Majid Khan Describes Years of Torture and Abuse in CIA “Black Sites” and at Guantánamo in His Sentencing Statement (Part Two)

10.11.21

Guantánamo prisoner Majid Khan, photographed at the prison in 2009, after he had finally been allowed to meet with his lawyers, and to start making arrangements for the plea deal that he agreed to in 2012.

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Yesterday, I posted a transcript of the first part of the extraordinary statement that Guantánamo prisoner and CIA “black site” torture victim Majid Khan read out at his sentencing hearing two weeks ago, in which he recounted his early life, how he was preyed on by al-Qaeda supporters following the death of his mother, and the horrendous torture to which he was subjected in the “black sites,” despite having made it clear from the time of his capture that he intended to be as cooperative as possible.

Today, I’m posting the rest of his statement, which covers his time in his final CIA “black site,” another facility in Afghanistan, code-named “Orange,” where, despite having already cooperated with his interrogators, his hunger strikes in protest at his seemingly unending imprisonment without charge or trial, or access to a lawyer, were dealt with by what he describes as being “raped by the CIA medics,” who “inserted tubes or objects into my anus against my will.”

Majid explained how the executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee report into the CIA torture program, released in December 2014, accurately described what happened to him as follows: “Majid Khan was then subjected to involuntary rectal feeding and rectal hydration, which included two bottles of Ensure. Later that same day, Majid Khan’s ‘lunch tray’, consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins, was ‘pureed’ and rectally infused.” When the executive summary  was released, this was one of the new and shocking details that I picked up on in an article for Al-Jazeera. Majid proceeded to explain how this vile abuse led to him still experiencing “extreme discomfort from the hemorrhoids as a result of my treatment.”

It was also in this period that he began self-harming, primarily, he said, because he was was “bored, lonesome and going crazy.” Eventually, he was transferred to Guantánamo, but although no specific torture program was applied to him in Cuba, the abuse and the isolation continued. It was at Guantánamo, in October 2006 (the month after his arrival) that representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross told him that he had a daughter, and gave him a photo of her, but, as Majid explained, “not long after I received the picture, the guard force took it away.”

The month after, as Majid explained, “I was afforded an opportunity for recreation time with another detainee. With the exception of my captors, this was the first time since my capture that I had spoken to another human being,” and “[i]t wasn’t until 2012 that I was allowed to give someone a hug or a handshake.”

In October 2007, Majid finally got to meet his lawyers, and the long process began of negotiating a plea deal, in exchange for his cooperation, which finally happened in February 2012. As he explained, however, the tradeoff for his cooperation “has been solitary confinement. I have been essentially alone for almost a decade. I have no one to talk to with the exception of the occasional friendly guards, the FBI, and the occasional bird, iguanas, and cats that show up to visit me.”

At the end of his statement, Majid apologized once more for his actions, specifically addressing his father, his wife, his daughter and other family members, and urging “all the vulnerable, lost kids out there searching for meaning” not to “find meaning in violence and hatred,” but to learn from his mistakes. As he explained, “Try to understand that life is short, and it is a gift to be alive each day, so don’t waste your life the way I wasted the first half of mine.”

Given Majid’s contrition, and the revelations of the brutal torture to which he was subjected even while cooperating, it is understandable that seven of his eight military jurors sent a letter to the commissions’ Convening Authority urging clemency in his case. It is now up to President Biden to make sure that he is released next year, as agreed, but I went to all the effort of copying and pasting this statement from a PDF that severely deformatted it as a reminder of the depths to which the United States has sunk in its still unended “war on terror,” to call for a recognition of how torture was often meted out in a way that didn’t even have anything to do with the pursuit of truth, and to remind anyone paying attention that men are still held at Guantánamo  without charge or trial, who, like Majid Khan, need to be released.

