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Omar Ahmad (Abdur) Rahman: Date Unknown (For Surely, they will Kill Me…)

My message and will to the blessed muslim nation Oh honorable brothers! Oh Muslims in all parts of the world!

Surely the US government has found in my imprisonment an opportunity;
an opportunity to defile the honour of a Muslim, snatching away his dignity and respect. They’ve placed me under siege, not only physically, but also psychologically.

I’ve been placed in isolation. I’ve been forbidden contact with any Arabic speakers. Days, weeks, months pass and there’s no one I can talk to, and no one to talk to me.

I’ve been deprived of everything inside my cell even media players or a radio. If it wasn’t for the recitation of the Quran, I would have had many physiological problems. In this oppressive siege, cameras are included throughout my cell. They monitor me continuously throughout the day, they even watch me washing my private parts during bathing and using the toilet. They don’t stop there, they exploit my blindness to achieve their vile objectives, for they frisk me by stripping off my clothes, just as I was born, and look at my private parts, front and rear.

What do they search for? Drugs and explosives? This happens before and after every visit. This is so shameful, it makes me prefer the earth to split in half and swallow me whole over their filthy actions. But as I said, to them this is an opportunity they seized to defile the dignity of a Muslim and his honor on this earth. I am also prevented from performing Jumu’a prayers, Eid and any contact with other Muslims! All of this is forbidden to me! They give me false justifications and they make up null excuses.

The prison wardens neglect my personal condition e.g. haircuts and nail-cutting for months. They also force me to wash my underwear. I soak, wash, rinse and hang it, I find it hard! Moreover, I feel the danger of this situation. For surely, they will kill me… they will! Especially now that I’m separated from the world. No one sees what they add in my food, my drink! They could use a slow method to kill me, they could poison my food or medicine or inject me with something. They could drug me with something which would kill me or drive me crazy.

My brothers, if they kill me – which they will – escort my Janazah, and deliver my corpse to my fam- ily. But never forget my blood, never forsake it! Instead take revenge upon them for me in the most severest and violent of manners! And remember that a brother of yours spoke the truth and was killed in the path of Allah.

These few words are my testament to you.
Wassalamu Alaykum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh

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Worrying Trend of Abuse in UK Category A Prison HMP Belmarsh

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Michael Adebolajo a Muslim inmate at notorious prison HMP Belmarsh has been reported by news outlets and the prison service to have received injuries requiring immediate medical attention.

The prison service said the attack occurred on Wednesday 17 July but otherwise refused to confirm reports that Adebolajo had suffered injuries to his mouth or that he had been singled out for attack by prison officers.

A spokeswoman for the prison service said:

“The police are investigating an incident that took place at HMP Belmarsh on 17 July. It would be inappropriate to comment while the investigation [is] ongoing.”

While a Met Police spokesman said:

“We can confirm an allegation of assault was passed to us on July 17 by Belmarsh Prison.”

However the BBC reported that Adebolajo, 28, was receiving medical treatment after having lost two teeth in the brutal attack by prison service staff.

This is not the first time Belmarsh has been in the spotlight for it’s staff’s abuse and mistreatment of prisoners. In January 2005 epileptic Godfrey Moyo, 25, who was on remand, died after being restrained face down on the floor of his cell where he was left bound for twenty minutes after having suffered a seizure.

The tragic death of Moyo is not the only fatality to have occurred at one of Britain’s most notorious prisons, dubbed Britain’s Guantanamo, a 2011 report revealed that four people died at Belmarsh prison in the previous year alone. Inquests into the deaths of inmates have taken up to three years to conduct, and currently there are eight deaths which occurred in Belmarsh awaiting investigation, dating as far back as 2008.

Abuse by the Prison Service regarding the Disability Discrimination Act have also occurred and it is apparent that the Prison Service has systematically demonstrated a lack of compassion, discriminatory treatment of disabled persons, and neglect of disabled persons with regards both the law and human decency.

A report conducted in January of this year found that the medical conditions in Belmarsh were “below par” and several severely mentally ill inmates, in dire need of specialised care have been waiting for more than a year for adequate care conditions.

It is believed that Adebolajo was attacked when warders attempted to “restrain him”, this does not seem to be an isolated incident as there have been previous allegations that Belmarsh’s Dedicated Search Team (DST) conducted aggravated assaults, both physical and sexual in nature upon prisoners resulting in both physical and psychological damage. One such attack was the 12th January assault on the handicapped Shaikh Abu Hamza al-Misri by a group of prison staff.

