In 2008, I became the lawyer for Abdul Nasser Khantumani and his son Muhammed, two men who were being held at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, in Cuba. When the United States took them into custody, in 2001, Abdul Nasser was in his forties; Muhammed was still a teenager, with a year of high school left. There’s a picture of him as a boy in Syria, not long before his life changed. He’s at the beach with his younger cousins, their arms draped over one another’s shoulders. He’s skinny and soaked, his wet hair plastered to his forehead.
On December 20, 2008, Muhammed cut one of his wrists in his cell. He smeared his blood on the walls, writing country of injustice is america. Once his wounds had been treated, he wrote me a letter in which he listed the reasons for his act:
1. Being in this place, having been arrested when I was 17 years old
2. The continuous psychological pressure and the torture that I currently endure
3. The torture endured by prisoners in general
4. Being apart from my father
5. Current general torture
In another letter, he wrote diagonally, in all caps,
I SAY TO AMERICA DO WHATEVER YOU WANT THE PRISON HAD MADE MY HEART SUCH AS THE STONE FEEL WITH COMPLETE HOPELESSNESS I DON’T KNOW IF SOME PEOPLE KNOW THAT.