Majid Khan’s Unsworn Statement (Part Two)

“Long-Term CIA Prison”

In April 2004, I was moved again, to a new facility, which I call “Long-Term CIA Prison.” The transfer process was just like before; I was hooded, goggled, and duct taped. I was then transported with little care against my will. A doctor took my vital signs, checked my body for marks and scars. I was photographed naked with male and females present. An enema was administered and I was placed into a diaper. I was taken to a new room and seated next to other restrained prisoners. We were all placed in cargo vans and driven about five minutes to an airport. I could make out American voices through the ear muffs. This time the movement was not as violent as compared to the transfers before. There was not pushing, dragging, or banging into walls.

“Long-Term CIA Prison” was located at DETENTION SITE ORANGE.

The flight was not nonstop and couldn’t have lasted more than 12 hours. I was not provided food or water. When we landed it was nighttime and cold. The US guards moved us on to a helicopter for a short 20 to 30-minute flight. When we landed, it was a five-minute drive to the prison. I remained at Long-Term CIA Prison until I was eventually transferred here, to Guantánamo Bay, in September 2006.

Long-Term CIA prison was a fairly new facility with power and running water. It was comprised of three main buildings; all one-story tall. Building A was the larger building and the disciplinary unit with the smallest prison cells. In Building A, it looked like there had been a bar across the top of the cells for hanging prisoners, but it had been removed, with the hole in the wall repaired and patched. Building B cells had with a single door and the prisoners were chained to the wall at all times. Building C had cells with double-doors and the prisoners only wore a leg chain in their cell. My permanent cell was in Building C, but initially I was taken to Building A in April 2004.

At Building A, I was chained to a ring on the wall and was given a covered bucket for a toilet. Shortly after my arrivaI, I was taken out of my cell for processing. My diaper was removed and more pictures were taken of my naked body. I was taken from the shower room wearing only a hood, but I occasionally got a glimpse of the guards. The guards wore jeans and black masks and spoke with short commands and hand gestures. There was a cement path from Building A to Building B. I was barefoot, but I could feel the freezing cold, as if it was winter.

Building B had larger cells with a toilet and sink that had hot and cold water. Each cell had a foam pad mattress and a blanket. There were speakers in each cell to blast music and air vents that blew hot/cold onto prisoners. I was left naked for 24-hours in the freezing cold room. I remember thinking it was warmer outside than in my cell. I clutched that blanket around myself so tightly. For food, I was only given a banana, tomato, and bottle of water. The first CIA official to speak with me was very direct. He told me, “Don’t fuck this place up with your hunger strikes and acting out.” He did not wear a mask, but all of the other guards did at all times.

After the first day, I was given some clothes. On the second day, I received a pillow. I saw guards wearing winter coats during certain seasons. I was shackled to the ground for four months. Other than being transported between buildings, I was indoors for two years without sunlight at the Long-Term CIA prison facility. I had not seen much sunlight from May 2003 to April 2004 while I was held at Prison A and Prison B. In my cell, the lights were always on. The speaker was always playing white noise.

I learned quickly that when I went on a hunger strike to protest my detention or the conditions at this prison, U.S. personnel would come immediately. Some of the same CIA personnel from Prison A and Prison B were at Long-Term CIA prison. My interrogations became “debriefs” and were sometimes conducted daily. I would be shown a photograph of an individual, and if I recognized them I would be taken to another room for a formal identification. I remember I was afraid of the interrogators and would often refuse to look at the pictures. Every time I said something, the CIA would write it down. They took a lot of notes.

Eventually, I made a deal with one of the CIA officials — my primary interrogator said they would stop showing me pictures if I would refrain from acting out. I remember I was moved to Building C (the least restrictive cell). Cells in Building C had one door and for the next two years I remained shackled to the floor ring with a chain on one of my legs at all times. I remember my leg swelled and I complained to the CIA officials, but they said “you’re chained like an animal; this is your life.”

