During a February congressional hearing on the Guantanamo Bay prison facility, discussion turned—as it invariably does—to the detention facility’s role in jihadist propaganda.
Brian McKeon, principal undersecretary of defense for policy, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “it is no coincidence that the recent ISIS videos showing the barbaric burning of a Jordanian pilot and the savage execution of a Japanese hostage each showed the victim clothed in an orange jumpsuit, believed by many to be the symbol of the Guantanamo detention facility.” He added that the Obama administration’s national security team and the President himself all believe that Guantanamo “is used by violent extremists to incite local populations.”
Freshman Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) heartily disagreed. In a rejoinder that veered at times into polemic, he vented, “To say that [closing Guantanamo] is a security decision based on propaganda value that our enemies get from it is a pretext to justify a political decision.”
The exchange reflected a long-running and agonizingly politicized debate. (For comments from Lawfarewriters, see here, here, and here.) Claims regarding Guantanamo’s purported propaganda value have often been more ideological than empirical. So we decided to consult some empirical information about how Guantanamo is actually portrayed in jihadist propaganda. Is the detention facility, in fact, a significant recruiting tool for the enemy?
The answer, it turns out, is complicated. Yes, Guantanamo shows up repeatedly in jihadist propaganda. But it has grown far less salient over the last few years, playing a much bigger role in the words of Al Qaeda and AQAP a few years ago than it does now—and playing a far lesser role in the propaganda of ISIS than it does in that of older terrorist groups. What’s more, Guantanamo has never played a big role in any terrorist group’s propaganda compared to the issues that really animate those groups. So while it’s easy to find examples of terrorist leaders mentioning and denouncing Guantanamo, these were never the major themes of jihadi propaganda but were, at most, supporting arguments.
Indeed, other issues and grievances seemingly receive much more airtime and emphasis than the detention camp does; and Guantanamo, when mentioned, is often lumped in with other controversial facilities—like Bagram and Abu Ghraib. Detention and abuse of suspected terrorists by the United States, in other words, is a readily discernable motif. But the contemporary propaganda narrative seems to treat that motif as but one category of offenses in a long chain of western transgressions against the Muslim world.
Accordingly, it is hardly clear that Guantanamo’s closure would matter much, so far as concerns the contents of jihadist propaganda. U.S. detention operations at Bagram and Abu Ghraib, after all, are now in the past—but that hasn’t persuaded jihadis to drop their invocations of both prisons in their online literature.
In searching out answers, we looked at some well-known terrorist media: Dabiq, Inspire, and Resurgence, online propaganda rags produced by the Islamic State, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Subcontinent, respectively; transcripts from execution videos released by ISIS; and with the help of the Haverford al Qaeda Statements Index, a variety of sermons, speeches, and letters by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Overall we reviewed hundreds of documents and thousands of pages—scouring each for mentions of Guantanamo, and noting, each time, how the detention camp was depicted.
To be completely clear: We did not undertake, and our findings here do not encompass, a comprehensive look at Guantanamo’s role in terrorist rhetoric, or an appraisal of what actually has motivated or radicalized terrorists. Instead, our inquiry was narrower, and subject to some constraints—ones we wish to identify up front. We were limited to sources either written in or translated into English. Constant deletion and censoring of jihadist accounts on Twitter and other social media likewise made this undeniably relevant stream of information impossible to review in any systematic fashion. Nor were we able to scour jihadist online forums. And, of course, we lacked access to classified material held by governments. All of this stuff, if reviewed, might well have corroborated or undercut some of our conclusions here.
Nevertheless, a look at available propaganda undeniably does reveal at least something about the views of the documents’ authors, and their perspectives about what will (and will not) help to attract new recruits to the cause and harden the resolve of longtime adherents. In this respect we could do no better than ISIS mouthpiece Abu Muhaddad al-Adnani, who said: “If one wants to get to know the program of the [Islamic] State, its politics, and its legal opinions, one ought to consult its leaders, its statements, its public addresses, its own sources” (emphasis added). That, we think, holds true for terrorist groups generally and for their rhetoric about Guantanamo in particular.
