Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, a Yemeni national and a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay since 2002, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times on Monday pleading with American and Yemeni officials for release and detailing the hunger strike he and other inmates have undergone as part of the campaign and treatment they have received because of it.
Al Hasan Moqbel says he was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 trying to make his way back to Yemen after the U.S invasion of Afghanistan, where he had been living. “Years ago,” he writes, “the military said I was a ‘guard’ for Osama bin Laden, but this was nonsense, like something out of the American movies I used to watch. They don’t even seem to believe it anymore. But they don’t seem to care how long I sit here, either.” Al Hasan Moqbel then describes his treatment at Gitmo just three weeks after he began his hunger strike:
Last month, on March 15, I was sick in the prison hospital and refused to be fed. A team from the E.R.F. (Extreme Reaction Force), a squad of eight military police officers in riot gear, burst in. They tied my hands and feet to the bed. They forcibly inserted an IV into my hand. I spent 26 hours in this state, tied to the bed. During this time I was not permitted to go to the toilet. They inserted a catheter, which was painful, degrading and unnecessary. I was not even permitted to pray.
I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.
I am still being force-fed. Two times a day they tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they will come. Sometimes they come during the night, as late as 11 p.m., when I’m sleeping.
“The only reason I am still here is that President Obama refuses to send any detainees back to Yemen. This makes no sense. I am a human being, not a passport, and I deserve to be treated like one,” he writes. “I will agree to whatever it takes in order to be free. I am now 35. All I want is to see my family again and to start a family of my own.”
Meanwhile the Times reports that the tensions caused by the hunger strikes at Gitmo turned into violence on Saturday as guards forced prisoners living in communal housing to move to individual cells. “Some detainees resisted with improvised weapons, and in response, four less-than-lethal rounds were fired,” the military said in a statement. “There were no serious injuries to guards or detainees.”
In other news:
The Los Angeles Times reports: Thanks to drone missile strikes and other counter-terrorism operations, the network founded by Osama bin Laden has been so eviscerated that U.S. intelligence agencies no longer fully understand the organizational structure below its nominal leader, Ayman Zawahiri, according to defense officials. The CIA has killed Zawahiri’s top lieutenants almost as quickly as they are identified.
Reuters reports: Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince AlWaleed bin Talal, a nephew of King Abdullah, has thrown his support behind allowing Saudi women to drive, saying it makes economic sense.
The Wall Street Journal reports: Secretary of State John Kerry said he would be willing to open a direct U.S. diplomatic channel to North Korea’s leadership in a bid to reduce tensions in Northeast Asia, if Pyongyang signaled it would move to begin dismantling its nuclear-weapons arsenal.