Wednesday, October 12, 2005

An American in chains (Essential reading)

The Sunday Times October 09, 2005,,2092-1817081_1,00.html

Excerpts below-read the whole story!

James Yee entered Guantanamo as a patriotic US officer and Muslim chaplain. He ended up in shackles, branded a spy. This is his disturbing story

It didn’t matter that I was an army captain, a graduate of West Point, the elite US military academy. It didn’t matter that my religious beliefs prohibited me from being fully naked in front of strangers. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t been charged with a crime. It didn’t matter that my wife and daughter had no idea where I was. And it certainly didn’t matter that I was a loyal American citizen and, above all, innocent.

I was accused of mutiny and sedition, aiding the enemy and espionage, all of which carried the death penalty. I was regarded as a traitor to the army and my country. This was all blatantly untrue — as would be proved when, after a long fight, all the charges against me were dropped and I won an honourable discharge from the army.

I knew why I had been arrested: it was because I am a Muslim. I was just the latest victim of the hostility born the moment when the planes flew into the twin towers and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

My real “crime” had been that I had tried to ensure that the suspected Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters detained in the Gitmo cages were given every opportunity to practise their religion freely, one of the most fundamental of American ideals.

The guards knew that Muslims believe that the Koran contains the actual words of God and is to be treated with the utmost respect. I never heard of an incident where a detainee hid anything dangerous in the Koran; doing so would be considered an insult. Yet the guards shook the prisoners’ Korans violently, broke bindings, ripped pages and dropped the
book on the floor, all on the pretext of searching them.

Translators with the Joint Intelligence Group (JIG) also confirmed that some prisoners were forced to prostrate themselves in the centre of a satanic circle lit with candles. Interrogators shouted at them, “Satan is your God, not Allah! Repeat that after me!”


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