We elaborate on our results below; an appendix containing the cited source material follows.
- 1. Terrorists do talk about Guantanamo in their propaganda.
No shocker here: Guantanamo shows up again and again in the propaganda we surveyed, though in different ways and with different frequency across terrorist groups. Here are some examples.
For almost as long as terrorism detainees have been held at GTMO, references to the detention facility have peppered the speeches, sermons, and interviews given by Al Qaeda Central leaders, including Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. In a 2003 letter, the former called on Allah to “free our brothers who the tyrants have jailed in America, Guantanamo, occupied Palestine, and in Riyadh.” Later, in a 2006 recorded message, “A Testimony to the Trust,” Bin Laden purported to reveal the truth about Muslim prisoners of war held by the United States: “I call to memory my brothers the prisoners in Guantanamo—may Allah free them all—and I state the fact, about which I also am certain, that all the prisoners of Guantanamo had nothing to do with 9/11.” He went on to charge that President George W. Bush had full knowledge of Guantanamo detainees’ innocence, but refused to acknowledge as much in order to keep up with a false justification for his “war against the Mujahideen.”
Near the end of the speech, Bin Laden explained his lambasting of Guantanamo and other objectionable attributes of U.S. policy. “My mentioning of these facts,” he said, “isn’t out of hope that Bush and his party will treat our brothers fairly in their cases, because that is something no rational person expects, but rather it is meant to expose the oppression, injustice and arbitrariness of your administration in using force and the reactions that result from that.”
In other words, Bin Laden’s goal was to discredit the United States, and to portray U.S. involvement in the Middle East as but a part of its larger, unprovoked war against all Muslims.
We see more of the same in vignettes by Bin Laden’s successor. As early as August 2003, Ayman al Zawahiri—then Bin Laden’s second in command—released an audiotape proclaiming:
America has announced it will start putting Muslim prisoners in Guantanamo on trial before military courts that could sentence them to death. … Crusader America will pay dearly for any harm done to any of the Muslim prisoners in its holding.
The physician-turned-terrorist concludes that “when America shackles the Muslim prisoner and tortures them, it is torturing itself.” In reference to those imprisoned at Guantanamo, Zawahiri also calls on the mujahideen to “show them how you will avenge them.”
Or take his 2005 diatribe rejecting the “freedom of lowly, rascal America.” The latter contrasts with the sort of freedom Zawahiri desires—which “is not the freedom of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraeb [sic]. It is not the freedom of the bombing of Al Sagadi, with seven ton bombs and cluster bombs.” As before, Guantanamo is trotted out in order to criticize the United States on moral grounds. Zawahiri took roughly the same tack in an address shortly afterwards, saying “Guantanamo exposes the truth of reform and democracy that America claims it aims to spread.” True to form, the Al Qaeda leader set the United States’ corrupt practices alongside those of the faithful, in the course of making his larger appeal: Proper freedom, he intones, “will be come [sic] about except through jihad, and struggle, and more struggle, and martyrdom.”
Though Zawahiri’s and bin Laden’s early indictments of American policy at Guantanamo Bay focused on the innocence and treatment of prisoners, the arch-terrorists later shifted gears, if only subtly—and framed the prison as merely one more element in a larger assault on the tenets of Islam. In May 2006, Zawahiri impugned the United States for its “insults to the holy Koran in Bagram and Guantanamo” while condemning “the Danish, French, and Italian peoples’ mocking of the most noble Prophet. In August 2010, Zawahiri doubled down, again saying of the “Crusader,” “they desecrated the Quran in Guantanamo and Iraq.” Later in September of the same year, Zawahiri asked, “aren’t they the forces which humiliated the noble Quran in Guantanamo, Iraq, and elsewhere?” In May 2012, his claims went even further, stating that “soldiers in Guantanamo urinated on the Holy Quran.”