Beginning around early September 2004, I began a series of hunger strikes that resulted in me being moved to the disciplinary unit, Building A. While in my cell, I was restrained and forced by the CIA medics to take fluids intravenously. The IVs were not inserted with care or concern; and this happened repeatedly over several days. I remember the “Torture Doctor” sharpening the tubes and putting hot sauce on the tip right in front of me. They would discuss with me my refusal to eat by threatening me; the CIA officers said would take away amenities, privileges, etc. if I didn’t eat. Eventually, they forced a tube up my nose. Sometimes the tube would be inserted incorrectly, which caused me to bleed, cough, and my face to swell. Of course, they restrained me during these force feedings. The CIA would put an IV in each of my arms. I was force fed Ensure and blended or pureed food. When I was too weak or exhausted to resist, the process would take 15-30 minutes, but I remember being so determined to not break my hunger strike. I would bite the tube and it often took a lot longer. The CIA officer would use a plunger to force the food quickly into my stomach. This caused severe stomach cramps and within an hour I would have diarrhea.

I was force fed countless times, often multiple times a day. I would force myself to throw up afterwards. I remember they were concerned with my weight loss because I had lost about 50 pounds since I had been captured in 2003. I weighed no more than 125 pounds. I was determined to make the CIA officers write a report. That was why I was not compliant. I felt that was my only way to get attention. All I wanted was to talk to an attorney, be charged with a crime or released. These hunger strikes frustrated the CIA officers. I was a burden to their daily activities. After the force feeding failed to get me to cooperate, they returned to torture me. This part is extremely difficult for me to discuss, but I want the world to know what they did to me next.

I continued with my hunger strikes, and the IVs and force feeding was keeping me alive, but not changing my behavior. The CIA then reverted to sexually assaulting me to get the message across that they meant business. They sexually assaulted me several times. This was not done as part of an interrogation, but as punishment for my noncompliant behaviors.

“Raped by CIA medics”

In the month of September 2004, still at Long Term CIA prison, I was raped by the CIA medics. While being restrained, they inserted tubes or objects into my anus against my will. This was different than the enemas they had previously used. Sometimes it was done in my cell. Other times I was restrained on a stretcher and moved to another room. In either location, I was restrained very tightly and securely by at least two guards. A CIA medic was there to administer the insertions, but it was not a medical procedure. I remember one time in my cell, I asked the medic why he was doing this and he whispered with viciousness, “You’re a fucking terrorist.”

They used green garden hoses and one end was connected to the faucet as they “rehydrated me.” I remember feeling immense pressure in my bowels; a pain I had never felt. I couldn’t stop myself from evacuating my bowels. I think these forced rectal insertions were done to make it appear like I had eaten, digested food, and used the toilet. To this day, I experience extreme discomfort from the hemorrhoids as a result of my treatment.

On one particular day, in late September I remember being fed four or five times in an eight-hour period in my cell. I remember resisting with the CIA officers to insert a tube into my nose. I resisted, bit, and chewed on the tube,  and eventually pulled it out myself. It hurt like hell. The “Torture Doctor” and guards responded by further restraining me, tightly binding me with duct tape and other shackles. This is the incident described in the Executive Summary of the SSCI Report which accurately states: “Majid Khan was then subjected to involuntary rectal feeding and rectal hydration, which included two bottles of Ensure. Later that same day, Majid Khan’s ‘lunch tray’, consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins, was ‘pureed’ and rectally infused.” I didn’t know that’s what they were feeding me at the time, but I remember that I dumped all of that food out between the forced feeding sessions.

I remember the forced feedings continued the next day, both rectal and nasogastric. I continued my hunger strike for nearly two weeks. I remember ending my hunger strike after another rectal forced feeding session sometime in late September or early October. I began another hunger strike in late November, around Thanksgiving. As soon as I announced it to the CIA officers, they took me to receive nasogastric feeding. Again, I forced myself to vomit which continued to frustrate the CIA officers.

