Guantanamo Voices

Ex-Detainee Describes Life After Guantanamo
January 6, 2009, 6:28 pm
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The New York Times put together a great piece this week about former Guantanamo detainee Muhammad Saad Iqbal, who was picked up in Jakarta in 2002 allegedly for bragging that he knew how to make a shoe bomb. From there he was held in Egypt, Bagram and finally Guantanamo Bay for five years. The NYT describes what Iqbal was like this August,when he was released after six years of detentions, never having been charged with a crime.



… he had difficulty walking, his left ear was severely infected, and he was dependent on a cocktail of antibiotics and antidepressants. In November, a Pakistani surgeon operated on his ear, physical therapists were working on lower back problems and a psychiatrist was trying to wean him off the drugs he carried around in a white, plastic shopping bag

The maladies, said Mr. Iqbal, 31, a professional reader of the Koran, are the result of a gantlet of torture, imprisonment and interrogation for which his Washington lawyer plans to sue the United States government.

Iqbar’s story is similar to those of many detainees and I wonder about his threat to sue. As former detainees feel safer speaking up with Bush moving out of office, I would imagine many would bring lawsuits — especially since lawyers have been the ones on the front lines fighting for human rights in Guantanamo for the last six years.

The article also includes this confusing line:

“But the full stories of individual detainees like Mr. Iqbal are only now emerging after years in which they were shuttled around the globe under the Bush administration’s system of extraordinary rendition”


A solid number of detainees have been telling their stories for several years. Moazzam Begg’s in-depth book about his experience, Enemy Combatant, came out in 2006. Is the “full story” available now because government officials are more willing to talk and documents are easier to obtain? Detainees have been speaking up for a while — they’ve just had trouble finding an audience.