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula
In his “Call to Jihad,” the AQAP cleric Anwar al-Awlaki (whom the United States famously killed in a 2011 drone strike) justified opposition to the United States by citing the detention facility:
We are not against Americans for just being Americans. We are against evil and America … has turned into a nation of evil. What we see from America is the invasion of (inaudible) countries, we see Abu Ghraib, insults Bagram and Guantanamo Bay, we see cruise missiles and cluster bombs …
Al-Awlaki also expressed solidarity with the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and other detention facilities, appealing to their humanity and likely innocence. In 2009, he penned “44 Ways of Supporting Jihad.” Coming in at 28th on this list was “[f]ulfilling our responsibilities towards the Muslim POW.” The cleric explained that it is a “duty on Muslims to free the POWs even if they have to expend all their money,” and that Muslims should keep them in their prayers and “fight for their release.” Worth noting is that al-Awlaki assumed that the idea of Guantanamo was so ingrained in the minds of his audience that he didn’t always need to explicitly name the detention facility to achieve his goal. In his “44 Ways of Supporting Jihad,” for example, he explains that “[m]any mujahideen are forgotten, lingering in prison cells in every continent around the world. Not even the islands of the sea are spared.”
Such entreaties seem rather understated when compared to claims al-Awlaki made later. His 2011 speech “Beyond Guantanamo” proclaimed that “US soldiers were throwing Qur’ans in toilets and female US interrogators were smearing menstrual blood on the faces of the Muslims [sic] detainees.” Later, he claimed in a speech on the life of Umar Ibn Khattab that the United States “would use against them homosexuals to rape them. They would bring their mothers and sisters and wives, and they would rape them in front of these brothers. The United Nations knows about it. Amnesty International knows about it, and they are doing nothing. In fact, sometimes they are encouraging it.” (This approach, of increasingly trafficking in more and more falsehoods, was on the rise at the time and evident in other group’s propaganda: In August 2010, Zawahiri did the same, asking “How can we reject the excellence and glorious deeds of Obama?!” and then answering that Obama had backtracked on his promises, instead deciding to “transfer more than 50 inmates from Guantanamo to other secret U.S. prisons.”)
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Inspire, the propaganda magazine that AQAP began publishing in 2010, references Guantanamo in much the same way Awlaki did earlier. In its very first issue, Inspire quotes from al-Awlaki’s “A Call to Jihad,” and concludes that “the crimes at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo” are the “ugly crimes which shook the conscience of humanity.” A second issue explored Guantanamo in even greater depth, by means of an interview with Othman Ahmad Othman al Ghamidi, a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay and now “commander” of AQAP. Al Ghamidi told readers that he was “greeted at Guantanamo with swearing and beating as we were dragged to our cells. That is when the dirty American program began against us.” He ticks off a catalog of abuses, too:
They insulted our religion and we were subjected to physical and psychological forms of torture through sleep deprivation and exposure to hot and cold weather in special rooms. We were also used as guinea pigs for their experiments. For example, they would experiment with certain drugs on us so that one would find one of us for days unable to sleep while his neighbor is sleeping endlessly for a few days.
They would expose us to hunger and they would try to seduce some of us through their women. Nevertheless, with all this torture and temptation, Allah was protecting us. We would defend the Qur’an and take from them what we wanted by force. The Muslim is honorable if he takes jihad as his path.
These are not even the wildest of al Ghamidi’s claims. He boasts that American soldiers committed suicide on the base before deployment to Iraq out of fear of facing “Abu Mus’ab [al Zarqawi] and the mujahidin.” In the next paragraph, he claims that his defense counsel said, “The path of the legal system is a long one and it will not get you out of here any time soon, but the knife of Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqari would.” In the end, he invokes Guantanamo not only to demonstrate the two-faced nature of American justice, but to bolster his claims that the Americans fear the mujahidin and that the jihadist fights’ is honorable.
