Guantánamo Bay detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi voices his innocence and describes what it’s like to be on the wrong end of the American war on terror. No charges were ever filed against this Mauritanian citizen; nevertheless, Slahi was forced to endure years of interrogation, torture and imprisonment by the United States government.
Country Focus: Mauritania (Muritaniyah in Arabic)
By Mohamedou Ould Slahi
Edited by Larry Siems
Published by Little, Brown and Company, 2015.
About the author: Slahi taught himself English and wrote Guantánamo Diary in 2005, but it took ten years and hundreds of redactions for the government to allow its publication. He finally received word in July 2016 that he has been recommended for release from the Guantánamo Bay detention camp.
Crisis always brings out the best and worst in people—and in countries, too. Did the Leader of the Free World, the United States, really torture detainees? Or are stories of torture part of a conspiracy to present the U.S. in a horrible way, so the rest of the world will hate it?
I don’t even know how to treat this subject. I have only written what I have experienced, what I saw, and what I learned firsthand. I have tried not to exaggerate, nor to understate. I have tried to be as fair as possible , to the U.S. government, to my brothers, and to myself. I don’t expect people who don’t know me to believe me, but I expect them, at least, to give me the benefit of the doubt. And if Americans are willing to stand for what they believe in, I also expect public opinion to compel the U.S. government to open a torture and war crimes investigation. I am more than confident that I can prove every single thing I have written in this book if I am ever given the opportunity to call witnesses in a proper judicial procedure, and if military personnel are not given the advantage of straightening their lies and destroying evidence against them.
Human beings naturally hate to torture other human beings, and Americans are no different. Many of the soldiers were doing their job reluctantly, and were very happy when they were ordered to stop. Of course there are sick people everywhere in the world who enjoy seeing other people suffering, but generally human beings make use of torture when they get chaotic and confused. And Americans certainly got chaotic, vengeful, and confused, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.