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The guards who became Muslim after Guantanamo

Guantanamo is known as a place of abuse and torture. However, it also became a place of faith and solidarity amongst prisoners. Several guards were inspired by the spiritual strength of the men they kept, and eventually embraced Islam at their hands. Watch as Moazzam Begg shares some stories of these guards who became our brothers and sisters in faith.

[As part of the MuslimMatters x CAGE Dhul Hijjah Activism Drive: Close Guantanamo, we bring you a series, Guantanamo Memories, of stories from behind bars]

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A few days ago, Mohamedou Ould Slahi posted a picture on twitter from the Mauritanian desert. I last saw Mohamedou in Bagram prison, Afghanistan.

The picture had this caption: “My former guard and I breaking fast. Alhamdulillah! #Ramadan”

Mohamedou was a prisoner in Guantanamo for 14 years. Steve was a guard there. Yet today, the
two are sharing food and taking selfies.

It turned out that Steve had become a Muslim.

Steve is not the only one…

Some years ago, I logged onto Facebook and received a message. A sister asked me if I had been in Guantanamo. When I replied I had, she said she had been there too!

I knew there were no female prisoners in Guantanamo, so she must have been a guard. She had been.

After telling me how watching the prisoners in Guantanamo had planted the seed of Islam in her heart, she said: “You can inform the brothers that their strength has inspired me to accept Islam.” She wanted all the prisoners to know this.

When I tell this story to former Guantanamo prisoners around the world, they smile – and cry at the
same time.

I’ve invited several other guards to my house. We even did a joint tour with former Guantanamo prisoners and former guards who had seen the injustice of Guantanamo.

One of them is Terry, now Mustafa.

We met in Dubai with Professor Philip Zimbardo (centre), who had conducted the famous “Stamford
experiment”; where students had taken up roles of prisoners and guards to learn the shocking effects
of unchecked power.

In Guantanamo, Terry would look at the brothers and wonder: “Why are they happy and able to wake up each day here and smile, and I can’t?”

While other guards were told to hate the detainees and show them no sympathy, Terry was not like

He wasn’t the guy making fun of prayer. He was the one asking what prayer was about.

Finally, Terry took his shahada on Sierra block, helped by Ahmed Errachidi, a Moroccan detainee.

Mustafa came to speak at the CAGE iftar in 2009. His thoughts were deep: “Being a guard at Guantanamo is one of the most shameful things I did in my life (…). I’m happy I was the one guard who decided to be nice and compassionate, to be sympathetic and to learn instead of turning a blind eye. If anything, I certainly gained the most… I found Allah

subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)
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Justice and compassion, these are exactly the values CAGE and I stand for. When we show these values to the world, many of those with good hearts find them turning to Islam.


Don’t forget to join MuslimMatters and CAGE this month as we work to Close Guantanamo. Check out how you can act today

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Reading reading:

 – Dhul Hijjah Global Activism Drive: Close Guantanamo

Dhul Hijjah Global Activism Drive: Close Guantanamo

My Hardest Ramadan Ever

My Hardest Ramadan Ever

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Source: Muslim Matters