A later edition of Inspire also tries to validate AQAP’s violence with an article justifying “deterrence attacks” against nations that aid the United States’s counterterrorism operations. The author asks “Why must these deterrence attacks be carried out?” and answers with a string of supposed attacks on the Islamic world, including Guantanamo. “Guantanamo has been filled not only with your mujahideen brothers, but also hundreds of innocent civilians. All being tortured and subjected to the most despicable crimes. The list goes on and on … In every corner of the Ummah there is oppression.”
Here as above, mention of Guantanamo serves two purposes. It not only discredits the United States, but also represents one of the many purported offenses that constitutes western “oppression” of the Ummah, through which, as still another, later issue claims, “America has lost the most important element of global leadership: morals and principles.” In doing so, it of course leads to the inevitable conclusion: “The Islamic Nation must start moving… with all its segments, towards Resistance.”
The Islamic State
Guantanamo Bay is mentioned in Islamic State propaganda, though far less frequently and in a more obscure fashion than in propaganda put forward by AQ and AQAP. For example, the founder of the group that morphed into ISIS, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, mentioned Guantanamo in a 2004 polemic against Muslims who condemned his brutal tactics: “They lied and claimed that [the beheading of Nick Berg] has distorted the image of Islam in the eyes of delicate Westerners, and that the world interacted with the Abu Ghurayb and Guantanamo crime and [the beheading] came to negatively affect this interaction and response from the world.” While Zarqawi does invoke the “crime” of Guantanamo, this reference seems relatively insignificant compared to his larger point—that Islamic moderates had acted dishonestly in condemning the beheading of Nick Berg.
Guantanamo plays a similarly minor role in Dabiq, the English-language magazine ISIS began publishing last year. The facility appears in just four of its nine issues, and in one of those issues, the sole mention is tucked into a footnote. The other mentions differ greatly from one another. In one tribute to the Arabian Peninsula, for example, an unnamed author writes,
The istishhadiyyin (suicide bombing) of September 11th, the prisoners behind the bars and wires of al-Hayir (a prison in the Arabian Peninsula) and Guantanamo Bay, the operators against the murtaddin and crusaders in the Arabian Peninsula, and the pure blood spilled upon its blessed land, were all from the fruits and blessings of the light shining forth from the Arabian Peninsula.
While the purpose of invoking Guantanamo in this context is not entirely clear, it seems the idea is to exalt the sacrifices of captured and martyred terrorists more than, say, to critique U.S. detention policy. To be clear, the text does both. But Guantanamo Bay is not invoked in order to simply show how bad the United States is, but rather as a tool used to establish how honorable the mujaheddin are in sustaining their fight amidst suffering.
Guantanamo also appears in an article written by John Cantlie, the British citizen held captive by ISIS who has begun to speak out on the group’s behalf. In the article, and also in one of his “educational” videos on ISIS, Cantlie criticizes the swap of five Guantanamo detainees for U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl. But the point of mentioning Guantanamo is not to fault the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo or those who manage the facility. Rather, the entire article is a criticism of U.S. and British policies against negotiating for the release of hostages. Guantanamo is mentioned only insofar as the five men released in exchange for Sgt. Bergdahl happened to be held there.
In the eighth issue of Dabiq, Guantanamo appears once, in an article eulogizing a member of ISIS. The author writes,
He was captured by the Americans in one of the battles and was amongst a number of prisoners who were transferred to Guantanamo where he was imprisoned for six and a half years in some of the most horrifying conditions. The Americans then handed him over to their Afghan puppets and he spent another year and a half imprisoned by the murtadd regime.
This seems more like a biographical footnote than an attempt to proselytize. Here Guantanamo is simply a point in one individual’s story.
Finally, of all the execution videos that the group has released, Guantanamo is directly mentioned in but one. Before his ghastly murder, Steven Sotloff speaks to the camera and says:
From what little I know about foreign policy, I remember a time you could not win an election without promising to bring our troops back home from Iraq and Afghanistan and to close down Guantanamo. Here you are now, Obama, nearing the end of your term, and having achieving none of the above, and deceivingly marching us the American people in the blazing fire.
