I’m very sorry this man suffered cruelty at the hands of Al Qaeda, but is that supposed to make him some kind of expert?
Last month’s assault and massacre at the In-Amenas gas plant in Algeria by an al Qaeda battalion led by Moktar Belmoktar put into sharp focus the growing threat of Islamist jihadists in north and west Africa. It also brought back vivid memories of my own 130-day kidnap ordeal also at the hands of Belmoktar’s al Qaeda group in Niger and Mali in 2008/09. Here is an extract from my book… A Season in Hell
With some ceremony, a DVD was produced and inserted into the laptop drive and we were maneuvered around to have pride of place in front of the screen. The others pressed around, the younger ones in front. There were three or four pre-pubescent boys among them, their faces rapt with anticipation as their screen-lit faces excitedly tried to watch us and the laptop simultaneously.
Soon we heard a loud pulsing, urgent, musical beat and the screen was filled with a black flag, the lower half of which was covered with white Arabic script and in the upper portion, there was a globe surmounted by an AK-47 assault rifle; the Al Qaeda banner. Using the traditional and mandatory Islamic opening, a voice intoned in Arabic, “In the name of Allah the most merciful…” and the centre of the screen began to fill with images and vignettes of all kinds of horrors: those aircraft slamming into the twin towers. US and allied vehicles being destroyed in Iraq and Afghanistan by IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices); video cameras slaved to the sights of Dragunov sniper rifles blasting the heads off GIs and then murdering those who came to their assistance; suicide bombers driving explosive-laden trucks through fences and into buildings or crowds immediately followed by massive explosions. Sometimes such scenes would carry sub-titles giving the date and location of the horror. In other instances, there would be clips of the happy, excited suicide bomber explaining his joy at the prospect of martyring himself for such a noble purpose.
There would also be clips of their “Great Emir”, Bin Laden, uttering in his quiet and reasonable sounding voice his latest threats to tear the heart out of the degenerate West. Then some stocky, heavily bearded, white robed and turbaned American, who we were told was Adam Gadahn, a Jewish Californian convert to Islam and Al Qaeda, made his first of many appearances. Gadahn was ridiculing — in English, with Arabic sub-titles — the American President and issuing dire warnings aimed at US audiences of the disasters that would befall America if the USA and her allies did not quit “Muslim lands”.
Okay, that’s pretty bad, I have to admit. Jihadist snuff films, Bin Laden, and that fat f**k Gadahn (“stocky” my a**) is more than any man should have to take.
But there was something even worse than watching thousands of people perish in fireballs or dropping singly to the ground from 100 stories up, bursting like pumpkins on the pavement below, worse even than seeing Daniel Pearl get his throat slit (most likely by Khalid Sheik Mohammed).
Are you sitting down?
[T]he scenes that elicited the strongest emotion were the all-too-familiar images of black-hooded, orange-clad figures, chained hand and foot, shuffling around those tiny cages in Guantanamo. These were indignities perpetrated by my side — the ‘good guys’. Those scenes of German Shepherds, fangs bared, straining to get at broken men cowering in corners and those piles of horrified naked bodies forced into obscene intimacy and, always, the iconic black-hooded figure, mutely perched barefoot on a box in a short black poncho with wires dangling from his outstretched fingers in the disgraceful Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, made me, in the midst of my own mental anguish, feel deep shame.
Again, with all due respect for his ordeal, he should get the [bleep] over himself. The sight of captured enemy combatants growing fat in the Caribbean sun was too much for him? Club Gitmo forfeited our our right to be the “good guys”? I’ll give him Abu Ghraib, but even the worst alleged abuse there was better than the best day in Al Qaeda’s custody. Of course, I wasn’t there—but neither was he!
And he goes on in this vein for some time, believe me. We were worse than Bin Laden, KSM, Zarqawi, Zawahiri, and Alladin combined. What utter nonsense.
His captivity ended four years ago, he has nothing to offer but the grimy details of Al Qaeda-inflicted indignities, he has no insight or perspective on the intelligence assets we held and the information we gained—and he’s Canadian. Who is he to judge America, and why should any American listen to him?