Witnesses of the Unseen: Seven Years in Guantanamo
This searing memoir shares the trauma and triumphs of Lakhdar Boumediene and Mustafa Ait Idir’s time inside America’s most notorious prison.
Lakhdar and Mustafa were living quiet, peaceful lives in Bosnia when, in October 2001, they were arrested and accused of participating in a terrorist plot. After a three-month investigation uncovered no evidence, all charges were dropped and Bosnian courts ordered their freedom. However, under intense U.S. pressure, Bosnian officials turned them over to American soldiers. They were flown blindfolded and shackled to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they were held in outdoor cages for weeks as the now-infamous military prison was built around them.
Guantanamo became their home for the next seven years. They endured torture and harassment and force-feedings and beatings, all the while not knowing if they would ever see their families again. They had no opportunity to argue their innocence until 2008, when the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in their case, Boumediene v. Bush, confirming Guantanamo detainees’ constitutional right to challenge their detention in federal court. Weeks later, the George W. Bush–appointed federal judge who heard their case, stunned by the absence of evidence against them, ordered their release. Now living in Europe and rebuilding their lives, Lakhdar and Mustafa are finally free to share a story that every American ought to know.