You are here: Home / Projects / The Guantánamo Testimonials Project / Testimonies / Testimonies of the Prisoners / Mauritanian Guantanamo detainee details abuse, says Americans desecrated Quran

Mauritanian Guantanamo detainee details abuse, says Americans desecrated Quran

The Associated Press
October 5, 2007

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania: A Mauritanian man who spent nearly five years incarcerated at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay on Friday accused American soldiers of desecrating the Quran by urinating and stepping on it.

Though never tortured himself, Mohamed Lemine Ould Sidi Mohamed compared his detention to torture, telling The Associated Press in an interview: "Humiliating words against religion and against Muslims were a kind of currency they used every day."

U.S. authorities handed Mohamed to Mauritania last week, and he was briefly detained here. He was released Tuesday by Mauritanian officials.

During his incarceration by the Americans, Mohamed said he witnessed the abuse of the Muslim holy book.

"The soldiers urinated on the holy Quran to humiliate us. They stepped on the holy book and told us we are a nation that does not understand civilization," Mohamed said in Mauritania's desert capital, Nouakchott.

Afterward, he and other inmates he claimed witnessed similar incidents went on a hunger strike, and U.S. officials force fed him, he said.

The inmates decided thereafter not to take Qurans into their cells to protect the book, relying instead on memorized passages, he said.

Following media reports that sparked protests around the world, a U.S. inquiry in 2005 found nine incidents in which Guantanamo civilian and military personnel had mishandled the Quran. They also found 15 cases of abuse of the book by detainees. Officials say guards are trained not to show disrespect to the Quran and are careful not to do so.

"We respect and support the detainees' right to worship," a Guantanamo spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Rick Haupt, said Friday, adding that the military provides the men there with prayer rugs and prayer along with Qurans in multiple languages.

"Allegations from detainees is common behavior and in keeping with tactics taught to al-Qaida members through their training guide," he said.

In Mauritania, Mohamed said he did not know why he was arrested and said he had never had any connection to al-Qaida. He was returned to Mauritania on Sept. 26 after being cleared for release by a U.S. military review panel.

Mohamed said earlier this week that he had been attending an Islamic school in Pakistan when he was arrested by Pakistani police in 2002 and handed over to U.S. authorities.

"I spent five years in Guantanamo, but I don't know anyone in al-Qaida and I have no relations with those people," Mohamed said.

Mohamed said he was not abused himself at Guantanamo, but he believed others were. "Each time people were interrogated, we heard the screams caused by torture," he said.

Mauritanian police spokesman Mohamed Abdallahi said earlier in the week that police were questioning Mohamed about his life in Pakistan and his activities in that country in order to determine whether to file charges.

Two other Mauritanians remain in custody in Guantanamo. They are Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a technology engineer who was living in Germany when he was taken into custody in November, 2001 and Ahmed Ould Abdelaziz, who was arrested in Pakistan in 2002.

Get original here.