The meaning seems clear enough. Here the reference is part of a larger effort to undermine domestic support for President Obama by depicting him as untrustworthy and bent on attacking the Middle East. “Guantanamo,” as we tend to think of it, is not being invoked; President Obama’s failure to close it is.
All of which is to say: Quantitatively, Guantanamo doesn’t figure prominently in the ISIS propaganda regime. But that of course says nothing about how it is used qualitatively.
As noted above, prisoners appear dressed in orange jumpsuits, the quintessential visual symbol of Guantanamo—and the choice is seemingly deliberate. The presence of orange jumpsuits is surely a kind of dog whistle for the observant jihadist, if only generally. But at the more granular level, it remains unclear precisely what ISIS is attempting to communicate by dressing all of their captives—even non-westerners—in Guantanamo garb. And indeed, what is most notable is that outside of execution videos designed to play on loop on Western television, references to Guantanamo Bay are rare and passing. The jumpsuits themselves seem designed to influence and scare non-jihadists instead of serving as a radicalizing image for potential jihadists.
- 2. In terrorists’ propaganda, Guantanamo is emphasized less relative to other things.
It is one thing to note references to Guantanamo in varied extremist media. It is another to figure out where the prison fits in terrorists’ broader narrative. To get at the latter, we used a basic word-scoring method to determine how often the word “Guantanamo” appears, relative to other jihadist trigger words. It turns out Guantanamo appears in jihadist propaganda far less frequently than these other, seemingly more favored terms. To the extent repetition implies relative importance, then, it seems Guantanamo might not be all that central a propaganda item after all.
In Dabiq’s nine issues, for example, the word “Guantanamo” appears just four times. “Israel,” “Jew,” and “Zion” together appear 133 times, and “Crusade,” 387. Even “Kashmir” and “India” together make ten appearances, while “Drone” shows up seven times. In the eighth issue of Dabiq, Guantanamo is only used in passing to mention that a mujahid was once held there. However, the world “hijrah,” or the call the immigrate to the Islamic State, is invoked 38 times. Considering that one of the four appearances of “Guantanamo” is in a footnote and that the other references appear almost incidental, it becomes obvious that Guantanamo is not a primary driver of ISIS’s English-language print propaganda.
The same holds largely true for the video and audio tapes the group has released. In the three videos depicting the beheadings of Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig, and James Foley, “Guantanamo” appears just once, as described above, in an almost incidental manner. “Crusade” appears six times. And in the two first major speeches by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, “Guantanamo” does not appear at all; “Crusade,” on the other hand, appears nearly 20 times. To the Islamic State, then, Guantanamo Bay may be nothing more than a footnote to jihad.
AQAP’s propaganda, like the messages of al Qaeda proper, focuses extensively on attacking America. When it comes to AQAP propaganda, as illustrated above, Guantanamo Bay does play a role, but it is not the animating feature. The majority of the propaganda focuses on anti-Zionism, Palestine, the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, American support for what the group views as oppressive puppet regimes, and the theft of oil. Even the conflict in Kashmir plays a more prominent role than the prison in Guantanamo Bay.
In all 13 issues of AQAP’s Inspire, “Guantanamo” appears 24 times. “Crusade” appears 169 times, and the combined count for “Israel,” “Jew,” and “Zion” is nearly 300. And while Anwar al-Awlaki did occasionally mention Guantanamo in his sermons, it rarely served as a focal point for him. In his “44 Ways of Supporting Jihad” address, for example, Guantanamo doesn’t appear until number 28, and even then al-Awlaki doesn’t mention the facility by name, instead vaguely musing that “Not even the islands of the sea are spared” from housing jailed mujahideen. More often than not, though, Guantanamo is absent entirely from al-Awlaki’s propaganda addresses.
Guantanamo also plays a largely subsidiary role in the propaganda of Al Qaeda Central. In anexamination of 25 early statements released by Bin Laden and Zawahiri from 2003-2004, only one even mentions Guantanamo Bay. By contrast, Iraq is mentioned over 100 times. Occupation is mentioned nearly two dozen times. Israel/Jew/Zion/Palestin/ian are mentioned more than 100 times.
