Mohamedou Ould Slahi was born in Russo (Mauritania) in 1970. The city is on the country’s southern border with Senegal. He was the ninth of twelve children and his father died when he was thirteen. Slahi was very intelligent and brilliant with studies; he got a scholarship to study in Germany in 1988 where he obtained an engineering degree from the University of Duisburg. He later on married a Mauritanian woman in the same city. In 1991, he travelled to Afghanistan where he underwent military training at a camp near Kandahar. He swore allegiance to Al-Qaida and was sent to the frontline in the fight against communist regime. He also lived and worked briefly in Montreal, Canada. Though Slahi remained in contact with some members of Al-Qaida and he briefly met two of the 9/11 hijackers, Marwan al Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah, and a third man accused of helping to facilitate those attacks, Ramzi bin al-Shibh. He had severed his allegiance to Al-Qaida in 1992. He was arrested by the US after the 9/11 attack.


Slahi wrote a very good manuscript of the US rendition and torture programs in Guantanamo. He describes a world tour of torture and humiliation that began in his native Mauritania more than thirteen years ago and progressed through Jordan, Afghanistan and ended up in Guantanamo, Cuba in August 2002 as prisoner number 760. The diary he wrote had in details how he was deprived of sleep, had death threats, sexual humiliation and intimations that they (his torturers) would go after his mother. He was subjected to additional interrogation technique which was personally approved by the then US defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. He was blind folded, forced to drink salt water, and then taken out to the sea on a high speed boat where he was beaten for three hours while in immersed ice. He said; “Whenever the ice melted they put in new hard ice cubes.

Moreover, every once in a while, one of the guards smashed me; most of the time in the face. The ice served both for pain and for wiping out the bruises I had from that afternoon. Everything seemed to be perfectly prepared … there is nothing more terrorizing than making somebody expect a smash every single heartbeat.” The torture made him confess what he didn’t do. Then he would be asked if he was telling the truth, he replied “I don’t care as long as you are pleased. So if you want to buy, I am selling”. He described the effect the abuse had on his body and mind. He said; “I started to hallucinate and hear voices as clear as crystal. I heard my family in a casual familial conversation. I heard the Quran readings in heavenly voice. I heard music from my country. Later on, the guards used this hallucination and started talking with funny voices through the plumbing, encouraging me to hurt the guard and plot an escape. But I wasn’t misled by them even though I played along. ‘We heard somebody- maybe a genie!’ they used to say. Yea, but I ain’t listening to him, I responded. I was on the edge of losing my mind.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has launched an online petition calling for Slahi’s release. Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s national security project said “Mohamedou Slahi is an innocent man whom the United States brutally tortured and has been held for over a decade. He doesn’t present a threat to the US and has never taken part in any hostilities against it. We are asking government to put an end to Mohamedou’s years-long ordeal by not contesting his habeas case and releasing him without any delay. We hope everyone moved by Mohamedou’s story of abuse and unlawful detention will join us in seeking his freedom. In 2004, a military lawyer refuses to play any further part in the prosecution on the ground that the evidence against him was the product of torture. Slahi’s Lawyer, Nancy Hollander said “Mohamedou has never been charged with anything. The US has never charged him with a crime. There is no crime to charge him with. It is not that they haven’t found the evidence against him- there isn’t evidence against him. He’s in what I would consider a horrible legal limbo, and it’s just tragic; he needs to go home. Mohamedou’s book takes us into the heart of this man the US government tortured; and continues to torture with indefinite detention. We feel, smell, and even taste the torture he endures in his voice and within his heart. The US has held this man for a no crime and has not been able to link him to any crime.

There are many more other inmates like that in the Guantanamo prison that are being tortured for no crime. President Obama has stated his strong desire to close the prison in 2015 but there are still 150 inmates in there. We implore every Muslim to raise their voice and ensure the freedom of Mohamedou Slahi and every other Muslim unlawfully detained and tortured by the US government.  

You can follow Adegbolu Afolabi on twitter @adegboluafolabi or on Instagram @fawlaar

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