Letter from Guantanamo: Jumah al-Dossari

In the Los Angeles Times, this personal account from Jumah al-Dossari, a 33-year-old man from Bahrain who has been held at the Guantánamo Bay detainment camp for the past four years. He claims to have been tortured while in American custody, including beatings, death threats, prolonged isolation, exposure to extreme cold and sexual assaults. While detained, he has attempted to kill himself more than 12 times: slitting his own throat once, hanging himself in the toilet another.

The LAT's editors precede his written account with, "This article was excerpted from letters he wrote to his attorneys. Its contents have been deemed unclassified by the Department of Defense."


In January 2002, I was picked up in Pakistan, blindfolded, shackled, drugged and loaded onto a plane flown to Cuba. When we got off the plane in Guantanamo, we did not know where we were. They took us to Camp X-Ray and locked us in cages with two buckets – one empty and one filled with water. We were to urinate in one and wash in the other.

At Guantanamo, soldiers have assaulted me, placed me in solitary confinement, threatened to kill me, threatened to kill my daughter and told me I will stay in Cuba for the rest of my life. They have deprived me of sleep, forced me to listen to extremely loud music and shined intense lights in my face. They have placed me in cold rooms for hours without food, drink or the ability to go to the bathroom or wash for prayers. They have wrapped me in the Israeli flag and told me there is a holy war between the Cross and the Star of David on one hand and the Crescent on the other. They have beaten me unconscious.

What I write here is not what my imagination fancies or my insanity dictates. These are verifiable facts witnessed by other detainees, representatives of the Red Cross, interrogators and translators.

(...) I know that the soldiers who did bad things to me represent themselves, not the United States. And I have to say that not all American soldiers stationed in Cuba tortured us or mistreated us. There were soldiers who treated us very humanely. Some even cried when they witnessed our dire conditions. Once, in Camp Delta, a soldier apologized to me and offered me hot chocolate and cookies. When I thanked him, he said, "I do not need you to thank me." I include this because I do not want readers to think that I fault all Americans.

But, why, after five years, is there no conclusion to the situation at Guantanamo? For how long will fathers, mothers, wives, siblings and children cry for their imprisoned loved ones? For how long will my daughter have to ask about my return? The answers can only be found with the fair-minded people of America.

Link to story on LA Times website. Or you can listen to a robot read it here. More about Mr. Dossari's case at Amnesty International: Link.