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Testimony to Witness to Guantanamo (Shafiq Rasul)

Speaking English

We did have an advantage because we spoke English, but it was very small. We could communicate with the soldiers.

There was a very small minority of them that would sympathize with what was happening. There was one guy, the very first that actually…, he was in Camp X‐Ray, and he said to me, “What’s happening to you is bad. What happened in America is bad, as well, but two wrongs don’t make a right. And, there is nothing I can do to help you, but just to let you know that there are some people that sympathize with what’s happening to you.” And there is one guy in Camp Delta who said to me that, “I’m really sorry for what’s happening to you, but there’s nothing that I can do. If I do anything, I’ll end up in the cell next to you. I apologize for what my country has done to you, but I’m a soldier here and I have to follow rules.”

There are people that [said], when you were on the IRF [= IMMEDIATE REACTION FORCE] team, you didn’t have a choice to go on there. And every time that someone got IRFed, it was filmed. So I think that they were made to be aggressive. If they weren’t, they’d probably get punished for them. And there were some people on the IRF team, after they’d IRFed someone, they’d come back and apologize to them.

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Flight to Guantanamo

The day we were taken, moved from our cells in the night into a separate part in the camp in Qandahar. And we were woken up in the morning, and told to sit to the back of our cells. We all had numbers and they were calling out two by two numbers of all the people. So we’d… my number would come up and we were taken to the front of the cell, made to lie down on the floor. Two soldiers would come and basically sit on us and [unintelligible] us, and shackle us up, and drag us to the processing place.

They made us sit down on these like wooden benches, chained our hands to the wooden bench so we couldn’t move, shaved our heads, shaved our beards off, cut all our clothes off us. And then we were marched, naked, out of the tent, in front of… I don’t know how many soldiers were there… that was basically done to humiliate us, there was no other reason that they did that… into another tent. And there was… there was a guy with a camera there. We were naked when they were taking the photos. We don’t know if they were taking head shots or full body shots of us. And we were given an orange uniform and told to put it on. We put the uniform on and then we were marched out of that tent, outside, and then they put these mitts on our hands, and taped them up… what else?… they put goggles over our eyes so we couldn’t see anything. And then they put these hats on our heads, which was probably to keep us warm because it was freezing there. Then they put these denim jackets over us and made us sit down on the floor for a really long time.

Then, it was at night time and we were actually taken by groups, cause they did that same thing putting the rope around our arms and marching us in groups of I think about ten. Then we were put onto the plane. With our ears covered, our mouth covered, our eyes covered so we didn’t know what was going on, then put on the plane. And about I think it must have been about an hour we were on the plane and then it took off.

The first journey was horrendous because we were sitting on these wooden planks, and it was impossible to sit on them for more than five minutes, and we couldn’t move, cause we were chained to the floor and it was causing us a lot of pain. We had lost a lot of weight at that time, and it was impossible to sit in one position for that long. And we had nothing to lean back on. So I had to sit constantly in one position and not be able to move. And I was in a lot of pain. And I was shouting, “I’m in pain! I’m in pain!” And somebody came took the mask off me and put something in my mouth, and made me… some kind of medicine I don’t know what it was. But after that I just felt really really drowsy. And I don’t know if I went to sleep. I could still feel the pain in my body. That journey must have lasted about… it felt like it was forever, but it was…

We landed somewhere it must have been about 10, 12 hours later. We were taken off the plane, searched, and it seemed like… they took us off the plane, they might have put us onto a different plane, or they brought us back onto the same plane. And that must have took about two or three hours. Then we were just waiting there. Where we landed was really hot. That’s the only thing that I remember about that place because they kept our faces covered so we couldn’t see anything. Then they put us back onto the second plane and that’s the one that took us to Guantanamo.

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Scared Guards

[Interviewer: You got the feeling that some guards were afraid of you? Afraid of the detainees?] They were, cause when they'd come to take you off your cell they’d be shaking. They’d be shaking so much that it’d make you nervous, and you'd end up shaking as well. Thinking, “Why is this guy shaking? I’m shackled, my feet… my hands are shackled together, my feet are shackled together, I’m not going to do anything.” But you'd feel, you feel they are really scared.

Because… they were… I think the average age was about 23. And when we were in Camp X-Ray I think it was lower. Because they were really young; there were like 17, 18 year old kids there. [Interviewer: And so… so you were surprised to find out that they were afraid of you?]

Yeah, it's just the fact that… if they’re scared they could do anything to you, so you try not to make any sudden movements or anything, cause they’re free. They could knock you down and just do whatever they want to you.

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