Stop the torture: One 19-year detainee begs for GTMO release
With calls growing for President Biden to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, an inmate of the notorious detention facility appealed to the president for his release in an article for the Independent.
Ahmed Rabbani described the nightmare he has lived since he was kidnapped in Karachi, Pakistan, back in 2002 and sold to the CIA for a bounty. Rabbani was falsely identified as Hassan Ghul, an al-Qaeda member who was eventually captured by the US and later released.
Rabbani said he was captured around the time he learned his wife was pregnant. “President Biden is a man who speaks of the importance of family. I wonder if he can imagine what it would be like to have never touched his own son,” Rabbani wrote. “I have been locked up for his entire childhood, without charges or a trial.”
The 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee Report on CIA torture found that Rabbani was tortured at a CIA black site for 540 days before being sent to Gitmo. “I can confirm that the torture did take place, although I couldn’t have counted the days myself: the days and nights blended into one while I was hung from a bar in a black pit, in agony as my shoulders dislocated,” he said.
Rabbani said he has been on a seven-year hunger strike to protest being held without charges. He is force-fed by guards in Gitmo, something he described in detail back in 2014 in an article published by The Express Tribune.
He wrote: “Twice a day, a team of guards in riot gear barges into my cell to take me to be force-fed. They pin me to the floor and sit on my back causing extreme pain, before hauling me out of the cell to the force-feeding room. There, they strap my head, arms, and legs to a chair and push a tube down my nose and throat into my stomach. Two hours later, they unstrap me and throw me back into to my cell — often pushing my face into the dirty hole, which passes for a toilet in my cell.”
In his appeal to Biden, Rabbani mentioned that the Obama administration failed to fulfill its promise to close Gitmo and urged Biden to let him go home.
“President Biden has the power to do something. I would like justice, obviously, for all the abuse I have suffered, but most importantly, I do not want to go home in a coffin or a body bag. I just want to go home to my family, and to finally — for the first time — hold my son.”
Over 100 human rights organizations recently sent a letter to President Biden urging him to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Biden has previously pledged to close Gitmo, but so far, his administration hasn’t taken any steps to do so. [Editor update: After this story was initially published, the administration announced Feb. 12 that it was undertaking a review of the prison in line with its “broader goal of closing Guantanamo.”]
There are currently 40 inmates in Gitmo, and the prison costs over $540 million each year to operate. Meaning each prisoner costs about $13 million per year, something Rabbani mentioned.
“The US is currently paying $13.8 million a year just to keep me here, so he could save a lot of money by just letting me go home. I am just a taxi driver from Karachi, a victim of mistaken identity,” Rabbani said.