Mansoor Adayfi, “Detainee No. 441,” was imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay for over 14 years without charges as an enemy combatant. As detailed in the description for Adafyi’s new book Don’t Forget Us Here: Lost and Found at Guantánamo, “Arriving as a stubborn teenager, Mansoor survived the camp’s infamous interrogation program and became a feared and hardened resistance fighter leading prison riots and hunger strikes protesting inhumane treatment and arbitrary detention. With time though, he grew into the man nicknamed ‘Smiley Troublemaker’: a student, writer, advocate, and historian.” In this special episode of Rattling the Bars, TRNN Executive Producer, legendary Black Panther, and longtime political prisoner Eddie Conway sits down with Adafyi to talk about his new book, his time at Guantánamo, the human cost of the War on Terror, and about the battle for survival in the dark heart of American empire.
Pre-Production/Studio/Post Production: Cameron Granadino
Eddie Conway: Welcome to this episode of Rattling the Bars. One of the things that everybody in the world knows is that Gitmo, Guantanamo Bay, is a horrible place to be. Today, we have the opportunity to talk to Mansoor Adayfi, who’s an author, an activist, and a former detainee at Gitmo, joins us today. Mansoor, thanks for joining me.
Mansoor Adayfi: Thank you so much for having me today, and for giving me this opportunity to talk to you guys and talk to the world. Thank you.
Eddie Conway: Okay. You know, I want to start off… I guess I want to start off by apologizing for my tax money that’s been used for horrible things.
Mansoor Adayfi: No. I won’t accept that. Don’t apologize for others’ hideous behavior. Because you have done nothing, and I won’t accept any apologies from you because if someone cuts me, I’m not going to spill my blood on anyone. So, I mean, we don’t blame America or Americans for what happened to us, to be honest with you. And we don’t hold anyone accountable for what has been done to us. Sorry for the interruption, because I always – [crosstalk].
Eddie Conway: No, it’s okay.
Mansoor Adayfi: I understand you feel sometimes frustrated and guilty and… But from my understanding, it’s not what America is about. It is, we are considered those small groups who didn’t represent, or don’t represent America or American values. Simple as that.
Eddie Conway: Okay. All right. So then will you give the audience a little background history, how you end up in 2002 in Guantanamo. Where did it start from and what happened?
Mansoor Adayfi: Okay. Before we jump to Guantanamo, I would like to highlight just two points. The first point, I noticed that a lot of people talking about 9/11, which I’m not trying to undermine and [inaudible], but at the same time, people forget to talk about what happened before 9/11 and what led to 9/11 to happen in the first place. As we know [about] the United States’ involvement in Afghanistan since the 1980s and 1990s. And also that 9/11 happened the first time in 1993, as we recall, in my research that we found out when the same person targeted the same twin towers. But then the thing that happened, the 9/11 when the war started between one organization, one man, Osama bin Laden and the United States, and that led to 9/11. And we know that a few attacks happened before that.
9/11 didn’t change the world; The way Americans or the American government at that time reacted to 9/11, it changed the world. 9/11 was misused and abused until that day. And as we know, it has been like almost 20 years and there was [inaudible] justice. And delaying justice is justice denied, simple as that. So basically let us jump to after 9/11. Before 9/11, I was in Afghanistan. I was sent as a research assistant in Afghanistan to research the new group in Afghanistan, because as you know, in the 1990s there was a vacuum in the media. And Al-Qaeda emerged really fast because it was fighting one of the super powers. And that time they said, a man against a superpower country, to the extent. And they start building up. 9/11 happened while I was in Afghanistan, and when it did happen, we didn’t pay much attention to it or care much about it.
Because simply, in Afghanistan there was no TV, no media or newspaper or something that really if… When you live in Afghanistan, you feel like 1000 [years] behind the world. Definitely think that the signs that you live in modern life, the moving cars. Other than this, people are almost in their own way of life, poverty. And also people forget that Afghanistan has been suffering for the last 40 years. Soviet Union, civil war, United States occupation, so it’s a lot. So when the first time I heard about 9/11 I was in a restaurant, we had the radio that, you know airplanes flew into buildings, and that’s it.
