Crypto News

Freed CIA prisoner dreams of a new home

On his first day of freedom, former Guantánamo Bay prisoner Majid Khan prayed without anyone watching for the first time in two decades.

He ate a lunch of fresh Caribbean fish with his new hosts, fiddled with his first smartphone, sipped on a non-alcoholic pina colada with his lawyers, and made a real-time video call to family in Pakistan and the United States from his adopted homeland. Belize.

Khan, 42, is the first detainee freed from Guantánamo Bay to be held there as a “high-quality detainee,” the intelligence community’s term for a former prisoner of the Bush administration’s secret torture program of “enhanced interrogation.”

Freed CIA prisoner dreams of a new home, Crypto Trading News

A port in Belize City where Majid Khan, a longtime Guantanamo detainee, has been released and is hoping to start a new life. MERIDITH KOHUT/NYT

As he emerged this month from two decades of social isolation that began in years of solitary confinement, plans, ambitions and observations gushed from his mouth, sometimes in random bits of rapid-fire conversation.

“I want to go back to work. Don’t tell me to relax man,” Khan said excitedly.

He thought he might want to run a restaurant. He definitely wants to run for public office.

“Tell the Prime Minister,” he quoted himself as telling Eamon Courtenay, the Secretary of State, shortly after he and his tabby cat, Cheetah, landed in Belize on a flight from the US military base in Cuba.

Freed CIA prisoner dreams of a new home, Crypto Trading News

Majid Khan, held captive by the United States since March 2003. MERIDITH KOHUT/The New York Times

By the way, Khan added, he already has the numbers of two Belizean imams on speed dial, but he has yet to visit their mosques in this country of 400,000 people, including about 600 Muslims.

He later recited a fragment of a freestyle poem he allegedly left on his cell door in Guantanamo Bay. “On that day, February 2, 2023…God set me free…My actions hurt others like a bee sting. may they forgive me. I can say this or that, from A to Z I hope to be.”

He said he signed it with what he called a microphone drop: “Majid Khan has left the building.”

Hours later, Belize’s foreign minister summoned his country’s leading news organizations and announced that Khan, his wife and their teenage daughter would join Belizean society as a “humanitarian act.”

Mr. Courtenay then related Khan’s life story, which he later said his nation deserved to know.

Freed CIA prisoner dreams of a new home, Crypto Trading News

Majid Khan dines with members of his legal team in Belize City after his release. MERIDITH KOHUT/The New York Times

Khan was exposed to radical Islam in Maryland, where he attended high school in the 1990s. He went to Pakistan after the September 11 attacks and became a courier for al-Qaeda. From 2003 to 2006 he was held incognito by the CIA, who subjected him to “the most terrible torture”.

At Guantanamo, he pleaded guilty to terrorism charges and began collaborating with the US government. “I have every confidence that he will be a good Belize for years to come,” said Mr. Courtenay. “He never hurt or killed anyone, nor was he ever in a fight.”

To give the Khan family a solid foundation for a fresh start, Belize has demanded that the United States provide funds to buy him a house, a phone, a laptop and a car.

One of Khan’s first calls from this new phone was to the two New York City attorneys who had represented him the longest and helped him on his way to freedom: J Wells Dixon of the Center for Constitutional Rights, since 2006, and Katya Jestin of Jenner & Block, from 2009.

Freed CIA prisoner dreams of a new home, Crypto Trading News

Majid Khan hours after his release at a hotel in Belize. MERIDITH KOHUT/The New York Times

She and three other members of his legal team had rushed to Belize from the east coast the day before his release and had waited anxiously in the sweltering heat near their hotel swimming pool for confirmation of his release.

After dark, Khan strolled into the pool area in shorts and a button-down shirt, accompanied by three Belizeans who served as his guides: a government official, a security guard, and a social worker. There were hugs, handshakes and dizzying conversations.

