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Guantánamo’s Darkest Secret | The New Yorker

In 2004, Steve Wooden was deployed to Guantánamo Bay, as a member of the Oregon Nationwide Guard. He and his comrades have been instructed that lots of the detainees have been accountable for 9/11 and, given the chance, would strike once more. “I simply bear in mind being tremendous excited, as a result of I assumed, I’m going to be doing one thing essential,” Wooden instructed me. For 2 weeks, he labored as a guard within the cellblocks, monitoring males who had been captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan. Then a sergeant main pulled him apart for a quick interview, and assigned him to work the evening shift in Echo Particular, a secret, single-occupancy unit that had been constructed to accommodate the US army’s highest-value detainee. The Worldwide Committee of the Pink Cross—which has entry to lots of the world’s most infamous detention websites, a few of them in international locations the place there isn’t any rule of legislation—had not too long ago despatched representatives to Guantánamo, however the base commander, citing “army necessity,” had refused to permit them into Echo Particular. The person confined there was referred to by his detainee quantity, 760. When Wooden tried to seek for 760 in Guantánamo’s detainee database, he discovered nothing.Wooden was the second of three boys. His father died in a airplane crash when he was three years outdated, and his mom introduced him and his brothers up in Molalla, Oregon, a lumber city about an hour south of Portland. His mom dated a string of alcoholics and addicts, and took the kids to an evangelical church on Sundays; Pat Robertson’s sermons blasted from the living-room TV. In 1999, shortly after graduating from highschool, Wooden began a job on the native sawmill. A number of of his co-workers have been lacking fingers, and the supervisor took each alternative to denigrate the workers. After just a few months, he signed up for the Oregon Nationwide Guard, on the military-police observe. He sought construction and self-discipline—a lifetime of satisfaction, objective, and readability of mission.After 9/11, patriotism eclipsed restlessness as Wooden’s main motivation to serve. He had spent the morning of the worst terrorist assault in American historical past mendacity on his mom’s sofa, excessive on painkillers after a tonsillectomy, however when he emerged from the haze he was offended, focussed, and eager for deployment. He didn’t harbor any specific animosity towards Muslims, however he had absorbed his mom’s perception: “If it’s not from Jesus then it have to be from the Satan.” After finishing the necessities to grow to be an M.P., Wooden enrolled in a criminal-justice program at a close-by neighborhood school. He recalled his political beliefs as being “no matter Fox Information instructed us.” He didn’t know the distinction between a Hindu, a Sikh, and a Muslim—he had by no means met one.Earlier than his first shift in Echo Particular, Wooden was instructed to position a strip {of electrical} tape over the title on his uniform, and to make use of solely nicknames contained in the cell, in order that if 760 have been to by some means sneak a message out of the camp he couldn’t problem fatwas in opposition to his guards or their households. “By no means flip your again,” the sergeant main warned him. Wooden, who was twenty-three, had not too long ago realized that his girlfriend was pregnant. He wouldn’t take any probabilities. “You belief {the handcuffs} and every part, however, it doesn’t matter what, we’d by no means be with him one on one—there would at all times be a associate,” Wooden instructed me. Till not too long ago, the guards and the interrogators had worn Halloween masks contained in the cell. Wooden walked via the camp to Echo Particular proud to be a part of a severe national-security operation. He thought, It have to be any person actually essential—probably the most harmful particular person on the planet, maybe—to have this particular consideration, a guard drive only for him.Echo Particular was a trailer that had been divided in two. Wooden walked into the primary space, which housed the guards; via a door was the prisoner’s sleeping house. A authorities report describes the power as having been “modified in such a approach as to scale back as a lot outdoors stimuli as potential,” with doorways that had been “sealed to a degree that enables no gentle to enter the room.” Inside, the partitions have been “coated with white paint or paper to additional get rid of objects the detainee could focus on.” There was an eyebolt for shackling him to the ground, and audio system for bombarding him with sound.An M.P. defined to Wooden that the present guard drive referred to as Detainee 760 “Pillow,” as a result of once they had arrived, a number of months earlier, a pillow was the one object in his possession. Then considered one of them shouted, “Pillow, you may come out now!” A brief man in his mid-thirties stepped into the guards’ space, unshackled. He wore a broad smile and a white jumpsuit, and moved cautiously towards Wooden. The detainee launched himself as Mohamedou Salahi, then reached for a handshake, and mentioned, “What’s up, dude?”Wooden is six ft three, with a shaved head, a shy, stoic method, and the musculature of an élite bodybuilder. Though he towered over Salahi, he hesitated earlier than taking his hand, and when he did he famous how delicate Salahi was. “Good to fulfill you,” Wooden mentioned. However he thought, What the fuck is that this? That is the precise reverse of what’s purported to occur.The fragmented picture of Mohamedou Salahi that United States army, law-enforcement, and intelligence companies assembled in a categorised file was that of a “extremely smart” Mauritanian electrical engineer, who, “as a key al-Qaida member,” had performed a task in a number of mass-casualty plots. Different males carried field cutters and explosives; Salahi was a ghost on the periphery. The proof in opposition to him lacked depth, however investigators thought-about its breadth conclusive. His proximity to so many occasions and high-level jihadi figures couldn’t be defined by coincidence, they thought, and solely a logistical mastermind may have left so faint a path.The U.S. authorities gathered that in 1991, when Salahi was twenty, he swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden, and the next 12 months he realized to deal with weapons at an Al Qaeda coaching camp in Afghanistan. Later, Salahi moved to Germany, the place, the Individuals assessed, “his main duty was to recruit for al-Qaida in Europe.” Amongst his alleged recruits have been three of the 9/11 hijackers, all of whom served as pilots on separate planes. A fourth was Ramzi bin al-Shibh, the assault coördinator; whereas in C.I.A. custody, bin al-Shibh named Salahi as the person who had organized his journey to Afghanistan and his introduction to bin Laden.In 1998, shortly after Al Qaeda detonated truck bombs outdoors the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Salahi took a name from a cellphone quantity belonging to bin Laden. Then, and on at the least one different event, a member of Al Qaeda’s Shura Council—its management—wired some 4 thousand {dollars} to Salahi’s checking account in Germany; Salahi withdrew the money and handed it to males who have been travelling to West Africa, to facilitate what the Individuals assessed to be money-laundering and telecommunications “tasks for al-Qaida.”In 1999, the Shura member referred to as Salahi, however U.S. intelligence didn’t know what his directions have been. In November of that 12 months, Salahi moved to Montreal, the place he started main prayers at a distinguished mosque. Quickly afterward, a jihadi who had attended the identical mosque—and who the Individuals believed had met Salahi—tried to smuggle explosives within the trunk of a automotive throughout the U.S. border; his plan was to detonate suitcases inside Los Angeles Worldwide Airport, in what turned referred to as the Millennium Plot. Canada’s Secret Intelligence Service started a surveillance operation focussing on Salahi and his associates, however Salahi observed two pinhole cameras poking via his residence partitions and left the nation. The U.S. authorities concluded that he was “the chief of the Montreal-based al-Qaida cell.”In Guantánamo, Salahi admitted to this and different allegations. “I got here to Canada with a plan to explode the CN Tower in Toronto,” Salahi wrote, in considered one of his many confessions. He listed his accomplices and added, “due to Canadian Intel, the plan was found and sentenced to failure.” After years of holding out in interrogations, he had grow to be what the categorised file described as a “extremely cooperative” font of intelligence—“one of the vital worthwhile sources in detention.” He described Al Qaeda’s monetary involvement in credit-card fraud and drug smuggling, and likewise the group’s “funding in unwitting corporations in Bosnia, Canada, Chechnya, Denmark, England, Germany, Mauritania, and Spain.” He drew organizational charts, with the names and operational roles of key figures, and provided intelligence on jihadi cells and secure homes throughout Europe and West Africa. Owing to his experience as {an electrical} engineer, the file concludes, Salahi was additionally in a position to describe Al Qaeda’s elaborate communications programs, “together with radio relay, couriers, encryption, cellphone boutiques, and satellite tv for pc communication hyperlinks to laptops.” However the U.S. authorities was positive there was extra to be gleaned from him; the file says that he “nonetheless has helpful data” on a wide range of topics, together with the 9/11 assaults, and lists twenty-two further “areas of potential exploitation.” Army officers thought-about him “the poster little one for the intelligence effort at Guantánamo.”Because of Salahi’s coöperation, his personal cell was now stocked with what the federal government known as “consolation gadgets.” After the pillow got here cleaning soap, towels, a prayer cap, and prayer beads—by the point Steve Wooden arrived, Salahi additionally had books, a tv, a PlayStation, and an outdated laptop computer, on which he killed time taking part in chess and watching DVDs. Ultimately, Salahi could be allowed entry to a small patch of soil outdoors his trailer, the place he tended sunflowers, basil, sage, parsley, and cilantro. “What I used to be instructed was that his data had saved hundreds of American lives,” Wooden mentioned, “and that is what they’d given him to maintain speaking.”Salahi was taken into custody when he was thirty years outdated, however he had already lived on 4 continents, and spoke fluent Arabic, French, and German. English was his fourth language. Since he had realized it in captivity, a few of his earliest phrases have been “I ain’t performed nothing,” “cavity search,” “fuck this,” and “fuck that.” “My downside is that I had been selecting the language from the ‘unsuitable’ folks—specifically, U.S. Forces recruits who communicate grammatically incorrectly,” he wrote on a scrap of paper inside his cell. “English accepts extra curses than every other language, and I quickly realized to curse with the commoners.”As a matter of professionalism, Wooden resolved from the outset to bury behind his thoughts what he had heard of Salahi’s previous. “It’s onerous to sit down there and snort and chat with the man, if he’s truly that unhealthy,” Wooden instructed me. The evening shift was twelve hours, and he by no means noticed Salahi shackled or restrained. Different Guantánamo prisoners threw punches and feces and urine, however, in keeping with the categorised file, Salahi’s solely disciplinary infraction was that, on Could 11, 2003, he “possessed an extreme quantity of MRE meals.”Salahi usually appeared sullen and withdrawn. However, when he needed to have interaction, he spoke with a sophisticated, provocative humor that Wooden discovered interesting. He favored to rile his guards into debating equality, race, and faith, and he wielded a classy understanding of historical past and geopolitics to chip away at their beliefs. Earlier than assembly Salahi, Wooden had by no means heard of Mauritania; Salahi instructed him that, to his nice embarrassment, slavery was nonetheless practiced there, even amongst folks near him. Salahi additionally pushed him to analysis Western foreign-policy blunders—for instance, that in 1953 the American and the British intelligence providers had orchestrated a coup in Iran, overthrowing a well-liked Prime Minister with a view to prop up a tyrannical, pro-Western Shah. “Have you ever heard of Nelson Mandela?” Wooden recalled Salahi saying. “Look him up, dude. Search for the jail on Robben Island. See for those who assume his captivity was simply. See what it did to his household.”A job posting depicts life as an intelligence officer in Guantánamo Bay as “a rewarding problem with unbelievable environment”—sunsets, seashores, iguanas, pristine Caribbean blue. “After a hustled day of tackling a myriad of points and immediately contributing to the worldwide battle on terrorism,” it reads, “enjoyable awaits.” Officers may partake in pottery courses, paintball, rugby, tennis, and softball, or train in a number of swimming pools and gymnasiums. The native dive store provided gear and certifications for crusing, water-skiing, snorkelling, scuba diving, and extra: “No expertise, no downside. . . . Enjoyable is straightforward.”In observe, many military-police officers killed time by watching films and getting drunk on the Tiki Bar; additionally they took flights to Afghanistan, to select up extra detainees. However Wooden spent his days within the base library, researching matters that Salahi had introduced up within the cell. He devoured volumes on historical past, overseas affairs, politics, civil rights—“just about any kind of e-book you might consider, aside from, like, romance novels,” he mentioned. “I used to be educating myself on the world.” However, as a result of Salahi’s trailer was a nationwide secret, Wooden saved a cordial distance from many of the different guards. “I’d come dwelling and iron my uniform, and my roommates didn’t know a factor,” he mentioned. “They’d ask me, ‘Who’s in there?,’ and I’d say, ‘I don’t know, in all probability any person well-known.’ ”In time, Wooden started to consider every part he had identified earlier than assembly Salahi as a narrow-minded delusion of American superiority, notable for its omissions of abroad misadventures. In the meantime, the Bush Administration’s pretext for invading Iraq was collapsing, and so was Wooden’s belief in authorities. It was the spring of 2004. There have been no weapons of mass destruction. The “mission” had not been “completed.” When Wooden watched the night information, he noticed pictures of American M.P.s torturing and sexually humiliating Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib. He started to wonder if the case in opposition to Mohamedou Salahi was as flimsy and politically motivated as that for the invasion had been. “I used to be, like, What else have they lied about?” he mentioned.Salahi underwent day by day interrogations. The classes Wooden witnessed have been calm and courteous, with Salahi trying to reply every part requested of him. “It was the gorgeous blond interrogator bringing in these disks with footage from Al Qaeda and Taliban coaching camps in Afghanistan,” Wooden recalled. The movies had been pulled from jihadi Internet sites, or captured by intelligence officers throughout raids, and Salahi’s function was to establish the folks in them. However generally, after coöperating, “he’d get depressed and anxious, and say, ‘I’m a nasty Muslim,’ ” Wooden instructed me. “And I’d say, ‘It doesn’t matter what you probably did previously, man, you’ve saved hundreds of lives.’ I’d at all times say that, and he’d simply shake his head, like, ‘Bullshit.’ ”One evening, when Salahi was asleep, Wooden heard sounds that reminded him of a kid having a nightmare. He walked into the sleeping space and located Salahi mendacity within the fetal place, shaking. No grownup in Wooden’s life had ever regarded so frightened and so susceptible. He gently held Salahi’s shoulder, and mentioned, “All the things’s O.Ok.” Salahi shook his head, and clicked his tongue in disagreement, however refused to talk. The following day, Wooden pressed him to speak concerning the episode, however Salahi wouldn’t elaborate. He simply mentioned, “Dude, they fucked me up.”The evening terrors saved coming. Salahi was on a eating regimen of Guarantee diet shakes and antidepressants. Someday, he complained to Wooden that the interrogators have been demanding data on occasions that he couldn’t probably learn about, as a result of that they had taken place whereas he was in custody.Though Wooden had launched himself to Salahi as Stretch, his nickname from the sawmill, Salahi had rapidly realized his actual title, in addition to these of the opposite guards. “The tape would fall off our uniforms,” Wooden recalled. “We’d attempt to cowl it again up, actual fast, however finally we have been, like, fuck it. We knew he wasn’t a risk.” The place as soon as he had struggled to forgive himself for having fun with Salahi’s firm, he now felt unhealthy about having to lock the door on the finish of every shift. He walked into the morning daylight in a daze, unable to reconcile his impression of the person in Echo Particular with the depiction of the terrorist within the file. Had Wooden remained as an everyday guard, in one of many common cellblocks, he might need completed his deployment together with his understanding of the worldwide battle on terror roughly intact. As a substitute, he started to wonder if what he was truly defending at Guantánamo was one of many authorities’s darkest secrets and techniques: that its highest-value army detainee was being held primarily by mistake, and that his isolation in Echo Particular was meant to cowl up the hell that had been inflicted upon him.Someday, Salahi began requesting paper from his guards. As the results of a current courtroom ruling, Guantánamo detainees had entry to authorized illustration, and so, through the subsequent a number of months, Salahi drafted a diary of his detention as a sequence of harrowing letters to his legal professionals, Nancy Hollander, Sylvia Royce, and Theresa Duncan—4 hundred and sixty-six pages, sealed in envelopes and mailed to a categorised facility close to Washington, D.C. No guards or interrogators have been allowed to learn Salahi’s work. For the primary time, he described his experiences with out worry of retribution. On one web page, he recalled the day he bought his nickname, when an interrogator introduced him a pillow. “I acquired the current with a pretend overwhelming happiness, and never as a result of I used to be dying to get a pillow,” he wrote. “No. I took the pillow as an indication of the top of the bodily torture.”The DetaineeMohamedou Ould Salahi was born in late December, 1970, the ninth little one of a Mauritanian camel herder and his spouse. Like most international locations in West Africa, Mauritania had gained independence from France a decade earlier. Few locals spoke French, however for the reason that nation had been arbitrarily drawn up as an unlimited, largely desert territory, populated by quite a few ethnic teams who spoke totally different languages, there was no various for official documentation. When a nurse, who spoke solely Hassaniya Arabic, crammed out Mohamedou’s beginning certificates within the Latin alphabet, she omitted a syllable from his final title. Salahi turned “Slahi.” So started a life wherein governments handled Salahi in accordance with their very own errors.Salahi was a precocious scholar; after college, he used to steal chalk from the classroom and return to Bouhdida, a dusty, unplanned neighborhood in Mauritania’s capital, Nouakchott, to re-create the day’s classes for youths who couldn’t afford an schooling. Mauritania is an Islamic republic, with wealthy traditions in poetry and recitation that belie its dismal charges of literacy and financial progress. As a teen-ager, Salahi memorized your entire Quran.Abu Hafs, Salahi’s cousin and a senior Al Qaeda official, evaded seize.{Photograph} courtesy Ben TaubHe grew up measuring political eras by army coups—1978, 1979, 1984—adjustments in energy that did little to change the methods wherein Mauritanians skilled energy. The shortage of progress, growth, and freedom in Mauritanian society impressed in Salahi a righteous anger towards autocracy and corruption, and a want to combat for one thing greater than himself.Within the eighties, he and a youthful cousin, a slender poet named Mahfouz Ould al-Walid, spent their evenings at a neighborhood café, the place the proprietor confirmed movies of the Palestinian battle and the jihad in Afghanistan, which the Soviet Union had invaded in 1979. In 1988, the Saudi ideologue Osama bin Laden introduced the formation of Al Qaeda. Walid, who was 13, began studying bin Laden’s pamphlets. He and Salahi have been smitten with the Al Qaeda narrative, {that a} ragtag group of mujahideen, carrying gentle weapons and hiding in caves, have been taking over a superpower within the protection of all Muslims. They weren’t the one folks taken by this battle—the C.I.A. was funding and equipping lots of the mujahideen teams.In 1988, Salahi graduated from highschool and received a scholarship to check engineering in Duisburg, Germany. He was the primary particular person in his household to attend college. However the name to jihad interrupted his research. By 1990, the Soviets had withdrawn from Afghanistan, however Al Qaeda was nonetheless combating in opposition to the Communist Afghan authorities that the Soviets had put in. That December, shortly earlier than his twentieth birthday, Salahi boarded a flight to Pakistan and crossed into Afghanistan, and though he by no means met bin Laden, he quickly pledged his allegiance to the Al Qaeda management.Walid, who was sixteen, stayed behind. However two months later, when Salahi returned to Mauritania and described his expertise of the jihad, Walid resolved to set off on his personal for Afghanistan. Walid was a prodigious poet—in Nouakchott, he had received a number of awards—and when bin Laden met him he was impressed by his eloquence and conviction. Quickly afterward, they travelled collectively to Sudan, the place bin Laden ran a development firm and a jihadi coaching camp, and sped round Khartoum in bin Laden’s white Mercedes.Within the spring of 1992, Salahi returned to Afghanistan. As a result of he had no expertise with weapons, Al Qaeda personnel despatched him to the Al Farouq coaching camp, close to Khost, the place he realized the right way to use a Kalashnikov rifle and launch rocket-propelled grenades. However by then the Soviet Union had collapsed, and, whereas Salahi was in coaching, the Afghan authorities misplaced its Russian assist. Afghanistan’s civil battle entered a brand new stage, with rival Islamist teams vying for management, and Salahi needed no a part of it. After three months, he left Afghanistan and returned to Duisburg, the place he labored in a computer-repair store whereas he completed his diploma.One other two years handed earlier than Salahi’s title caught the eye of Deddahi Ould Abdellahi, the top of Mauritania’s security-intelligence equipment. In 1994, because the director of state safety, he opened an investigation into Nouakchott’s jihadi scene. A number of Mauritanians had travelled to battlefields in Afghanistan and Bosnia, and Mahfouz Walid had grow to be an essential determine in Al Qaeda; he now glided by the nom de guerre Abu Hafs al-Mauritani. In Nouakchott, Abdellahi and his subordinates started to map out the community, detaining folks near Abu Hafs and soliciting the names of different jihadis. A number of younger males talked about Salahi as a contact in Germany. With the help of German intelligence, Abdellahi instructed me, “we began accumulating the utmost quantity of knowledge. How does he reside? How does he behave? How does he react to world occasions?” It was unclear to Abdellahi whether or not Salahi was nonetheless energetic inside Al Qaeda, however he gave the impression to be somebody whom all of the Mauritanian Islamists knew.Abu Hafs ascended to Al Qaeda’s Shura Council, the place he served as bin Laden’s private adviser on Sharia legislation. In 1996, when Abu Hafs was twenty-one, he drafted bin Laden’s most essential fatwa: an eleven-thousand-word doc excoriating the Saudi Kingdom and warning the U.S. Secretary of Protection that Al Qaeda’s adherents “haven’t any intention besides to enter paradise by killing you.” The fatwa was Al Qaeda’s declaration of battle in opposition to the US. Based on “The Exile,” a complete account of post-9/11 Al Qaeda, by the investigative journalists Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy, who gained entry to Abu Hafs’s diaries, he ghostwrote “most of Osama’s speeches, non secular judgments, and press releases.” In 1998, bin Laden wrote Abu Hafs into his will.Round that point, after an extended interval with out contact, Abu Hafs referred to as Salahi from bin Laden’s satellite tv for pc cellphone. The cousins had married a pair of sisters, and they also have been now additionally brothers-in-law. However, after Salahi returned to Germany, that they had scarcely been in contact. Whereas Abu Hafs was dealing with Al Qaeda’s affairs in East Africa, his father turned ailing, and so, as each males bear in mind it, Abu Hafs requested Salahi’s assist in transferring cash to take care of his household in Mauritania. Salahi agreed, and Abu Hafs wired round 4 thousand {dollars} to his German account. Salahi withdrew the money and gave it to mates who have been travelling to Nouakchott, and so they delivered it to Abu Hafs’s household.An analogous cellphone name, adopted by a second transaction, happened in December, 1998. However, after Abu Hafs used bin Laden’s cellphone to name a unique cousin in Nouakchott, Abdellahi’s subordinates took the cousin into custody, and tortured him for 2 months. So, when Abu Hafs referred to as Salahi for help a 3rd time, in early 1999, Salahi refused, and hung up.Al Qaeda had by this time reworked into a global terrorist group that was launching assaults in East Africa and the Center East. The U.S. had fired cruise missiles at Al Qaeda-linked targets in Sudan and Afghanistan, and, in a bid to seize Abu Hafs, the C.I.A. had raided a lodge in Khartoum. (He escaped via a kitchen door.) One evening in October, 1999, a good friend of Salahi’s requested him to host three Muslims who have been passing via Duisburg. Over dinner, they defined that they have been heading east, for the jihad. The boys slept on his ground and left for Afghanistan at daybreak. Salahi didn’t know their actual names, and by no means heard from them once more.By now, Salahi was underneath surveillance by German intelligence. However the Germans noticed no motive to detain or query him. Based on an investigation by Der Spiegel, “he preached in gloomy back-yard mosques,” and remained in occasional contact with jihadis—males whose names and cell-phone numbers would flip up in investigations spanning Africa, Europe, North America, and the Center East. However he didn’t think about himself a member of Al Qaeda, or a facilitator of its operations. Someday, German officers questioned considered one of Salahi’s mates. After they requested whether or not Salahi was concerned in any terrorist actions, the good friend laughed.However Salahi needed to reside freed from surveillance, and he determined to go away the nation. One in all Salahi’s mates, who was now residing in Canada, prompt that he transfer to Montreal. “He mentioned, ‘Canada is wonderful—there isn’t any racism, they communicate French, and it’s only a very superior nation,’ ” Salahi mentioned years later, in a U.S. army listening to. “You should have a job on the snap of a finger,” his good friend instructed him. Ramadan was approaching—when the lads main prayers learn aloud your entire Quran through the course of a lunar cycle—and, Salahi recalled, “my good friend mentioned, ‘We want you right here in Canada as a result of now we have no Hafez,’ ” the Arabic phrase for a person who can recite the Quran from reminiscence. “In Arabic international locations there are oodles, however in Europe and Canada one may be very uncommon.”Salahi landed in Montreal on November 26, 1999. (His spouse returned to Nouakchott.) His good friend, Hosni Mohsen, launched him to the imam on the Al Sunnah mosque. The mosque had hundreds of attendees, just a few of whom belonged to an Algerian jihadi group that had come to the eye of the French and Canadian intelligence providers. “Unhealthy folks at all times wish to mix right into a crowd,” Salahi defined on the army listening to. A few of Mohsen’s “unhealthy mates,” as Salahi described them, visited Mohsen’s residence whereas he was internet hosting Salahi.“So have a look at me,” Salahi mentioned. “I’ve contact with Osama bin Laden’s operative, who was serving to launder cash. I’m now in Canada, attending a mosque the place we imagine a really harmful group is attending.” And, as a result of it was Ramadan, Salahi was main prayers. “One thing is occurring.”“It’s not wanting good,” the presiding army officer replied.“No, it’s not wanting good in any respect,” Salahi mentioned. “It’s going to look worse.”One of many Algerian jihadis was Ahmed Ressam, a serial thief who was residing in Canada underneath a false id. In 1998, he had travelled to Afghanistan, and spent a 12 months in Al Qaeda coaching camps, the place he realized to deal with weapons and explosives. Within the spring of 1999, French intelligence officers requested their Canadian counterparts if they may query Ressam about jihadi actions in Europe, however the Canadians couldn’t find him, as a result of he had entered the nation on a pretend passport.Every week after Salahi started main prayers on the Al Sunnah mosque, Ressam drove a rental automotive onto a U.S.-bound ferry in Victoria, British Columbia. When the boat reached Port Angeles, close to Seattle, customs officers discovered within the automotive greater than 100 kilos of explosives, together with 4 timed detonators, every normal from a nine-volt battery, a circuit board, and a Casio watch. Ressam instructed investigators that he had deliberate to detonate suitcases in a crowded terminal at Los Angeles Worldwide Airport.After the failed assault, Canada started to aggressively examine the Montreal cell. “They have been very jumpy,” Salahi recalled at his listening to. “They have been in all places within the mosque, within the police automotive, twenty-four hours.” Among the many targets of the investigation was Mohsen, Salahi’s good friend and host. Upon Mohsen’s arrest, in keeping with a courtroom submitting, investigators discovered “pocket litter” that included “each Salahi’s title and Ressam’s cellphone quantity.” (Mohsen couldn’t be reached for remark.)One evening, Salahi awoke to the sound of a tiny gap being drilled into his wall. The following morning, he discovered two pinhole cameras. Salahi referred to as the police to report that his neighbors have been spying on him, however they instructed him that he ought to simply cowl the cameras with glue. Quickly afterward, Canadian investigators got here to the residence and questioned him concerning the Millennium Plot. “I used to be scared to hell,” Salahi recalled at his listening to. “They requested me do I do know Ahmed Ressam. I mentioned, ‘No.’ ” (Investigators later decided that Ressam had left Montreal for a secure home in Vancouver on November 17th—9 days earlier than Salahi arrived in Canada.) He started to note surveillance in all places. “O.Ok., screw it, it’s not an issue—they’ll watch me,” he mentioned. “They have been afraid that I might kill some folks.”In Mauritania, Abdellahi’s males detained Salahi’s spouse and brothers and interrogated them concerning the Millennium Plot. “They didn’t inform me, as a result of they have been scared,” Salahi recalled. However his relations have been anticipating Salahi to return, and they also instructed him that his mom was ailing.On January 21, 2000, Salahi boarded a flight to Senegal. It was cheaper to fly to Dakar than to Nouakchott, and his brothers drove 300 miles to fulfill him there. As they left baggage declare, Salahi later wrote in his diary, “my fingers have been shackled behind my again and I used to be encircled by a bunch of ghosts who reduce me off from the remainder of my firm. At first I assumed it was an armed theft,” however, when the airport police approached, “the man behind me flashed a magic badge, which instantly made the policemen retreat.” Salahi and his brothers have been thrown into the again of a van and pushed to a detention web site.Earlier than daybreak, Salahi was taken to an interrogation room. An American girl, who he assumed was an intelligence officer, entered the room, and stood by as a Senegalese officer questioned him concerning the Millennium Plot. Salahi denied understanding Ahmed Ressam, and added that he thought your entire narrative across the assault had been concocted “to unlock the terrorism finances and harm the Muslims.” On the time, he later wrote, “I believed excessively in Conspiracy Theories—although perhaps not as a lot because the U.S. authorities does.”By the next day, the lead Senegalese officer was satisfied that there was no motive to carry Salahi. “I used to be pleased as a result of the one-ton stack of paper the U.S. authorities had offered the Senegalese about me didn’t appear to impress them,” Salahi wrote. “It didn’t take my interrogator a complete lot of time to know the scenario.” One other American official arrived, and took Salahi’s {photograph} and fingerprints. Quickly afterward, Salahi’s brothers have been launched with directions to return to Mauritania. They have been instructed to not look ahead to Salahi.A number of extra days of interrogation adopted. The Senegalese did the speaking, however the Individuals offered the questions and reported again to D.C. Ultimately, one of many interrogators instructed Salahi that he was going to be despatched to Mauritania for extra questioning. He was terrified—he needed to return to Canada, the place interrogators behaved throughout the bounds of the legislation.Salahi was led to a small personal plane. The journey to Nouakchott took roughly an hour, tracing the Mauritanian coast—to the left the Atlantic, to the fitting the Sahara. Salahi, who hadn’t been dwelling since 1993, was full of nostalgia and dread. “Via the window I began to see the sand-covered small villages round Nouakchott, as bleak as their prospects,” he wrote.The airplane landed at sundown. A safety guard handed him a grimy black turban, to cover his face through the drive to the secret-police headquarters. There, an intelligence officer named Yacoub confiscated Salahi’s Quran and left him in a dank cell. He tried to sleep, however his thoughts was racing with the expectation of torture at daybreak. “I’d examine Muslim heroes who confronted the demise penalty, head up,” he wrote. “How did they do it?”The following morning, Salahi was led to the workplace of the Mauritanian intelligence chief, Deddahi Ould Abdellahi. “The room was giant and well-furnished,” Salahi wrote, with a portrait of the President “conveying the weak spot of the legislation and the power of the federal government.” In the midst of the following a number of days, Abdellahi and his males, citing the issues of the American authorities, interrogated Salahi about his time in Afghanistan, his contact together with his cousin Abu Hafs, and the Millennium Plot. The boys by no means abused Salahi, however, as the times turned weeks, he wished that they’d simply flip him over to the US, the place, he assumed, he may at the least problem the authorized grounds of his detention.After roughly three weeks, F.B.I. brokers visited Salahi’s cell. Their questions have been a lot the identical, Salahi wrote, however “the entire environmental setup made me very skeptical towards the honesty and humanity of the U.S. interrogators. It was form of like, ‘We ain’t gonna beat you ourselves, however the place you’re!’ So I knew the FBI needed to interrogate me underneath the strain and risk of a non-democratic nation.”On February 19, 2000, Abdellahi let him go dwelling. “We had performed all our investigations, and we discovered nothing in opposition to Salahi,” Abdellahi instructed me. Abdellahi’s males confiscated his passport, as soon as once more citing a request by the Individuals. However a good friend helped him discover work putting in Web routers for a telecommunications firm. “It sucked that I didn’t have the liberty to journey,” Salahi recalled within the army listening to. “However, hey, I’ve to deal with it. Up to now, so good.”Dry IceOn a Tuesday afternoon in September, 2001, considered one of bin Laden’s messengers sought out Salahi’s cousin, Abu Hafs, and instructed him to control the information. Abu Hafs was again in Afghanistan, residing together with his household in Kandahar. It had been 5 years for the reason that Taliban had taken over many of the nation, and televisions have been banned. He grabbed his shortwave radio. Within the U.S., it was morning. He knew what he anticipated to listen to.The primary rumors of a “planes operation” started circulating amongst Al Qaeda leaders in 1999. Nevertheless it wasn’t till two years later that bin Laden shared with the Shura Council the broad outlines of the assault: 4 planes; two civilian targets; two authorities targets. In that assembly, Abu Hafs challenged bin Laden on Quranic grounds, arguing that the size of civilian casualties couldn’t be justified in Islam. He added that such an assault could be a betrayal of Al Qaeda’s settlement with the Taliban authorities, which had offered sanctuary for the group on the understanding that it could do nothing to impress a full-scale U.S. invasion. Later that summer season, Abu Hafs wrote a twelve-page dissent, however bin Laden bristled at his defiance, and the objections of different Al Qaeda leaders, and moved ahead. In July, 2001, in keeping with Scott-Clark and Levy, the authors of “The Exile,” Abu Hafs handed bin Laden his resignation letter. Bin Laden, cautious of Al Qaeda’s fragility, urged him to not communicate publicly of his departure. For the following two months, Abu Hafs taught jihadi recruits at a madrassa.After the assaults, Cofer Black, the top of the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorism Heart, who had served because the company’s Khartoum station chief whereas bin Laden was in Sudan, assured President George W. Bush that males like Abu Hafs would quickly “have flies strolling throughout their eyeballs.” The following day, he ordered Gary Schroen, the company’s former Kabul station chief, to assemble a crew for a paramilitary mission. “I wish to see pictures of their heads on pikes,” Black mentioned, in keeping with Schroen’s memoir, “First In,” revealed in 2005. “I would like bin Ladin’s head shipped again in a field full of dry ice. I would like to have the ability to present bin Ladin’s head to the President.” Black added that he and Bush needed to keep away from the spectacle of a courtroom trial. “It was the primary time in my thirty-year CIA profession that I had ever heard an order to kill somebody,” Schroen wrote.On September 26th, Schroen and 6 different officers loaded an ageing Soviet helicopter with weapons, tactical gear, and three million {dollars} in used, nonconsecutive payments. They took off from Uzbekistan and flew into northern Afghanistan, over the snow-capped mountains of the Hindu Kush. There, Schroen contacted the leaders of the Northern Alliance, an armed group that had spent years combating the Taliban, with little exterior assist. Schroen recalled, “Once I started to distribute cash—2 hundred thousand {dollars} right here, 2 hundred and fifty thousand {dollars} for this—I believe that they have been satisfied that we have been honest.” Within the subsequent few weeks, Schroen’s C.I.A. crew and their Afghan counterparts travelled via a lot of northern Afghanistan, laying the groundwork for the U.S. army invasion.In Nouakchott, Abdellahi’s males detained Salahi once more within the fall of 2001, on the request of the Individuals. “I actually haven’t any questions for you, as a result of I do know your case,” Abdellahi instructed him. Salahi had deleted the contents of his cellphone. “All I had have been some numbers of enterprise companions in Mauritania and Germany,” he later wrote, “however I didn’t need the U.S. authorities harassing these peaceable folks simply because I had their numbers in my cellphone.” One of many contacts was listed as “P.C. Laden”—German for “pc store”—and he figured that, to the Individuals, “Laden” could be a crimson flag.A few weeks into his detention, two F.B.I. brokers walked into the cell. “The place is Abu Hafs?” considered one of them requested.“I’m not in Afghanistan,” Salahi replied. How may he probably know? The interrogations at all times circled again to the Millennium Plot. Salahi got here to consider his interrogators as appearing out a Mauritanian folktale wherein a blind man is given the present of a single, fleeting glimpse of the world. “All he noticed was a rat,” Salahi wrote. “After that, at any time when anyone tried to elucidate something to the man, he at all times requested, ‘Evaluate it with the rat: Is it greater? smaller?’ ”One of many F.B.I. brokers threatened Salahi with torture, and tried to intimidate him. “He mentioned he was going to herald black folks,” Salahi recalled, within the army listening to. “I don’t have an issue with black folks—half my nation is black folks!” However the agent saved utilizing racial slurs. “This was my first time listening to these phrases,” Salahi mentioned. “Like, what’s a ‘motherfucker’? That’s not acceptable language, man. He was very foolish. He instructed me he hated Jews additionally. . . . I instructed him I’ve no downside with the Jews, both, man. Anyway, he mentioned, ‘I do know you’re a part of the Millennium Plot.’ ”A couple of days later, Salahi was launched. Abdellahi referred to as Salahi’s boss on the telecommunications firm, to guarantee him that Salahi ought to be allowed to renew work. Whereas in custody, Salahi had befriended Yacoub, the intelligence officer who had been considered one of his guards. Yacoub had a big household and a small wage, so, when Salahi was launched, he began paying Yacoub to do occasional duties. Although Salahi was a talented electrician, he employed Yacoub to repair his TV.Not lengthy afterward, in mid-November, Salahi’s boss despatched him to Mauritania’s Presidential palace, to put in Web routers and replace the telephones. “I assumed there could be lots of formalities, particularly for a ‘terrorist suspect’ reminiscent of myself, however nothing like that occurred,” Salahi wrote. “In any case, solely the Individuals suspect me of terrorism, no different nation. The irony is that I’ve by no means been within the States, and all the opposite international locations I’ve been in saved saying, ‘The man is alright.’ ”After work, Salahi went to his mom’s home. Two intelligence officers, together with Yacoub, arrived and mentioned that Abdellahi wanted to see him once more. One of many arresting brokers prompt that Salahi drive his personal automotive to the station, in order that he may drive himself dwelling afterward. Yacoub climbed into the passenger seat. “Salahi, I want I weren’t a part of this shit,” he mentioned.Neither of them knew that the US had requested Mauritania’s President handy over Salahi to a rendition crew. “He was responsible of nothing,” Abdellahi instructed me, and he had not been charged with a criminal offense. “That’s why we had beforehand let him go.” However, Abdellahi continued, shrugging, “to refuse a requirement from an intelligence company, within the combat in opposition to terrorism—that will have been unimaginable.”On the night of November 28th—Mauritania’s Independence Day—Salahi had been in custody for per week. Abdellahi had purchased him a brand new outfit, however Salahi had refused to eat, and the material was free on his shoulders. They drove to the airport in silence, in Abdellahi’s black Mercedes. “He was not pleased—he didn’t wish to go away,” Abdellahi instructed me. “However I wasn’t the decider. I used to be an agent of the state. I executed orders. And I knew that the request was justified, as a result of he had connections on this milieu, these Islamo-terrorist circles, and he would possibly be capable of give his captors some concepts of the right way to enhance safety. That was my pondering—that he was sufficiently clever and properly knowledgeable to assist any intelligence service which may ask him for assist.”It was Ramadan once more. “I pictured my household already having ready the Iftar fast-breaking meals, my mother mumbling her prayers whereas duly working the modest delicacies, all people on the lookout for the solar to take its final steps and conceal beneath the horizon,” Salahi wrote. He and Abdellahi knelt on the runway, and prayed collectively.A personal jet landed, and out climbed a Jordanian rendition crew. The lead officer couldn’t communicate Mauritania’s Hassaniya Arabic, and Abdellahi hardly understood the Jordanian dialect, so Salahi translated for them. “He mentioned he wants gasoline,” Salahi defined to Abdellahi. (In his diary, Salahi wrote, “I used to be wanting to let my predator know, I’m, I’m.”) When the dialog was over, the Jordanians blindfolded Salahi and put a set of soundproof earmuffs on him. Salahi was terrified. “I assumed it was a brand new U.S. technique to suck intels out of your mind and ship them on to a most important pc which analyzes the knowledge,” he wrote. “It was foolish, however for those who get scared you aren’t you anymore. You very a lot grow to be a baby once more.”In Amman, Jordan, Salahi was hooded and brought to a detention facility within the headquarters of the nation’s Basic Intelligence Directorate. (After 9/11, the directorate acted as a proxy jailer for the C.I.A.) The interrogations coated the identical matters as earlier than: Abu Hafs; Al Qaeda’s coaching camps in 1992; the Millennium Plot. The Individuals provided the questions, and the Jordanians extracted the responses, usually via coercive means. Salahi was requested about innocuous exchanges from intercepted e-mails and cellphone calls, as if that they had been performed in code. At different occasions, the questions originated from materials on his onerous drive, which the F.B.I. had copied in Nouakchott. As soon as, on a technical project, Salahi had been photographed close to the President of Mauritania; now the lead interrogator accused Salahi of getting plotted to kill him.Nonetheless, Salahi discovered his Jordanian interrogators to be extremely educated, and so they developed a form of mutual respect. “It’s a incontrovertible fact that they perceive this complete idea of terrorism a lot better than the typical American interrogator,” Salahi mentioned, in his army listening to. “They actually know who’s who,” and, because of this, “they have been very reluctant to torture me. It was not on daily basis, the torture—I might say perhaps twice per week.” Whereas different detainees have been mercilessly crushed, strung up by their limbs, and sexually assaulted, he added, “all they did was strike me at totally different occasions within the face, and hit me in opposition to the concrete wall.”The guards, who have been formally prohibited from interacting with him, started asking questions. “The place are you from?” considered one of them mentioned.“Mauritania.”“What are you doing in Jordan?”“My nation turned me over.”“Are you kidding me?”“No.”“Your nation is fucked up.”The guards additionally introduced him books from the library, together with the Bible, which he had requested, he wrote, “as a result of I needed to check the e-book that should roughly have formed the lives of the Individuals.”Each different week, when Pink Cross representatives visited the jail, Salahi and a handful of different C.I.A. detainees have been whisked to the cellar, to be hidden from view. In Nouakchott, Abdellahi waited for updates from the C.I.A. and the G.I.D., however acquired none. “I assumed he’d be again very quickly,” he instructed me.Salahi’s household wasn’t notified of his rendition, and they also have been shocked that Abdellahi refused to allow them to see him. Based on considered one of Salahi’s brothers, Abdellahi instructed the household that Salahi was being saved in a detention facility within the desert, removed from Nouakchott. (Abdellahi says that, after Salahi disappeared, the household by no means contacted him.) To insure Salahi’s maintenance, the household frequently gave Abdellahi’s males cash, meals, garments, and items. In return, they handed alongside messages from Salahi, which that they had invented, and warranted the household that Salahi was properly.In Kandahar, Abu Hafs felt the Individuals closing in. The Taliban was quickly dropping floor. On October 17, 2001, Abu Hafs’s madrassa took a direct hit from a missile. Someday in November, after burying a number of mates, Abu Hafs sought out an Al Jazeera journalist. His turban was nonetheless damp from the place his spouse had cleaned off different folks’s blood. “The Individuals, with their insurance policies, bore the fruit of the occasions of September 11th,” Abu Hafs mentioned on digital camera. “Putting horror, panic, and worry within the hearts of the enemies of Allah is a divine commandment.” He added that Americans ought to blame their law-enforcement and intelligence companies—with their “satellites, floor stations, hundreds of thousands of spies, and big budgets”—for the truth that the hijackers had “discovered a safety breach as huge as a complete fleet of hijacked civilian plane, and managed to shove America’s nostril into the bottom.”By the second week of December, it was clear that Kandahar would fall. Bin Laden had fled to the mountains, and the remaining Al Qaeda leaders understood that, as Arabs and North Africans, they may by no means mix in with the locals, who spoke Dari, Pashto, Balochi, and different regional languages. (For the primary a number of weeks of the invasion, Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Protection, believed that everybody spoke “Afghan.”) In a rush to go away Kandahar, two dozen senior Al Qaeda officers boarded a bus, however Abu Hafs, fearful {that a} single air strike may decapitate the jihadi motion, urged them to disperse.Throughout the subsequent a number of days, Abu Hafs travelled towards the Pakistani province of Balochistan. He slept in distant villages, and entrusted his life to Afghan sheepherders who have been presumably unaware of the twenty-five-million-dollar bounty on his head. He wrote a letter to his spouse and youngsters, however there was no solution to ship it, and so he saved it in a pocket in his robes.When Abu Hafs reached Quetta, in Pakistan, he discovered the town’s personal hospital full of injured Al Qaeda members. Taliban fighters walked the streets, assured within the assist they acquired from Pakistan’s intelligence service. Abu Hafs, nevertheless, regarded the Pakistanis as duplicitous. (The C.I.A. got here to a lot the identical conclusion.) Bin Laden’s household was en path to Pakistan, and Abu Hafs wanted to make preparations for his or her safety. In deliberations with Al Qaeda leaders, he determined that the most secure place was Iran.On December 19th, Abu Hafs boarded a bus in Quetta, carrying a pretend passport and a suitcase full of money. A picture of bin Laden’s face adorned the windshield, and Abu Hafs spent a lot of the journey to the Iranian border, some 4 hundred miles, questioning whether or not it was a “Needed” poster or a tribute. At a Pakistani Military checkpoint, he slipped a wad of payments into his passport, and went via unquestioned.In Iran, Abu Hafs was greeted by representatives of a secretive and élite Revolutionary Guard Corps unit that’s accountable for defending high officers. A couple of weeks later, Iranian spies instructed Abu Hafs to name different Al Qaeda officers and inform them that they’d be welcome in Iran—though, like him, they’d reside with their wives and youngsters underneath a type of home arrest, generally in prisons, generally in lavish compounds and accommodations, at all times within the firm of the Revolutionary Guard. The choice to concurrently defend and detain Al Qaeda members was apparently made by Iran’s spy chief, Qassem Suleimani. Inside just a few months, dozens of Al Qaeda members have been residing in Tehran, present process occasional interrogations, conscious that their Iranian hosts may betray them at any second. Abu Hafs spent the following decade in relative luxurious, exercising alongside overseas diplomats in considered one of Tehran’s swankiest gyms, and taking care of bin Laden’s sons alongside together with his personal. The Pentagon had reported that he was useless.On the evening of July 19, 2002, the Jordanians transported Mohamedou Salahi, blindfolded and in chains, to the airport in Amman, the place a brand new crew took over. At first, Salahi was relieved—he assumed that the Individuals had come to know his irrelevance to 9/11 and the Millennium Plot, and that he was being despatched again to Mauritania. As a substitute, the lads stripped him bare, strapped a diaper on him, and swapped out his shackles for a heavier set. One of many males momentarily eliminated Salahi’s blindfold, and shined a flashlight into his eyes. Everybody on the crew was dressed completely in black, their faces obscured by balaclavas. They drove as much as the steps of an airplane, however, Salahi wrote, he was “so exhausted, sick, and drained that I couldn’t stroll, which compelled the escort to drag me up the steps like a useless physique.”At dawn, the airplane landed at Bagram Airfield, the most important U.S. army base in Afghanistan. For the primary time, Salahi was within the custody of uniformed American troopers. “The place is Mullah Omar?” they requested. “The place is Osama bin Laden?” They shouted and threw objects in opposition to the wall. Salahi had been residing in a cell virtually for the reason that starting of the invasion, 9 months earlier.Army personnel took his biometric data, and logged his well being issues—together with a broken sciatic nerve—then led him to a cell. The punishment for speaking to a different detainee was to be hung by the wrists, ft barely touching the bottom. Salahi noticed a mentally ailing outdated man subjected to this technique. “He couldn’t cease speaking as a result of he didn’t know the place he was, nor why,” Salahi wrote.Throughout interrogations, an intelligence officer, identified among the many detainees as William the Torturer, compelled Salahi into stress positions that exacerbated his sciatic-nerve points. “His specialty was in brutalizing detainees who have been thought-about essential, however not worthwhile sufficient to get them tickets to the key CIA prisons,” Salahi wrote. One other officer tried to construct rapport with Salahi by chatting with him in German. “Wahrheit macht frei,” the officer mentioned—the reality units you free. “Once I heard him say that, I knew the reality wouldn’t set me free, as a result of ‘Arbeit ’ didn’t set the Jews free,” Salahi recalled. (The phrase “Work units you free” appeared on the gates of Auschwitz and different Nazi focus camps.)Every detainee was given a quantity, and, on August 4th, thirty-four of these numbers have been referred to as, together with Salahi’s. The boys have been dragged out of their cells. Army law enforcement officials put blackout goggles over their eyes and mittens on their fingers, then hooded them, lined them up, and tied every detainee to the one in entrance of him and the one behind him. Then the lads have been loaded onto an airplane. “When my flip got here, two guards grabbed me by the fingers and ft and threw me towards the reception crew,” Salahi wrote. “I don’t bear in mind whether or not I hit the ground or was caught by the opposite guards. I had began to lose feeling and it could have made no distinction anyway.”For some thirty hours, Salahi was strapped to a board. Medical data point out that he weighed 100 and 9 kilos—round thirty per cent lower than his regular weight. He was belted so tightly that he struggled to breathe, however he didn’t have the English vocabulary to inform the guards.Then, he wrote, the airplane landed, the doorways opened, and “the nice and cozy Cuban solar hit me gracefully. It was such a very good feeling.”ENEMY COMBATANTSIn the minutes earlier than the primary detainees set foot on Guantánamo, “you might actually hear a pin drop,” Brandon Neely, a military-police officer, recalled, in an interview with the Guantánamo Testimonials Mission, on the College of California, Davis, in 2008. “Everybody, together with myself, was very nervous,” he mentioned. It was January 11, 2002. The Bush Administration had determined that the Geneva Conventions didn’t apply to the battle on terror, which meant that the lads captured overseas might be disadvantaged of the rights of prisoners of battle. That day, Neely’s job was to haul captives from a bus to a holding space for processing, after which to small, out of doors cages, the place they’d spend almost 4 months sleeping on rocks, and relieving themselves in buckets, whereas troopers constructed extra everlasting cellblocks. “I hold pondering, Right here it comes—I’m fixing to see what a terrorist seems like nose to nose,” Neely, who was twenty-one on the time, mentioned.The primary man off the bus had just one leg. He wore handcuffs, leg shackles, earmuffs, blackout goggles, a surgical masks, and a bright-orange jumpsuit. As two M.P.s dragged him to the holding space, somebody tossed his prosthetic leg out of the bus. All afternoon, guards screamed on the detainees to close up and stroll sooner, referred to as them “sand niggers,” and mentioned that their relations and international locations had been obliterated by nuclear bombs.Later that day, Neely and his associate introduced an aged detainee to the holding space and compelled him to his knees. After they eliminated his shackles, the person, who was shaking with worry, abruptly jerked to the left. Neely jumped on high of him, and compelled his face into the concrete ground. An officer shouted “Code Pink!” right into a radio, and the Inner Response Pressure crew raced to the scene and hog-tied him. He was left for hours within the Caribbean solar.Neely later discovered that the aged detainee had jerked as a result of, when he was compelled to his knees, he thought he was about to be shot behind the top. In his dwelling nation, Neely mentioned, “this man had seen a few of his family and friends members executed on their knees.” The person’s response was hardly distinctive; a army doc, drafted ten days later for the bottom commander, famous that “the detainees assume they’re being taken to be shot.”Formally, the job of the Inner Response Pressure was to restrain unruly detainees, to stop them from injuring themselves or the guards. However, in observe, “IRFing” was usually performed as a type of revenge, initiated liberally—for instance, when a detainee was discovered to have two plastic cups as an alternative of 1, or refused to drink a bottle of Guarantee, as a result of he thought that he was being given poison. IRFing sometimes concerned a crew of six or extra males wearing riot gear: the primary man would pepper-spray the detainee, then cost into the cell and, utilizing a heavy protect and his physique weight, sort out the detainee; the remaining would soar on high, shackling or binding the detainee till he was now not transferring. Though lots of the detainees arrived malnourished, with their our bodies marked by bullet wounds and damaged bones, some IRF groups punched them and slammed their heads into the bottom till they have been bloody and unconscious. “You might at all times inform when somebody bought IRFed, because the detainees all through the camp would begin chanting and screaming,” Neely recalled. As soon as, he watched an IRF crew chief beat a detainee so badly that he needed to be despatched to the hospital and the ground of his cell was stained with blood; the following time the crew chief was within the cellblock, one other detainee yelled out, “Sergeant, have you ever come again to complete him off?”In Islam, the Quran is taken into account the transcribed phrase of God; some Muslims hold the e-book wrapped in material, by no means letting it contact unclean surfaces. To dispel notions that the US was at battle with Islam, detainees have been allowed to have personal conferences with a Muslim army chaplain, and got copies of the Quran. Some guards noticed a possibility to torment the detainees—by tossing the Quran into the bathroom, for instance, or by breaking the binding underneath the guise of trying to find “weapons.” Desecration of the Quran provoked riots within the cellblocks, which resulted in IRF groups storming into the cells and beating up detainees.Someday, after an interrogator kicked a Quran throughout the ground, detainees organized a mass suicide try. “As soon as each fifteen minutes, a prisoner tried to hold himself by tying his sheet round his neck and fastening it via the mesh of the cage wall,” James Yee, an Military captain who served because the Muslim chaplain in Guantánamo, recalled in his memoir, “For God and Nation,” from 2005. “As quickly because the prisoner was taken to the hospital, one other detainee could be discovered—his sheet wound round his neck and tied to his cage wall. The guards would rush in to avoid wasting him and the chaos would begin once more. The protest lasted for a number of days as twenty-three prisoners tried to hold themselves.”Army-police officers so steadily abused the Quran throughout cell searches that detainees demanded that the books be saved within the library, the place they’d be secure. Yee, who had transformed to Islam within the early nineties, despatched a request up the chain of command, however was rebuffed. “I felt this determination stemmed from the command’s want to have the ability to inform the media that we gave all detainees a Quran out of sensitivity to their non secular wants,” he wrote. The detainees protested, and so “it was determined that each detainee who refused the Quran could be IRFed.” Whereas the detainees have been receiving medical therapy for his or her post-IRF accidents, the Qurans have been positioned again of their cells.In time, Yee got here to imagine that “Islam was systematically used as a weapon in opposition to the prisoners.” Guards mocked the decision to prayer, and manipulated Islamic ideas of modesty—by having feminine guards watch bare detainees within the showers, for instance—to create stress as an excuse to actual violence. Throughout interrogations, detainees have been compelled to carry out mock satanic rituals, or have been draped within the Israeli flag.Donald Rumsfeld instructed reporters that the lads in Guantánamo have been “among the many most harmful, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth.” However after Brandon Neely’s first shift, on the day the detention camp opened, “nobody actually spoke a lot,” he recalled. “I went again to my tent and laid down to fall asleep. I used to be pondering, These have been the worst folks the world needed to provide?”Investigators had the identical query. Shortly earlier than the primary detainees arrived, Robert McFadden, an N.C.I.S. particular agent, was wanting to obtain the flight manifest. “I simply couldn’t wait to see who the detainees have been,” he instructed me. He had spent a lot of the previous fifteen months in Yemen, investigating Al Qaeda’s bombing of the usS. Cole, and hoped that a number of the males who have been being shipped to Guantánamo would have details about the case. However, when the listing of detainees lastly arrived, he recalled, “my response was, What the fuck? Who’re these guys?” Many of the names have been Afghan or Pakistani, “and the Arabs who have been on the listing definitely weren’t recognizable to me and my colleagues who had been working Al Qaeda for years.” A couple of weeks later, after McFadden visited the detention camp, he concluded that the detainees have been “primarily nobodies.” He instructed me, “There was not anybody approaching even probably the most liberal interpretation of a ‘high-value detainee.’ ”In Afghanistan, the U.S. army was inadvertently presiding over a kidnapping-and-ransom trade. Helicopters dropped flyers in distant Afghan villages, providing “wealth and energy past your desires” to anybody who turned in a member of Al Qaeda or the Taliban. “You’ll be able to obtain hundreds of thousands of {dollars},” one of many flyers mentioned. “That is sufficient cash to care for your loved ones, your village, your tribe for the remainder of your life.” A standard bounty was 5 thousand {dollars}—far extra money than most Afghans earned in a 12 months—and “the consequence was an explosion of human trafficking” by varied armed teams, Mark Fallon, the deputy commander of Guantánamo’s Legal Investigation Process Pressure, wrote in his memoir, “Unjustifiable Means,” which was closely redacted earlier than being revealed, in 2017. As Michael Lehnert, a Marine Corps main normal who briefly served because the detention camp’s first commander, later testified to Congress, “What higher solution to enrich your self, whereas resolving outdated grudges, than to finger a neighbor who was your enemy, no matter his assist for both Al Qaeda or the Taliban?”Based on Fallon, “The Northern Alliance would jam so many detainees into Conex transport containers that they began to die of suffocation. Not desirous to lose their bounties, the captors sprayed the tops of the containers with machine weapons to open air flow holes. Loads of these prisoners have been truly wanting ahead to being handed over to the Individuals, figuring it could be fairly apparent they weren’t Al Qaeda.” But a whole bunch of them have been despatched to Guantánamo Bay, which ended up housing seven hundred and eighty folks.In public, the Bush Administration and its army management asserted that Guantánamo was full of males who would cease at nothing to destroy the U.S. However, on the bottom, Fallon and his colleagues referred to most detainees as “grime farmers.” Lehnert lamented, “It takes an Military captain to ship somebody to Gitmo, and the President of the US to get them out.”Salahi was no grime farmer. However the C.I.A., which spent the following few years shuffling its “high-value detainees” amongst so-called black websites in Africa, Asia, and Jap Europe, had seen match to switch him into army custody. By the point Salahi arrived at Guantánamo, on August 5, 2002, Fallon’s élite interagency criminal-investigation process drive had been sidelined, and Lehnert had been changed.The management at Guantánamo was extra concerned about intelligence assortment than in prosecuting detainees for terrorism crimes. However, when the brand new commander requested Stuart Herrington, a retired colonel and Military intelligence officer, to evaluate operations on the facility, Herrington discovered that almost all interrogators lacked the coaching and the expertise required to be efficient. Solely one of many twenty-six interrogators was able to working with out an interpreter. Herrington later reported that the interrogators have been not sure of the true names of greater than half the detainees.Based on Fallon, many of the interrogators have been “principally conscripts” who would “stroll right into a room for the primary time pondering the detainee was simply ready to be cracked open and so they have been the following Jack Bauer,” the fictional protagonist of “24,” who used abusive ways to elicit data and save his metropolis from terrorist assaults. They went via checklists of questions that had been developed by their superiors, and appeared impervious to nuance, or to the notion that some detainees could have been despatched there in error. In response, detainees would cease coöperating and begin chanting or praying; in an try and reassert management, Fallon wrote, “the interrogators would duct-tape their mouths, additional guaranteeing that they wouldn’t get any data—and so it could go.” However, he recalled, every failed interrogation “was taken as proof that the detainees have been each Al Qaeda and skilled to withstand these strategies.” In 2000, investigators in northern England had found a jihadi subject guide that included recommendation on mendacity to captors. Now, confronted with their very own incompetence, Fallon wrote, interrogators “have been fast guilty ‘basic Manchester resistance ways!’ ”Salahi’s detainee file lists his “causes for switch” to Guantánamo: “to offer data” on the Al Qaeda coaching camp he had attended in 1992; a separate Afghan militia, which had acquired substantial backing from the C.I.A.; mosques in Duisburg; and his cousin Abu Hafs al-Mauritani. (They have been now not brothers-in-law, as Salahi and his spouse had divorced.) Notably absent is any point out of the Millennium Plot, or any allegation that Salahi had dedicated a criminal offense.After Salahi was processed, he spent thirty days in a chilly isolation cell, a observe that the U.S. authorities thought-about “a most important constructing block of the exploitation course of,” because it “permits the captor complete management over private inputs.” When the isolation interval was over, Salahi realized from different detainees that there was a distinction in opinion between those that had lived in European democracies and those that had lived solely in Muslim international locations, with the latter group arguing that America’s battle on terror was an anti-Muslim campaign. Salahi tried to persuade the skeptics that their arrival in Cuba was “a blessing,” and that they’d be handled pretty and exonerated by the American justice system. However, “with on daily basis going by, the optimists misplaced floor,” he wrote. Bush Administration legal professionals had taken the place that “enemy combatants” might be held indefinitely, with out trials, and that to ensure that one thing to qualify as “torture” it “have to be equal in depth to the ache accompanying severe bodily harm, reminiscent of organ failure, impairment of bodily perform, and even demise.” By the top of the next 12 months, Salahi knew extra about categorised safety operations than any personal American citizen. The gulf between the U.S. authorities’s public disclosures and its secret practices was etched into his physique and his thoughts.In 1967, Martin Seligman, a twenty-four-year-old Ph.D. scholar in psychology, performed an experiment that concerned delivering electrical shocks to canine in varied states of restraint. The aim was to evaluate whether or not inescapable ache may situation an animal into “realized helplessness,” whereby it merely accepts its destiny. Thirty-five years later, the US authorities drew inspiration from this experiment in its strategy to interrogating terror suspects.The plan, conceived by James Mitchell, a psychologist engaged on contract for the C.I.A., was to induce realized helplessness in people by combining an individually tailor-made routine of torture methods with environmental manipulation. The methods—which authorities paperwork establish as “omnipotence ways,” “degradation ways,” “debilitation ways,” and “monopolization of notion ways”—had been developed by Communist forces through the Korean Warfare, to coerce prisoners into making false confessions, for propaganda functions. Since then, the U.S. army has uncovered some élite troopers to the methods, to organize them for the sorts of abuses they may encounter ought to they be captured by terrorist teams or governments that don’t abide by the Geneva Conventions. Mitchell argued that, by reverse-engineering this program, interrogators may overwhelm no matter resistance coaching a detainee might need absorbed from the Manchester guide. What adopted was a interval of experimentation—overseen by psychologists, legal professionals, and medical personnel—at C.I.A. black websites and army amenities. In September, 2002, Military officers began referring to Guantánamo as “America’s Battle Lab.”Early within the afternoon of October 2, 2002, a bunch of interagency legal professionals and psychologists met to provide you with a framework that used “psychological stressors” and environmental manipulation to “foster dependence and compliance.” The C.I.A. had been torturing detainees at black websites for a number of months; now the Guantánamo management needed to know the authorized gymnastics that will be required to implement a program of their very own. “Torture has been prohibited by worldwide legislation, however the language of the statutes is written vaguely,” Jonathan Fredman, a senior C.I.A. lawyer, mentioned, in keeping with the assembly minutes. “It’s principally topic to notion. If the detainee dies, you’re doing it unsuitable.” (Fredman has disputed the accuracy of the assembly minutes.)Later that month, a army lawyer named Diane Beaver drafted a authorized justification—described later by a congressional inquiry on torture as “profoundly in error and legally inadequate”—for a set of abusive interrogation methods. Amongst such strategies as compelled nakedness, dietary manipulation, day by day twenty-hour interrogations, waterboarding, publicity to freezing temperatures, and the withholding of medical care, Beaver endorsed “using situations designed to persuade the detainee that demise” was “imminent.” (She later expressed shock that her authorized opinion had grow to be “the ultimate phrase on interrogation insurance policies and practices throughout the Division of Protection.”) An accompanying memo, drafted by a army psychologist and a psychiatrist, defined that “all elements of the surroundings ought to improve seize shock, dislocate expectations, foster dependence, and assist exploitation to the fullest extent potential.”In November, 2002, the set of proposed methods landed on Donald Rumsfeld’s desk. He signed it. “Why is standing restricted to four hours?” he wrote within the margin, referring to a proposed stress place. “I stand for 8-10.”By the spring of 2003, Salahi had been visited in Guantánamo by investigators from Canada and Germany, and questioned by varied U.S. authorities companies. He had come to consider himself as “a useless camel within the desert, when every kind of bugs begin to eat it.” Many of the interrogations have been performed by the F.B.I., whose questions now centered on establishing a connection between Salahi and 9/11. They confirmed him pictures of assorted hijackers, and considered one of Ramzi bin al-Shibh, the assault coördinator, who had been captured in Pakistan. “I figured I’ve seen the man, however the place and when?” Salahi wrote in his diary.Ultimately, Salahi understood that bin al-Shibh was one of many three males who had stayed at his residence in Germany for an evening, in October, 1999; the opposite two had grow to be 9/11 hijackers. Now bin al-Shibh, who was being tortured in C.I.A. custody, claimed that Salahi had recruited him into Al Qaeda. “In actual fact, I’d say, with out you, September 11th would by no means have occurred,” considered one of Salahi’s interrogators instructed him. Salahi was horrified. “I used to be, like, Perhaps he’s proper.” (In actual fact, the 9/11 plot was organized greater than a 12 months earlier than bin al-Shibh visited Duisburg.) For the remainder of the interrogation session, he was compelled to take a look at pictures of corpses from the aftermath of the assaults.On Could 22nd, Salahi’s lead F.B.I. interrogator instructed him that the army would take over his interrogation. “I want you good luck,” the agent mentioned. “All I can inform you is to inform the reality.” They hugged. The F.B.I. crew left Guantánamo, and the torture started.Particular ProjectsThe cell—higher, the field—was cooled right down to the purpose that I used to be shaking more often than not. I used to be forbidden from seeing the sunshine of the day; each occasionally they gave me a rec-time at evening to maintain me from seeing or interacting with any detainees. I used to be residing actually in terror. For the following seventy days I wouldn’t know the sweetness of sleeping.Twenty-hour interrogations. “You realize, once you simply go to sleep and the saliva begins to come back out of your mouth?” Salahi mentioned. No prayers, no details about the route of Mecca. No showers for weeks. Pressure-feeding through the daylight of Ramadan, when Muslims are purported to quick. “We’re gonna feed you up your ass,” an interrogator mentioned.Medical personnel had famous that Salahi had sciatic-nerve points; now interrogators saved him in stress positions that exacerbated them. No chairs, no mendacity down, no extra entry to his prescription ache medicine. “Stand the fuck up!” an interrogator mentioned. However Salahi was shackled to the ground, so he may achieve this solely hunched over. He stayed that approach for hours. The following time the Pink Cross delegation visited Guantánamo, a consultant reported that “medical information are being utilized by interrogators to achieve data in growing an interrogation plan.”Feminine interrogators groped him. They stripped, and rubbed their our bodies throughout his, and threatened to rape him. “Oh, Allah, assist me! Oh, Allah, have mercy on me!” considered one of them mentioned, mockingly. “Allah! Allah! There is no such thing as a Allah. He allow you to down!” An interrogation memo listed plans to shave Salahi’s head and beard, gown him in a burqa, and make him bark and carry out canine tips, “to scale back the detainee’s ego and set up management.”The interrogators head-butted him, and made degrading remarks about his faith and his household. They saved him in alternately cold and warm cells, blasted him with strobe lights and heavy-metal music, and poured ice water on him. Someday they’d deprive him of meals, and the following they’d drive him to drink water till he vomited. Based on interrogation memos, they adorned the partitions with pictures of genitalia, and arrange a child crib, as a result of he was delicate about the truth that he had no youngsters.On July 17, 2003, a masked interrogator instructed Salahi that he had dreamed that he noticed different detainees digging a grave and tossing a pine casket with Salahi’s detainee quantity into it. The interrogator added that, if Salahi didn’t begin speaking, he could be buried on “Christian, sovereign American soil.”On August 2nd, army data present, an interrogator instructed Salahi that he and his colleagues “are sick of listening to the identical lies again and again and over and are severely contemplating washing their fingers of him. As soon as they do, he’ll disappear and by no means be heard from once more.” Salahi was instructed to think about “the worst potential situation he may find yourself in,” and that he would “quickly disappear down a really darkish gap. His very existence will grow to be erased. His digital information shall be deleted from the pc, his paper information shall be packed up. . . . Nobody will know what occurred to him, and finally, nobody will care.”That day, the chief of Salahi’s interrogation got here in. He recognized himself as Captain Collins, a Navy officer who had been despatched to Guantánamo by the White Home. (His title was truly Richard Zuley; he was a Chicago police detective, working as a army contractor, who has an intensive report of abusing suspects till they confessed to crimes that they hadn’t dedicated. He didn’t reply to requests for remark.) Zuley learn Salahi a letter, later proven to be cast, stating that his mom was in U.S. custody and would possibly quickly be transferred to Guantánamo. Based on authorities data, “the letter referred to ‘the executive and logistical difficulties her presence would current on this beforehand all-male jail surroundings,’ ” implying that she could be raped.On August 13th, Donald Rumsfeld approved the interrogation plan for Salahi. The doc he signed listed one intention of the abuse as to “replicate and exploit the ‘Stockholm Syndrome,’ ” wherein kidnapping victims come to belief and really feel affection for his or her captors.Twelve days later, a bunch of males charged into Salahi’s cell with a snarling German shepherd. They punched Salahi within the face and the ribs, then coated his eyes with blackout goggles, his ears with earmuffs, and his head with a bag. They tightened the chains on his ankles and wrists, then threw him into the again of a truck, drove to the water, and loaded him right into a speedboat. “I assumed they have been going to execute me,” Salahi wrote.He was pushed round for 3 hours, to make him assume that he was being transported to a unique facility. He was compelled to swallow salt water, and, each jiffy, the lads packed ice cubes between his garments and his pores and skin. When the ice melted, they punched him, then repacked the ice to freeze him once more. By the top of the boat trip, Salahi was bleeding from his ankles, mouth, and wrists. Seven or eight of his ribs have been damaged.Again on land, Salahi was carried to Echo Particular, the trailer, which might be his dwelling for a number of years. For the following month, he was saved in complete darkness; his solely approach of understanding day from evening was to look into the bathroom and see if there was brightness on the finish of the drain. “To be sincere I can report little or no concerning the subsequent couple of weeks,” Salahi wrote, “as a result of I used to be not in the fitting frame of mind.”Quickly afterward, an interrogator e-mailed Diane Zierhoffer, a army psychologist, with issues about Salahi’s psychological well being. “Slahi instructed me he’s ‘listening to voices’ now,” the interrogator wrote. “Is that this one thing that occurs to individuals who have little exterior stimulus reminiscent of daylight, human interplay and so forth???? Appears slightly creepy.”“Sensory deprivation may cause hallucinations, often visible fairly than auditory, however you by no means know,” Zierhoffer replied. “At nighttime you create issues out of what little you may have.”“Had I performed what they accused me of, I might have relieved myself on day one,” Salahi wrote in his diary. “However the issue is that you simply can not simply admit to one thing you haven’t performed; you could ship the main points, which you’ll’t once you hadn’t performed something. It’s not simply, ‘Sure, I did!’ No, it doesn’t work that approach: it’s important to make up a whole story that is sensible to the dumbest dummies. One of many hardest issues to do is to inform an untruthful story and keep it, and that’s precisely the place I used to be caught.”On September eighth, Salahi requested to talk to Zuley. By now, he had sufficient details about the form of story he needed to craft, as a result of, he wrote, “via my conversations with the FBI and the DoD, I had a good suggestion as to what wild theories the federal government had about me.”Zuley walked in, and Salahi began mendacity. Nevertheless it wasn’t sufficient; the federal government needed him to hyperlink different folks in Canada to varied plots. Salahi figured that this was how bin al-Shibh had ended up naming him as a high-level Al Qaeda recruiter. He recalled, “I took the pen and paper and wrote every kind of incriminating lies a few poor one who was simply searching for refuge in Canada and attempting to make some cash so he may begin a household. Furthermore, he’s handicapped. I felt so unhealthy, and saved praying silently, ‘Nothing’s gonna occur to you pricey brother.’ ”The abuse wound down slowly—no extra hitting, however no “consolation gadgets,” both, and no uninterrupted durations of relaxation. James Mitchell, the C.I.A. contract psychologist who devised the enhanced-interrogation program, describes this era as a component of “Pavlovian conditioning,” wherein the detainee sees his scenario enhance or deteriorate in direct accordance together with his stage of compliance.Someday, Zuley walked into Salahi’s cell, carrying a pillow. In time, he was given again his ache medicine. Then he was prescribed antidepressants.In mid-November, Salahi voluntarily sat for a polygraph take a look at. The examiner described Salahi, whose solutions contradicted every part he had confessed to Zuley within the previous weeks, as “wanting to show that he’s offering correct data.” The outcomes have been decisive: “No deception indicated.”On February 14, 2004, Salahi acquired a brief letter from his mom in Mauritania, informing him that her “well being scenario is OK.” It had been eight hundred and fifteen days since he had seen her—an ailing girl within the rearview mirror, waving from the road as he drove to Deddahi Abdellahi’s intelligence headquarters. In all this time, his household had had no official affirmation of his whereabouts. Salahi’s brother, who’s a German citizen, had learn in Der Spiegel that he was in Guantánamo, however Abdellahi insisted that it wasn’t true—that he was taking care of Salahi in a Mauritanian jail. In the meantime, his subordinates continued to gather bribes from Salahi’s household.Mohamed Elmoustapha Ould Badre Eddine, a left-wing member of the Mauritanian Parliament, performed inquiries of his personal, however made no progress. Badre Eddine had spent some 4 a long time organizing grassroots campaigns in opposition to the observe of slavery and different human-rights violations, and for this he had spent years in distant detention websites, underneath a succession of authoritarian regimes. All through 2002 and 2003, at any time when the overseas minister visited the parliamentary chamber, Badre Eddine demanded to know Salahi’s whereabouts. Every time, the minister lied—even after the Pink Cross had began delivering Salahi’s letters from Guantánamo to his household.In 2005, Mauritania had a army coup—the everyday approach wherein energy has modified fingers since independence. “Every authorities claims that it has come to the rescue of the inhabitants, which had been uncared for and abused by the earlier authorities,” Badre Eddine instructed me. “After which it behaves the identical approach because the final.” When he requested the brand new regime about Salahi, he mentioned, “they only replied, ‘We didn’t kidnap him—it was the earlier authorities that did it. And now he belongs to the Individuals.’ ”From the ground of Parliament, Badre Eddine famous that Mauritania has no extradition treaty with the US. “He was a sufferer of a particularly uncommon crime: {that a} nation had kidnapped its personal citizen and handed it over to a overseas nation, outdoors of the justice system, outdoors of all authorized processes,” Brahim Ebety, the Salahi household’s lawyer in Nouakchott, instructed me. Below the brand new regime, Abdellahi, the spy chief, was demoted, and given the duty of investigating corruption and malfeasance throughout the safety providers; the usual path for accountability required Abdellahi to research himself.Steve Wooden walked into Echo Particular within the spring of 2004 unaware of every part that had occurred earlier than. His was the primary guard drive that didn’t put on masks, that allowed Salahi to hope. Outdoors of the political discussions, he and Salahi handed the hours taking part in rummy, Danger, and chess. When Salahi’s feminine interrogators got here in for a sport of Monopoly, Salahi at all times threw the match. “My curiosity is to not be tortured,” he mentioned. “And Steve’s curiosity is to impress the women. So, fully totally different targets in life.”Typically Wooden opened Salahi’s Quran to a random web page and instructed him the verse quantity, and Salahi would recite it aloud from reminiscence, first in Arabic, then in English. It was the primary time Wooden had encountered the Quran. He needed to ask Salahi extra about its contents, however he suspected that there have been microphones and cameras within the cell. Outdoors Echo Particular, Wooden began studying about Guantánamo on activist Internet sites, however a colleague warned him that Web site visitors was monitored on the bottom. He started to fret that consciousness amongst his co-workers of his more and more advanced emotions towards Salahi would possibly elicit accusations that he was unpatriotic, or an insider risk. “I attempted to make my time there morally impartial, with out being referred to as a traitor,” he instructed me. “I used to be scared to ask too many questions, I used to be scared to learn a e-book on Islam whereas I used to be in there, or present an excessive amount of curiosity.”Wooden’s issues weren’t unjustified. Whereas Salahi was being tortured, James Yee, the Muslim army chaplain, found that he and the interpreters at Guantánamo—lots of whom have been Muslim Individuals, with Center Jap backgrounds—have been being spied on by law-enforcement and intelligence officers. When Yee went on go away, he flew to Jacksonville, Florida, the place he was interrogated and arrested, then blindfolded, earmuffed, and pushed to a Navy brig in South Carolina. For seventy-six days, he lived in solitary confinement, in a chilly cell with surveillance cameras and the lights at all times on. Authorities officers prompt that Yee was working an elaborate spy ring—that he and different Muslims had “infiltrated” the army, and represented the gravest insider risk for the reason that Chilly Warfare. Based mostly on a misreading of supplies in his possession, and the imprecise aspersions of Islamophobic army officers, prosecutors accused him of treason and “aiding the enemy,” and threatened to pursue the demise penalty. (All costs have been later dropped, and Yee was honorably discharged.)In October, 2004, Wooden’s girlfriend gave beginning to a daughter, Summer time. Seven months later, his deployment ended. Earlier than leaving Guantánamo, he gave Salahi a novel by Steve Martin, “The Pleasure of My Firm.” “Pillow, good luck together with your scenario,” he wrote inside. “Simply bear in mind Allah at all times has a plan. I hope you consider us as extra than simply guards. I believe all of us turned mates.” However he wasn’t positive that Salahi believed him. “The entire time I used to be pondering, , What does he actually consider us?” he recalled. “What if he’s, like, ‘I hate these sons of bitches for locking me up’? And Mohamedou in all probability thought I used to be pondering the identical factor—that, to me, he was only a job, and nothing extra.” So, throughout considered one of his closing shifts, Wooden broke protocol and confirmed Salahi a photograph of Summer time. “It was my approach of telling him, ‘Man, I belief you. That is my daughter. She is my life. This friendship is actual.’ ”Salahi noticed no path out of Guantánamo. Even when the army believed he was harmless, he figured that he knew an excessive amount of about categorised torture packages to be let loose into the world. By the point Wooden left, he had come to just accept his guards and interrogators as household. “True, you didn’t select this household, nor did you develop up with it, nevertheless it’s a household all the identical,” he wrote in his diary. “Each time a very good member of my current household leaves it feels as if a chunk of my coronary heart is being chopped off.”He usually turned to a verse by the Iraqi poet Ahmed Matar:I stood in my cellWondering about my situationAm I the prisoner, or is it that guard standing close by?Between me and him stood a wall Within the wall, there was a holeThrough which I see gentle, and he sees darknessJust like me he has a spouse, children, a houseJust like me he got here right here on orders from above.Having accepted his guards, Salahi wrote, the following section of captivity was “getting used to the jail, and being afraid of the skin world.”The Outdoors WorldA 12 months in Echo Particular shattered Wooden’s concepts about his post-military future. Earlier than his deployment, he had aspired to grow to be a police officer. “However I modified my thoughts after Guantánamo,” he instructed me. He needed no a part of a system wherein he might need management over one other particular person’s liberty. “I don’t like energy,” he mentioned. He left the Oregon Nationwide Guard, and began working evening shifts at a twenty-four-hour gymnasium close to Portland. Few folks labored out at two or three within the morning, so he had loads of time to proceed his self-education on international affairs. He began in on the books he had been too afraid to request in Guantánamo—ones about Islam.Wooden had come to see Islam in a lot the identical approach that lots of the detainees did: as the one factor that couldn’t be stripped from them. The devotion, the routine of the 5 day by day prayers—“that saved Mohamedou going,” Wooden instructed me. Now, as he learn, “I noticed how lovely the faith was,” he mentioned. On most days, he searched Salahi’s title on-line, hoping to study extra concerning the case, and to make sense of his personal deployment to Echo Particular, to no avail. He discovered it nearly unimaginable to reconcile the information protection of Guantánamo Bay with what he had witnessed there. As he examine Islamic historical past, he started to hunt readability within the Quran itself.In 2006, Wooden eliminated his sneakers on the entrance to the Masjid As-Saber, Portland’s largest mosque. He wasn’t positive what he needed out of the go to—he knew solely that curiosity eclipsed his misgivings. Throughout the subsequent few months, Wooden confirmed up between prayer occasions, to keep away from any strain to take part. On his third go to, he instructed two Saudi college students that he needed to grow to be a Muslim. Conversion to Islam requires solely that, within the presence of Muslim witnesses, you declare the Shahada—“There is no such thing as a God however God, and Muhammad is his prophet”—and that you simply imagine it in your coronary heart. The scholars acted as Wooden’s witnesses.Wooden began sporadically attending prayers. An aged white convert warned him to keep away from a few different white converts, who wearing non secular clothes and talked about desirous to take part within the jihad. When Wooden instructed the outdated man that he had labored at Guantánamo Bay, the person prompt that he hold it to himself. Quickly afterward, Wooden realized that the imam, a Somali immigrant who practiced a conservative pressure of Islam referred to as Salafism, had been the topic of F.B.I. investigations and was on a no-fly listing, and that a number of males who had attended the Masjid As-Saber had been convicted on terrorism costs. “In order that scared me away,” he mentioned. He stopped praying in public. “I simply needed this to be me and God.”By now, Wooden was now not relationship Summer time’s mom. In 2008, he met a girl named Wendy at a bar. They married in 2010, and had a baby six years later. He by no means instructed Wendy about his conversion.America leases the land beneath the Guantánamo Bay detention facility from Cuba, for 4 thousand and eighty-five {dollars} a 12 months, underneath an settlement signed after the Spanish-American Warfare. (For the previous sixty years, the Cuban authorities has sought to nullify the settlement, and it refuses to money the checks.) As a result of detainees will not be in U.S. territory, the federal government has not allowed them to be tried in U.S. courts. As a substitute, they’re tried by secret army commissions—if they’re tried in any respect. Extra detainees have died at Guantánamo than have been convicted of a criminal offense.The prosecutor assigned to Salahi’s case was a lieutenant colonel named Stuart Sofa, who had retired from the army earlier than 9/11. A detailed good friend of his had been the co-pilot of one of many planes that was flown into the World Commerce Heart, and Sofa instructed the Wall Road Journal that he had reënlisted as a result of he needed “to get a crack on the guys who attacked the US.” When he noticed the federal government’s file on Salahi, he thought-about pursuing the demise penalty.Sofa by no means met Salahi, however, whereas Zuley was torturing him, Sofa acquired summaries of every new confession. In late 2003—a interval that Salahi described in a letter as “the place my brake broke free”—Sofa struggled to maintain up with the fixed stream of knowledge. In time, he turned suspicious that Salahi’s confessions had been elicited via torture, and have been subsequently tainted proof. When he found the cast letter from Zuley’s crew, saying that the US had captured Salahi’s mom, he resigned from the case.In June, 2004, the Supreme Courtroom dominated that Guantánamo detainees may problem the grounds for his or her detention. It turned trendy for high-profile corporate-law companies to signify Guantánamo purchasers, professional bono, however many detainees rejected illustration, as a result of they thought it was a ploy to lend legitimacy to an unjust detention. Protection attorneys have accused the federal government of denying them entry to proof, leaving secret recording gear in consumer assembly rooms, and infiltrating their authorized groups; just a few years in the past, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who could face the demise penalty, acknowledged a linguist on his personal protection crew from a C.I.A. black web site.When Salahi’s legal professionals wrote to him, asking that he inform them of every part he had instructed the federal government, he wrote again, “Are you out of your thoughts! How can I render uninterrupted interrogation that has been lasting the final 7 years. That’s like asking Charlie Sheen what number of girls he dated.” The essential stuff was in his diary, he mentioned, which they may learn solely inside a safe facility close to Washington, D.C.Within the army listening to, Salahi described the torture program in vivid element. The transcript omits a lot of his testimony, noting that, in the intervening time he began to explain the abuse, “the recording gear started to malfunction” and that the tapes have been “distorted.” The transcript continues, “The Detainee needed to indicate the Board his scars and site of accidents, however the board declined the viewing.” (By now, the U.S. authorities was rolling again authorizations for torture methods, and the army and the C.I.A. have been getting into a interval of self-reflection; through the subsequent a number of years, inner and congressional investigations would expose lots of the worst abuses that had been inflicted on Salahi and different males in custody.)The federal government now not tried to prosecute Salahi—no person had touched the felony case since Sofa withdrew—nevertheless it argued that he ought to nonetheless be detained indefinitely. On March 22, 2010, a U.S. district-court decide named James Robertson dominated on Salahi’s petition to be launched. “The federal government’s case, primarily, is that Salahi was so linked to al-Qaida for a decade starting in 1990 that he should have been ‘a part of’ al-Qaida on the time of his seize,” Robertson wrote. However the authorities had “deserted the speculation” that Salahi knew about 9/11 earlier than it occurred. As for his jihadi connections, Robertson continued, the federal government’s categorised filings “are inclined to assist Salahi’s submission that he was looking for the suitable stability—avoiding shut relationships with al-Qaida members, but in addition attempting to keep away from making himself an enemy” of the group. In Robertson’s evaluation, the federal government’s proof about Salahi was “so attenuated, or so tainted by coercion and mistreatment, or so categorised, that it can not assist a profitable felony prosecution.” He concluded, “Salahi have to be launched from custody.”Steve Wooden was elated when he heard the information. However the authorities appealed, and Salahi stayed in Guantánamo. Wooden contacted considered one of Salahi’s legal professionals, utilizing a made-up title and a brand new e-mail deal with, to inquire about Salahi’s well-being and the standing of his case. However he subsequently forgot the log-in data, and so he by no means noticed a reply. A few years later, he thought-about visiting Mauritania, to trace down Salahi’s household and apologize for his function in Salahi’s detention. He now not derived a lot solace from Islam, and infrequently prayed. The choice to maintain his conversion a secret from everybody in his life made him really feel at occasions as if being Muslim have been unsuitable, despite the fact that, in his coronary heart, he nonetheless believed.In 2012, Salahi’s legal professionals received a seven-year authorized battle to declassify his diary. Authorities censors redacted names, dates, areas, and different delicate or embarrassing data. After they completed, Salahi’s legal professionals delivered a CD-rom with the scanned pages to Larry Siems, a author and a human-rights advocate, who has written extensively on authorities misconduct within the aftermath of 9/11. “There was a extremely profound sense of duty and moral threat which got here with modifying the manuscript of somebody who was alive however unable to take part in that course of,” Siems instructed me. “I petitioned the Protection Division to permit me to indicate him the edited manuscript, however they turned me down.” In 2015, it was revealed, by Little, Brown, as “Guantánamo Diary.”Quickly afterward, in Guantánamo Bay, Salahi noticed his personal face on a TV display. Siems was doing an interview concerning the diary, and in that second Salahi lastly felt as if he was starting to take again the narrative of his life. “My cell expanded, the lights turned brighter, colours extra colourful, the solar shone hotter and gentler, and everybody round me regarded friendlier,” he wrote.One other 12 months handed. Each time there was a hurricane warning in Guantánamo Bay, Salahi dreamed that the storm had wiped away the jail camp, and everybody, detainees and captors alike, was “combating facet by facet to outlive,” he wrote. “In some variations I saved many lives, in others I used to be saved, however by some means all of us managed to flee, unhurt and free.”Wooden reconnected with Salahi’s legal professionals, this time utilizing his actual title. When he realized {that a} army evaluation board would think about releasing Salahi, he wrote a letter saying that, “primarily based on my interactions with Mr. Slahi in Guantánamo, I might be happy to welcome him into my dwelling,” and providing to testify in particular person. He additionally contacted one other guard from Echo Particular. Based on Wooden, the guard drafted a word, however he determined to not submit it. “All his family and friends knew him because the man who was guarding a high-value detainee, and actually pleased with it,” Wooden instructed me. “His complete status rested on this fiction. However, after the diary got here out, they realized that Mohamedou will not be excessive worth, he’s only a man who bought fucked over for years.” He added, “Guantánamo has an extended shadow for everybody—not simply the detainees.”One evening in October, 2016, Wooden’s cellphone rang whereas he was in a Safeway in Portland. On the opposite finish of the road was a person whose voice he hadn’t heard in additional than eleven years. Salahi instructed him that he was now dwelling. A lot had modified since he had been taken into custody, greater than fifty-four hundred days earlier. His mom was useless, and so was considered one of his brothers, however there have been teen-age nieces and nephews whom he was assembly for the primary time. The proceeds from his e-book have been paying for a niece’s research in Dubai and a nephew’s grasp’s diploma in utilized arithmetic at a college in Kuala Lumpur. Salahi instructed Wooden that he had written 4 extra books in detention, however he hadn’t been allowed to take them out of Guantánamo. One was a self-help e-book about discovering happiness in a hopeless place.Wooden instructed Salahi that he was working for his brother’s development firm, repairing bridges. The hours have been unpredictable, with lengthy drives and arduous shifts. As at Guantánamo, he usually labored at evening. However he derived immense satisfaction from the work, and noticed in it the form of ethical readability that Guantánamo had lacked. Once I visited Wooden, final August, he and his crew have been layering the floor of a bridge close to Dayton, Oregon, with epoxy, rocks, and primer. “The purpose is to pave, seal, and waterproof it, to protect its lifespan,” he mentioned. We bought to the location at dawn; the sky was a hazy, muted orange, from wildfires burning to the south. “It takes lots of prep to begin the job, however, once you’ve performed your bit, you’re leaving issues higher than once you arrived,” he mentioned.Salahi’s freedom turned a pressure on Wooden’s marriage. Wooden turned secretive about his calls with Salahi; Wendy started to suspect that he was having an affair. When Wooden agreed to speak about Salahi for a TV documentary, Wendy’s mother and father staged an intervention. “They mentioned I used to be bringing disgrace upon the household, and defending a terrorist,” Wooden recalled. When he refused to again out of the interview, Wendy insisted that he put on an on-camera disguise. She instructed me that she thought he was doing one thing actually harmful—that individuals would possibly assume Steve was sympathetic to somebody who was concerned in 9/11, and go after him, her, and their child daughter. Quickly afterward, Steve and Wendy separated.Final Could, considered one of Salahi’s cousins posted a word on Fb that referred to Wooden’s conversion. When Wendy noticed the submit, she was outraged—but in addition considerably relieved, because it partly defined his secretive conduct. “And I didn’t verify or deny something,” Wooden instructed me. “I simply form of shrugged it off, like, What does it matter?” They determined to break up. Once I visited their home, a real-estate agent had eliminated all of the household pictures and changed them with catalogue artwork, to make it simpler for potential patrons to consider the home as a clean slate.DissonanceLarry Siems visited Salahi in Mauritania, and so they set about filling within the redactions within the e-book. Within the first version of “Guantánamo Diary,” Siems had included an writer’s word:In a current dialog with considered one of his legal professionals, Mohamedou mentioned that he holds no grudge in opposition to any of the folks he mentions on this e-book, that he appeals to them to learn it and proper it in the event that they assume it comprises any errors, and that he desires to sooner or later sit with all of them round a cup of tea, after having realized a lot from each other.Within the restored version, Salahi added, “I wish to repeat and affirm this message right here, and to say that now that I’m dwelling, that dream can be an invite. The doorways of my home are open.”This winter, Steve Wooden set off for Mauritania. The journey to Nouakchott took nearly three days, with lengthy layovers in New York and Casablanca. Mauritanian immigration officers detained him for an hour—right here was an enormous American, all muscle and veins, saying that he had met Salahi in Guantánamo Bay—however finally considered one of Salahi’s nephews persuaded them to let Wooden in.Close to the airport parking zone, Salahi stood in a light-blue boubou, the standard Mauritanian gown, with a turban to obscure his id. “Wager you’ll assume twice subsequent time about saying me,” he mentioned, laughing. As they walked to the automotive, Salahi dug into Wooden’s private life. “Man, you’ve had a extremely robust time of it,” he mentioned. “Like, actually demanding.” They slept underneath mosquito nets in Salahi’s bed room, and woke as much as the sound of a bleating sheep. Salahi famous that “Steve snores like—how do you name it?—a steam practice.”Steve Wooden with Salahi, his former prisoner, in Mauritania, in January.{Photograph} courtesy Mohamedou SalahiIt was January 11, 2019—precisely seventeen years for the reason that first detainees had arrived at Guantánamo Bay. (Forty folks stay within the camp, at an annual value of some ten million {dollars} a detainee.) Salahi had spent the morning reviewing a speech he had ready for occasions hosted by Amnesty Worldwide and Physicians for Human Rights. Within the two and a half years since his return, he has acquired a number of skilled guests—Siems, his legal professionals, and the filmmaker Michael Bronner, who’s adapting Salahi’s diary—and likewise private visits from a lawyer, whom I’ll name Amanda. “We met like all respectable particular person nowadays—on social media,” Salahi mentioned. After she transformed to Islam, they married in a non secular ceremony. Now, in a cellphone name, Amanda prompt edits for Salahi’s speech—that he take out “lynching,” for instance, and make his remarks extra “gracious”—and Salahi accepted all of them.Salahi and Wooden sat in entrance of a laptop computer, with the Webcam on, and Skyped right into a room in Washington. “All the things that occurred to me—every part I witnessed in Guantánamo Bay—occurred within the title of democracy, within the title of safety, within the title of the American folks,” Salahi instructed the viewers on the Amnesty occasion. He added that, because the world’s strongest democracy, the US had “the means to uphold and strain different international locations to uphold human rights. However as an alternative the US is stating to the world very clear and loud that democracy doesn’t work—that when you could get down and soiled, you want a dictatorship. That dictatorship was inbuilt Guantánamo Bay.”In 2014, Salahi collapsed in his cell and was rushed to an working room for emergency gallbladder surgical procedure. However the process wasn’t carried out correctly—he continued to be in ache—and by the summer season of 2016 it was clear that he required corrective laparoscopic surgical procedure. Army medical doctors provided to care for it, however Salahi declined; his launch date was solely a few months away, and he needed to get the surgical procedure on his personal phrases, as soon as he was free. Mauritanian hospitals don’t have the capability—they sometimes ship such sufferers to France—however what Salahi didn’t know was that his repatriation wouldn’t quantity to the restitution of his rights. Based on a senior U.S. diplomat, when the US was negotiating the phrases of his return, “the Mauritanians did agree that they’d not give him a passport for some x period of time.” Two and a half years later, Salahi and his legal professionals haven’t any readability concerning the parameters of “x,” or about why the US has any say in whether or not the Mauritanian authorities points a passport to a Mauritanian.Along with Salahi’s stomach ache, and common migraines, he nonetheless suffers from evening terrors. He usually wakes up shaking, crying, and grinding his enamel. A personal hospital in Germany has provided to cowl the prices of Salahi’s gallbladder surgical procedure, plus a 12 months of bodily and psychological rehabilitation, however with no passport he can not journey to Europe. “I’m denied my freedom as a result of I used to be denied my freedom,” Salahi mentioned. “Loads of smart folks inform me, ‘Mohamedou, shut the fuck up, don’t ask for papers, don’t ask. Mauritania is far greater than Guantánamo Bay—you may transfer round.’ However I insist on freedom.”One other liberty Salahi recognized as having been taken from him is that of expressing the complete vary of human emotions. “For those who say that you’re offended, it’s understood as an emotion,” he mentioned. “If I say that I’m offended, it’s seen as a risk to nationwide safety.”The following day, Salahi introduced Wooden and me to a good friend’s wedding ceremony get together, hosted by Mauritania’s greatest radiologist. As we walked to the home, Abu Hafs al-Mauritani got here out of a close-by mosque, wearing a white turban and lengthy robes. “Assalaamu alaikum,” he mentioned to Mohamedou. “Peace be upon you.” They shook fingers. Then Abu Hafs greeted Wooden, who, showing paralyzed by confusion, coldly took his hand. Abu Hafs walked into the home forward of us, and disappeared into the gang. Salahi usually avoids Abu Hafs—they’ve basically totally different views of Islam, and he worries that any affiliation may additional complicate his life. (Till 2007, a terrorist sanctions listing included Salahi’s title as an alias for Abu Hafs.)It was a grand compound, white stone adorned with lavish carpets and chandeliers. The anteroom was full of Mauritanian dignitaries and élites, all males, sitting on couches that lined the perimeter. Salahi and Wooden went across the room shaking fingers with bankers, retailers, prefects, medical doctors. There was a well-known Mauritanian poet named Taki, the previous minister of communications, the present Mauritanian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.Salahi and I sat on both facet of the chief of a political get together that has greater than 100 and fifty seats in Parliament. He was a tall, regal businessman, and wore Ted Baker sun shades and a Rolex. Throughout a lull in dialog, he turned to Salahi and, gesturing towards Wooden and me, mentioned, “So, you studied in the US?”“No, I’m an ex-prisoner of Guantánamo Bay,” Salahi replied, immediately ending the dialog.After lunch, I stood within the reception space, watching Mauritanian politicians and tribal leaders kiss Abu Hafs on each cheeks and thank him for coming. A former chief of a number of provinces defined to me that Abu Hafs, bin Laden’s former Sharia adviser, is now an adviser to the President.The following day, Abu Hafs invited me to his home, in considered one of Nouakchott’s costliest neighborhoods. Till not too long ago, the previous spy chief Deddahi Ould Abdellahi lived immediately throughout the road. I arrived simply earlier than the sundown prayers. Thirty or forty of Abu Hafs’s followers crammed a small picket shack subsequent to his dwelling, spilling into the road, whereas he led prayers via a microphone. It was a brief facility, he defined, whereas he raises cash to construct a mosque.After the prayer session, Abu Hafs led me into his lounge, and for 4 hours he detailed his falling-out with bin Laden, his whereabouts and actions within the aftermath of 9/11, and his relationship with Mauritania’s President. “It’s not a proper place—there isn’t any contract,” he mentioned. “However I give him recommendation, and he takes it.”Mauritania was the location of normal jihadi violence within the second half of the aughts, whereas Abu Hafs was residing in Iran. Nevertheless it stopped abruptly after a failed assassination try in opposition to the President, in 2011, which raised questions on whether or not he was slicing offers with Al Qaeda. That Could, U.S. Navy Seals killed bin Laden, and picked up greater than 1,000,000 paperwork from his compound in northern Pakistan; amongst them was a letter from Al Qaeda within the Islamic Maghreb, searching for the central management’s blessing to enter right into a “secret settlement” with the Mauritanian authorities. “The Mujahideen are dedicated to not perform any army exercise in Mauritania,” the letter says—so long as the Mauritanian authorities launched imprisoned fighters, abstained from attacking Al Qaeda cells overseas, and paid the group between ten and twenty million euros per 12 months, “to compensate and forestall the kidnapping of vacationers.” (The Mauritanian authorities has denied that it negotiates with terrorist teams.)Round that point, Abu Hafs defined, it turned clear to him that the Mauritanian President could be open to his return from Iran. He and his household had spent nearly ten years underneath the safety of the Revolutionary Guard, however, with speak of the Obama Administration’s thaw in relations with Iran, Abu Hafs started to fret that he might be traded into U.S. custody. His spouse and youngsters left first; as soon as that they had settled in Nouakchott, Abu Hafs mentioned, the problem was to move himself hundreds of miles with out being detected, arrested, or subjected to rendition.Someday within the spring of 2012, Abu Hafs slipped out of custody throughout a go to to the gymnasium. He bolted via the altering room and into the road, wearing his gymnasium garments, and hailed a taxi to the Mauritanian Embassy in Tehran. The Ambassador referred to as Nouakchott, and the overseas minister ordered the Embassy to manufacture a passport, utilizing a pretend title.When the paperwork have been full, Abu Hafs mentioned, the Mauritanian authorities booked him on a business route that linked via three international locations. The Ambassador drove him to Tehran’s worldwide airport in a diplomatic car, and accompanied him via the diplomatic channel, via airport safety and immigration, proper up till the second he bought on the airplane.Abu Hafs wouldn’t say which international locations he had travelled via—solely that, within the first two, the Mauritanian Ambassador met him on the tarmac, walked him via the airport, and stayed with him till he bought on the following airplane. Within the third nation, the Mauritanian overseas minister greeted Abu Hafs, and accompanied him on the flight to Nouakchott. There, Abu Hafs spent two months in custody, as a formality.Once I shared Abu Hafs’s account of his return with the senior U.S. diplomat, she replied, “It’s the primary I’m listening to any of it.” The Mauritanians didn’t inform the US of his return till “in all probability weeks later,” she mentioned. “There was no fanfare, no announcement.” The Individuals realized solely that, “as a situation for return, he agreed that he would surrender his former affiliation and embark on a message of denouncing terrorism and preaching a extra tolerant and pacifist message.” I requested whether or not the US, after studying of his return, had sought to detain or rendition him. “What would we inform the Mauritanians?” the diplomat replied. “It’s their citizen, and it’s their nation.”The lesson gave the impression to be that the correct mix of atonement and seniority in a terrorist group can provide the form of leverage that’s unavailable to males like Salahi. I requested Abu Hafs to inform me the title printed in his diplomatic passport, assuming that the id was now not legitimate. He refused, saying that he didn’t wish to jeopardize his future journey.Wooden stayed with Salahi for 4 days. They prayed collectively, ate collectively, and loved a picnic of bread and tea within the dunes of the Sahara. Someday, that they had espresso at a lodge, by the pool, with the authorized crew of a present Guantánamo detainee. Quickly afterward, in a room on the similar lodge, the U.S. State Division hosted a coaching session for Mauritania’s security-intelligence equipment, on “Interdiction of Terrorist Actions.” Salahi suffered evening terrors, and Wooden suffered a splitting headache from caffeine withdrawal. “Out right here, I’m in all probability solely ingesting seven or eight coffees per day,” he instructed me. (Throughout the layover in Casablanca, he had drunk a Pink Bull and twenty-two pictures of espresso.) Salahi handed him some leftover ibuprofen from the Guantánamo pharmacy.For Wooden, the journey turned one thing extra sophisticated than a go to to a good friend. Salahi was on a publicity marketing campaign, to attract consideration to the injustice of his withheld passport, and at occasions it appeared to Wooden as if he have been a prop—the previous guard who acknowledged Salahi’s innocence. TV crews have been current at meals, and an interviewer confirmed up at Salahi’s residence, recorder in hand, and requested Wooden, who nonetheless hadn’t instructed his brothers that he’s a Muslim, to touch upon his favourite Quranic passages, and to share his ideas on the legacy of the Prophet Muhammad. Wooden complied—he felt that it was the least he may do for Salahi. Throughout the Amnesty Worldwide reside stream, somebody on Twitter commented that, of the 2 of them, Wooden regarded just like the detainee.One other dissonance was that Salahi’s eloquent orations on basic human rights stopped wanting confronting a actuality that Wooden observed on the second day: as visitors of Mauritanian élites, they have been served lavish meals by individuals who gave the impression to be slaves. Though slavery was criminalized in 2007, Mauritanian human-rights advocates instructed me that the legislation was drafted to appease worldwide organizations—that just about nothing has modified. At an occasion, I exchanged cellphone numbers with a particularly submissive server who was wearing ragged garments and had a cloudy, broken eye. The host, who was a authorities official, grew agitated, pulled me apart, and urged me to not point out that I had ever been to his home. “And, by the best way, I pay my boy,” he added, unprompted.I attempted to press the subject with Salahi, nevertheless it was as if his switch from Guantánamo had carried with it a form of transposition of restraint, from shackles to self-policing. In 2005, through the army listening to, Salahi had urged the presiding officer to not ship him again to Mauritania. “I wish to go to a rustic the place I can get pleasure from my freedom,” he mentioned.Wooden left for the airport at four A.M. Salahi spent a lot of the day watching YouTube compilations of the worst “American Idol” auditions. “It’s so empty, now that Steve left,” he mentioned to me. “So empty.”In current months, the push for Salahi’s passport has taken on new urgency. Amanda, who lives in Europe, was pregnant, and Salahi would miss the beginning of his son. “Did you see what Steve introduced me?” Salahi mentioned, pointing to some child garments. “They appear to be a jail uniform with stripes! I believe he nonetheless sees any child in my household as a future inmate.” Brahim Ebety, Salahi’s Mauritanian lawyer, instructed me that he’s contemplating a lawsuit in opposition to the Mauritanian authorities. “In the beginning, Mohamedou needed to be docile and candy,” he mentioned. “However with these folks you can’t be likable. You have to be very robust. You need to overlook your worry to attain something.”Final summer season, Salahi accomplished a web-based course to grow to be an authorized life coach. He now has two American purchasers, whom he helps to navigate private {and professional} woes via weekly Skype conferences. “I wish to ask you a favor, whether it is O.Ok. with you, and that’s to inform me 5 issues that you’re grateful for as we speak,” he instructed considered one of them. Typically the classes veer into his personal coping mechanisms—the routines he made as much as fill his days in Guantánamo, for instance, “after we had nothing to stay up for besides the world we created inside my cell.”Earlier this month, Amanda gave beginning to a son. They named him Ahmed, and Salahi requested Wooden to be the godfather. “There are such a lot of Ahmeds that it’ll be tough for them to place him on the no-fly listing,” Salahi joked. On paper, Salahi will not be listed as the daddy. However Amanda is an American, and so their son is now a citizen of the nation whose purported values Salahi desires to imagine in however has by no means seen. ♦