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Guantánamo memories, from outside the wire

New York Times

June 21, 2004

Abdur Rahim, 26

A baker from Khost City, Afghanistan. He was arrested outside Khost and held at a Guantánamo Bay detention camp from December 2002 until March 15, 2004.

"There were some soldiers that were very good with us," Mr. Rahim said. "But there was one soldier, he was a very bad guy. He was stopping the water for our commode. At nighttime, they would throw large rocks back and forth, which hit the metal walkway between the cells and made a loud noise. They did it to keep us awake.

"After I left Cuba, I had mental problems. I cannot talk to people for a long period of time. I work just to survive. But I'm not scared of anyone in this world. I'm just scared of God."

Muhammad Ansar, 23

From Punjab Province, Pakistan. Captured in Afghanistan in December 2001, released from Guantánamo in March 2003.

"We were locked in cages. Each person was chained and sometimes made to work on our knees. At the camp, we were not allowed to say prayers. We couldn't cover our heads. Prayers were allowed after we all went on a [hunger] strike.

"They used to say to me that I lied and that my statements didn't match. I was threatened that I would be kept there forever or that I would be hanged.

"They let me go because I was innocent but what about all those days that I was kept in prison? Shouldn't I be compensated? Where is the law that the Americans talk about?"

Abdurahman Khadr, 21

Born in Bahrain, he grew up in Toronto and Afghanistan, where his Egyptian-born father, Ahmed Said Khadr, became a close associate of Osama bin Laden.

Mr. Khadr said he was captured on Nov. 12, 2001, in Kabul and recruited by C.I.A. officers in prison. A C.I.A. spokesman would not comment on the story, but another American official confirmed its broad outlines.

He agreed to infiltrate the detainees at Guantánamo for $3,000 a month and a $5,000 bonus. On his arrival in March 2003, he said, he was placed in isolation. Later, he pleaded to be interrogated so he could be released. "I started crying, banging my head against the wall," he said. Eventually, he was moved out of the prison.

Zakhim Shah, 20

A farmer, married with two children, from Khost Province, Afghanistan. Captured in Afghanistan on Dec. 1, 2002, and released on March 15, 2004.

At the American base in Bagram, Afghanistan, where he was held for several weeks, including 10 days in an isolation cell, he said, "The Americans tied our hands very tight, spit in our faces and threw stones at us."

"In Cuba, they gave us just short underwear. We told them we can't pray in this. In Cuba, they just have 10 Arabs they arrested in the fight. All the others are innocent and were sold [by Afghan bounty hunters].

"In Cuba, when they were releasing me, they said not to tell people. We don't want to say anything bad about the Americans. They took all the [fingerprints]."

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