It was also around this time that I first attempted to hurt myself. In November 2004, I used some sharp item to cut my wrists. I remember I purposefully ran headfirst into the wall of my cell to try and harm myself too. A few weeks later, in early December, I made another attempt. I tried to chew in my left arm, at the flesh on the inside of my elbow. I remember telling the CIA officer that I didn’t really want to hurt myself or die but I was bored, lonesome and going crazy. Later in December, around Christmas, I purposefully cut myself on my foot in an attempt to get the CIA’s attention and to write an incident report. I remember I bled so much, on my clothes, shoes and floor. My 1.5-inch scar remains from that incident. I used a sharp piece of plastic that I had been hiding for about a month. The CIA medic treated me, closed the wound with a needle and thread. As punishment, I was left in Building A without any amenities (no change of clothes, no mattress, blanket, etc.). They didn’t even come to clean up the blood. I began another hunger strike that day. The Executive Summary of the SSCI Report accurately describes these events by explaining that “In addition to his hunger strikes, Majid Khan engaged in acts of self-harm that included attempting to cut his wrist on two occasions, an attempt to chew into his arm at the inner elbow, and attempting to cut a vein at the top of his foot, and an attempt to cut into his skin at the elbow joint using a filed toothbrush.”

The forced feeding began again shortly thereafter. In late December 2004, the CIA medic restrained me and forced another enema into my rectum. The next day, the CIA staff restrained me and forcefully administered an IV. I think they also completed a nasogastric feeding, but can’t exactly. I remember probably threw up whatever they were able to force down.

On December 31, 2004, the CIA got rough with me when they took me to the feeding room. I was restrained more severely than before in chair, jacket, and handcuffs. I was secured in a plastic lawn chair and back-brace. I wore a stiff jacket combined with Velcro straps that prevented any movement, including a high, stiff collar that stopped my head from turning. My hands were shackled behind the back of the chair and attached to a ring in the wall, so that my hands were fixed between the wall and the chair. I was further secured to the chair with duct tape. Everything was severely tight, to the point of pain and numbness. The CIA medic arrived and forcibly injected me with a sedative, but I couldn’t resist. At some point, I lost consciousness.

When I came to, I was wet and dirty from having soiled myself. I couldn’t move in the chair, but I struggled with all my might. At some point, my struggle broke something free and I tipped the chair over, shifting all of my weight onto one hand and arm. I screamed in pain. After 6 hours or so, a guard came to set the chair back up. To this day, I have shoulder pain from this injury. I don’t have the full range of motion. I was left in this room for some time, probably four or five hours.

I attempted to hurt myself again in March 2005. I cut my wrists using the lip of the steel sink in my cell. I wrote on the wall in my blood, “There is no God, but God.” I demanded to be sent back to Pakistan or be given a fair trial. About a week later, I was moved to another smaller cell, without a toilet or sink. I remember feeling so low and hopeless at that time. Later that year, I was finally given a pair of glasses.

In June 2005 I tried to cut my arm with a sharpened toothbrush. As punishment, I was placed in a padded cell and tightly restrained with shackles and a neck collar. Every time I hurt myself, the CIA guards would come photograph my injuries. I was taken out of my cell and taken to the media room where other detainees would watch TV alone. I think it was because the CIA wanted to document the transfer as something less severe. I didn’t think they were reporting that I “cut my wrists” because I couldn’t fathom how nothing would be done about it. Nevertheless, my punishments were always the same, loss of privileges and moved back to Building A. At some point, they had no more privileges or amenities to take away from me, which was the source of frustration for the CIA officers. I believe that is why they would sexually assault me.

My feelings of hopelessness continued. I don’t really remember the beginning or ending of all of my hunger strikes. There were so many they sort of run together all these years later.

For the last period of my time at Long-Term CIA prison, I feel the CIA started to treat me better. Beginning with the start of the new year in 2006, there was a distinct difference in how the CIA officers responded to my protests. I was still struggling, resisting, complaining. For example, in late January 2006, I wrote on the walls of my cell with a red marker or crayon, “Stop torturing me!” I demanded to see my lawyers, the ICRC, the UN, the ICC, and NATO. I remember the CIA officers instructed me to clean the walls or else I would be moved to a smaller cell. I was given some cleaning supplies and supervised, but the ink was permanent. One of the CIA officers offered to help me repaint the walls. Another time, in early April 2006, the CIA wanted to do a medical check-up on me. I demanded to see the International Committee of the Red Cross and let them do a medical health exam on me. They denied my request but didn’t force me to complete the medical exam.