Whether the recent attack on Adebolajo is resultant of a climate of abuse which is systemic in nature and general to all inmates, or is targeted against Muslims and other minorities alone, is presently indeterminable, however the events of July 17 leave another black mark on the already ill reputed record of the prison service and HMP Belmarsh.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2013 in News Items

 

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Moath al-Alwi: July 2013 (The Only Way I Have Left to Cry Out for Life, Freedom & Dignity)

A month ago, the guards here at Guantanamo Bay gave me an orange jumpsuit. After years in white and brown, the colours of compliant prisoners, I am very proud to wear my new clothes. The colour orange is Guantanamo’s banner. Anyone who knows the truth about this place knows that orange is its only true colour.

My name is Moath al-Alwi. I have been a prisoner of the United States at Guantanamo since 2002. I was never charged with any crime and I have not received a fair trial in US courts. To protest this injustice, I began a hunger strike in February. Now, twice a day, the US military straps me down to a chair and pushes a thick tube down my nose to force-feed me.

When I choose to remain in my cell in an act of peaceful protest against the force-feeding, the prison authorities send in a Forced Cell Extraction team: six guards in full riot gear. Those guards are deliberately brutal to punish me for my protest. They pile up on top of me to the point that I feel like my back is about to break. They then carry me out and strap me into the restraint chair, which we hunger strikers call the torture chair.

A new twist to this routine involves the guards restraining me to the chair with my arms cuffed behind my back. The chest strap is then tightened, trapping my arms between my torso and the chair’s backrest. This is done despite the fact that the torture chair features built-in arm restraints. It is extremely painful to remain in this position.

Even after I am tied to the chair, a guard digs his thumbs under my jaw, gripping me at the pressure points and choking me as the tube is inserted down my nose and into my stomach. They always use my right nostril now because my left one is swollen shut after countless feeding sessions. Sometimes, the nurses get it wrong, snaking the tube into my lung instead, and I begin to choke.

The US military medical staff conducting the force-feeding at Guantanamo is basically stuffing us prisoners to bring up our weight – mine had dropped from 168 pounds to 108 pounds, before they began force-feeding me. They even use constipation as a weapon, refusing to give hunger strikers laxatives despite the fact that the feeding solutions inevitably cause severe bloating.

If a prisoner vomits after this ordeal, the guards immediately return him to the restraint chair for another round of force-feeding. I’ve seen this inflicted on people up to three times in a row.

Even vital medications for prisoners have been stopped by military medical personnel as additional pressure to break the hunger strike.

Those military doctors and nurses tell us that they are simply obeying orders from the colonel in charge of detention operations, as though that officer were a doctor or as if doctors had to follow his orders rather than their medical ethics or the law.

But they must know that what they are doing is wrong, else they would not have removed the nametags with their pseudonyms or numbers. They don’t want to be identifiable in any way, for fear of being held accountable someday by their profession or the world.

I spend the rest of my time in my solitary confinement cell, on 22-hour lockdown. The authorities have deprived us of the most basic necessities. No toothbrushes, toothpaste, blankets, soap or towels are allowed in our cells. If you ask to go to the shower, the guards refuse. They bang on our doors at night, depriving us of sleep.

They have also instituted a humiliating genital search policy. I asked a guard why. He answered:

“So you don’t come out to your meetings and calls with your lawyers and give them information to use against us.”

But the prisoners’ weights are as low as their spirits are high. Every man I know here is determined to remain on hunger strike until the US government begins releasing prisoners.

Those of you on the outside might find that difficult to comprehend. My family certainly does. If I’m lucky, I’m allowed four calls with them each year. My mother spent most of my most recent call pleading with me to stop my hunger strike. I had only this to say in response: “Mom, I have no choice.” It is the only way I have left to cry out for life, freedom and dignity.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2013 in Letters from Moath al-Alwi, Risala

 

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Abdelhadi Faraj: July 2013 (This is My Call from Behind these Rusty Bars)

This is my call to the outside world from behind these rusty bars, in this monstrous cell. Does the world know what is happening in this prison?

Despite the long years we the prisoners have spent in this place from 2002 to 2013, the American government does not seem interested in solving the problem. The past few months have been among the harshest lived by the prisoners here. During the Bush years, solutions seemed possible. Under Obama, it seems like there is no will to solve the problem.

I once lived communally with the other prisoners in Camp Six. Now we are all in solitary confinement here, with only two hours of recreation a day. Some prisoners are too weak and sick to ever leave their cells as a result of the hunger strike and the U.S. military’s reaction to it.

The military here has used brute force against the hunger strikers. They have beaten us and used rubber-coated bullets and tear gas against us. They have confiscated everything from our cells, from toothbrushes to blankets and books. They have confined us to cold, windowless cells, beyond the reach of the sun’s rays or a fresh breeze. Sometimes, we don’t even know if it’s day or night out.