So in my research, I used to also station one of the charity musician’s work in Afghanistan, at that time for relief, helping aid, and providing logistics and medicine and so on. The organization, Saudi Church of Musician, got instructions from Saudi Arabia that they should liquid everything and they should leave. My friend told me, Mansoor, this is our last load. We are going to take it to the hospital before we leave Afghanistan. We received instructions that we should leave. I said, okay, I’m going to accompany you. In Afghanistan at that time, there was a war also between the Taliban and the North Alliance.
Also, there was a different kind of warlord. There are some areas of no-man’s land. It’s just warlords and kidnapping, and so on. One day we had a new blue, beautiful car. We were targeted and ambushed, and our car was taken. So at that time we knew that they wanted the car, and they would try to ransom us to Saudi Arabia for some money. Then Americans arrived there, and before the Americans arrived there, they were from the airplane throwing flyers, offering large bounty of money. So, one bounty could change someone’s life. So people start kidnapping people and selling them to the Americans as Al-Qaeda commanders, leaders, Taliban commanders, and so on. Because the more you give them the higher rank, the more pay you got. The price was variable from $5,000 to like $100,000, $200,000, a lot of money. So I stayed a week or two in the warlord’s house, then I was sold to the CIA as an Al-Qaeda commander of 9/11 insider, shipped to the black site, [Kandahar] detention, then to Guantanamo. I turned 19 years old in the black site under the CIA. In the black site.
So, I mean, I’m shortening the story. Story’s really heavy and really dark and more of torture, abuse, to that extent. So I wasn’t just that victim. I’m not trying to say that everyone in Guantanamo was innocent, but I’m going to give you American figures, which are from ECLU and Seton Hall University. They said only 8%, according to the research, only 8% have a connection to Al-Qaeda or Taliban. And 86%, they were either sold for bounty money, or mistaken identity.
And I want to say something. The people who were in Guantanamo, they weren’t in the battlefield holding guns, or loyal to Al-Qaeda or Taliban, though the men who arrived at Guantanamo, they were brought from different parts of the world. From Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Mauritania, Bosnia, Africa, different countries. And as we know, when George W. Bush announced the crusade or war on terror, he said, either with us or against us. There is no gray area.
So people actually… And it’s a lot of money on people… Who cares? And war against terror tends to be one of the profitable businesses until that day. I remember starting in 2005, when Yemen’s president visited the United States and they refused to give him $120 million. He was upset, he went back to Yemen. He had some Al-Qaeda members in his jail, he released them. He said, okay. They escaped. Simple as that. After that, the European Union sent 500 million Euro every year. The United States government also [inaudible] some funds. The Yemen president at that time said, I didn’t have money. I didn’t have jets. I didn’t have soldiers. I didn’t have cars. So I cannot fight against terrorism or Al-Qaeda. So it turned out to be a way of making profits. If you are afraid of me, I’m going to use your fear to basically blackmail you, or try to tell you I’m out of control.
So that’s what happened here. And many victims, many, many victims. So at Guantanamo, it was around 800 men. The youngest was only a few months old. The oldest was 105 years old. This is the age. All kinds of people. You have doctors, engineers, nurses, paramedics, journalists, poachers, mafia, drug dealers. You have also spies who used to work for the CIA. They were caught by Al-Qaeda and Taliban and jailed. And also when American forces arrived in Afghanistan they shipped them back to Guantanamo, to that extent. I met a full team who was sent by Saudi Arabia to assassinate Osama bin Laden. They failed, they got caught. When the Americans came, they shipped them to Guantanamo. So what they did, basically, the CIA and American FBI and other American intelligence and army, they used to either kidnap people or arrest people from different parts of the world, ship them to Guantanamo.
The idea was, we are going to take these people to this place, interrogate them, and sort their files. Even when George W. Bush established Guantanamo, it was just a temporary place. That’s what they called detention. But it was intentionally selected to be the island [outside] of the law. So American law doesn’t apply, [inaudible] law doesn’t apply, international Geneva Convention law doesn’t apply. So what they call us… They were smart. You know, when you deal with those minds, they weren’t stupid or idiots. No. They have consultants, they have advisors, they have experienced people to tell them what to do and how to do it. So they constructed the language. We’re Muslim, I’m Muslim. If you ask me, it is war on us. And they call it war on terrorists. Actually, war of terror. They call kidnapping rendition, torture they call it enhanced interrogation technique.
