Ali al-Marri, who was held as an “enemy combatant” on the US mainland for five years and eight months without charge or trial, was finally sentenced in a federal court last Thursday (as discussed in an article here), and he made the following statement in court, which I believe is worth reproducing in full:
Ali al-Marri’s statement
In the name of Allah, all praise to Allah, end peace and prayers of Allah be upon his last messenger Muhammad, the messenger of mercy.
Judge Mihm, peace be upon those who follow the guidance. I would like to start by saying that I have been waiting for this day for the last 2,880 days or the last 8 years.
Judge Mihm, I am glad I have no blood on my hand and my assistance did not cause any bloodshed or lead to that either, nor would I have ever agreed to that and I will never agree to that in the future, but I am sorry for providing assistance for those who would do this country harm.
Judge Mihm, all of my captors know that I speak my mind be it in religion, politics or personal issues. And you have heard [from] some of the American people who were responsible for detaining me that I was never violent or expressed a desire to harm them or any American people.
My religious beliefs — refined through years of thoughtful prayer and study during my incarceration — I realize prohibit me from engaging in violence toward any man. I forcefully reject any sort of violence for religious, political or other reasons. I say this to the court and I also state this to the representatives of my country who are present with us today. I know that the news people are here so I know my word will be received by those with whom I associated with in 2001. You have my word.
I had to make my position clear when I spoke to [US Attorney David] Risley and the FBI before entering my guilty plea. At that time I was not under threat or abuse and I spoke the truth about my activities.
As you have seen pictures of my kids when I left them eight years ago and their recent pictures, missing all of those years, missing hearing the first words of my youngest child, missing the crying of not wanting to go to school, missing solving their problems with kids in the schools or in the neighborhood, missing their smile and laughter of buying them toys, or new things, missing not being there to take care, protect, and provide as fathers do. Missing all of that and all of the father-kids’ activities is more than enough punishment. My 80-year-old mother, 5 kids, wife, 7 brothers, 4 sisters, more than 70 nephews and nieces and about 12 grandchildren (from my nephews and nieces) are being punished too of no fault of theirs, rather mine. And I said more than and about because it has been 8 years since I have been away from them.
Even though I am a changed person from the 2001 al-Marri, I hope you would look with an eye of mercy on me today, but if not, Judge Mihm, have mercy on the 80-year-old who tells me her wish is to see me before she passes away. I have already lost my father during my incarceration, it will be unimaginable to lose both of my parents without being there for them or saying good bye. Judge Mihm, have mercy on the wife who chose to wait for her 8 years imprisoned husband rather than going on with her life even after I asked her to but [she] refused and chose to wait. Judge Mihm, have mercy on the suckling infants who have never seen me, they only know me by name. Judge Mihm, have mercy on my American family, my brother and sister Andy and Cheryl Savage who cried yesterday when they read this letter which was one of the hardest things because I am causing pain and hurt to my family whom I would give my life for but it is out of my hand to alleviate their pain, Judge Mihm, I am helpless to alleviate their pain, but you are not. Judge Mihm, have mercy on all of them by sending me home to my Arabian family accompanied by my American family by giving me a time served sentence.
Before I finish my statement, I would like to give all praise and thanks to my Lord Allah, the Lord of all Lords for the support he gave me, and still giving and hope will continue. And I would like to thank my government who stood by me and my family during this ordeal. And I would like to thank all of the American people who dealt with me humanely and kindly during my incarceration, and Judge Mihm, as Allah and this court are my witness, I forgive all who harmed and caused me pain. And I would like to [add to] that my legal team (Larry, Mark, John, Lee, and the behind the scene heroes Jenny, Eileen, Alex, Bobby, and Heather) who I believe has done an excellent job. And remember what I said in our first meeting, my opinion of you will not be affected by the ruling of the court as it is not in your hands as long as you prepare well for the case. And it is beyond any doubt that you have done [so] with an utmost excellence.
Last but not least, I would like to thank my American family where it is an honor to call them my brother and sister, Andy and Cheryl Savage, who are also part of my legal team. You have changed my perception of the American people’s generosity, kindness and their culture fundamentally, to the better of course. I will never do anything to harm the American people. And I will still name my future son and daughter after you — as I promised before — if Allah blesses me with more children. I pray to Allah to assist me in showing you how much I appreciate your help, and I say show you my appreciation and not repay you, because I do not believe it is possible to repay you — monetary or otherwise — for what you have done for me, it is as trying to reach the stars with my hands. However I will pray — and always will — to the one who can, may Allah reward you as best as he rewarded any of his servants and make you, I and our loved ones to follow the right path that will lead us all to an eternity of life together in paradise in the afterlife. Amen.
I would like to remind myself first, then my love on that if today’s Judgment is favorable, it is from the generosity of all Generous and Merciful Allah, then the fairness of Judge Mihm, and the excellence of my legal team led by Mr. Andy Savage and Mr. Larry Lustberg, and if not, it is due only to my sins. I advise myself and my loved ones to accept Allah’s Judgment and be patient. As Allah has said in the Quran, “It may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you, Allah knows but you do not know.”
Finally, glorified is your Lord, the Lord of Honor and power he is free from what they attribute unto him. And peace be on the messengers. And all praise and thanks are to Allah, lord of the mankind and all that exist. (37:180 -182)
Note: This statement was originally published in the Peoria Star.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009, details about my film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
For a sequence of articles on Ali al-Marri’s case, see The Ordeal of Ali al-Marri (June 2007), The torture of Ali al-Marri, the last “enemy combatant” on the US mainland (November 2007), Court Confirms President’s Dictatorial Powers in Case of US “Enemy Combatant” Ali al-Marri (July 2008), The Last US Enemy Combatant: The Shocking Story of Ali al-Marri (December 2008), Ending The Cruel Isolation Of Ali al-Marri, The Last US “Enemy Combatant” and Why The US Under Obama Is Still A Dictatorship (both March 2009), Dictatorial Powers Unchallenged As US “Enemy Combatant” Pleads Guilty (May 2009).
Also see related articles on Jose Padilla: Jose Padilla: More Sinned Against Than Sinning (August 2007), Why Jose Padilla’s 17-year prison sentence should shock and disgust all Americans (January 2008), US Justice Department drops “dirty bomb plot” allegation against Binyam Mohamed (October 2008), Even In Cheney’s Bleak World, The Al-Qaeda-Iraq Torture Story Is A New Low (April 2009).
[…] to attack the United States,” and this is clear from a statement that al-Marri made in court (reproduced in full here). In what the New York Times described as “eight minutes of tearful testimony,” al-Marri told […]
Writer, campaigner, investigative journalist and commentator. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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