Following his release from Guantanamo Bay, Sami Al-Hajj, a (former) Guantanamo Bay detainee, dashes towards his eight year old son Mohammad and swoops him up in his arms, hugging him and planting tender kisses on his face in their first reunion after seven years.
After being imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay for seven years, during which he was repeatedly interrogated and tortured, including being physically, sexually, and psychologically abused, Al Hajj was released without any charges held against him.
Al Hajj, a journalist for the Al Jazeera network, was arrested in Pakistan in 2001 while on his way to do camerawork for the network concerning the war that had recently broken out in Afghanistan. It has been speculated by both Al Hajj’s lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, and Reporters Without Borders that the main reason that he was incarcerated for so long was due to the US Miliary’s desire to make him an informant against Al Jazeera, as most of Al Hajj’s interrogations consisted of American interrogators questioning him about the (Al Jazeera) network.
While in Guantanamo, Al Hajj wrote a poem titled Humiliated in Shackles to his son Mohammad:
When I heard pigeons cooing in the trees,
Hot tears covered my face.
When the lark chirped, my thoughts composed
A message for my son.
Mohammad, I am afflicted.
In my despair, I have no one but Allah for comfort.
The oppressors are playing with me,
As they move freely around the world.
They ask me to spy on my countrymen,
Claiming it would be a good deed.
They offer me money and land,
And freedom to go where I please.
Their temptations seize
My attention like lightning in the sky.
But their gift is an empty snake,
Carrying hypocrisy in its mouth like venom,
They have monuments to liberty
And freedom of opinion, which is well and good.
But I explained to them that
Architecture is not justice.
America, you ride on the backs of orphans,
And terrorize them daily.
The world recognizes an arrogant liar.
To Allah I direct my grievance and my tears.
I am homesick and oppressed.
Mohammad, do not forget me.
Support the cause of your father, a God-fearing man.
I was humiliated in the shackles.
How can I now compose verses? How can I now write?
After the shackles and the nights and the suffering and the tears,
How can I write poetry?
My soul is like a roiling sea, stirred by anguish,
Violent with passion.
I am a captive, but the crimes are my captors’.
I am overwhelmed with apprehension.
Lord, unite me with my son Mohammad.
Lord, grant success to the righteous.
And yet, there still remain many more innocent Afghan & Pakistani men imprisoned at Guantanamo.