Al-Alawi arrived at Guantanamo on January 17, 2002, and has been held at Guantanamo for 15 years, 8 months and 3 days. In January 2010 the Guantanamo Review Task Force recommended he should be classed as a forever prisoner", one who couldn't face charges, because he was innocent of committing a crime, who, nevertheless, was too dangerous to release. By his 2015 Periodic Review Board hearing intelligence analysts had dropped the damning allegation that he was one of Osama bin Laden's bodyguards, claiming instead that he "had spent time" with some of his bodyguards.
Al-Alawi is a long-term Guantanamo hunger striker, who has described his force-feeding as “an endless horror story.” In March 2015 he weighed just 98 pounds.
Originally the Bush Presidency asserted that captives apprehended in the "war on terror" were not covered by the Geneva Conventions, and could be held indefinitely, without charge, and without an open and transparent review of the justifications for their detention. In 2004 the United States Supreme Court ruled, in Rasul v. Bush, that Guantanamo captives were entitled to being informed of the allegations justifying their detention, and were entitled to try to refute them.
Following the Supreme Court's ruling the Department of Defense set up the Office for the Administrative Review of Detained Enemy Combatants.
Scholars at the Brookings Institution, led by Benjamin Wittes, listed the captives still held in Guantanamo in December 2008, according to whether their detention was justified by certain common allegations:Muaz Hamza Ahmad Alawi was listed as one of the captives who "The military alleges ... are associated with both Al Qaeda and the Taliban."
Muaz Hamza Ahmad Alawi was listed as one of the captives who "The military alleges ... traveled to Afghanistan for jihad."
Muaz Hamza Ahmad Alawi was listed as one of the captives who "The military alleges that the following detainees stayed in Al Qaeda, Taliban or other guest- or safehouses."
Muaz Hamza Ahmad Alawi was listed as one of the captives who "The military alleges ... took military or terrorist training in Afghanistan."
Muaz Hamza Ahmad Alawi was listed as one of the captives who "The military alleges ... fought for the Taliban."
Muaz Hamza Ahmad Alawi was listed as one of the captives who "The military alleges ... were at Tora Bora."
Muaz Hamza Ahmad Alawi was listed as one of the captives whose "names or aliases were found on material seized in raids on Al Qaeda safehouses and facilities."
Muaz Hamza Ahmad Alawi was listed as one of the captives who "The military alleges that the following detainees were captured under circumstances that strongly suggest belligerency."
Muaz Hamza Ahmad Alawi was listed as one of the captives who "The military alleges ... served on Osama Bin Laden’s security detail."
Muaz Hamza Ahmad Alawi was listed as one of the captives who was ab "al Qaeda operative".
Muaz Hamza Ahmad Alawi was listed as one of the "82 detainees made no statement to CSRT or ARB tribunals or made statements that do not bear materially on the military’s allegations against them."
Al Alawi had a writ of habeas corpus filed on his behalf.
On 30 December 2008 US District Court Judge Richard J. Leon ruled that Al Alawi, and, in a separate ruling, that Hisham Sliti, "were part of or supported the Taliban", and thus could continue to be held in US custody. The New York Times called the two rulings: "the first clear-cut victories for the Bush administration", while Andy Worthington noted they represented a "disturbing development".
Glaberson reported that Leon stated he did not have to take a position on the Bush administration's claim Al Alawi was an Osama bin Laden bodyguard, that there was enough evidence he had supported the Taliban to confirm his designation as an "enemy combatant".
In August 2011 Thomas Joscelyn reported that a panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld Leon's ruling.
On April 25, 2011, whistleblower organization WikiLeaks published formerly secret assessments drafted by Joint Task Force Guantanamo analysts. A thirteen-page Joint Task Force Guantanamo detainee assessment was drafted for him on March 14, 2008. It was signed by camp commandant Rear Admiral Mark H. Buzby, who recommended continued detention.
When he assumed office in January 2009 President Barack Obama made a number of promises about the future of Guantanamo. He promised the use of torture would cease at the camp. He promised to institute a new review system. That new review system was composed of officials from six departments, where the OARDEC reviews were conducted entirely by the Department of Defense. When it reported back, a year later, the Joint Review Task Force classified some individuals as too dangerous to be transferred from Guantanamo, even though there was no evidence to justify laying charges against them. On April 9, 2013, that document was made public after a Freedom of Information Act request. Al Alawi was one of the 71 individuals deemed too innocent to charge, but too dangerous to release. Obama promised that those deemed too innocent to charge, but too dangerous to release would start to receive reviews from a Periodic Review Board. Al Alawi was denied approval for transfer on October 26, 2015.
Analysts still continued to assert that he was one of the "dirty thirty", a group of thirty individuals, captured together while fleeing to Pakistan, who analysts maintained were all Osama bin Laden bodyguards.
Al Alawi's Guantanamo Review Task Force had concurred with earlier review boards, and recommended he be classed as too dangerous to release, although there was no evidence to justify charging him with a crime. Carol Rosenberg, of the Miami Herald, wrote that the recommendation from his Periodic Review Board concluded that he was “probably not” one of Osama bin Laden's bodyguards, but that he seemed to have “spent time with” them.
As of 2015 al Alawi is recognized as one of the camp's long-term hunger strikers. Camp authorities published the weight records from the first four years. Those records show al Alawi's weight being recorded 53 times. His weight was only recorded twice during the camp's first well-known hunger strikes, in 2005, where his weight dropped to 117 and 118 pounds. But a hunger-strike he began in 2013, has left him weighing less than 100 pounds.
Al Alawi described his hunger strike as a form of peaceful protest.
In 2013 a new warden was appointed to the camp, Colonel John Bogdan. Under his administration guards fired upon the captives, for the first time. Al Alawi was one of the captives guards shot. He described being shot with rubber coated steel bullets in April 2013.
Robert Durand, a camp spokesman, asserted guards were provoked, and that they only fired "four less than lethal rounds". Al Alawi described being fired upon without warning when he and other men were preparing for communal prayers. According to al Alawi account he himself was hit by more than four munitions. According to al Alawi his wounds were either inadequately treated, or not treated at all.