It isn’t unusual for prison guards here to search prisoners’ genital parts and their rectum ten times in a single day.

Daily, I am forced into a restraint chair, my arms, legs and chest tied down tight. Big guards grab my head with both hands. I feel like my skull is being crushed. Then, so-called nurses violently push a thick tube down my nostril. Blood rushes out of my nose and mouth. The nurses turn on the feeding solution full throttle. I cannot begin to describe the pain that causes.

Recently, a nurse brutally yanked out the force-feeding tube, threw it on my shoulder, and left the cell, leaving me tied down to the chair. Later, the nurse returned to the cell, took the tube off my shoulder and began to reinsert it into my nose. I asked him to cleanse and purify the tube first but he refused.

When I later tried to complain to another nurse about the incident, the other nurse threatened to force the feeding tube up my rear, not down my nose, if I didn’t suspend my hunger strike.

And when I tried taking the matter to a senior medical officer, he told me that they would strap me to a bed and make me urinate through a catheter forced into my penis if I kept up my peaceful protest.

I used to think I was the only one coping with severe joint pain, a weakened memory, having a hard time concentrating, and feeling constantly distracted as a result of all this. But I’ve since discovered that many hunger strikers struggle with the same symptoms. Without realizing it, some of the hunger strikers even speak to themselves out loud when they’re alone.

But we also know that there are peaceful protests in solidarity with our plight in many countries. Even in America itself, there are protests demanding that the U.S. government close this prison that has hurt America’s reputation. And international criticism mounts daily.

We the hunger strikers continue to demand our rights. President Obama can begin by releasing those of us who have been cleared for release years ago, followed by the prisoners who have not been charged with any crime after eleven years in captivity.

Despite the difficulties, the hard conditions, and the challenges created by the U.S. government, those of us on hunger strike will continue protesting until our demands for justice are met.

 
 

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Mohamedou Ould Slahi: 2006 (Guantanamo Unclassified: ‘Confessions are Like the Beads of a Necklace’)

Slahi continued to be interrogated in complete isolation through September and October. On Oct. 17, 2003, a GTMO interrogator emailed a military psychologist to report, “Slahi told me he is “hearing voices” now. … He is worried as he knows this is not normal. … Is this something that happens to people who have little external stimulus such as daylight, human interaction, etc???? Seems a little creepy.” The psychologist wrote back that “sensory deprivation can cause hallucinations, usually visual rather than auditory, but you never know. … In the dark you create things out of what little you have.”

To be honest, I can report very little about the couple of weeks that were to come because I was not in the right state of mind. I had been lying on my bed all the time, I was not able to realize my surroundings. I tried to find out the Kibla, the direction of Mecca, but there was no clue. Back in ████████ the Kibla was indicated with an arrow in every cell. Yes, the U.S. is demonstratively showing the rest of the world how religious freedom ought to be maintained. Even the call to prayer was to be heard five times a day in ████████, which I found positive. The U.S. always repeated that the war is not against the Islamic religion, which is very prudent because technically it is impossible to fight against a religion as big as Islam; strategically it would be a lost war.

In the secret camps, the war against the Islamic religion was more than obvious. There was not only no sign to Mecca, but ritual prayers were also forbidden. Reciting the Quran was forbidden. Quran possession was forbidden. Fasting was forbidden. Practically any Islamic related ritual is strictly forbidden. I am here not talking about hearsay, I am talking about something I experienced myself. I don’t believe that the average American is paying taxes to wage war against Islam; however, I do believe that there are people in the government who have a big problem with the Islamic religion.

They tried so hard to make me insane. For the first weeks I had no shower, no laundry, no brushing. I almost developed bugs. I hated my smell. No sleep was allowed; in order to enforce this, I was given 740-milliliter water bottles in intervals of one to two hours, depending on the mood of the guards, for 24 hours. The consequences were devastating. I couldn’t close my eyes for 10 minutes because I was sitting most of the time in the bathroom. When I later asked one of the guards, after the tension [eased], “Why this water diet? Why don’t you just make me stay awake by standing up like in ████████?”

“Psychologically it is devastating to make somebody stay awake on his own, without ordering him,” said ████████. “Believe me, you haven’t seen anything. We have put detainees naked under the shower for days, eating, pissing, and shitting in the shower!”

I started to hallucinate and hear voices as clear as crystal. I heard my family in a casual familial conversation, in which I couldn’t take part. I heard Quran readings with a heavenly voice. I heard music from my country. Later on the guards used these hallucinations and were talking with funny voices through the plumbing, encouraging me to hurt the guard and plot an escape. But I wasn’t misled by them, even though I played along.