In late May 2006 I began a hunger strike by announcing it to the CIA personnel. I told them I wanted a report to be filed so that the situation would get higher levels of attention. The CIA didn’t punish me for these protests. Then in early June 2006, I continued to feel very low and depressed. They wanted to prescribe me Prozac, but I didn’t trust the medication or the medical care, so I refused. The CIA personnel talked with me for a long time over several days to understand my feelings. They told me that my protests were “willful acts of defiance” but I argued that my depression was the cause of these behaviors. In these sessions, I told these CIA officers about all of the horrible treatment I had suffered to try and convince them. Over three years had passed since I was first captured. Through this time period, I never once saw the sun. The never ending isolation and lack of mental stimulation were almost as difficult to bear as the physical torture.

Guantánamo

In September, 2006, I was transported to a plane and flown to multiple stops, eventually ending in GTMO. The flight lasted 24 to 36 hours. I was amongst a dozen other detainees on our flight to GTMO. Although I was hooded and my ears were muffled, the treatment during transportation drastically changed. I was no longer physically abused like I had been before. There was definitely a change in how I was treated. I felt grateful to be alive and for the first time I felt that maybe I was going to survive this ordeal. Arriving at GTMO brought some stability and understanding, but further underscored my assumption that I would never be released. I just hoped now that I would have access to my attorney who could help me fight these injustices.

Upon my arrival to GTMO, I was taken to Camp 7 and housed in my cell by myself. The solitary confinement would continue for many years. I was hopeful that things would be different, but from the very first hours in GTMO I realized the mistreatment would continue. I could barely move and once I was placed in my cell I asked to use the bathroom, but I was left there for 6 hours. I yelled for assistance but was ignored. That’s when I knew that GTMO was no different than the other places.

Since I had been through the CIA’s torture program I was not to socialize with the rest of the detainees at GTMO. All of the high value detainees (HVD) were housed together in Camp 7. Camp 7 was death by a thousand cuts. I wanted to believe that things would get better, but they never did. Don’t get me wrong, the blatant physical and mental torture that I had experienced earlier stopped, but the “drip, drip, drip” of mistreatment continued. I thought that once I arrived at GTMO that I would finally be given access to my attorney. I knew I had attorneys willing to represent me, no matter how many times I requested to speak to them, it was always denied. I thought being on American soil would allow me certain rights, but that wasn’t the case. I had learned from the Long Term CIA Prison that the only way to get attention was to misbehave and gain social interaction from the guards.

Any type of non-compliance resulted in my being placed on disciplinary status. I would lose the liberties and amenities that were afforded to me.

“The first time that I was informed that I had a daughter”

In October 2006, the International Committee for the Red Cross ( ICRC) gave me a picture of my daughter. That was the first time that I was informed that I had a daughter. I was overjoyed with emotion. It’s tough to put into words 16 years later, on what I was feeling, but it brought some joy and happiness after years of hopelessness. However, those feelings were fleeting because not long after I received the picture, the guard force took it away. I yelled for hours for the picture to be returned, but to no avail.

The next month, I was afforded an opportunity for recreation time with another detainee. With the exception of my captors, this was the first time since my capture that I had spoken to another human being. It wasn’t until 2012 that I was allowed to give someone a hug or a handshake.

As I explained earlier, GTMO was a death by a thousand cuts. I could give you 600 pages of daily logs containing specific details of the arbitrary abuse and indignities that I suffered during those years at Camp 7, but instead, let me give you just some examples that provide the gist of what I suffered on a daily basis. For example, food was a persistent problem at GTMO. On numerous occasions I found stones and pieces of metal in my food. After complaining to the guards and not seeing any tangible results, I decided to withhold my meal trays. I wanted to send a message that the food was unhealthy, but in response the guard force forcibly shaved my head. For the immediate future, my food was then scooped into my hands.