Families that were killed or wiped out or during assassination, they call it collateral damage. Detainees or prisoners of war, they call them detainees. That’s it. So also when they constructed the language, they invented new realities, and they also legislated some kind of law for those realities. So, war of terror, it doesn’t just affect Muslims. It affects… Muslims overseas in our countries like Afghanistan, it also… As I told you, 9/11 was misused and abused. War on terror that was used by the American government, for military expansion, in Asia and Africa. And so at the same time, it was also affecting people, especially Muslim minorities, within Europe and the United States.
We can see how they start targeting those minorities, spying, surveillance, all kinds of violations. Also we have… When I was in Guantanamo I used to read about the FBI entrapment. How they used to entrap people. I mean, when it comes to… What happened to us? I mean, that system we created to serve humanity and to preserve us and to protect us and to make us safer, we are [teething] that system to misuse it for our own gain. I mean, to the extent the ones who should protect and treat people equally, they use the system to entrap those people and to – What more injustice more than that? I felt so sad sometimes at Guantanamo, honestly. I felt I was lucky because my family didn’t want to be wiped out ever.
At the same time, at least at Guantanamo I’m safe. I haven’t gotten injured, or at least I haven’t been killed yet. And when you ask Muslim to what extent how the war on terror affect them, especially the young generation, when those who born after 9/11 or when 9/11 happened they have no idea, they were like five or six or so on. When they grew up, they grew up in that stigma of being targeted, being harassed, Islamophobia, hate crime. So those young Muslims start looking back, is our religion really that bad? Is our religion really… Is our religion is the source of terrorism? So they start investigating. No. That’s not the truth. Whatever you’re trying to say, no. We can read, we can understand, we can observe, we can ask.
So those Muslim felt… The youngest, the first generation feels they are being oppressed. So when I talked to them after I left Guantanamo, because I have been researching Guantanamo for the last five years, I felt those generation, they want to leave United States and Europe, and want to live within a Muslim country. That way they can feel free as Muslim to the extent. So the system, as I told you, starts to raise those who have no connection whatsoever. And if you ask, I don’t know, like 1.8 billion Muslims what they think about 9/11. We used to argue with their tradition. I said, look, we as Muslims, every single life is sacred. Even animals. As Muslim, we are allowed to kill animals just to feed. If you kill it for fun, or [so on] it becomes sin and you have to be punished for that. You have to pay and are punished for this.
So, but as I told you, Guantanamo was used. The United States also used Guantanamo. They want to send some kind of… I mean, the George W. Bush administration, they used Guantanamo. They wanted to send some kind of message to the world, we are going to cross any boundaries. We are not bound by any laws whatsoever. We understand this, but peace can’t really be achieved by justice, simple as that. When you violate your own rules, your own boundaries, your own morals, ethics, chaos. Look at what happened to the world now. And the first ones who were affected by the war on terror, Americans themselves. Look now when you look at the casualties inside, the economic losses and so on.
But also on the other side, when we talk about how many Muslims have been killed, displaced, countries occupied. Look in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Yemen, in Syria and elsewhere, because the United States holds a very sensitive very important position in world politics. When they move in the wrong way, they shake the whole world. Whether we like it or not. Whether anyone, Chinese, Russia, likes it or not, the United States is like an umbrella. So when it started shaking, something dropped down. That’s what happened here. It is the most super powerful country that ever existed in history, no exaggeration. So any move affects the entire world.
Eddie Conway: Mansoor, let me just stop you right there. This is good information, but I want to know, you survived 14 years in that Guantanamo. And I know your book, Don’t Forget About Us Here: Lost and Found at Guantanamo, probably talks about this, but how did you survive? I’ve heard music, art, et cetera. I mean, you look healthy, you look whole, and that’s a miracle compared to the stuff that we know that goes down there. How did you survive?
Mansoor Adayfi: Story of survival, it’s long and complicated. And it’s not just a story, it was a way of life to survive at Guantanamo. You have no choice. Either die or survive. So, but as I told you, as human beings, what makes us a human being, as individuals, unique as beautiful humans. Because I believe that there is kindness, there is good in every single soul, every single human being, regardless. Because that’s the way we are born, that’s the way we procreated. At Guantanamo, like in my experience and the experience I wrote about it, I noticed there the thing that helped us to survive. First of all, our faith as Muslims and our religion and faith, played a key and important role in our survival at Guantanamo, because you turn to Allah subhanahu wa ta-ala, to our God. We are hopeless, we are helpless in that place, please we need your help.
