Samir Moqbel got his first job at a factory in Yemen at the age of 12. According to his JTF-GTMO assessment, he practiced rifle shooting for four afternoons in 2000, before splitting to Afghanistan to fight the Northern Alliance (a year before we declared war on the Taliban). Because of these allegations, the United States has imprisoned him for 11 years, at the cost of over $11 million.
Moqbel’s lawyers at Reprieve tell a different story. A friend lured him to Afghanistan with promises of better-paying work, and then, when none materialized, tried to convince him to join the Taliban. He was arrested at the Pakistani border, while asking the Yemeni Consulate with help for his lost passport.
Moqbel has been on a hunger strike since March, and is one of the 32 men currently being force-fed. In an editorial in the New York Times, he wrote: “It was so painful that I begged them to stop feeding me. The nurse refused to stop feeding me. As they were finishing, some of the “food” spilled on my clothes. I asked them to change my clothes, but the guard refused to allow me to hold on to this last shred of my dignity.”
In June, I asked Guantanamo spokesperson Captain Robert Durand about Moqbel’s editorial. “Most of what they say short of ‘I don’t want to be here’ is patently false,” he replied.
Twice a day, soldiers shackle Moqbel to a restraint chair, and force a feeding tube into his stomach though his nose. They then pump Ensure through the tube. According to Guantanamo spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, as of June he could choose his flavor: vanilla, strawberry or butter pecan.
Molly Crabapple, “Faces From Gitmo“