The guard force would make constant banging noises in the middle of the night, which would make it impossible to sleep. They would purposefully wake me up while I was sleeping. The camera in my cell made a constant “whining” noise that would drive me mad, I made several complaints to the guard force and Camp 7 leadership and other authorities, but it made no difference. I had a speaker in my room, which was to be used for the announcement of prayer, but the guards would make announcements when I was sleeping and announce prayer at the wrong time. The ability to practice my religion was really strained during these early years. The guard force frequently disrupted my prayer time and prevented me from celebrating Eid. The guards did not respect my religion and did not afford me the proper entitlements to practice accordingly. I can’t recall one straight week without experiencing issues.

By December 2006, I had enough of the mistreatment. I wrote “stop torturing me. I need my attorney” on my cell wall. As a result, I was placed on disciplinary status. From then, I began conducting frequent hunger strikes to get the message across regarding the lack of access to my attorney. The guard force would take away my amenities and place me on disciplinary status in an attempt to break my hunger strikes.

My time in Camp 7 was a daily routine of mistreatments and frustrations. Everything was a struggle. The things that I held dear were frequently taken away. The guards made it almost impossible for me to practice my religion. The continued isolation and lack of mental stimulation was the hardest for me to bear. I so badly wanted to be able to communicate with my lawyers and for the first year I was prevented from doing so. The continued lack of certainty and being held without charges was maddening.

In February 2007, I gave my first statement to the FBI. Before the interview, I asked for my attorney and I informed them that I was represented. The FBI informed me that since I was not charged with a crime, that I was not entitled to an attorney. I later found out that was not correct, and I should have been given access to my attorney before I spoke. I wanted to cooperate and help as much as I could, but I didn’t want to say too much without my attorney there. I didn’t want others making the same mistakes that I had made. It took another 8 months for me to finally meet my attorneys.

You have to understand that I had been tortured and at times, I said anything my captors wanted to hear in order to make them stop. I was so scared. That fear persisted for years because I felt at any moment they could start torturing me again. So there were times I said things that I knew to be untrue; things that my interrogators responded to and things that made them think I was compliant and cooperative. But when I arrived at GTMO, my fears were heightened once again. The new environment wasn’t better and it only reinforced my earlier traumas and experiences. So I continued to tell lies from time to time to prevent myself from being tortured again. Before I met with my attorneys, I pretended to know or not know certain answers to my interrogator’s questions. I really wanted to do the right thing and tell the truth, but I was still trying to say what I thought they wanted to hear.

October 2007: “I met my defense team for the first time”

But all that changed in October 2007. This is when I met my defense team for the first time. I communicated to them that I would be willing to tell the truth and cooperate, and as I explained before, I had to make things right. I made a decision early on that I was going to take responsibility for what I had done. I wasn’t going to let Guantánamo be the last chapter written in my life. It took almost two years, before negotiations commenced regarding a plea deal in exchange for my cooperation. I gave proffers to the U.S. Government and told them everything that I had to offer.

On February 29, 2012, I pled guilty to all of the crimes that I was guilty of. Pleading guilty and deciding to cooperate with the U.S. Government was a very good decision. I have never doubted this decision and I remain steadfast in my commitment to assist the U.S. Government in any way that I can. In addition to my lawyers and my family , I also received good advice from people that I came to trust at Guantánamo. The people I came to meet in 2009 treated me well. They treated me with respect. They treated me like a human being. SJAs [Staff Judge Advocates] here at GTMO also talked to me at length regarding my situation and my decision to plead guilty. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them and I thank them for their support.

Since pleading guilty, I have done everything that has been asked of me. I have cooperated with the U.S. authorities to include Prosecutors and Investigators, both for Commissions Cases and for federal civil and criminal cases. I have always told the truth and never shied away from what my involvement has been.

Over the last nine plus years, I have had lot of time to reflect. My time in my new location has been no picnic. Although I am afforded many amenities that other prisoners don’t have access to, the tradeoff has been solitary confinement. I have been essentially alone for almost a decade. I have no one to talk to with the exception of the occasional friendly guards, the FBI, and the occasional bird, iguanas, and cats that show up to visit me. There’s also one SJA whom I developed a close relationship with. This senior military officer spent a lot of time talking with me, mentoring me, and this person was instrumental in my decision to cooperate. I won’t name this person in order to spare them any unwanted attention, but you know who you are, you’ve always supported me, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.

