Last summer, when I was at Detention Camp…
For just pennies a day, the US Government will abduct a swarthy suspicious teenager of your choice and intern him for 14 months at Camp Stockholm Syndrome South:
An Afghan boy whose 14-month detention by US authorities as a terrorist suspect in Cuba prompted an outcry from human rights campaigners said yesterday that he enjoyed his time in the camp.
Mohammed Ismail Agha, 15, who until last week was held at the US military base in Guantanamo Bay, said that he was treated very well and particularly enjoyed learning to speak English. His words will disappoint critics of the US policy of detaining “illegal combatants” in south-east Cuba indefinitely and without trial.
In a first interview with any of the three juveniles held by the US at Guantanamo Bay base, Mohammed said: “They gave me a good time in Cuba. They were very nice to me, giving me English lessons.”
Mohammed, an unemployed Afghan farmer, found the surroundings in Cuba at first baffling. After he settled in, however, he was left to enjoy stimulating school work, good food and prayer.
“At first I was unhappy . . . For two or three days [after I arrived in Cuba] I was confused but later the Americans were so nice to me. They gave me good food with fruit and water for ablutions and prayer,” he said yesterday in Naw Zad, a remote market town in southern Afghanistan close to his home village and 300 miles south-west of Kabul, the capital.
Mohammed said his detention began in November 2002 when he and a friend, both unemployed, left their farming community for Lashkar Gah, a nearby town. He said that as they stood outside a shop they were detained by a group of armed men who accused them of being members of the Taliban, the fundamentalist Islamic movement formerly in power in Afghanistan.
They were then handed over to US soldiers, who took them to the southern city of Kandahar, he claimed. They were taken to Bagram air base, where Mohammed was held in solitary confinement.
“They were asking me if I was Taliban. I said, ‘No, I am innocent’. I thought they were going to release me but instead they put me on a plane,” he said. “They asked me to wear a hood for part of the journey. When I got off the plane I was in Cuba.”
While Mohammed praised the American soldiers who watched over him, he criticised the US authorities for failing to contact his parents for 10 months to let them know that he was alive. “They stole 14 months of my life, and my family’s life. I was entirely innocent: just a poor boy looking for work,” he said.
But the counselors were nice:
His words of praise for the American soldiers in Guantanamo Bay echo those of Faiz Mohammed, an elderly Afghan farmer who was detained at the base for eight months before being released in October 2002.
“They treated us well. We had enough food. I didn’t mind [being detained] because they took my old clothes and gave me new clothes,” said the farmer, who was partially deaf.
Camp Delta, which superseded the temporary Camp X-Ray, and Camp Iguana, a lower-security detention facility for juveniles, were established as part of President George W Bush’s “war on terror”.
Awwww. Camp Iguana sounds so cute! I hope he took home a wallet and the recipes for smores….