Someone from the team ordered the coconut flavored mocktail for Khan, who adheres to the strict rules of Islam. Another presented him with a box of Cohiba cigars made in the Cuban-controlled part of the island.

He asked for a few tips on his new iPhone 13, which he polished with a napkin like any first-time user. It was a vast improvement over the old-school analog phone with a pull-up antenna he had before his capture in Pakistan.

Freed CIA prisoner dreams of a new home, Crypto Trading News

J Wells Dixon shows Majid Khan how to use his first iPhone. MERIDITH KOHUT/The New York Times

Then his brother called. Khan settled into a lounge chair by the pool, and one by one his father, other siblings, nieces and nephews emerged from different windows for a raucous, chatty video family reunion. A lawyer brought him shrimp tacos and soda for his dinner.

The call a day earlier at Guantanamo was impossible, even for someone like him who was cooperating with the government. Intelligence agencies monitored all of his calls to family from prison, with each caller pausing after a sentence or so—time enough for the censors to hear and tune out anything that implied national security.

The Secretary of State called Khan “intelligent, intellectually inquisitive and an excellent cook” who is “open minded and will easily make friends in Belize”. From day one he was “free to travel across the country, study, work, start a business and make the best of his life after almost 20 years in prison.”

So on the second day, Khan and his lawyers went on a field trip. They ate lunch at a seaside restaurant, took team photos on a pier, and then went shopping, an expedition that felt like a family taking a son to college.

Freed CIA prisoner dreams of a new home, Crypto Trading News

Majid Khan in his new home. MERIDITH KOHUT/The New York Times

The group meandered through a Belizean equivalent of Walmart, sometimes stopping to explain something unfamiliar, like a shower trolley, or waiting for Khan to pick up an item he found particularly beautiful, like a vase that he filled with plastic flowers to say hello to his family . They loaded a shopping trolley with a kettle and Tupperware, a bathing suit and shirts, storage containers, mirrors and a bathroom scale.

Khan had brought back few mementos from his Guantánamo days: 46 pages of poetry, a well-worn Koran and Cheetah, the year-old tabby cat who had appeared as a kitten on his barbed-wire prison compound. A US Army veterinarian neutered and vaccinated the cat, who then traveled to Belize in a cage.

Freed CIA prisoner dreams of a new home, Crypto Trading News

Another photo of Majid Khan. MERIDITH KOHUT/The New York Times

Also aboard the US Navy’s twin-turboprop plane was the prison’s chief medical officer to turn over Khan’s medical records, a six-month supply of statins to control his cholesterol levels and other medications prescribed by the prison to Belizean authorities.

The next stop after the shopping spree was his new home. Within an hour, the legal team was helping him unpack and clean up.

The house was mostly empty, at first a bachelor pad with the bed, a dresser and pizzas in the freezer. Furniture still had to be bought, perhaps a sofa and a dining table, before his wife and daughter, whom he had not met personally, arrived from Pakistan.

Freed CIA prisoner dreams of a new home, Crypto Trading News

Majid Khan eats fresh fish in Belize City. MERIDITH KOHUT/The New York Times

In a moment of reflection, Khan declared Belize the “perfect place, honest with God” for a man like him who wants to become “a productive member of society.”

He then described what happened when, after his first meal in the country, he realized it was time for prayer.

He was at a rooftop restaurant with his Belizean hosts and slipped off to go to the bathroom and wash up. He saw a server and explained that he was a Muslim and needed a place to pray. She led him into a laundry room below the dining room and handed him a clean red tablecloth.

Freed CIA prisoner dreams of a new home, Crypto Trading News

A mosque in Belize City, Belize, a nation of about 600 Muslims. MERIDITH KOHUT/The New York Times

Khan, whose every move had been watched and controlled by others for two decades, told her he would leave the door open. No, she said, lock it behind you so nobody bothers you.

“I did,” he said, amazed. “I closed and locked the door. I prayed for ten minutes and then left.”

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button