has talked for years of his hopes for a new life, ideally in a new country. He hopes to become a father and start a family of his own, pursue his education and a career, and care for his health: “I lost both my parents as a young boy, and it was hard growing up without a mother or father. I want to be in a position where I can give my children the guidance that I did not have.”