But again, it hasn’t been easy for me. Especially since the Pandemic, the only way to communicate with my attorneys is through legal mail and that has made my preparation for sentencing extremely challenging. I am provided one phone call (or recording) every three months with my wife and child and/or my family back in the U.S. Without social interaction, I have tried to better myself through learning how to cook, reading, watching documentaries, and studying all those subjects that most people learn in college. I hope to attend college someday, as I should have done when I was younger. I have done everything in my power to educate myself and broaden my horizons, including studying various languages from across the world, but without access to technology, learning these languages has been a struggle. Still, I have become quite familiar with several languages such as Arabic, Persian, Spanish, Italian, French, Russian, Chinese, and of course Urdu and English. I have a real interest in languages and I am truly proud of what I have accomplished.

When I am released, I have simple dreams. I want to be reunited with my wife and daughter, and provide for them. I have been absent from their lives for so long and I know that I will not be able to make up for lost time, but I can only hope to provide for them a better life with me around. I know the future is uncertain and I can’t predict what will become of me after I am released, but I do know a few things for certain. I have been detained and isolated for nearly the last 20 years and I have paid dearly for it. But I have tried to take responsibility and do the right thing and I can clearly say that I’m not the person I was in 2002 and 2003. I’m not the young, impressionable, vulnerable kid I was 20 years ago.

I would like to end by once again reiterating my apologies to all that have been hurt by my actions. First, to all those people who have been harmed by my actions. There is no way that I can change the past, but I can look to be a constructive contributing member of society, make amends and take responsibility for my actions, which is what I have done for the last decade. There is not a day that goes by that I am not sorry for what I have done. I have done everything in my power to make this right, but I understand that it may never be enough.

Next, to my wife: Rabia, I am so very sorry for leaving you to raise our daughter alone. I dream of our life together after I am released and cannot wait to be with you again.

To my daughter: Manaal, I am sorry I haven’t been there to see you grow up. I have missed your childhood. I am so sorry that you had to endure growing up without a Dad. It hurts my heart to know that you have had to answer questions about me and that I have caused you so much pain. Your commitment to me has meant the world. Hugging you for the first time will be the happiest day of my life.

To my father. I have so much sorrow knowing what I have caused you. I know that you have forgiven me but as your youngest son, you deserved much more. I am thankful for all that you have done for me. I only hope that I can be as good of a father to Manaal as you have been to me.

To my brothers and sisters and my nephews and nieces. I know that I have made your lives incredibly hard. I know that my actions have impacted you in ways that I could never have imagined and I am so sorry for that. I am sorry for not being around and helping after mother died. Collectively, your love and support has helped me get through each and every day.

I also want to say to all the vulnerable, lost kids out there searching for meaning: Don’t find meaning in violence and hatred: Learn from my mistakes and don’t make the same decisions that I did. Try to understand that life is short, and it is a gift to be alive each day, so don’t waste your life the way I wasted the first half of mine.

Finally, I would like to end this statement by reiterating where I stand today. I am a 41 year-old man who has spent the last 18 years behind bars. I am here because of my own doing. As a young man, I allowed myself to be manipulated by others and committed crimes that, only months before my mother died and my life spiraled out of control, I could never have imagined myself doing. But I did what I did. I don’t deny it. I don’t minimize it. I accept responsibility and have tried to atone for my actions. After my capture,I was tortured in ways that are hard to describe and I have endured unimaginable physical and mental pain. I have physical and emotional scars. For a long time, I had nightmares and suffered from PTSD. I’ve taken a lot of medications. But I’ve come a very long way and taking responsibility for my actions was the first step. Since arriving at GTMO, I have done everything in my power to make amends for my actions by pleading guilty and cooperating with the U.S. Government at every possible opportunity. I am a husband, a father, a son, and a brother. My only wish is to be released so I can see and hug my daughter for the first time. I have so many wrongs that I wish to right. I know that my story must be tough to comprehend, it has been an unthinkable journey. From a normal U.S. teenager to being a high-value detainee at GTMO. But I don’t want to be defined by Guantánamo and how I got here. Rather, I want to be defined by the positive contributions that I make going forward and by being a loving and supportive husband and father.

