Hamid Abd Al-Rahman says he endured the worst of conditions that ranged from searing heat to biting cold under US imprisonment.
“I often have nightmares. I dream I am still over there,” Abd Al-Rahman said, adding that he was chained up for most of the time he was imprisoned without access to a lawyer or his family.
“When I was over there I thought I’d never see my country again, that I was going to die in prison,” he said in halting sentences.
On Tuesday, his lawyer Marcos Garcia Montes told the media her client, who she said was the victim of “judicial torture”, would sue President George Bush and his administration for his time spent in detention, basing their case on the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
“Nobody can be imprisoned for so long without having seen a judge or having a lawyer,” Garcia Montes said.
Abd Al-Rahman – a Muslim from the Spanish north African enclave of Ceuta – is currently free under Spanish judicial supervision, facing accusations of “belonging to a terrorist cell”.
Dressed in long flowing white garb and sandals, Abd Al-Rahman said a partial loss of sight is the main damage he has suffered due to torture, apart from being traumatised more than just psychologically.
His lawyer “is currently having an expert evaluate the psychological effects”.
Abd Al-Rahman says he went to Afghanistan “to study and improve my knowledge of the Quran” at a school teaching the Islamic holy book.
“The Quran condemns all forms of violence, even verbal,” he said, adding that he condemns the train bombings in Madrid just as he condemns the September 11 asssault on the United States.
“It was horrible. We were chained and had a sack placed over our heads. We couldn’t see a thing. We could hardly breathe, the sack was suffocating us, and as soon as we moved they hit us. The trip took 20 hours”
Hamid Abd Al-Rahman,
“Following the September 11 attacks we were asked to leave Afghanistan. We fled to Pakistan where we were arrested” in October 2001, Abd Al-Rahman said.
After spending some weeks in prison at Peshawar, Abd Al-Rahman was handed over to US forces in December 2001 and transferred to Kandahar prison in Afghanistan, where the conditions were harsh.
“We could not communicate with our families, who did not know what had happened to us.
“We slept 20 to a tent on the floor with hardly any covering. It was freezing cold.”
“We were not allowed to speak to the occupants of the other tents or write, not even on the ground. Punishment consisted of being brought to your knees, arms crossed, for half an hour at a time,” Abd Al-Rahman said.
In February 2002, he was transferred to the US military base at Guantanamo on Cuba.
“It was horrible. We were chained and had a sack placed over our heads. We couldn’t see a thing. We could hardly breathe, the sack was suffocating us, and as soon as we moved they hit us. The trip took 20 hours,” he said.
Caged in chains
Once there, Abd Al-Rahman said, he was confined to a two metre-by-two metre cage at a first camp dubbed “X-Ray” before being transferred several months later to “Camp Delta”, where his cage was just two by one and a half metres.
“To begin with, they interrogated us twice a week for four to six hours at a stretch. It was tough for morale. By the end you don’t know what you’re saying any more,” he said.
“We woke up around eight o’clock for breakfast and afterwards we tried to sleep. It was the only part of the day when it wasn’t too hot. We were allowed one shower and one walk, chained, per week.”
“We could read and pray but we had no news from outside. I thought I would never see my family again.”
The native of Ceuta, Spain, wants
“I saw several people try to commit suicide by hanging themselves with their clothes. Generally the guards called a doctor who gave the person a few pills and then he was chained for days so he wouldn’t start off again … ”
In June 2003, Abd Al-Rahman was taken to another camp where conditions were much better and where more food was allowed, as were walks, this time unchained.
“That’s when I understood the end was near. The camp was much better, we were around 20.
“One day the Americans wanted to film us playing football but we refused. We didn’t want them (the US) to show these images to the rest of the world when we knew what was going on in the other two camps.”
Abd Al-Rahman now wants to continue his studies to become an imam in his home community.
“Ceuta needs that. On the one hand, we Muslims live in ghettos isolated from the Spanish. On the other the Moroccan imams don’t understand our situation, the drugs, joblessness, no money … “