The United States has released an American citizen suspected of being a member of ISIS, who was held in custody for over 13 months, without any charges.
The man’s identity remains unknown, and he continues to be referred to as “John Doe” in court filings. According to a spokesman for the ACLU, which represented the man, he was released on Sunday for reasons not yet disclosed. The spokesperson said the location where the man was released could also not be revealed due to a confidential settlement agreement with the government. A U.S. official, however, confirmed the man was released in Bahrain where his wife and daughter live.
The release puts an end to questions about the U.S. government’s power to detain a U.S. citizen as well as questions about whether the executive branch has the power to fight ISIS without explicit congressional authorization.
“This is a victory our client fought for long and hard. The victory sends a strong message that the president cannot take away an American’s liberty without due process, and it shows the continuing importance of judicial review,” ACLU senior staff attorney Jonathan Hafetz said in a statement.
Despite asking to remain anonymous, the man has been identified as Abdulrahman Ahmad Alsheikh. He was first detained in September of last year and the U.S. government argued that it could hold the man indefinitely as he was an “enemy combatant” captured on the battlefield working for ISIS. To support its claim, the administration cited the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) which gives the President the legal ability to go after militant groups and their members.
The ACLU and “John Doe” maintained, however, that AUMF did not include ISIS and denied the allegations made against him.
While keeping him in custody, the U.S. government never detailed whether the man had actually fought for ISIS and if yes, when. It also never brought charges against him, eventually releasing him.