Tarek Baada: Another Desperate Hunger Striker

Tarek Baada is another of the supposed foot soldiers from Yemen who is still held in Guantanamo because Obama will not release anyone from that country.  We also need to remember that the camp at Guantanamo was originally destined as a place to interrogate high level members of Al Qaeda, virtually none of whom were ever captured.  The camp was no doubt always meant to be a place to torture and that is heinous regardless of who might ever have been there.  But Tarek Baada, like the other Yemeni foot soldiers in this group, was never a high level member of Al Qaeda, nor a threat.

In the infamous transcripts of what passes for review of these prisoners, it is related that Baada, who was captured at age 23, had seen videos of the struggle of jihadists in Chechnya and Bosnia and wanted to go to Afghanistan to train to help this effort.  His parents refused, as Andy Worthington reports, so he ostensibly went to Jordon to join missionaries, but went on to Afghanistan in June of 2001.

One report says that after a month of training at al-Farouq, the training was stopped and he and all other the men were sent to a guest house.

In a number of the US transcripts of the illegal proceedings that go on, unknown persons make claims about prisoners.  Andy said when he was here in New York that these might be statements from other prisoners, rendered under torture.  In no real court would such statements ever be permitted and they are another indication of the complete failure of justice for these prisoners.  This is the kind of thing that brutal dictatorships do to people.

Two allegations of this kind were made about  Baada and he denies both of them.  Worthington reports, “an unknown source claimed that he ‘was considered an important man and somebody who was loyal to a senior al-Qaeda member,’ and in the second he was allegedly ‘identified as someone who was close to a high-level al-Qaeda facilitator,’ and that, despite every suggestion to the contrary, he ‘received money and supplies from the facilitator in order to travel to Afghanistan.’ Colonel Yvonne Bradley, who represented Binyam Muhamed and risked her own career to do so, said that she found the procedures at Guantanamo to be clearly intended to find the prisoners guilty and condemn them, a travesty of US military justice that she could not condone nor participate in.

Also according to Worthington’s report, it is alleged in the transcripts that Baada “ended up about 4 km south of the front line near Kabul.  It was also alleged that, after the fall of Kabul, he fled to Tora Bora, where he was put on guard duty.”

As Baada’s fellow country man Asim Al Khalaqi is reported to have said, all of this is just allegations.  No real evidence is provided to substantiate any charges of these men.

Baada was one of the prisoners who has been most unrelenting in hunger strikes at Guantanamo.  Journalist Sami al-Haj, finally released in 2008, who has told the story of what life for prisoners at Guantanamo is like, and who was on hunger strike for over a year himself, reported that Baada was another.  Al-Haj is a source of details of the unspeakable cruelty of the treatment of the prisoners, including the hunger strikers. You can read Worthington’s report about Sami al-Haj here.

What kind of country treats human beings worse than most of its citizens would treat savage beasts?  What kind of country trains its military personnel to be sadists?  Unfortunately, the US is that kind of country.

The architects of these horrors from the Bush regime have not been held accountable.  Obama continues it.

As I write, I say Tarek’s name and try to see him as a human being worthy of respect and dignity.  He is my brother, just as all the women and men on the planet are my sisters and brothers.  May I never forget that.

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