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Tariq al Sawah – Witness to Guantanamo

Tariq al Sawah


Tariq Mahmoud Ahmed al Sawah was a detainee at Guantanamo Bay from May 2002 to January 2016 when he was transferred to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Al Sawah provided extensive information to the US government.

Al Sawah is a citizen of Egypt. He joined the Muslim Brotherhood and in 1981, he, along with most members of the Muslim Brotherhood, was arrested. He eventually left the Brotherhood, and moved to Bosnia and married a Bosnian woman. They later divorced. Eight years later he left Bosnia, was recruited by al Qaeda members in Afghanistan and was eventually trained as a bomb maker.

After his capture and arrival in Guantanamo, al Sawah agreed to cooperate with the US military. He became one of the most significant informants held at the prison. As a reward for his assistance, al Sawah was housed in a little fenced-in compound at the prison and provided a relatively easy life. He had a television and stocked refrigerator, and was permitted to garden, write and paint. Al Sawah gained a significant amount of weight in Guantanamo. At one point, his weight reached 400 pounds, and his deteriorating health became a concern.

In January 2016, al Sawah was released to Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, Bosnia revoked his citizenship while he was in Guantanamo, and he does not have refugee status. He is confined to a small area in Sarajevo.

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