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Testimony to Witness to Guantanamo (Moazzan Begg)

Worst Fear

They knew what my fears were. They knew what my apprehensions were and what I asked for most, and that was my family. And they had taken note of this, even through the Red Cross messages that I wrote. Evidently, any message that went in or out had to go through U.S. censorship, and they knew exactly what my fears and concerns were.

And interrogations, when they occurred, they’d ask me about my family. Now, often they’ve said that the FBI tried to distance itself from all the torture and so forth, but the FBI were there, and they were present, and they were benefiting from and using that situation so that the June 1 interrogation… with the sounds of a woman screaming next door, that I was…it was…it suggested that my wife was next door being tortured.

Pictures of my children and family were waved in front of me. A phone in one hand, the FBI agents had, and a picture in the other: “They’re only a phone call away. Where do you think they are? What do you think happened to them the night we took you? Do you think you’ll see your kids again? Where do you think your wife is?”

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Human Contact

There was a cell, the cell was a converted shipping container. And that’s it. Being locked in there for the next two years. [Interviewer: By yourself? ] Alone, yes [Interviewer: How did you manage living in such isolation for, it sounds to me, what? 18, 20 months or so?]

Well, there’s no simple answer to that really. I think my faith played an important role. It was severely tested of course. Thoughts of what I planned to do… when I… even the word “when”… if I get released. I tried to memorize as much of the Quran as possible. As an Arabic speaker I tried to contemplate more on its meanings than I had ever done before. I asked for human contact with other people and they sent me a psychiatrist. And this is on occasion, on a couple of occasions when I’d lost my… lost my mind. Banged my head against the wall, kicked and screamed. Just because of being incarcerated for so long, and not knowing when I’m going to get out of this place. And everything building up.

I think it was an anxiety attack more than anything else. And they sent in psychiatrists. And I remember the first psychiatrist, not the one that I mentioned earlier on - the one who said she was very upset about Guantanamo - but this one in particular came along and she sat on the opposite side of my cell, and she said “Have you thought about hurting yourself?” And I said, “No, not in the way that you’re suggesting.” And then she said, “Have you thought about removing your trousers, threading your trousers with a sheet, putting the crotch part around your neck so you can make a strong noose, and they tying it to the top corner of your cell and jumping off to commit suicide?” I said, “No, not until you put that thought in my mind.” And I couldn’t understand why she told me that. But what I have learned since that time is that five people in Guantanamo have died, almost identically from that method.

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