“We heard somebody, maybe a genie,” they used to say.

“Yeah, but I ain’t listening to him,” I responded. I realized I was at the edge of losing my mind. I started to talk to myself. Although I tried as hard as I could to convince myself that I am not in Mauritania, nor am I near my family, so I could not possibly hear them speaking, I kept hearing voices constantly, day and night. Medical psychological assistance was out of the question, or really any medical assistance besides the asshole I didn’t want to see anyway. I couldn’t find a way on my own; at that moment, I didn’t know if it was day or night, but I assumed it to be night because the toilet drain was rather dark.

I gathered my strength, guessed the Kibla, the direction of Mecca, kneeled, and started to pray to God, “Please guide me. I know not what to do. I am surrounded with merciless wolves, who fear not thee.” When I was praying I burst into tears, though I suppressed my voice lest the guards hear me. You know there are always serious prayers and lazy prayers. My experience taught that [the Lord] always responds to your serious prayers.

“Sir,” I said, when I finished my prayer. One of the guards showed up after putting on his Halloween mask.

“What?” asked the guard with a dry, cold emotion.

“I want to see ████████.

*

Confessions are like the beads of a necklace, if the first bead falls, the rest follow.

They dedicated the whole time until around 10 November 2003 for questioning me about Canada and Sept. 11; they didn’t ask me a single question about Germany, where I really had the center of gravity of my life.

Whenever they asked me about somebody in Canada I had some incriminating information about him, even if I didn’t know him. Whenever I thought about the words, “I don’t know …” I got nauseous because I remembered the words of ████████: “All you have to say, ‘I don’t know, I don’t remember, we’ll fuck you,’ ” or ████████: “We don’t want to hear your denials anymore!” So I erased the words out of my dictionary.

“We’d like you to write your answers on paper, it is too much work to keep up with your talk, and you might forget things when you talk to us,” said ████████.

“Of course!” I responded. I was really happy with the idea because I’d rather talk to a paper than talk to him. At least the paper wouldn’t shout in my face or threaten me. After that, ████████ drowned me in a pile of papers, which I duly filled with writings. It was good to let out my frustration and my depression. “████████ reads your writing with a lot of interest,” said ████████.

“We’re gonna give you an assignment about ████████. He is detained in Florida and they cannot make him talk. He keeps denying everything. You better provide us a smoking gun against him,” said ████████.

I was so sad. How rude was the guy to ask me to provide a smoking gun about somebody I hardly know?

“Oh, yes, I will,” I said. He handed me a bunch of papers and I went back in my cell. Oh, my God, I’ve been so unjust to myself and my brothers. “Nothing’s gonna happen to us … they’ll go to hell … nothing’s gonna happen to us …” I kept praying in my heart, and repeating my prayers. I took the pen and paper and wrote all kind of incriminating lies about a poor person who was seeking refuge in Canada and trying to make some money so he can start a family. Moreover, he’s handicapped. I felt so bad, and kept praying silently, “Nothing’s gonna happen to you, dear brother …” and blowing on the papers I finished. Of course it was out of the question to tell them what I know about him truthfully because ████████ already gave me the guidelines. “████████ is awaiting your testimony against ████████ with extreme interest!”

I gave the assignment to ████████, and after the evaluation I saw ████████ smile for the first time. “Your writing about Ahmed was very interesting, but we want you to provide more detailed information,” said he. What information did the idiot want from me? I don’t even remember what I’ve just written.

“Yes, no problem,” I said. I was very happy that God answered my prayers for ████████ when I learned in 2005 that he was unconditionally released from custody and sent back to his country.

“He’s facing the death penalty,” ████████ used to tell me. And I was really in no better situation. “Since I am cooperating, what are you going to do with me?” I asked ████████. “It depends, if you provide us a great deal of information we didn’t know, it’s going to be weighed against your sentence. For instance, the death penalty would be reduced to life, and life to 30 years,” he responded. Lord have mercy on me. What a harsh justice!

“Oh, that’s great,” I replied.

I felt bad for everybody I hurt with my false testimonies. My only solaces were, one, I didn’t hurt anyone as much as I did myself; two, I had no choice; three, I was confident that injustice will be defeated, it’s only a matter of time; four, I would not blame anybody for lying about me when he gets tortured. Ahmed was just an example. I have been writing more than thousands of pages about my friends with false information. I had to wear the suit U.S. Intel tailored for me, and that is exactly what I did.

