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For more than two years, the families of 12 Kuwaiti men held prisoner at the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay have been demanding fair trials for their loved ones, and in June, the group won a Supreme Court ruling that allows Guantánamo Bay prisoners to challenge their confinement in U.S. federal courts. The ongoing litigation has forced the government for the first time to put forward its reasons for detaining the 12 Kuwaitis. Court filings show that allegations against them — like those against the larger Guantánamo Bay population — run a wide range. According to the government, Fayiz Mohammed Ahmed Al Kandari provided religious instruction at the al Farouq terrorist training camp at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; Adil Zamil Abdull Mohssin Al Zamil established a charity organization used to help finance al Qaeda; and Fouad Mahmoud Al Rabiah met personally with Osama bin Laden on four occasions. But other Kuwaiti detainees have less alarming stories. Nasser Nijer Naser al Mutairi told the panel convened to review his case that he traveled to Afghanistan to participate in a religious practice known as ribat, but got caught up in hostilities after the U.S. bombing campaign began. He surrendered to Northern Alliance forces and was taken to the Qala Jangi prison, where he was shot twice in the leg during a prison uprising. Secretary of State Colin Powell indicated during a September visit to Kuwait that al Mutairi had been determined not to pose a threat to the United States and would be released. In the case of Mohammed Fenaitel Al Daihani, a 38-year-old father of six, a Pentagon lawyer noted ina court filing that the “facts of this case probe the outer limits of the definition of ‘enemy combatant.’ “ According to the unclassified charges against Al Daihani, he donated 2,250 dinars, the equivalent of $750, to a charity associated with a Libyan terrorist organization and later traveled to Afghanistan with employees of the charity. He was captured in December 2001 as he tried to cross back into Pakistan. But Al Daihani told the military panel assigned to review his case that he donated the money to build wells in Afghanistan and traveled there shortly before Sept. 11, 2001, to check on the project. Upon his arrival, he became ill and was admitted to a hospital, where he remained at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks. When he was released, Al Daihani tried to return home, but after making his way to the Pakistan border, he was turned over to the U.S. military. The panel upheld Al Daihani’s designation as an enemy combatant, but requested that further proceedings be held “as soon as possible.” “Absent evidence showing the Detainee knew his contributions were indirectly funding terrorist organizations, the Tribunal also recommends his case be reviewed by an Administrative Review Board to be considered for release,” the panel wrote in its decision. The Administrative Review Boards, scheduled to begin in early 2005, will examine each detainee for release on a yearly basis. To the Kuwaiti families, the process has already taken far too long. They are being represented by lawyers in the D.C. office of Shearman & Sterling. And in October, they hired D.C. public relations firm Levick Strategic Communications to help draw attention to their cause and launched a Web site that counts the days since the detainees were taken to Guantánamo Bay. “Once the Supreme Court decision took place, the families expected the administration to move pretty quickly to process their cases. When that didn’t happen, the families believed that they needed to do something to make sure their voices were heard,” says Levick’s Gene Grabowski, U.S. spokesman for the Kuwaiti Family Committee. Grabowski says it is irrelevant that some Kuwaitis have been accused of having strong ties to al Qaeda. “They’ve adopted an all-for-one-and-one-for-all strategy,” he says. “All they are asking for is a fair trial.”

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