Stop calling Gitmo detainees ‘terrorists’

8 Aug

You might know it from watching the laughably incompetent media coverage and analysis of the “war on terror,” but nearly every single one of the prisoners that were locked up in the Gitmo Gulag were completely innocent.

Mozamm Begg was one of the victims of the US war machine who ended up at Guantanamo Bay. He was living in Pakistan with his wife helping to build schools for girls in Afghanistan. He was then kidnapped at gunpoint by the CIA and the Pakistani Intelligent Services, and sent to the deadly government cage in Bagram, Afghanistan. He continues:

“I was taken to the US-run jail at Bagram [air force base], in Afghanistan. I was held in a communal cell. We weren’t allowed to walk, talk or get up without permission. If we did we were hooded and suspended from the ceiling for hours.

“I was held at Bagram until February 2003. I saw two people killed there. I was stripped naked, kicked, beaten, threatened with dogs. Interrogators would hold pictures of my wife and children, and ask me what I thought had happened to them, while a woman screamed near by. By the time I left I was actually looking forward to going to Guantánamo Bay.

“It was a 36-hour journey to Guantánamo. I was hooded, shackled, ear-muffed and sedated. I was put into a cell at the maximum security Camp Echo. I remained there most of the time. I was in that cell 24 hours a day, except for 15 minutes out of it twice a week. Guantánamo was more a psychological ordeal. I was released in January 2005″

Gitmo detainees have consistently been labeled as “terrorists,” and with no lawyer and no rights, it’s hard to disprove a negative. All the hysteria and panic about releasing these prisoners reveals that a “terrorist” is what the US Empire says it is, and that’s that. Trials, evidence, and the rule of law need not apply.

If Americans understood who exactly was being held at Gitmo, they might start to question why they were there in the first place. Besides Begg, there are plenty of others who committed no crime and engaged in no acts of terrorism:

Abdul Rahim Abdul Razzak al-Ginco: A Syrian Kurd captured by the Taleban in January 2000 and forced to work as a labourer in a terror training camp. Tried to leave after 18 days. Accused of being an Israeli spy. Sent to Kandahar jail. Beaten and tortured by Taleban for nearly two years. When Taleban fled in January 2002, al-Ginco met Tim Reid, Times reporter, at the Kandahar jail. Begged for help from the US. The CIA came and he was sent to Guantánamo. He is still there. He has never been charged. Last month a US judge ordered him to be released.

Mohammed El Gharani: Guantanamo’s youngest detainee. Seized aged 14 in Pakistan in 2001 when a mosque he was attending was raided by Pakistani security forces. He was ultimately turned over to the US military in Afghanistan. Released to his native Chad in June, without charge, after seven years at Guantánamo.

Said Ali al-Shihri: A Saudi citizen, he was captured on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in December 2001 carrying $1,900 and suffering from an injured leg. He was held at Guantánamo Bay for nearly six years before being released to his native country for a rehabilitation and reintegration programme in 2007. In 2009, al-Shihri turned up in several Yemeni jihadist videos posted on the internet, including one in which he was identified as second-in-command of the al-Qaeda leadership in Yemen.

Salahidin Abdulahat: Captured in Pakistan in October 2001, Salahidin Abdulahat was one of a number of Chinese Muslim Uighurs taken into custody and detained by the US at Guantánamo Bay. After being held there for more than seven years, Mr Abdulahat and three fellow Uighurs were released on the island of Bermuda in a secret deal that the British Government learnt about only after the men had been released. Today, Mr Abdulahat, 32, is enjoying his new lifestyle and hoping to one day become a Bermudian citizen.

That’s a short list of the more than 600 people that have been imprisoned off the shores of Cuba by the US. President Obama is doing the right thing by closing this hideous torture chamber 90 miles from Florida, but there are still many US gulags operating around the world, especially at the Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan.


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