To be continued in Part 7

The above is an excerpt from Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s handwritten 466-page memoir, composed during his detention at Guantánamo and declassified by the U.S. government. These excerpts were chosen by Larry Siems and edited by Slate, originally published April 2013. Since Slahi remains in custody and cannot freely communicate, we have limited our editorial changes to correcting grammar and clarifying idiomatic phrasing in order to preserve his unique voice. In the few instances where his meaning required additional context, we have inserted text marked off in brackets.

 

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Mohamedou Ould Slahi: 2006 (Guantanamo Unclassified: ‘That is not a doctor, that is a human butcher!’)

When I heard Egypt, and a new rendition, my heart was pounding. I hated the endless world tour I was forcibly taking. I thought that rendition to Egypt on the spot was possible, because I knew how irritated and desperate the Americans were when it came to my case.

After all kinds of threats and degrading statements, I missed a lot of the trash talk between the Arabs and their American accomplices. At one point, I drowned in my thoughts. I felt ashamed that my people were being used for this horrible job by a government that claims to be the leader of the democratic free world, a government that preaches against dictatorship and “fights” for human rights and sends its children to die for that purpose. What a joke this government makes of its own people! What would the dead-average American think if he or she saw what his or her government is doing with someone who has done no crimes against anybody?

If people in the Arab world knew what is happening in this place, the hatred against the U.S. would be heavily watered, and the accusation that the U.S. helps and works together with dictators in our countries would be cemented. I had a feeling, or rather a hope, that these people would not go unpunished for their crimes. The situation didn’t make me hate either the Arabs or the Americans; I just felt bad for the Arabs.

After about 40 minutes, I couldn’t really tell, ████████ instructed the Arabic team to take over. The two guys grabbed me roughly and since I couldn’t walk on my own, they dragged me on the tips of my toes to the boat. I must have been very near to the water because the trip to the boat was short. I don’t know, but either they put me in another boat or in a different seat. The seat was both hard and straight.

“Move!”

“I can’t move!”

“Move, fucker!” They gave this order and knew that I was too hurt to be able to move. After all I was bleeding from my mouth, my ankles, my wrists, and maybe my nose, I could not tell for sure. But the team wanted to maintain the factor of fear and terror.

“Sit!” said the Egyptian guy, who did most of the talking, while both were pulling me down until I hit the metal. The Egyptian sat on my right side, and the Jordanian on my left. “What’s your fucking name?” asked the Egyptian. “M-O-OH-H-M-M-EE-D-D-O-O-O-O-U!” I answered. Technically, I couldn’t speak because of my swollen lips and hurting mouth. You could tell I was completely scared. Usually I wouldn’t talk when somebody started to hurt me. This is a milestone in my interrogation history. In Jordan, when the interrogator smashed my face, I refused to talk, ignoring all his threats.  You can tell I was hurt like never before, that it is not me anymore, and I will never be the same as before. A thick line was drawn between my past and my future with the first hit ████████ did to me.

“He is like a kid,” said the Egyptian, accurately addressing his Jordanian colleague. I felt warm between them, though not for long, because with the cooperation of the American, a long trip of torture was being prepared.

They put on a kind of thick jacket, which fastened me to the chair. It was a good feeling—however there was a destroying drawback to it. My chest was so tightened that I couldn’t breathe properly. Plus, the air circulation was worse than the first trip. I didn’t know what exactly but something was definitely going wrong. “I c…a…n…t br…e…a…the!”

“Suck the air,” said the Egyptian wryly. I was literally suffocating inside the bag around my head.

The order went as follows: They stuffed the air between my clothes and me with ice cubes from my neck to my ankles, and whenever the ice melted they put in new hard ice cubes. Moreover, every once in a while, one of the guards smashed me, most of the time in the face. The ice served both for pain and for wiping out the bruises I had from that afternoon. Everything seemed to be perfectly prepared. Historically, dictators during medieval and pre-medieval times used this method to let the victim die slowly. The other method of hitting the victim while blindfolded in inconsistent intervals of time was used by Nazis during WWII. There is nothing more terrorizing than making somebody expect a smash every single heartbeat.

“I am from Hasi Matruh, where are you from?” said the Egyptian, addressing his Jordanian colleague. He was speaking as if nothing was happening. You could tell he was used to torturing people.

“I am from the south,” answered the Jordanian.

What would it be like if I landed in Egypt after about 25 hours of torture? What would the interrogation look like? ████████, a ████████, described to me his unlucky trip from Pakistan to Egypt. Everything I was now experiencing—ice cubes and smashing—was consistent with ████████’s story. So I expected electric shocks in the pool. How much power can my body, especially my heart, handle? I know something about electricity and its devastating, irreversible damage. I saw ████████ collapsing in the block a couple of times every week with blood gushing out of his nose until it soaked his clothes. ████████ was a martial arts trainer and athletically built.

