Video: I Discuss 9/11, Guantánamo and the Significance of the US Defeat in Afghanistan on Salaamedia in South Africa


A screenshot of Andy Worthington on South African broadcaster Salaamedia’s show, “Reflections on 9/11: The Impact on Afghanistan and the Muslim World,” on Sept. 8, 2021.

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On Wednesday, I was pleased to take part in a discussion — “Reflections on 9/11: The Impact on Afghanistan and the Muslim World” — on Salaamedia in South Africa, with whom I have spoken many times, including this time last year, when I took part in a discussion with former Guantánamo prisoner Moazzam Begg, about Guantánamo, torture and the US’s endless wars.

This year, with the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and the US withdrawal from Afghanistan dominating the news, the former involved four commentators responding to questions from the host Inayet Wadee — myself, the political commentator and foreign policy adviser Sami Hamdi, the academic Ibrahim Moiz, and, rather less successfully, Taji Mustafa from the fundamentalist group Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain.

Please feel free to watch it all if it sounds like it will be of interest, but if you’d like to hear me discussing the lawless prison system established by the US after 9/11, at Guantánamo, at Bagram and other locations in Afghanistan, and in the system of “black sites” established as torture prisons around the world by the CIA, who also rendered other prisoners to proxy torture prisons in other rights-abusing countries, that begins around seven minutes in, and lasts for about six and a half minutes.

The video is below, via YouTube:

I also spoke about how the US lost the battle for “hearts and minds” in Afghanistan, and provided information about the 39 men still held at Guantánamo — ten facing trials that are incompatible with justice, ten approved for release but still held, and 17 “forever prisoners,” held indefinitely without charge or trial. I also spoke about how, sadly, it was the Bush administration’s thirst for vengeance that drove so much of the violence and brutality of the “war on terror.”

Around 41 minutes in, I was asked about accountability for the “war on terror,” which I spoke about for around ten minutes, first of all comparing the US departure from Afghanistan with its departure from Vietnam in 1975, and wondering if the US will have a period of reflection after yet another ruinous occupation that has involved so much slaughter, but has achieved nothing of any lasting benefit, while noting, however, that the American people consistently vote for people who support the military-industrial complex.

I then moved on to discuss US accountability for the “war on terror,” specifically looking at the difficulties faced by former Guantánamo prisoners — forever regarded as “enemy combatants,” who continue to have no rights after release, and can be prevented from travelling, or harassed with impunity. I explained how this disgraceful situation needs addressing, but how difficult that it is to do so while the prison is still open, as challenges to the US government may create hostility towards the prison’s closure, I particularly mentioned the plight of those sent to third countries, who often face problems, but have no support if they criticize their treatment by their host governments, and I specifically mentioned the disgraceful situation faced by 23 men sent from Guantánamo to the UAE between 2015 and 2017, who found themselves imprisoned in dire circumstances, despite having been promised help with rebuilding their lives.

At 1:09, for around five minutes, I spoke about how the US’s war mentality prevents it from working constructively to help the economies of the countries it occupies, with reference to Afghanistan (where China seems likely to provide financial support in exchange for access to resources), and to Iraq, where the neo-cons clearly and cynically aimed to control Iraq’s oil, but failed to realize that seeking resources though the brutality of war is fundamentally counter-productive.

I also discussed my hopes that the Taliban will work towards uniting the whole country rather than falling into civil war again, and around 1:30, for about four minutes, I discussed the ways in which the Taliban will need to try to secure international recognition, revisiting issues of legitimacy if they don’t include Afghanistan’s other ethnic groups — the Hazara, Uzbeks and Tajiks. As I noted, however, after 42 years of war, the country is awash with weapons, and, sadly, weapons and peace don’t go well together.

I hope some of the above is of interest, and I’d like to thank Salaamedia for including me in the show.

* * * * *

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer (of an ongoing photo-journalism project, ‘The State of London’), film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and see the latest photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here, or here for the US, or you can watch it online here, via the production company Spectacle, for £2.55).

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of the documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June 2017 that killed over 70 people, and he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London. For two months, from August to October 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody. Although the garden was violently evicted by bailiffs on October 29, 2018, and the trees were cut down on February 27, 2019, the resistance continues.

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, The Complete Guantánamo Files, the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

One Response

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, linking to, and discussing, my appearance on South African broadcaster Salaamedia’s show, “Reflections on 9/11: The Impact on Afghanistan and the Muslim World,” on Sept. 8, 2021, which included discussions about Guantanamo and the men still held, and the eventual need for there to be accountability for the crimes committed by the US in the “war on terror” at Guantanamo and elsewhere.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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