As I sit here trying to come to terms with the death of Faraj Hassan Alsaadi, who died in a motorbike accident on August 16, it seems to me that nothing can throw us as much as an unexpected death. In Faraj’s case, it is deeply distressing that he leaves behind a wife and three young children (aged nine, two and four months), and also that he had savoured freedom for such a short time before he passed away.
From May 2002, Faraj was imprisoned, initially pending extradition to Italy, and then, when that process failed, pending deportation back to Libya, for the invented crime of opposing the dictatorship of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, on the basis of secret evidence that he was unable to challenge in an adequate manner. He was held in a variety of prisons: Leicester, Wormwood Scrubs, Belmarsh, Brixton and Long Lartin, but when Britain’s secretive terror court (the Special Immigration Appeals Commission) ruled in April 2007 that he and another Libyan could not be deported because a “memorandum of understanding,” signed between the British and Libyan governments, which purported to guarantee the humane treatment of prisoners returned from the UK, was untrustworthy, he was placed under a control order — a form of house arrest, severely restricting his movement, his communications, and his social life — which was only finally revoked on December 21 last year. As a result, he had been a free man for less than eight months before his untimely death.
I never met Faraj, although I had the opportunity to do so. Back in spring, when former Guantánamo prisoner Omar Deghayes and I were touring the UK showing the film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” Omar proposed arranging for us to meet. I intended to follow up on this suggestion, but always seemed to be too busy working, although I presumed that an opportunity would arise at some point. What I failed to consider was that, on rare occasions, fate intervenes to rob us of the chance to meet people we would like to meet, at some unspecified point in the future, and as a result it occurs to me that we should never take these things for granted.
In an article to follow, I’ll cross-post an interview with Cageprisoners that Faraj undertook with in August 2007, shortly after his control order was imposed, which explains in detail the absurd circumstances of his detention, and reveals his spirit, passion and intelligence. Below are a number of videos featuring Faraj, including his last ever public appearance, at a rally for the former “ghost prisoner” Aafia Siddiqui, outside the US embassy in London on August 15. A website for Faraj has been established here, and I also recommend this post by Cageprisoners caseworker Feroz Ali Abbasi, who met Faraj for the first and only time just a week before his death.
Videos of Faraj Hassan Alsaadi
In the video below, made in 2007, after Faraj had been released from Long Lartin prison and placed on a control order, he explained the restrictions on his liberty, and sent a message to the British government appealing for fair trials for those imprisoned or held under control orders without charge or trial, on the basis of secret evidence:
In this interview on Press TV in February 2009, Faraj explained the impact of the control order on himself, and on his family:
On December 21, 2009, Faraj conducted his first interview following the British government’s decision to drop the control order against him, which was broadcast by Press TV:
The video below is of Faraj speaking at the Justice for Aafia Coalition’s “7 Days for 7 Years” vigil outside the US embassy in London on May 5 this year:
The video below is of Faraj speaking at the Justice For Aafia Coalition’s rally, “Aafia — the Last Stand”, on August 15 this year, just 12 hours before his death:
Note: Please see this page for information about how to donate to Faraj’s wife and his three children.
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) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. 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, updated in July 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, currently on tour in the UK, and available on DVD here), and my definitive Guantánamo habeas list, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
On Facebook, Ann Alexander wrote:
Thanks for your words on Faraj, Andy. Now even more people will be enlightened about our dear friend who, once his control order was lifted, stepped forward and spoke out loudly. We could all learn from the fearlessness of Faraj and also from your words. We shouldn’t take everything for granted. We all feel the same. Why did we not ring Faraj more? Why did we not respond to his email sent out to all his friends the day before he died? Why do we put off things till tomorrow? Faraj is now at peace in his beloved Libya. For our love for Faraj, we must not forget his wife and children.
Thanks for the thoughtful comments, Ann. I know how hard the last ten days must have been for you and others who knew Faraj, and I appreciate you mentioning how hard he worked for others — with HHUGS and the Justice for Aafia Coalition — once his burden was lifted last December.
Salamalaykum, May peace be upon you all,
I Think brother Faraj is a martyr for what he has done for the ummah, He is a true slave of ALLAH and Im sure he will be in Jennah AL firdos, May He be resting in the best of peace and comfort and make it to the best place in Jennah, my prayers are with you Brother, You are not dead, ALLAH says do not cry for the believers as they are not dead but truly alive and happy. I wish ALLAH to look after his lovely family and bring them plentiful burakah, When I have money I will donate, im starting my islamic clothing line soon inshALLAH and I will defiantly support his family financially with what i can, as that is the main reason for starting my business to help the ummah.
Ur sister in islam
Beverley Martin also wrote to me:
Thank you for writing your article about Faraj. I’m sorry you never got to meet him but it’s good there are enough videos around for people to get an idea of what he was like. I posted some pictures I took of him and our families when we got together on the Facebook memorial page. We weren’t allowed to visit him at his house because of the control order, so we spent the day in the park, having a barbecue and just playing about. We were planning for him to come and stay at mine this summer but fate had other plans while I’d let ours slide. I wish I’d arranged something sooner but he’d been busy and so had I; your article really strikes a chord with me in this respect.
I loved Faraj like he was my own brother and I’m glad people like you are making sure his story stays alive, thank you again Andy.
This was my reply|:
Thanks for getting in touch, Bev. I’m glad my comments struck a chord. The blunt truth, I suppose, is that we’re never going to be able to be prepared for the sudden death of friends — or people we hoped would be friends — and being reminded of that uncertainty is very disconcerting.
And this was Bev’s reply:
Realistically, I know we can’t live every day like it’ll be the last time we see those we love — I think we just couldn’t maintain that level of intensity! The best we can do is show them what they mean to us in whatever appropriate ways. I notice Ann has made a similar comment on your page … I know we’re all feeling it.
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