But what if they don’t believe me? No, they would believe me, because they understand the recipe of terrorism more than the Americans and have more experience. Americans tend to widen the circle of involvement to catch the most possible number of Muslims. They always speak about the big conspiracy against the U.S. I personally had been asked who practiced the basics of the religion and sympathized with Islamic movements; no matter how moderate the movement, I had been asked to prove every detail about it. That is very amazing in a country such as the U.S., where Christian terrorist organizations such as Nazis and white supremacists have the freedom to express themselves and recruit people openly and nobody can bother them, while as a Muslim if you sympathize with the political views of an Islamic organization you’re in big trouble. Even attending the same mosque as a suspect brings big trouble. I mean this fact is clear for everybody who understands the ABC’s of American policy toward the so-called Islamic terrorism.

In Arabic counties, the approach is similar to the U.S. approach to Christian organizations. As long as you are not involved in criminal acts, nobody gives you trouble. Sympathizing and even associating with Islamic organizations is not considered a crime. I know those facts firsthand because I have been dealing with both approaches for a relatively long time.

The Arab/American party was over, and the Arabs turned me over once more to the same U.S. team. They dragged me out of the boat and threw me, I would say, in the same truck as the one that afternoon. Obviously we were riding on a dirt road. “Do not move!” said ████████ but I didn’t recognize any words anymore. I don’t think anybody beat me, but I was not conscious.

When the truck stopped, ████████ and his strong associate towed me from the truck and dragged me over some steps. The cool air of the room hit me, we passed the room atmosphere and boom, they threw me face down on the metal floor of my new home. “Do not move, I told you not to fuck with me, motherfucker!” said ████████, his voice trailing off. Obviously he was tired, and left right away with a promise of more actions, and so did the Arab team.

A short time after my arrival, I felt somebody taking [the hood] off my head. When the blindfold was taken off I saw a ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ ████████████████████████████████████████████████. I figured he was a doctor, but why the heck is he hiding behind a mask, and why is he U.S. Army, when the Navy is taking medical care of detainees?

“If you fucking move, I’m gonna hurt you!”

I was wondering how could I possibly move, and what possible damage could I do. I was in chains, and every inch of my body was hurting. That is not a doctor, that is a human butcher! When the young man checked on me, he realized he needed more stuff. He left and soon came back with some medical stuff. I glimpsed his watch; it was about 1:30 a.m., which meant about eight hours since I was kidnapped from ████████ camp.

The doctor started to wash the blood off my face with a soaked bandage. After that, he put me on a mattress—the only item in the stark cell—with the help of the guards. “Do not move,” said the guard, who was standing over me. The doctor wrapped many elastic belts around my chest and ribs area. After that, they made me sit.

“If you try to bite me, I’m gonna fuckin’ hurt you!” said the doctor.

I didn’t respond; they were moving me around like an object. Later they took off the chains, and some time later one of the guards threw a thin, small, and worn-out blanket on me through the bin hole, and that was everything I would have in the room. No soap, no toothbrush, no iso-mat, no Quran, nothing.

I tried to sleep, but I was kidding myself, my body was conspiring against me. It took some time until the medication started to work, then I trailed off, and only woke up when one of the guards hit my cell violently with his boot. “Get up, piece of shit!” The doctor once more gave me a bunch of medication and checked on my ribs.

“Done with the motherfucker,” said he, when he showed me his back heading toward the door. I was so shocked seeing a doctor acting like that, because I knew that at least 50 percent of medical treatment is psychological. I was like, “This is an evil place, since my only solace is this bastard doctor.”

To be continued in Part 6

The above is an excerpt from Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s handwritten 466-page memoir, composed during his detention at Guantánamo and declassified by the U.S. government. These excerpts were chosen by Larry Siems and edited by Slate, originally published April 2013. Since Slahi remains in custody and cannot freely communicate, we have limited our editorial changes to correcting grammar and clarifying idiomatic phrasing in order to preserve his unique voice. In the few instances where his meaning required additional context, we have inserted text marked off in brackets.

 
 

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Mohamedou Ould Slahi: 2006 (Guantanamo Unclassified: ‘Welcome to Hell’)

In July 2003, more than a month into his “special interrogation,” documents show that Slahi was interrogated for a week by a new, masked interrogator, kept in a refrigerated cell, and told he would be made to “disappear.” On Aug. 2, 2003, a military interrogator posing as an emissary from the White House visited Slahi carrying a letter saying that Slahi’s mother was in custody and would soon be transferred to Guantánamo, where the U.S government could not guarantee her safety.

