Guantanamo detainees desired martyrdom: US Navy investigators
Two years and two months after three prisoners at Guantánamo died, apparently as the result of a coordinated suicide pact, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), which has been investigating the deaths ever since the three long-term hunger strikers were found dead in their cells on June 10, 2006, issued a 934-word statement on Friday that purported to draw a line under the whole sordid affair.
The deaths of the three men — Ali al-Salami, Mani al-Utaybi and Yasser al-Zahrani — have been controversial from the moment that they were first announced, when Guantánamo’s then-Commander, Rear Adm. Harry Harris, attracted international opprobrium by declaring that they were an act of “asymmetric warfare,” and Colleen Graffy, the deputy assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy, had similar scorn heaped upon her when she described the men’s deaths as a “good PR move.”
As I have explained previously, the administration soon assumed a slightly more placatory role, when Cully Stimson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, declared, “I wouldn’t characterize it as a good PR move. What I would say is that we are always concerned when someone takes his own life, because as Americans, we value life, even the lives of violent terrorists who are captured waging war against our country.”