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Guantanamo Inmate Database: Mohammed Saduq

McClatchy Newspapers
by Tom Lasseter
June 15, 2008

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Mohammed Saduq said he wasn't surprised when Pakistani troops came to his house to detain him in late 2001.

"I was a Taliban, so I didn't bother asking why they arrested me," he said.

Saduq was living in Chaman, Pakistan, a sort of bedroom community and hideout for Afghan Taliban leaders near the Afghan border.

He said he spent about three weeks in Pakistani jails, then was picked up by American troops who took him to the detention camp at Bagram Air Base.

Saduq said he told U.S. interrogators that the Taliban had appointed him to oversee the Tahia Maskan orphanage in northern Kabul. It was, by most accounts, a place where children were malnourished and often beaten, another horrific corner of the Taliban world, but not an important post.

Shir Mohammed, the first governor of Helmand province under the U.S.-backed Afghan government, said that he knew Saduq's background well: He'd arrested Saduq about 12 years ago when the Taliban were beginning to take over the country.

"He was not a military guy, he was not a minister, but he was someone the Taliban consulted with because he was seen as someone who understood politics," Mohammed said.

Saduq didn't go before a military tribunal at Guantanamo, so there's no transcript of the U.S. military's case against him. That Saduq was released after about 13 months at Guantanamo suggests that American interrogators didn't consider him a threat or an important figure in the Taliban. Even men with marginal militant backgrounds were imprisoned for three or four years.

He appears to be one more in a long line of detainees of little intelligence value who remained in U.S. custody and then were released.

Saduq spoke by phone from his home in Chaman; he said that a Western reporter coming to meet him wouldn't be safe for anyone.

The soldiers who questioned him at Bagram, he said, seemed bored to hear about his job at the orphanage, but they perked up when he told them that on several occasions he'd met Mullah Omar, the top Taliban leader, who's never been captured.

Saduq said he had no idea where Mullah Omar could be hiding, and he said he was also in the dark about Osama bin Laden's whereabouts

Even if he'd known something, Saduq said, he wouldn't have passed it along after the soldiers who guarded him on the plane from Pakistan punched and kicked him.

From Bagram, he said, he went to the camp at Kandahar Airfield.

When he arrived at Kandahar, he said, he was stripped naked and given new prison clothes, then was taken to the piece of plywood he would sleep on, underneath a plastic tarp.

He said he was questioned again about the whereabouts of Mullah Omar and bin Laden.

"During my fourth interrogation, a man was asking me these same questions, and when I answered he became very angry," Saduq said. "He said I was not telling the truth. He began insulting me; he shouted that he would let his soldiers rape me. He was punching the table."

Saduq said he was never hit during interrogations but that guards often beat his head against a wall on the way there and back.

At Guantanamo, he said, he wasn't interrogated very often, maybe every three or four weeks.

In his last month there, he was taken in for questioning every day for a week. This time, the questions weren't about bin Laden or Mullah Omar, he said. The soldiers wanted to know about his health and what he planned to do when he was released.

Saduq said he figured that they were afraid he'd fall seriously ill after he got home. When he'd arrived at Guantanamo, doctors had told him that he had tuberculosis.

After the plane ride to Kabul, he said, Afghan security officials held him for three days, then handed him over to the Red Cross, which he said gave him 1,000 afghanis, about $20, and a ride to Kandahar.

He went home to Chaman as soon as he could, he said.

After more than a year at Bagram, Kandahar and Guantanamo, he's back where he started: in a Pakistani village full of Taliban, hoping the militants retake Afghanistan.

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