Monday, March 26, 2007

Democracy in Russia


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Monday, March 19, 2007

The US Gestapo

Guantanamo Memoir

On the evening of the second day, the person who had told me that I was going to Guantánamo, Jay, turned up. My heart sank when two others arrived, Marti and Niel, the two FBI agents from Bagram. They were both huge, obese, in the style of New York street cops. "We want you to read and sign these documents," they said, placing six typed pages in front of me on the table. They had written my confession.

I read through the pages in utter disbelief. My first reaction was, "This is terrible. The English used here is terrible. Nobody could ever believe that I would write such a document." Then I thought, "This could actually be good - anybody who knows my style of writing would know that I am not the author."

It sounded more like the ramblings of a hysterical 16-year-old college dropout than what one would expect from the FBI.

It was full of exaggerations, lies and presumptions. There were names I hadn't even heard of. The document claimed that I was a long-standing member of al-Qaida; I had trained and taught in their camps; I had financed them, giving funds that had gone to the 9/11 attackers. When I asked how they'd reached this conclusion, they told me that I had already admitted attending and sending financial support to "the camps".
It was maddening to hear them refer to "the camps", as if every training camp in the recent history of the Muslim world had been under al-Qaida's umbrella. I actually laughed as I read through it.

They were obsessed with the word "al-Qaida". Their document suggested that almost everybody I'd ever met in my life was a member of al-Qaida.

"There is no way I'm going to agree to sign this rubbish," I protested. They allowed me to make some selected alterations, but kept in the most blatant untruths, like being a front-line fighter with al-Qaida, and money I had sent to Kashmiris in 1994 being used in the September 11 attacks. "Stop playing games with us..." They were getting agitated. I couldn't forget for a moment that these were the same men who ordered my punishment in Bagram.

"You could be shot by firing squad, Moazzam, do you understand?" Marti said, seeming as if he was controlling himself. "They've built an execution chamber here, I've seen it," Niel followed. "Have you forgotten about your kids, your..."

Finally I resigned myself to whatever would come. Despite the insinuation, there still wasn't a crime in the statement, certainly not one I could see. "You know what, it doesn't make any difference, I'll sign whatever you want, but I have to do something first." I told them I wanted to go into the cell. I prayed that this would be my way out. I asked Allah for this document to be a means to expose their lies.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

War-Torn Tourism

Fancy a no-frills break? Then try Chechnya

On your right, ladies and gentlemen, please note the ruins of Grozny, and coming up on the left the renowned ORB-2 torture complex. At the end of the tour, please hand in your bulletproof vests. Although this scenario does not yet exist, the Chechen prime minister yesterday revealed plans to develop tourism in the war-torn republic, where pro-Russian forces clash each week with militants and swaths of the capital lie under rubble... Sights may also be sparse as federal forces levelled most large towns.

There are a few potential spots under construction - an enormous mosque in Grozny and a £3m aqua park in Gudermes - but minefields, firefights and piles of rubble are unlikely tourist attractions...


The Licit and the Illicit

By Allah, I do not fear poverty and starvation overtaking you, but I fear that you will have abundant wealth at your disposal like the communities before you who too had enormous wealth. You will then become excessively greedy in accumulating wealth (without any concern for licit and illicit means) just as the religious communities before you had done. This (greed) will be the cause of your ruin and devastation just as it destroyed people before you.

Bukhari & Muslim