“Get the motherfucker back,” shouted ████████, a celebrity among the torture squad. He was about 6 feet tall, athletic-built, and ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ ████████████████████████████████████████████████. He was aware that he was committing heavy crimes of war, thus he was ordered by his bosses to cover himself. But if there is any kind of basic justice, he would be busted through his bosses. We know their names and their ranks.

When I got to know ████████ more and heard him speaking, I wondered how could a man as smart as he was possibly accept such a degrading job, which surely is going to haunt him the rest of his life. I later on discussed with some of my guards why they executed the order of stopping me from praying, since it is an unlawful order. “I could have, but my boss would have given me a shitty job, or transferred me to a bad place. I know I can go to hell for what I have done to you,” he said. History repeats itself: after World War II, German soldiers were not excused when they argued that they received orders.

“You’ve been giving ████████ a hard time,” continued ████████, while dragging me into a dark room. With the help of the guards he dropped me on the dirty floor. The room was as dark as ebony. ████████ started playing a track very loudly. I mean very loudly. The song was, “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor.” I might never forget that song. ████████ at the same time turned on some colored blinkers that hurt the eyes. “If you fucking fall asleep, I’m gonna hurt you,” he said. I had to listen to the song over and over until the next morning.

“Welcome to hell,” said the ████████ guard when I stepped inside the block. I didn’t answer, and ████████ wasn’t worth it. But I was like, “I think you deserve hell more than I do, because you’re working dutifully to go to hell!” The guards on the block actively participated in the process of torture. The ████████ tell them what to do with the detainee once he came back to the block. I had guards banging on my cell to prevent me from sleeping. They cursed me for no reason. They repeatedly woke me. I never complained to my interrogators about that issue because I knew they planned everything with the guards.

*

“I told you, I’m gonna bring some people to help me interrogate you,” said ████████ sitting inches away in front of me. ████████ offered me a metal chair. The guest sat almost sticking on my knee. ████████ started to ask me some question I don’t remember.

“Yes or no?” shouted the guest, loud beyond belief, in a show to scare me, and maybe to impress ████████, who knows? I found his method very childish and silly. I looked at him, smiled, and said, “Neither!” The guest violently drew the chair from beneath me. I fell on the chains. Oh, it hurt.

“Stand up, motherfucker,” shouted both, almost synchronous. Then a session of torture and humiliation started. They started to ask me the questions after they made me stand up, but it was too late, because I told them a million times, “Whenever you start to torture me, I’m not gonna say a single word.” And that was always accurate, for the rest of the day, they were the only ones to talk.

████████ turned the air conditioning all the way down to bring me to freezing. This method had been practiced in the camp at least since August ’02. I have seen people who were exposed to the frozen room day after day such as ███████████████████████████████████████████████████████████, [who] told me of having suffered the same fate. [All the] Yemeni brothers had been suffering all kinds of humiliation including the frozen room. ████████ the same way. And the list is long. The consequences of the cold room are devastating, such as ████████, but they show up only later because it takes time until they work their way through the bones. Furthermore, the torture squad was so well trained that they had been performing perfect crimes, avoiding leaving any obvious evidence. Nothing was left to chance. They hit in predefined places. They practiced horrible methods, the aftermath of which only manifested later.

Technically, the interrogators turned the AC all the way down trying to reach 0 F, but obviously the AC is not designed to kill. In the well-isolated room the AC fought its way to 49 F, and if you are interested in math like me, that is 9.4 C—in other words very, very cold, especially for somebody who had to stay in it more than 12 hours, had no underwear, had a very thin uniform, and comes from a hot country. Somebody from Saudi Arabia cannot take as much cold as somebody from Sweden, and vice versa, when it comes to hot weather.

You may ask me, “Where were the interrogators, after installing me in the frozen room?” Actually, it’s a good question, and the answer is: First, the interrogators didn’t stay in the room, they just come for humiliation, degradation, and discouragement, or another factor of torture; after that they left and went to the monitoring room next door. Second, interrogators were dressed adequately. For instance, ████████ was dressed like somebody entering a meat locker. In spite of that, they didn’t stay a long time with the detainees. Third, interrogators kept moving in the room, which meant blood circulation, which meant keeping themselves warm while the detainee was ████████ all the time, on the floor, standing up for the most part. All I could do was move my feet and rub my hands. But the Marine guy stopped me from rubbing my hands by ordering a special chain that shackled my hands on my opposite hips. If I get nervous I always start to rub my hands together and write on my body, and that drove my interrogators crazy.

