Thursday, October 19, 2006

A falsely accused “enemy combatant” describes his imprisonment in Guantanamo. By Moazzam Begg

Moazzam Begg is a second-generation British Muslim. In 2002, he was arrested in Pakistan and held for two years by the United States as an “enemy combatant.” Below, he describes his arrival and interrogation in Guantanamo after being held at both Kandahar and Bagram. He was released in 2005, and now lives in Birmingham, England, with his family. Today, Begg can lecture only in Britain because, despite the absence of charges against him, his passport was withdrawn as a condition of his release. He hopes to be able to travel and lecture more widely in the future.

It is considered a sin in Islam to despair, but in Bagram, during the worst days of May 2002, I had been unable to hold despair at bay. Here in Guantanamo, in this steel cage with its mesh sides, steel roof and floor, steel bed, steel toilet, all inside a white, new-looking brightly lit room, I felt despair returning as I took in my surroundings for the first time.

All I had in the cell was a sheet and a roll of toilet paper, not even my glasses. I asked for something that I could use as a prayer mat, and they brought a thin camping mat, which became my mattress for the next two years.


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