Australian says Guantanamo was ‘six years of hell’
Australia’s former long-serving Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks Saturday broke his silence on life inside the US-run prison, saying he endured deprivation and witnessed brutality in “six years of hell”.
Hicks said he was in a “haze of disbelief and fear, pain and confusion” when he arrived in Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in early 2002 and was placed in a cage made of cyclone fencing.
“The first two weeks of Camp X-Ray was a blur of hardships: no sleeping, no talking, no moving, no looking, no information,” he writes in “Guantanamo: My Journey” released today.
The former terrorism suspect once dubbed the “Aussie Taliban”, who has since married and now lives in Sydney, was captured in late 2001 in Afghanistan where he had been accused of fighting alongside Taliban forces.
He spent more than five years in Guantanamo before being sent to home in April 2007 to serve out the remainder of the sentence handed down by the US military commission which had convicted him of providing material support for terrorism. He was released from a South Australian jail in late 2007.
Hicks, now in his mid-30s, is legally unable to profit from his book because Australia does not allow people to benefit from crime.
In three extracts released to the media free of charge, he speaks of how his thirst for travel was sparked by a chance encounter with an Israeli traveller when he worked in Japan training racehorses.
He also says he had intended to help the Kashmiri cause for independence but ended up trapped in Afghanistan as the US led efforts to crush the Taliban after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.
He writes that while an Afghan man had risked his life to find him a safe haven in the northern city of Kunduz, he ended up attempting to take a taxi to the capital Kabul and was captured en route by a Northern Alliance soldier.
“After yelling directly into my ear, he took me by the hand and began to pull me away. I went to resist, but he made a gesture to go for his gun,” Hicks writes. “With dread, I resigned myself to the situation and allowed myself to be led away. This was the beginning of six years of hell.”