- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The U.S. government said Wednesday that a man held at the U.S. military’s Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba for 13 years was a victim of mistaken identity.

Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri, a 37-year-old Yemeni man thought to be a high-level official within al Qaeda, was actually a low-level fighter, the Pentagon acknowledged Wednesday ahead of a review board hearing on the prisoner’s case.

U.S. officials had “previously assessed” that al-Shamiri was a “facilitator or courier, as well as a trainer” for al Qaeda, the government said in a “detainee profile” released Tuesday.

“[B]ut we now judge that these activities were carried out by other known extremists with names or aliases similar to” his own, officials said in the document.

Mr. al-Shamiri has been detained at Guantanamo since June 2002, and has never been charged with a crime.

However, the document notes that he “fought in several jihadist theaters and associated with [al Qaeda] members in Afghanistan.”

The hearing Wednesday will help determine whether Mr. al-Shamiri should be cleared for transfer from the detention center.

“He vocalized to us that while he cannot change the past, he would definitely have chosen a different path,” representatives for Al-Shamiri appointed by the U.S. government said in a statement, BBC News reported. “He wants to make a life for himself.”

His representatives said he would go to any country that would accept him.

Mr. al-Shamiri is one of 107 prisoners at the facility, which President Obama has vowed to close before he leaves office. So far, 48 detainees have been approved for transfer.

The White House rejected Tuesday an initial plan to close the detention facility and move the remaining detainees to a U.S. facility, saying the $600 million price tag to do so was too costly.

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