Thank you. Thank you all for listening to me and for hearing what I had to say. I have wanted to tell my story for a very long time and I am so very appreciative for your attention. Thank you for letting me share it with you today.

* * * * *

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 struggle for housing justice — and against environmental destruction — 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.

7 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s the second part of my transcript of the powerful statement that Guantanamo prisoner and CIA “black site” torture victim Majid Khan read out at his recent sentencing hearing, nearly ten years after he first agreed a plea deal at his military commission trial.

    Majid’s statement is a powerful combination of contrition, on the one hand, and the brutality of his torture on the other, which seemed to be undertaken with no regard for discovering the truth, as he had persistently showed a willingness to cooperate with his interrogators. Key points in this second half are the “rectal feeding” to which he was subjected, his attempts at self-harm, and, at Guantanamo, the cruelty with which, when the International Committee of the Red Cross was finally able to tell him about the daughter he never knew he had, and to give him a photo of her, the guard force almost immediately took it off him.

    It’s no wonder that seven of his eight military jurors, having heard his account, recommended clemency to the commissions’ Convening Authority. Under the terms of his agreement, he should be released in February next year, but that is no consolation for the brutality of his treatment over so many years — and nor, I must add, does it help the 27 men still held at Guantanamo who have never been charged, and who should also be released.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Natalia Rivera Scott wrote:

    It’s been really terrible to read the whole statement … it’s always chilling and heartbreaking to read what these human beings went through in the black sites and in Guantánamo.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    I thought it was important to encourage those who care about the horrors of the “war on terror” to dwell on the whole of Majid’s experience, Natalia, because it reveals the torture as so contemptibly unmoored from anything resembling intelligence gathering, as the seven military jurors realized when they wrote, “This abuse was of no practical value in terms of intelligence, or any other tangible benefit to U.S. interests. Instead, it is a stain on the moral fiber of America; the treatment of Mr. Khan in the hands of U.S. personnel should be a source of shame for the U.S. government.”

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Kevin Hester wrote:

    The depth of inhumanity from the empire of chaos knows no bounds.
    As this great article shows the USA is a fully fledged fascist state. The level of depravity is always worse than we know or can imagine.
    This is what the monsters would like to do to Julian Assange if they can get their fascist hands on him.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for your comments, Kevin, which should make us reflect on how significant it is that no one has been held accountable for implementing the torture program – not Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld before his death, or any of the other lawyers and officials who were directly responsible for facilitating it. It could happen again, and in fact the use of SAMs (Special Administrative Measures) in US domestic prisons, where mostly Muslim prisoners are held in extreme isolation, reveals that it is already fundamentally a part of the prison system on the mainland. https://theintercept.com/2017/10/23/sams-torture-prisons-ccr-extreme-isolation-accountability/

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Natalia Rivera Scott wrote:

    Andy, of course. We need to read this, know this. People in charge of ordering and executing the torture techniques need to be held accountable. And probably I’ll translate this article too.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    It’s unfortunate, though, that it’s so very hard to put this in front of people who don’t know about it and should, Natalia. Last week Kevin MacDonald, the director of ‘The Mauritanian’, was telling us at a screening in Lewes how unfortunately Covid had a huge impact on getting the film out to a wide audience, even though they’d done everything to draw people in, with the casting of Jodie Foster and Benedict Cumberbatch, and packaging it as a legal thriller rather than focusing on the torture.

    And just today, in an interview I did for a Defending Rights & Dissent podcast with Clive Stafford Smith, discussing WikiLeaks’ release of the Guantanamo files, Clive was talking about how, in the early days of legal challenges to Guantanamo, the lawyers involved thought that, if they could just get the information out about what was happening, the American public would be so appalled, and in such significant numbers, that it would lead to the prison’s closure. But it didn’t happen, of course.

    It sometimes seems that Guantanamo is like a black hole that swallows outrage and nullifies it.

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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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