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Case Information: Said Mohammed Ali Shah Mousovi
COUNTRY:United States
DATE OF ARREST:August 2003

Summary and Current Status

Said Mohammed Ali Shah Mousovi is an Afghan pediatrician. After the Taliban took power in the 1990s, he and his family moved to Iran. When the Taliban was overthrown, he returned to his hometown of Gardez to open a medical clinic with one of his brothers and was elected the town’s representative to the June 2002 Loya Jirga (tribunal grand council). In August 2003 Dr. Ali Shah Mousovi was arrested by U.S. forces and accused of providing money, shelter, and guns to the Taliban. Although no evidence was produced to support these charges, he was held in detention at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay until December 2006, under harsh conditions of confinement and with only sporadic access to legal counsel in contravention of international human rights law (in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment). He was one of several dozen detainees released from the Guantanamo Bay facility at the end of 2006, reportedly in an effort to reduce the total number of detainees held there.

Because of the secrecy surrounding individuals detained at the U.S. Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, it has been difficult for the CHR to obtain detailed information about them. Below is the case information that we have been able to obtain about Dr. Mousovi. Souces include his lawyers, partially redacted transcripts of military hearings; and two informative press accounts—an interview with Dr. Ali Shah Mousovi that was published in The Washington Post on April 30, 2006, titled, “My Guantanamo Diary; Face to Face with the War on Terrorism,” by Mahvish Khan (a recent graduate of the University of Miami School of Law and an employee in the Miami public defender’s office) and an article published in Newsday on September 25, 2005, titled, “One prisoner’s story,” by James Rupert.


Said Mohammed Ali Shah Mousovi is an Afghan pediatrician, ethnic Pashtun, and Shia Muslim from a prominent family in the town of Gardez. He is approximately 47 years old, married, and the father of three young children. According to his lawyers, Dr. Ali Shah Mousovi attended medical school at Kabul University in the mid 1980s, but his studies were interrupted by the Soviet invasion. Beginning in 1987 he reportedly fought for two years against the Soviets under the command of Nasrullah Mansour, who headed what has been described as a moderate, traditionalist military group that was backed by the United States. After the Taliban (who are Sunni) took power in the 1990s, Dr. Ali Shah Musovi and his family went to live in exile in Iran where he completed his medical studies in Tehran. Because he could not find employment in his field, he worked as a tailor and drove a taxi.

When the Taliban was overthrown, Dr. Ali Shah Mousovi reportedly returned to Gardez and was elected the town’s representative to the June 2002 Loya Jirga (the tribunal grand council which elected Hamid Karzai to the Presidency of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan). After returning to his family, who had stayed in Iran, for a year, Dr. Ali Shah Mousovi reportedly moved back to Gardez in August 2003 to open a medical clinic with one of his brothers, who is also a doctor. On the second night after his return, he reportedly was arrested by U.S. forces in the midst of a large feast that he had organized in memory of his late father. (Two of his brothers reportedly were also detained briefly by U.S. troops.) He was accused of providing money and shelter to a Taliban commander and, according to press accounts, of supplying guns to the Taliban. According to Newsday, “Ali Shah’s family, scholars, and a former high ranking Taliban official voiced astonishment at the allegations against him, saying they betray a basic ignorance by U.S. forces of Afghan politics.” (Dr. Ali Shah Mousovi is a Shia Muslim, a member of the sect most brutalized by the Taliban and thus least likely to have any motive to help them.)

According to his lawyers, Dr. Ali Shah Mousovi had one hearing before a Combatant Status Review Tribunal and at least one hearing before an Administrative Review Board. Combatant Status Review Tribunals are tribunals at the Guantanamo naval base that determine if detainees meet the legal requirements for being classified as an “enemy combatant.” Guantanamo Bay Administrative Review Boards convene military hearings. The Board then recommends to Pentagon officials whether a detainee should be released because he poses no threat or should continue to be held for another year. To the best of our knowledge, no decision was made on Dr. Ali Shah Mousovi’s case as a result of these hearings. His Internment Serial Number at Guantanamo was 1154.

According to Dr. Ali Shah Mousovi’s lawyers, these hearings did not provide the legal guarantees afforded in U.S. civilian courts. For example, “Detainees are not told of the classified charges against them; as a practical matter they are unable to submit evidence in their defense other than their own testimony (although they do not know what to say, since they don't know the charges); evidence obtained from witnesses under physical or mental duress is admitted (and not identified as such); and the detainees, although they are allowed some consultation with lawyers, are not represented by a lawyer during hearings. They are, however, assigned a non-lawyer Personal Representative, who is a member of the U.S. military. Moreover, the detainees’ lawyers claim that many of the hearing officers are deeply ignorant of Afghanistan's circumstances and have difficulty understanding detainees' explanations of their experiences.” In May 2005 Dr. Ali Shah Mousovi filed a petition from Guantanamo with the federal district court in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Ali Shah Mousovi testified in the above-mentioned military hearings that he specializes in pediatrics and told his lawyers that if released, he would like to join his brother and resume his medical work at their clinic in Gardez, as had been planned before his arrest.

In December 2006 Dr. Ali Shah Mousovi was among several dozen detainees released from U.S. custody. According to his lawyers, he has been reunited with his family.

Related Links

CHR Cases at Guantanamo and Bagram Resolved (4/9/10)

Action Alert: Afghan Medical Doctor Released from U.S. Guantanamo Bay Naval Base; Pharmacist Remains Detained Without Charge (1/16/2007)