At the same time, the things that help us to survive, each other. Supporting, standing with each other, comforting each other. One of the things also, the packages we brought with us. What I mean by that, I always say that what makes us unique as humans and individual souls is the things that we hold and that make us who we are. Our names, language, faith, morals, religion, memories, experience, knowledge, emotion, relationship, time. Those things, that’s what make you as a person, what make us a unique person. So when we came to Guantanamo, the policy of Guantanamo changed that. We become just numbers. We were not allowed to talk, to stand, to practice daily lives.
So for me as a tribal teenager, I couldn’t accept that. It’s not the way I was brought up. It’s not the way I was raised in my tribal society with my tribal family and life. So I guess, I’m not going to do that because it doesn’t make any sense. We didn’t care about rank or titles or military or Navy or army or Marines, I didn’t care. It’s just like respect man to man, face to human, to human. So the things that we brought to us first, knowledge, of course, because as I told you, there were doctors, nurses, scholars. We started teaching each other about whatever you have. Your knowledge, your experience, because we weren’t allowed to have any kind of pen or access to the world. We were totally disconnected from the world and we didn’t have much there.
So we start sharing with each other what we have. Part of us, part of our life, part of our memories, knowledge, experience. So those things helped us to survive and learn at that place. Also defending each other and protesting, and trying to help each other. Because Guantanamo keeps evolving, it’s changing. And it was the way it is. It’s like machinery that doesn’t have any kind, because as I told you there was not any kind of rule of law that you can know, how can you… Because in other jails, there is a routine that happens every single day, people understand. But in Guantanamo, the guards and [inaudible] and interrogators rotated every three, six [months] or one year. And every new group, every person, they have their own way of running the camp.
Plus from 2002 until 2010, we call it the dark age. Their main focus, everything controlled by interrogators and they went to extract information, but the truth or existence in Guantanamo, it wasn’t about American safety or American security or about information, it wasn’t about that at all. When General Miller arrived by the end of 2002, he had one mission. He united all the forces at Guantanamo into what they call the JTF, Joint Task Force, and he created a back channel, communicated with the Pentagon, passing all the chain of command. He was communicating with the [inaudible]. So Guantanamo would turn what they call it a liberatory, or they call it Guantanamo America’s battle lab. If you just Google, Guantanamo America’s battle lab you can read a whole [piece of] research, like 80 some pages about how Guantanamo was turned by the military minds, by the military officers into experimenting.
At that time General Geoffrey Miller… When I’m saying General Geoffrey Miller, I mean, that same person who would torture prisoners and detainees in Iraq, in the [inaudible] and other places. So that [inaudible] started at Guantanamo. So at Guantanamo, they started constructing and developing what they call enhanced interrogation techniques. Play with words. It sounds friendly, it sounds something like modern, enhanced interrogation technique, which is actually torture. Sleep deprivation, waterboarding, beating, sexual assault, rapes, all kind of things. Physical, mental, psychological. And you have a whole team, it’s not just one person. There were also experiments, there was also a consultant, there were also psychologists, doctors. And everything was designed around you to break you.
The whole program, your life every single day, was designed to the extent, to make you with the interrogation. But it’s not about interrogation. They wanted to know what kind of enemy they were up against. So what I told you, there were over around 15 nationalities, over 20 languages spoken. Different mindset, different countries, different age. That made it the best opportunity for them to experiment and study those minds. Because when you come from the military perspective, we are going to fight against those kinds of people for maybe the next 20, 30, 50, 100 years, so we need to understand what we are up against. How they behave, how they communicate, how we can interrogate them. What’s the best thing to deal with those people?
So, yeah, I mean, especially now, when you come to modern science and every field, the same way. Especially in the military the same way. So that’s what happened there. And we were not just the victims of Guantanamo. When I’m saying that, there were also guards, [inaudible]. There were people who tried to… People who either tried to [inaudible] or people who tried not to lose their humanity. Because they were victims of Guantanamo. When you bring someone and ask them to torture someone, it will have side effects, it will have impact. That’s what happened there. Before they brought the soldiers or the guards to Guantanamo, they used to take them to ground zero, or to the 9/11 site, and tell them the people responsible for that, they are in Guantanamo.
