“Donald Trump is an idiot!!! Sen. McAin is a war hero. Trump is a war zero,” wrote Muhammad Rahim al-Afghani, a prisoner at Guantánamo Bay described by U.S. officials as a close associate of Osama bin Laden, in an unclassified letter dated July 21, 2015.
“How can a racist run for president?” he added, in one of several letters made available to Al Jazeera. “At this rate, Hillary [Clinton] has a chance,” he added.
Rahim is an Afghan citizen and one of the high-value detainees — described as a senior Al-Qaeda member — held at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility. In 2007 he was taken in Pakistan and held by the CIA before being rendered to the U.S. prison on March 14, 2008. He is the last known prisoner sent there.
But Rahim’s letters from behind bars cover a wide range of concerns not always associated with its prisoners. For instance, the news of millions of passwords stolen from the infidelity dating website Ashley Madison prompted Rahim to write, “This is terrible news about Ashley Madison please remove my profile immediately!!! I’ll stick with Match.com … There is no way I can get Tinder in here.”
The prisoner does not actually have an Ashley Madison account, but there is a Match account that has been set up under his name. And he has written asking his lawyer to keep him updated on his winks. Rahim has described himself as someone who is “detained but ready to mingle,” according to Carlos Warner, his attorney.
Rahim is held in Camp 7 and has access to a wide array of news articles, magazines and satellite television channels. He expressed interest in trans reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner, stating that he was “happy for her because people are born how they are.” But he had one question, asking, “How is she a Republican? They want to take her rights away.” And he had a bit of beauty advice for her as well. “Tell her to use spray tan for her legs.”
Rahim's humor comes in spite of treatment received since his capture.
While in CIA custody, he was tortured, according to a Senate Intelligence Committee report that detailed abuse of the agency’s prisoners. According to the report, “During sleep deprivation sessions, Rahim was usually shackled in a standing position, wearing a diaper and a pair of shorts … Rahim’s diet was almost entirely limited to water and liquid Ensure meal.” He was also deprived of sleep.
The report states that “the CIA’s detention and interrogation of Mohammad Rahim resulted in no disseminated intelligence report.”
Rahim’s letters are far more serious on his reflections of torture and imprisonment without charge. He wrote, “How do I get out of here? I am innocent and I was tortured. Hung from the ceiling until I was dead.” He said that “animals were treated better” and “doctors and psychiatrist got rich off my blood,” although he also wrote that he prays for them now.
In 2008 then–CIA Director Michael Hayden reportedly said Rahim was being held because of “his past and the continuing threat he presented to American interests.”
But Rahim has never been charged with any crime. When WikiLeaks released its trove of documents about prisoners in Guantánamo, there were none about him.
‘This is terrible news about Ashley Madison please remove my profile immediately!!! I’ll stick with Match.com … There is no way I can get Tinder in here.’
Muhammad Rahim al-Afghani
prisoner, Guantánamo Bay detention camp
Defense Secretary Ash Carter has been weighing his options for dealing with Guantánamo prisoners who the U.S. says cannot be tried or released.
The Pentagon has been looking at alternative locations on U.S. soil to lock the men up, creating what some have dubbed Guantánamo North — maintaining indefinite detention but not closing the prison facility. One of the men who might be moved to the United States for indefinite detention is Rahim.
Rahim disputes the U.S. government's classification of him in one of the letters. “I am not high value. They call me high value because the CIA tortured me. How do we undo this injustice. Give me a trial. Let me be free,” he wrote. He has requested a military lawyer, writing, “I thought the military commissions wanted justice? How can I get justice without a military lawyer?” He had a military lawyer who retired and has not been replaced.
“The Department of Defense and the Department of Justice have shown no interest in having a trial,” Warner said.
He described his client as a “funny guy” with many ideas on a wide range of issues. These letters give insight into the type of person Rahim is and should cause people to “look at his case and ask why is he being held,” Warner added.
Of the 116 prisoners who remain at the prison, 53 have been cleared for transfer, including one recently.
Adding new public detail to his little known story, Rahim said he asked for U.S. custody because he thought the country was one of “law and justice.” He thought Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence would kill him, according to one of the letters: “I thought I could prove my innocence in the U.S. I was wrong.”