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Habeas Schmabeas (Al Noaimi)

Habeas Schmabeas was the 10 March 2006 installment of the popular NPR series This American Life. This broadcast contained some testimony of prisoner abuse at Guantánamo. The sources of this testimony were a number of Guantánamo prisoners, including Badruzzan Badr (Badr Zaman Badr), Abdullah al Noaimi, Murat Karnaz (Murat Kurnaz), and Juma Mohammed Abdul Latif Al Dosari (Jumah Al Dossari). This testimony was given either directly by the prisoners, or else, indirectly, through their lawyers (Joe Margulies, Baher Azmy, and Jonathan Colangelo-Bryan).

In addition to these individuals, the excerpts below mention This American Life host Ira Glass, reporter Jack Hitt, and US Navy Rear Admiral John Hutson (Judge Advocate till 2000).

Habeas Schmabeas was produced by Chicago Public Radio (WBEZ Chicago), and was distributed by Public Radio International.

Herewith the testimony of Abdullah al Noaimi.

Physical Abuse


See also HS7, HS8.


Psychological Abuse

(HS8) AL NOAIMI: They told me that they had electric shocks from them, and one of them was threatened to be raped. And they took off his pants. And I was like, uh, like thinking “What am I going to do?” They took me at night. There was two interrogators. They wanted me to say that I was a terrorist. I told them “No, I’m not,” and everything. Then they started like, uh, pushing me and everything. And then they brought a cigarette. The interrogator was smoking. He blew the smoke in my face. Then he came very close, very, very close to my face, and brought the cigarette between my eyes and he said “I swear to God I’m going to put it in your forehead if you don’t tell me what I want to hear.” I thought about it… I felt like, this is a jungle, and only the strong lived in it. But still, there is a small creature that can live, but not by facing the lions, or facing big animals. No. But by maybe hiding, or changing their colors as the trees. So I just said, “Whatever you want to hear from me, I’m going to tell you. What do you want me to say?” He said, “Say that you are a terrorist.” “You want me to say I’m a terrorist? Are you going to let me go? Are you going to let me go sleep?” Because a way of torture is not to let me sleep, like keep me awake all the time. So I said, “Okay. I’m gonna tell you whatever you want. Yeah, I’m a terrorist, now go to your bosses.” And they left me (Chicago Public Radio 2006).

(HS11) HITT: Finally, Badr and Abdullah [al Noaimi] were each taken out of the camps at Kandahar and put on a plane to Guantanamo. Remember, this is an international flight, from Afghanistan to Cuba, over 20 hours long. AL NOAIMI: We were handcuffed, and the handcuffs were tied to our stomachs. And there is a chain connected to our legs. All the detainees next to you were like, stuck to you. BADR: They used to put goggles on our head, and we had masks that we can hardly breathe. We could not hear, we could not see, we can even not touch. So they had to stop all our senses completely. AL NOAIMI: To have hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling, those things only a human can have (Chicago Public Radio 2006).

See also HS12.

Legal Abuse

(HS12) HITT: Once they got to Guantanamo, both Badr and Abdullah described being stripped naked, medically examined, and then put into cages until a new round of interrogations began. BADR: Mostly they used to ask questions about the religious organizations, and how they get money, and why people hate Americans… And there had been even stupid questions. HITT: Like? BADR: Yeah, there were stupid questions like if we had seen Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar, if we intend to attack Americans…AL NOAIMI: As if I know Osama bin Laden. I was like shocked, nineteen years old. HITT: Abdullah [al Noaimi] and Badr, by the way, arrived at different times at the base and never knew each other. But they both described meeting lots of ordinary people: farmers, teachers, cab drivers, who were also sold to the Americans. Abdullah talked to one guy who was sold by his own father-in-law. Badr met men who never even heard of Osama bin Laden. After awhile, some of them couldn’t help but showcase the absurdity of the situation. AL NOAIMI: Like for example, one guy, he’s a very funny guy, they took him to interrogation. Every day they take him there for more than 20 hours. Keep him awake, and have very loud disco music, the lights, like, circling all over his eyes and all over the place. And then, after so many days, under those circumstances, that person just stood up, held the interrogator’s hand and kept dancing with him. (Both laugh) Yes, seriously! He kept moving his body all around and the interrogator was going to have a nervous breakdown (Chicago Public Radio 2006).

(HS13) HITT: Abdullah [al Noaimi] was originally arrested traveling in Pakistan. A man offered him a meal and a place to rest, and later turned him over to the army for the bounty. Abdullah says he saw the money change hands at the jail. Once in American custody, he was accused of traveling to Afghanistan and proclaiming his desire to carry out jihad (Chicago Public Radio 2006).

(HS14) AL NOAIMI: Sometimes, to get us, to put the stress on us, they come and ask me, like, “Do you want to go home?” They don’t want to take me home, they’re just asking to make you like, angry, and nervous that you’ll never go home, and they keep telling you this thing. But, in response, I tell them the same thing: “No, thanks, I don’t want to go home. I’m okay here. I like you so much, I don’t want to leave you.” (Both laugh). HITT: Now, did they just, did they think you were a smartass? How did they react to that? AL NOAIMI: (Chuckling) They were surprised the first time, but then they got used to it, ‘cause everybody’s saying it. Even if they, for example, stop you from food, stop you from sleeping, stop you from talking, I don’t know why, you just keep smiling (Chicago Public Radio 2006).

Religious Abuse 

See HS7.


Verbal Abuse

(HS9) AL NOAIMI: I got shocked. I got shocked when the first interviewer, like, cursing me up and down, cursing my father, cursing my family, cursing my country, cursing my government, everything. Why? That was the question I wanted to know. Like, uh, “What’s going on? Do I know you? What do you have against me? What did I do to you?” (Chicago Public Radio 2006).

See also HS7.

Abuse en route to Guantanamo


(HS7) AL NOAIMI: When we first got to Kandahar, I was surprised. I had never seen those pictures, those views, only in the ancient movies, like Dark Ages. We were chained by the legs, like shackled, and they ordered us to pick up rocks. (Chuckles) Can you imagine this? They said you should pick up the rocks on the ground, like put it all together in a pile. BADR: There was no water to make ablution or to take a shower. HITT: Badr, the satirist, was taken to the same airbase, in Kandahar. BADR: And the MPs were treating us very harshly. We had to be on our knees for long hours, and to put our hands on our heads. And mostly they used the work “f---ing,” and they used to tell us to put our “f---ing hands on our f---ing heads”, and we didn’t like that (Chicago Public Radio 2006).

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