An Afghan Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee believed to be an al Qaeda leader, was found dead in his cell in what appears to be a suicide [press release], the US Southern Command [official website] announced Wednesday. Guards found the 37-year-old Inayatullah not breathing and unresponsive in his cell. They immediately began rescue treatments and summoned emergency medical personnel, but they were unable to revive him. The remains are being treated in a culturally respectful way, but an autopsy is planned. The Navy is not immediately disclosing [AP report] details of the death or in which section of Guantanamo Inayatullah was being held. The death is still being investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Inayatullah was transferred to Guantanamo [JURIST report] in 2007. The Department of Defense (DOD) said that he admitted to being the head of al Qaeda operations in Zahedan, Iran, and to orchestrating al Qaeda terrorist attacks.
Numerous deaths and apparent suicides at Guantanamo have fueled critics arguing for the shut down of the controversial detention facility. In February, the Center for Constitutional Rights said the death of Guantanamo detainee Awal Gul, from a heart attack, highlighted the problems [JURIST report] with the facility. Gul had been detained at Guantanamo since October 2002. In January, Human Rights Watch criticized President Barack Obama [JURIST report] for failing to shut down the facility as he promised during the 2008 presidential campaign. In May 2008, detainee Mohammad al-Qahtani [JURIST news archive], a Saudi Arabian citizen known as the "20th hijacker" for his alleged role in 9/11, attempted suicide after he was reportedly upset about the charges the DOD brought against him. In June 2006, three detainees died [JURIST report] in apparent suicides. In 2005, American lawyer Joshua Colangelo-Bryan [professional profile] representing six Bahraini men who were being held without charges, said he witnessed an attempted suicide, which he argued was a sign of the desperation of the detainees.