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Thursday, May 19, 2011 - 12:00pm

Detainee Dies At Guantanamo

U.S. Southern Command announced the apparent suicide of a 37-year-old detainee at Guantanamo on Wednesday. The Afghan detainee was identified as Inayatullah:

"While conducting routine checks, the guards found the detainee unresponsive and not breathing. The guards immediately initiated CPR and also summoned medical personnel to the scene. After extensive lifesaving measures had been exhausted, the detainee was pronounced dead by a physician."

Inayatullah, who was transferred to Guantanamo in September 2007, was one of the last detainees to arrive. At that time, the Pentagon stated that the "dangerous terror suspect" had admitted that he was the al-Qaida Emir of Zahedan, Iran, and planned and directed al-Qaida terrorist operations, as well as facilitated the movement of foreign fighters between Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Iraq.

According to documents filed in federal court two years later, the government described his role as less central to al-Qaida operations:

"[Inayatullah] was an active participant in several terrorist facilitation networks responsible for moving al-Qaida fighters into Pakistan, knowingly delivered and facilitated the delivery of correspondence and supplies between senior al-Qaida leaders in Iran and Pakistan, and received money from al-Qaida operatives either as payment for his services or to finance his facilitation network."

Exhibits in the case, Hajji Nassim v. Obama, describe him as the owner of a black market cellphone store in Zahedan, Iran. Born in Khandahar, Afghanistan, in 1974, he was the father of six.

The court documents show that he was interrogated more than 60 times in custody at Bagram and at Guantanamo between 2007 and 2009, and describe him as vacillating between cooperation and deception.

In January 2008, investigators described him as "emotionally distraught," when they challenged his claims of innocence. Later, Inayatullah stated that he had lost all hope of ever going home, and that he did not want to give more intelligence because it put his family at risk.

By the end of 2008, he refused to cooperate because he did not want fellow Afghans to spread rumors about him in Afghanistan when they are released, and he "cannot afford his fellow Afghani detainees to believe that he cooperates with U.S. intelligence." Apparently, he then stopped talking to interrogators for some time.

In March 2009, he was getting into fights with other detainees who said he was an American spy, and was concerned that this rumor would be leaked by the detainees to Afghanistan and Pakistan and put his family in danger.

There have been seven previous deaths of men in custody at Guantanamo.

NPR News Investigations correspondent Margot Williams is co-creator of the joint NPR/New York Times Guantanamo Docket database. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit