WITNESSES OF THE UNSEEN

Seven Years In Guantanamo

Lakhdar Boumediene & Mustafa Ait Idir

This searing memoir shares the trauma and triumphs of Lakhdar Boumediene and Mustafa Ait Idir’s time inside America’s most notorious prison. In 2001, they were arrested in Bosnia, wrongly accused of participating in a terrorist plot. Instead of being freed, they were flown blindfolded and shackled to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they were held in outdoor cages as the military prison was built around them.

For the next seven years, they endured torture, harassment, force-feedings, and beatings, not knowing if they would ever see their families again. They had no opportunity to argue their innocence until 2008, when the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in their case,

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This searing memoir shares the trauma and triumphs of Lakhdar Boumediene and Mustafa Ait Idir’s time inside America’s most notorious prison. In 2001, they were arrested in Bosnia, wrongly accused of participating in a terrorist plot. Instead of being freed, they were flown blindfolded and shackled to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they were held in outdoor cages as the military prison was built around them.

For the next seven years, they endured torture, harassment, force-feedings, and beatings, not knowing if they would ever see their families again. They had no opportunity to argue their innocence until 2008, when the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in their case, Boumediene v. Bush, confirming Guantanamo detainees’ constitutional right to challenge their detention. Weeks later, the federal judge who heard their case, stunned by the absence of evidence against them, ordered their release. Now living in Europe and rebuilding their lives, Lakhdar and Mustafa share a story that every American ought to know.

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  • Redwood Press
  • Hardcover
  • April 2017
  • 288 Pages
  • 9781503601154

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$24.00

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About Lakhdar Boumediene & Mustafa Ait Idir

Lakhdar Boumediene was the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case Boumediene v. Bush. Prior to his seven-year internment in Guantanamo Bay, he was an aid worker for the Red Crescent Society in Bosnia. He now lives in France with his wife and children.

Mustafa Ait Idir was a co-plaintiff in Boumediene v. Bush. Before his internment, he worked for Qatar Charities in Bosnia and was widely recognized as a talented athlete and coach. Reunited with his wife and children, he is now a computer science teacher at a secondary school in Sarajevo.

Praise

“An intense, important read for anyone interested in the American government’s misguided efforts at Guantánamo.”Kirkus Reviews 

“An urgent, compelling story [and] a revealing and moving look at what the U.S. government tried desperately to hide.”David Cole, Professor, Georgetown Law, and National Legal Director, ACLU

“A must-read for all people of conscience. —Shakeel Syed, Former Executive Director, Islamic Shura Council

Discussion Questions

1. How much did you know about Guantanamo Bay before reading this book? After reading, what do you think about the incarceration of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo? Did reading this story change your views at all?

2. What are your thoughts and views on the American justice system? How do you feel about the fact that Lakhdar and Mustafa had no right to challenge their imprisonment in court for so long?

3. Lakhdar writes, “I was happy when interrogations started. I knew that America was a country that believed in democracy, freedom, and the rule of law. I was convinced that once I answered their questions, they would see that I was innocent…. They would let me go.” (89) What were your thoughts when you read this paragraph?

4. How do Lakhdar and Mustafa react differently to their interrogations and imprisonment? How do you think you might react if you were wrongfully imprisoned?

5. Elements of this book can be difficult to read and process. What emotions did you feel while reading Lakhdar and Mustafa’s story—sadness, anger, disgust, indignation, contempt, something else? How might that emotional reaction influence your views on what American policy ought to be in the future?

6. Even if Lakhdar, Mustafa, and the rest of the “Algerian Six” had been guilty, do you believe they would have deserved the treatment that they received? Why or why not?

7. While the authors express a great deal of anger at specific individuals, they are fairly magnanimous toward American citizens in general. Did that surprise you?

8. Mustafa comments that “Guantanamo robbed me of my identity as an athlete.” (114) He ends his story by saying, “I would humbly plead and pray that we, all of us, find a way to recognize the basic humanity in one another.” (235) Discuss the themes of identity and humanity in the book. How does the treatment of the prisoners, both before and during their time in Guantanamo, affect their sense of identity and humanity? Why are identity and humanity so important in our lives?