So when the soldiers arrived, they were full of hate and grudges, they wanted revenge. You can see it in their voice, in their faces, in their behavior, but they’re also human beings. They’re not robots, they are just following instructions. They mix with us, when they live with us every day… Because we become part of each other’s life, whether we like it or not, it’s the way it tends. Now I’m talking to you, I’m spending some time with you, I will be part of your memory, of your life, and so on. So they watch us. Some of them [cads] we were, and there was just praying, eating, crying, laughing, joking, get beaten, get tortured.
They also can differentiate who is bad, who is good, who is a terrorist or not. They found out the people are not what they were told they were. So many of them changed their mind, [inaudible] apologize, but again, when you come to the military, people follow orders. If you need to take any action that would affect the rest of your life. I remember one of the examples I use. I always talk about it because of an American army captain, James Yee. I think his story is well-known, one of the things we saw… Yeah. But when he started, both the General Miller policy of torture at Guantanamo, he was viewed as an obstacle, so they want to get rid of him.
Eddie Conway: He was the Islamic captain in the United States army.
Mansoor Adayfi: Yeah.
Eddie Conway: Okay. Go ahead.
Mansoor Adayfi: Yeah. He was a graduate of West Point University, and was sent to Guantanamo as an army captain, as a chaplain, to ease cultural tension, to educate the guards and to help the detainees in their religious issues. But he found out that the religion, is some of what was used as part of torture. Torture and people using the security of the holy Quran, stripping people naked, proven to confront praying, all kinds of things that you can put pressure on us [with]. So we used to talk to James. Like, what’s going on here? He tried, honestly. And we know he was a sincere person. But the Pentagon, and General Geoffrey Miller, they had another function for Guantanamo, or another project for Guantanamo. So he was accused of espionage, sympathizing with terrorists.
I saw, and I’m like, so ridiculous. He was arrested, interrogated, and so on. We are talking about an American army captain who came to serve his own country. Who might at some point sacrifice his life to protect and serve his country. And I mean to that extent just because he was a Muslim. Sympathizing with the detainees was [inaudible]. Like I told you, as a person, if you got caught laughing, or try to [inaudible] the detainees you will be punished. You will never come back to the sad luck. It’s not just tough for detainees, this is for you because you try to be yourself, simple as that. Because it’s not your position to judge people. It’s not your position to interrogate them, it’s not your position… You were required as a human, to treat them as human. And when we took on the justice system, but Guantanamo it was out of the law, as I told you, and it’s just a dark black hole or black site within the military bases at Guantanamo.
So what’s Guantanamo now? Guantanamo now has become a symbol of torture, lawlessness, abuse of power, oppression, indefinite detention, also death sentence for the people who was there. Also it gives some kind of legitimacy to tyrants in the Middle East and other countries. They started to construct and build their own Guantanamos. China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Emirates, other countries, they have their own Guantanamos. If the boss can do it, why not us? And it’s the same style. Counter-terrorism, extremism, and… Come on think that you have to be Muslim to apply that. So by default, as Muslim, you are terrorist. So that’s it.
Eddie Conway: Yeah. Let me ask you, because you said earlier, and I think this is an important point for survival, you said together from 15 different countries, 20 languages, you all found a way to protest. And I know part of the protest was hunger strikes where they use force feeding that turned into terror and torture. But I also understand you all did culture and music and art. Talk a little bit about the protest that you all did and how you all supported each other.
Mansoor Adayfi: Yeah. As I thought it was 50 nationalities, not 50 [it was 20]. So at the beginning, we used to just react to whatever they throw at us. Because at Guantanamo, as a person, as a Muslim, as a human, you try to preserve yourself, who you are. Because that place and that policy and that way of treatment will change you. And you didn’t want that to happen. They already take your name. You are dealing as a number. So also at the same time, part of you, you try to live your day life. I mean you think substantive change because it’s not who you are. If you’re 19 or 20 or 25, 30, it’s not that just one order or written law can change your 30 years just like this? No, it’s not going to happen.
Also when they started the intensive interrogation and the torture, we tried to resist. The best way we started was the hunger strike, as you know. And that took until that day people on hunger strike, because it is just you feel the pain when you see someone being tortured. And they took it as a challenge. Our hunger strike or our protest was taken as that we were doing some kind of jihad activism on the camp, we were accused of being an Al-Qaeda terrorist cell inside Guantanamo, announce jihad against [inaudible] to the extent. So, yes, I mean, at the beginning we take things seriously. Then we find out if you’re going to take things seriously, we are actually driving ourselves crazy, just live our lives. So we’re starting, as I told you, teaching each other. We had one night in the week, which is like… [each cell block] they have one night in the week, celebrating, time to escape the pain of being in jail.