“What are you writing?” shouted ████████ “Either you tell me or you stop the fuck,” but I couldn’t stop anyway, it was unintentional.

The man in [charge of] the show started to throw chairs around, and hit me with his forehead, and described me with all kinds of adjectives I don’t deserve, for no reason. The guy was nuts; he asked me about things I have no clue about, and names I never heard. “I have been in ████████,” he said, “and you know who was our host? The president! We had a good time in the palace.”

The Marine guy asked questions and answered himself. When the man failed to impress me with all the talk and humiliation and the threat to arrest my family (since the ████████ “was an obedient servant of the U.S.”), he started to hurt me more. He brought ice-cold water and soaked me all over my body. My clothes stuck on me. It was so awful, I kept shaking like a Parkinson’s patient. Technically I wasn’t able to talk anymore. The guy was stupid, he was literally executing me but in a slow way. ████████ gestured to him to stop pouring water on me. I refused to eat anything; I couldn’t open my mouth anyway.

The guy was very hot, when ████████ stopped him because he was afraid of the paperwork which would [result] in case of my death. He found another technique; namely, he brought a CD-player with booster and started to play some rap music. I didn’t really mind the music because it made me forget my pain; actually, the music was a blessing in disguise, I was trying to make sense of the words. All I understood was that the music was about love, can you believe it? Love! All I had experienced lately was hatred or the consequences thereof. “Listen to that, motherfucker!” said the guest, while closing the door violently behind him. “You’re gonna get the same shit day after day, and guess what? It’s getting worse. What you’re seeing is only the beginning,” said ████████. I kept praying and ignoring what they were doing.

“Oh, ALLAH, help me. … Oh, Allah, have mercy on me,” ████████ kept mimicking my prayers, “ALLAH … ALLAH … There is no Allah. He let you down!” I smiled at how ignorant ████████ was by talking about the Lord like that.

Between 10 and 11 p.m. ████████ handed me over to ████████ and gave an order to the guards to move me to his specially prepared room. It was so cold and full of pictures showing the glories of the U.S.: weapons arsenal, planes, pictures of G. Bush. “Don’t pray, you insult my country if you pray during my national hymn. We are the greatest country in the free world, and we have the smartest president of the world,” said ████████. For the whole night I had to listen to the U.S. hymn. I hate hymns anyway. All I can remember was the beginning, “Oh say can you see …” over and over.

Between 4 and 5 a.m. ████████ released me just to be taken a couple of hours later by ████████ to start the same routine over and over. The hardest step is the first, the hardest days were the first days; with every day going by I grew stronger. Meanwhile, I was the main subject of talk in the camp, although many other detainees were suffering a similar fate; I was “Criminal No. 1,” and I was appropriately treated. Sometimes, when I was in the rec yard, detainees shouted, “Be patient. Remember Allah tries the people he loves the most.” Comments like that were my only solace beside my faith in the Lord.

[Then] ████████ crawled from behind the scene and appeared in the picture: ████████ had told me a couple of times before ████████ visit about a very high level government person who was going to visit me and talk to me about my family. I personally didn’t take the information negatively; I thought he was going to bring me some messages from my family, but I was wrong. It was about hurting my family. ████████ was escalating the situation relentlessly with me.

████████ came around 11 a.m., escorted by ████████ and the new ████████. He was brief and direct.

“My name is ████████. I work for ████████. My government is desperate to get information out of you. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“Can you read English?”

“Yes.”

████████ handed me a letter he obviously forged. The letter was from DoD and it said, basically, “Ould Slahi was involved in the Millennium attack and recruited three of the September 11 hijackers. Since Slahi has refused to cooperate, the U.S. government is going to arrest his mother and put her in a special facility.”

I read the letter. “Is that not harsh and unfair?” I said.

“I am not here to maintain justice. I am here to stop people from crashing planes into buildings in my country.”

“Then go and stop them. I have done nothing to your country,” I said.

“You have two options, either being a defendant or a witness.”

“I want neither.”

“You have no choice, and your life is going to change decidedly,” he said.

“Just do it, the sooner, the better!” I said.

To be continued in Part 4

The above is an excerpt from Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s handwritten 466-page memoir, composed during his detention at Guantánamo and declassified by the U.S. government. These excerpts were chosen by Larry Siems and edited by Slate, originally published April 2013. Since Slahi remains in custody and cannot freely communicate, we have limited our editorial changes to correcting grammar and clarifying idiomatic phrasing in order to preserve his unique voice. In the few instances where his meaning required additional context, we have inserted text marked off in brackets.

 

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