Guantánamo Diary | Mohamedou Ould Slahi

Summary of: Guantánamo Diary: Restored Edition
By: Mohamedou Ould Slahi

Introduction

Venture into the gripping and harrowing true story of Guantánamo Bay detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi in the ‘Guantánamo Diary: Restored Edition’. Discover how Slahi, a Mauritanian man with no formal charges made against him, winds up in one of the world’s most infamous detention centers, and gain insights into the shocking torture methods used by interrogators. The book outlines Slahi’s arrest in connection to the Millennium Plot, his trial of confessions under duress, and his ongoing battle for release from unjust incarceration. Experience the human face of one of the darkest chapters in modern history as you explore the challenges detainees face in their fight for freedom.

From Mauritania to Guantánamo

Born in Mauritania in 1970, Mohamedou Ould Slahi grew up as the family’s main provider. He received a scholarship to study in Germany and joined al-Qaeda, which was then supported by Western nations. After leaving the organization, he moved to Canada and encountered a man involved in a terrorist plot. This connection eventually led to his unjust detention in Guantánamo Bay.

At the heart of the story is a young man named Mohamedou Ould Slahi, or MOS, who found himself imprisoned in the notorious Guantánamo Bay detention center. Born in Mauritania in 1970, MOS was the ninth of 12 siblings in a family of camel traders. After their father passed away, MOS shouldered the burdensome responsibility of providing for his family.

In pursuit of better opportunities, MOS left for Germany in 1988, winning a scholarship to study electrical engineering at the University of Duisburg. In 1991, he joined the fight against communism in Afghanistan and pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda, an organization that was ironically backed by the US and other Western nations at the time.

As communism fell and the Afghan mujahideen turned their weapons on each other, MOS severed ties with al-Qaeda and resumed his life in Germany. He completed his degree and settled down with his wife. However, with his German visa nearing expiration, he successfully applied for Canadian residency, ultimately moving to Montreal in 1999.

It was in Canada that fate entwined MOS with Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian immigrant connected with al-Qaeda. Ressam had attended the same mosque as MOS in Montreal before his arrest on December 14, 1999. Known as the Millennium Plot, Ressam’s plan to bomb Los Angeles International Airport unravelled following his capture. As authorities intensified their investigations, they interrogated the Montreal immigrant community, focusing their attention on MOS. Little did he know that this connection would lead to years of harrowing experiences in the infamous Guantánamo Bay detention center.

A Chilling Interrogation Ordeal

In January 2000, after being away from his homeland for 12 years, the author set off on a journey to visit his family in Mauritania. Upon arrival in Dakar, Senegal, he was intercepted by agents, handcuffed and taken into custody along with his brothers and their friends. They faced questioning by both Senegalese and American investigators about a man named Ressam and the Millennium Plot. The author denied any knowledge and, after being transferred to US officials, was subjected to further interrogation in Mauritania. Sleep deprived and malnourished, he lost a part of himself. The Canadian government provided transcripts of his phone calls which fueled more questioning about the supposed code words “tea” and “sugar.” The author maintained that they were just normal conversation topics. Eventually, he was released and continued to his family, unaware that his tribulations were far from over.

Relentless Interrogations

The author faced continuous scrutiny from US interrogators as he was repeatedly questioned about coded meanings during conversations, his activities, and affiliations. Despite the relentless attempts to coerce a confession, he remained steadfast in proclaiming his innocence. After being released, he was once again summoned by Mauritania’s Director General of Security, only to be sent to CIA rendition in Jordan for further questioning.

Despite being released, the author soon found himself again in the sights of US interrogators. At his niece’s wedding, he received a call from Mauritania’s Director General of Security, leading to another round of questioning at the police headquarters. Two weeks later, American investigators arrived and demanded explanations for seemingly coded meanings in various conversations. For instance, they asked about his true intention behind advising his younger brother to focus on school.

Their investigation extended beyond alleged coded language as they delved into other areas like the number of computers he owned or phone calls to places like the United Arab Emirates – a country he had never actually contacted. All the while, they kept pressuring for a confession, threatening that the charges against him would only worsen. Even though he was denied water during the interrogation and physically assaulted with a water bottle, the author remained resolute in asserting his innocence.

Again released without charges, the author resumed his work in technology and media. However, on November 20, 2001, Mauritania’s Director General of Security summoned him once more to return to the police headquarters. The author obliged, expecting a brief session and a prompt return home. Instead, he endured seven days in Mauritanian custody without any family visits.

On November 28, Mauritanian Independence Day, the author was unexpectedly put on a CIA rendition plane and transported to Jordan for additional interrogation. The relentless questioning, reeking of desperation to extract a confession, continued to haunt him.

A Terrifying Experience Unveiled

The author’s family, unaware of his whereabouts, eventually learned about his detainment in Jordan through a German magazine. On November 29, 2001, the author arrived blindfolded and handcuffed at the infamous House of Arrest and Interrogation in Amman, a prison known for its torture methods. Subjected to constant beatings and questions trying to connect him to the Millennium Plot, the author’s ordeal in Jordan was only the beginning of his terrifying experience.

Upon discovering the author’s location, his loved ones had no clue about the horrifying conditions he was enduring. The infamous Amman prison had a frightening reputation for employing torture techniques such as sleep deprivation and painful suspensions during beatings. When the author arrived, he was brutally interrogated by Jordanian officials, under the authority of the US government. The author briefly saw his file, indicating the fabricated accusation of him participating in terrorist attacks.

The torment was unrelenting. The author overheard others being tortured and was threatened with the same fate if he didn’t confess. Despite being pushed, beaten, and bombarded with questions, he never relented. Little did he know that his harrowing ordeal in Jordan was only the beginning of his nightmarish journey.

Torturous Times at GTMO

After eight months of confinement in Jordan, the author found himself blindfolded, naked, shackled, and diapered, all under US orders. He was transferred to Guantánamo Bay (GTMO) where he became inmate #760. Increased abuse of prisoners at GTMO was prevalent due to the implementation of the Special Interrogation Plan, which widened the range of methods interrogators could use. One such inmate, Mohammed al-Qahtani, was horrifically mistreated using tactics similar to what the author would experience. Cut off from authentic communication with his family and fearing for their knowledge of his whereabouts, the author received a forged letter before finally, after seven months, obtaining a genuine one. This marked the beginning of a new phase of interrogation for the author.

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