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Passion Islam I March 2009 ORLD NEWSW I 15
Guantanamo guard speaks up
“I can recall being told about the
detainees that…we would be coming
face-to-face with the worst people the
world had to offer.”
He remembers being told that
many of the detainees helped in the
planning of the 9/11 attacks.
“I was ready to go and face the
world’s most dangerous men; these
terrorists who had plotted and killed
thousands of people in my country,”
Neely says.
“Then the day came when these
‘world’s most dangerous men’ arrived,
and they were not what I expected to
see.”
Neely says the first batch of
detainees to arrive at Guantanamo
was no more than a punch of ailing,
trembling people.
“Most of them were small,
underweight, very scared, and
injured. I was expecting these people
to come off that bus looking like
vicious monsters.”
The false ideas Neely was feed
about the detainees began to be
Brandon Neely still feels the burden country had been nuked and nothing
exposed as he started to interact with
of guilt and shame for the litany was left, and that their families were
the detainees.
of abuses and cruel treatment he dead. I know of some guards even
“During these times is when I
and fellow guards at the notorious telling detainees they could be
really started to look at the detainees
Guantanamo camp gave to weak, executed at any time.”
as real people and not just monsters,
helpless detainees. Neely also recalls special
as I had been told they were.”
“Innocent, guilty, black, white, humiliation sessions coinciding with
He spent plenty of times with David
Muslim, or Jew, no matter what you Muslims’ prayer times.
Hicks, the Australian Muslim convert
are – there is no excuse to treat “During call to prayer, many times
who was captured in Afghanistan.
people in the manner that I and other soldiers would mock and laugh at the
“Hicks did not come across as the
people did,” Neely, who served in detainees.
cold-blooded killer that we were told
Guantanamo for six months, told The “Many would also try to sing along
all these guys were. He was a normal
Independent. to the call for prayer. Some would
guy like me.
“It’s wrong and just downright spray the detainees with water during
“He would sit there, crack a joke,
criminal, and it goes against everything prayer.” and make small talk. Just like any
the United States of America stands The US has been holding hundreds other normal person would.”
for.” of detainees at Guantanamo, opened Neely also used to listen to music
In one of the first accounts by in 2002, for years, branding them with British detainee Ruhal Ahmed
a former guard describing abuses unlawful enemy combatants to deny who was nearly his age.
at Guantanamo, Neely said the them legal rights. “The Ruhal Ahmed I saw and
detainees were given the harshest The infamous detention center has spoke with was just a normal,
treatments designed to afflict physical been globally condemned as a stain everyday young guy like I was.”
or psychological pain. on America’s human rights record. Neely says his time in Guantanamo
Beating, verbal abuse and has taught him a lot about Muslims.
humiliation began from the first day World’s Most Dangerous “I couldn’t believe how dedicated
the detain set foot inside the notorious these people were to their religion;
detention center. Neely, now a law enforcement officer always reading the Qur’an, always
“Upon arrival, detainees were in the Houston area, mocks the praying.
screamed at throughout the whole argument that Guantanamo holds the “You don’t see that in America
process,” he said. world’s most vicious and dangerous much any more.”
“Detainees would be told that their terrorists.
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