Escape the feeling that you are being caged in those open cages. So [within one block] there were about 48 detainees from different nationalities. As I told you, everyone came with his package. You have artists, singers, crazy people, kind of people. So we used to sing in different languages, in Arabic, English, French, Farsi, Pashto, it was so beautiful and so amazing to hear those songs in just the same time. It’s like we didn’t have an iPad or mp3, because at that time [they weren’t even] invented. But you can hear, just listen to it and enjoy it. Dancing, poems, stories, and so on. Even that was taken as an act of challenging, and we would sometimes get punished, closing the windows, turning on the vacuum, the ventilation, the fans, and everything.
Sometimes they will take us into separate, as in different blocks. So it was a way of surviving. It was like it took years and years and years. And we could do what we do, because it is important for you. Because if it gets [death] after the situation, I didn’t think we could survive. And if you ask me, and sometimes people ask me, how did you survive? I don’t know. But to some extent I tried, at least I tried because they wanted to change you. They wanted to break you, they wanted to drive you to insanity. And seeing you happy, seeing you laughing or making jokes… One of the things we did there, it’s like we did have a sense of humor. Making joke about everything, about interrogation, about torture, about so on.
And when the dark age period ended in 2010, when Mr. Obama came, when the White House turned to a Black House, the way you call it. So we entered what they call the Golden Age. Things happened so fast. When Obama failed to close the detention, we negotiated with the camp administration about the life. And we negotiated stopping the torture, stopping the interrogation, improving the life in the detention cells, having access to the world outside, news, TV, communication with our families, letter, phone calls, improving the healthcare, food, clothing, and everything. And things changed. And we also demanded some kind of classes. There the art started. Art started early, but art classes started with the art search, really flourished, and started taking a huge part in our day life.
Because before that, no one could have access to a pen and paper. But in 2010, everything had changed. So we start demanding classes in English, in painting, different classes. One of the most important classes was art, which is also because art is so important. Because when you live in that detention for so long, you start constructing new memories, a new way of life, a new personality, a new person. Whether you like it or not, that’s what it is. You become not just part of that detention, you’re that period of life connected to that time. So emotion, time, memories, experience, people around you, relationship with people. So that’s like a turning point in our life. So when you start painting, art connects us to ourselves, to our memories, to the world outside, to our families, to everything.
Because when you start extracting what is hidden inside you, those emotions. We painted things that we missed. Sea, sky, sun, stars, families, trees, horses, you name it. We paint about our struggle and suffering and so on. So what they call art, it is a soul’s language. It is a soul to our soul language. So sometimes we will look at… When you ask someone about painting, everyone has different opinion, experiences about the same painting. But also those paintings hold tears, secrets, memories, time, life, and so on. So yeah. Art also was a way of therapy, and a way of communication. And I wrote a book about arts from Guantanamo in 2017, 18. And we couldn’t find a publisher so far. I hope… We are trying to find a publisher to publish… It’s not just art, it’s a beautiful story about [inaudible], art and survival. And it’s an amazing story. Art that was created at Guantanamo, it’s unlike any other art created in other places.
Eddie Conway: Well, okay. Let me just ask you this, I noticed you had that orange on, and I spent… You have no way of knowing this, but I spent 44 years in prison here in America.
Mansoor Adayfi: What? Are you serious?
Eddie Conway: Yes. As a former Black Panther Party member. And I simply refuse to put on anything that is associated with prisons. But I understand in Guantanamo, they had you all wear orange from head to toe the whole entire time you were there. And I understand that people get out, they don’t want to even be near orange. How do you manage to sit there with your orange on and why?
Mansoor Adayfi: You know, simply I’m telling them, you didn’t break me, you didn’t tear me, I still love the orange color. And I’m using Guantanamo to fight Guantanamo. And also I’m showing them that they want to implant… When I was talking to the psychologist in the ICRC and so on, they say, when you get out, when you see the orange, you’re like [frightened yell]. I said, nope. I love the orange. I have made peace with Guantanamo. I’m like, dealt with that. Also, I use the number 44, I own it. I pay for around 15 years of it. So I guess the message of the things that you used try to break me, try to change me, try to [inaudible] it’s not going to happen.
