Saeed Bakhouch* (also known as Abdul Razak Ali) is an Algerian citizen who has been detained at Guantánamo without charge since 2002. Before Guantánamo, Saeed was detained for months in Pakistan and at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. It was in Pakistan where his name was confused with another detainee named Abdul Razak Ali and Saeed told authorities that he was Libyan, because he believed Libyan citizenship would increase his likelihood of release. This is why his habeas case is captioned in federal court as Abdul Razak Ali v. Trump (10-cv-1020). He is one of eleven prisoners that filed the first major legal challenge against Trump’s Guantánamo policies in January 2018.
Saeed, an ethnic Berber, was born in Algeria in July 1970. In the fall of 2001, he took advantage of the opportunity to travel outside of Algeria for only the second time in his life. He travelled to Pakistan where he planned to study the Quran and experience life in a new place. During his first months there, however, the political climate in Pakistan grew violent as Pakistani authorities were arresting Arabs and turning them over to the United States for bounties. Saeed moved from one guest house to another in Pakistan, looking for safety. He was afraid of being kidnapped and given to the US for money. Despite what the government alleges, Saeed maintains that he did not know anyone else staying at the guest house (including another detainee Abu Zubaydah) and during his time there he never saw anything illegal take place, and that he never had military training.
When the U.S. authorities raided the guest house he was in, he did not flee or resist. What followed was a series of interrogations at various locations in Pakistan, and serious abuse. Saeed describes having his feet and hands bound together, being beaten kicked and beaten repeatedly; and not having food or water for extended periods of time.
“Sometimes they would bring me to a room and shackle me in extremely painful positions. They would leave me like that for many hours and then come in and scream and hit me and ask questions that I did not know the answer to...[t]he interrogators wanted me to admit that I had been fighting in Afghanistan and that I was part of al-Qaeda. Neither was true.”
Saeed was transferred to Bagram, which he describes as the “worst of all”. He said that the guards would put heavy wet socks on his feet that were soaked in some kind of chemical because they caused pain and a burning sensation. The pain was so bad, he said, that he wished they would cut off his feet. Those chemicals turned his feet black, and to this day, his feet remain discolored. “I was threatened with rape, I was threatened with death,” Saeed wrote. “I had a gun held to my head by a guard…who told me to ‘talk now or I will kill you’”.
He was eventually brought to Guantánamo and was very afraid because the U.S. government had his wrong name and citizenship, but he feared even more abuse if he corrected the information. Eventually, when lawyers were finally allowed to represent the men, he explained the truth about his identity. Saeed has been detained for over sixteen years. One of the main government justifications for his continued detention is that he was staying in a guest house where Abu Zubaydah arrived a few days before the house was raided and all of the Arabs were arrested. Saeed did not know anyone that was staying in the guesthouse prior to his arrival.
In 2018, Saeed and ten other prisoners filed a motion challenging the Trump Administration’s Guantánamo policies, arguing that their perpetual detentions violate the Constitution and the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), and asking the court to intervene on their behalf. That motion is pending.
*This profile was compiled from a declassified affidavit that was produced in his habeas case. Saeed’s lead attorney is H. Candace Gorman, who is based in Chicago.