Living With Guantanamo Scars

When Mishal al-Harbi's foot touched the grounds of Guantanamo, he was full of life but by the time the young Saudi left the notorious detention center he was damaged for life.

Living With Guantanamo Scars

When Mishal al-Harbi's foot touched the grounds of Guantanamo, he was fullof life but by the time the young Saudi left the notorious detention center hewas damaged for life, The Washington Postreported on Sunday, March 11.

"He was just like the rest ofhis brothers before he left," Hamida Owayid, his mother, said bitterly.

"What did the Americans do tohim?"

Mishal, who went to Afghanistan by 2001 to join the fight againstthe US,was detained and later shipped to the infamous detention center by 2002.

Three years later when he wasreleased, the young Saudi was permanently paralyzed and restricted to awheelchair for life.

Washington has been holding hundreds of detainees at the top securitydetention facility, mostly arrested in Afghanistan after the toppling ofTaliban following the 9/11 attacks. Only ten of them have been indicted forcharges.

Guantanamo's buildings hide behind multiple rows of 12-foot chain-linkfences covered in green tarpaulins and topped with tight spirals of barbedwire.

Old wooden and newer steelwatchtowers dot the perimeter.

Amnesty International insists Guantanamo has become a "symbol of abuse andrepresents a system of detention that is betraying the best US values andundermines international standards."

The international rights watchdogonce likened it to gulag prisons, the Soviet detention centers notorious fortorturing political prisoners and suspects.


The USreport on Guantanamodetainees claim Mishal tried to commit suicide in January 2003, which resultedin significant brain injury due to oxygen loss.

"He will need to be in someassisted-living situation," read the 2006 report.

But his family dismisses the suicidetheory.

"With the strength of hisfaith, which took him all the way to Afghanistan, it's impossible thathe tried to kill himself," insisted Mishal's elder brother Fahd.

The family is not only seekingfinancial compensation but also concrete admission from the US government that Mishal was brutalized by his Guantanamo jailers.

With his speech slurred and his bodygripped with jerks and shakes, the former detainee hardly remembers the fulldetails of his ordeal, recalling only glimpses of guards' cruelty.

"He was carrying a shield. Hepushed me with it. I don't remember anything else," he said with a heavytongue, referring to one of his jailers.

But other detainees who werereleased from Guantanamospeak of a heartbreaking, horrifying experience Mishal had.

"Word of the Qur'an'sdesecration quickly spread around the camp, and the brothers were all veryagitated," said Saad al-Azmi, a Kuwaiti.

After prisoners staged a hungerstrike to protest disrespect of their holy book, Mishal and some others weretransferred to an isolation block, said Hammad Ali, a Sudanese who was in thesame isolation block at the time.

One night, guards rushed into thealmost-dark blocks and started beating prisoners in their individual cells.

Detainees recall that soon after,Mishal was carried out of his cell and guards said he had tried to hang himselfwith a blanket.

After months of being hospitalizedunconscious, Mishal was released into Saudi custody in July 2005 and ninemonths later he was sent home.

"All the men who were releasedfrom Guantanamo,they are now leading a normal life," Fahd told The Post.

"But Mishal can't walk, gethimself a glass of water or go to the bathroom by himself.

"I just want him to go back theway he was before Guantanamo."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16