I’m going to use this part of my life, I won’t [inaudible], but I will take it, make peace with it, and I will use it. And trust me, I’m sure when they watch me wearing the orange [inaudible], because they know to their core Guantanamo was a mistake all along. They know they detained innocent men there. So why not use it? I’m just telling the message, reminding them what happened there. Also I wear this the main reason, to show solidarity for the people who stripped their own freedom, what they call the [wear and tear] or anyone else, because no one should under any circumstance prefer her or his freedom unless there is a law. If something really happened. It’s like accusing someone, mistreating them, torturing, abusing indefinite detention and so on. So to what? I mean, as I told you, it’s also to show that I took up part in activism and so on. So yeah, it is my approach to the story,
Eddie Conway: I guess one last thing, what are you… I know you’re in Belgrade, you’re trapped in Serbia, you can’t can’t leave so to speak. You call it Gitmo 2.0, but what are you doing there?
Mansoor Adayfi: We have done this, we have managed to publish Don’t Forget About Us Here. It’s the book that actually, I would love to talk about it the way it was written at Guantanamo, alhamdulillah. That book was first written between 2010 and 2013. I wrote it while learning English, and so on during the Golden Age. It was taken in 2013, confiscated, classified as classified and secret, taken away. Then I wrote it again in 2015 to my lawyer. I wrote it as legal letters while chained and shackled to the floor. So I used to write it every week, chunk of legal letters and send it there. [Alhamdulillah] she managed to get it out. And since 2018, my friend Antonio and I worked really hard to put it that way, alhamdulillah we managed to publish it. Second thing, last month, I graduated from my university, a bachelor’s degree. So there is a huge gap in my life, it’s like 15 years. I tried to capture it, but after I just… People ask me, how old are you? I say, like 20, 23? Okay. 23 and a half.
I haven’t counted Guantanamo. So alhamdulillah, I graduated. My thesis was about rehabilitation and reintegration of former Guantanamo detainees into social life and the labor market. Because I tried to help my brothers, because there are a lot of problems. When I’m telling you, we live in Guantanamo 2.0, this is here. This is my next book, Life After Guantanamo. Can you see it? So actually those stickers, it took me five years to [put them] together because every time I would [inaudible] about specialist stories about my story, my other brothers’ stories, stories of the world and stories of [Guantanamo, it would set off] lawyers and politics and so on. So yeah, this, my next project in sha’Allah will be the next work, Life After Guantanamo.
Also, we are working with Sundance, developing a TV show: From Guantanamo with Love. But life after Guantanamo is tough. Honestly, yes. When I did my research, I found there are some brothers who managed to rehabilitate and reintegrate into society and become productive members of their societies, families, jobs, “normal people” to some extent we can quote that. But in other parts, we live under restrictions. We are being treated like terrorists. And many difficulties and challenges intentionally, just because simply people… We live in the stigma of Guantanamo. And also some of those countries treat us like a threat of terrorist. And also worse cases, people who lost their life, and also there are brothers who were sent from Guantanamo as a [inaudible] in the United Arab Emirates. They have been in jail since 2015, 16 until that day, unfortunately. And even treated worse than Guantanamo. No family visits, only limited three minutes to five minutes every other month, two or three months of call, no access to lawyers, NGOs, and they have no rights. They cannot dare challenge their detention. And they don’t know until when they are going to stay that way. And this is Guantanamo… Still Guantanamo hasn’t left us yet.
Eddie Conway: Okay. Mansoor, thanks for joining me. I know it’s been a journey and [crosstalk]
Mansoor Adayfi: I don’t think it’s like your journey, 44 years. I can’t imagine. I think next time I should interview you, not you interview me.
Eddie Conway: Well, both were rough, but we survived. Tell me when your next book comes out, can we come back and revisit you and talk about it?
Mansoor Adayfi: Yeah. Of course.
Eddie Conway: Okay. All right. So thank you.
Mansoor Adayfi: Thank you so much for having me today. Last, one thing I would like to call on the people to write to Mr. Biden to close Guantanamo once for all, and to end the indefinite detention, just a simple request. It’s not about Guantanamo, it’s about us all as human beings.
Eddie Conway: Okay. That is good. Okay. And thank you for joining this episode of Rattling the Bars.