Take Ayman al-Zawahiri’s interview “The True Facts of Jihad and the Lies of Hypocrisy,” for example; the audiotape comes closest to validating the theory of Guantanamo as a major jihadist recruitment device, yet it still falls far short. While Zawahiri does mention Guantanamo five times, words related to “Iraq” and “Afghanistan” appear more than 70 times each. The words “Israel” and “Israelis” appear 39 times. And the word “Zionist” appears another four times, while the words “Jew,” “Jewish,” and “Jewishness” appear another 12 times. Moreover, in two of the five mentions of Guantanamo, the facility is listed as just one aspect in a litany of affronts to the Muslim world.
This way of lumping Guantanamo in with various other accusations of wrongdoing appears throughout Al Qaeda Central’s propaganda (along with that of AQAP). In Osama bin Laden’s 2003 “Second Letter to the Muslims of Iraq,” he wrote, “Free our brothers whom the tyrants have jailed, in America, Guantanamo, occupied Palestine, and in Riyadh—everywhere, for you are all-powerful.”
What becomes clear in such examples of Al Qaeda Central’s propaganda is that while Guantanamo does appear, it is not a primary driver.
The point becomes even clearer when one compares Guantanamo to other signature events in American overseas military activity. Thomas Hegghammer found that the Iraq War played a significant part in shaping jihadist narratives, boosting anti-Western sentiment, and even contributed to the development of more sophisticated strategic thought in jihadists’ forums. Likewise, images of the Prophet Muhammadand drone strikes are also invoked just as often to justify the idea of a war against Muslims. The nuclear deal with Iran, and the United States’s willingness to allow Iranian-backed Shiite militias to fight openly, also lends credence to the conspiracy that the United States and its Shiite partners are “conspiring with secular Arab rulers to limit Sunni power in the Middle East.”
And, in some ways, Guantanamo Bay may already be losing its salience to even Al Qaeda, as more immediate concerns take precedence. Al Qaeda’s new English language magazine, Resurgence, is produced as propaganda for its new branch, Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent. In its 117-page first edition, it mentions Guantanamo only to acknowledge that Hasan Gul was once held there. Its cover story outlines “practical steps towards the liberation of Palestine.” And it carries an 8-page discussion of civilian life in Waziristan under the roar of American drones that serve as a “constant reminder of death and destruction.”
What does this all illustrate? In short: the primary driver of these groups’ propaganda, as described earlier and as borne out by the word-count figures above, is a narrative describing the West as involved in a crusade against the Muslim people. Within this frame, western support for repressive “apostate” regimes and the creation of Israel can be painted as an attack on Islam, specifically an attack that must be met with violent jihad. And, while Guantanamo at times provides another instance of this crusade or serves as a counterpoint to U.S. claims of benevolence, the narrative of jihadi propaganda operates at a level far higher than that of any single facility in Cuba.
- 3. Closing Guantanamo may not affect the rhetoric of jihadi propaganda
Our final conclusion is a commonsensical one, which our research seemed to underscore: Shuttering Guantanamo may not eliminate, or even reduce, the camp’s place in terrorist propaganda.
In poring over terrorists’ various media, we saw how Guantanamo often appears alongside Abu Ghraib, the infamous site of torture and abuse of inmates at the hands of U.S. personnel. This despite the fact that the United States ceded control over the notorious jail to the Iraqi government in 2006. Consider thatInspire—which did not begin publishing articles until 2010—puts Abu Ghraib alongside Guantanamo nearly a third of the times that Guantanamo is invoked. After discounting the occurrences that are more incidental mentions than substantive criticisms of Guantanamo, that proportion rises to nearly one-half.
As with Abu Ghraib, so too with Guantanamo: With respect to the contents of terrorist materials, what matters is not so much that Guantanamo does or does not continue to operate, but that it existed in the first place.
We would add that the relevant precedent suggests that terrorists are unlikely to faithfully report the facts, if Guantanamo indeed is ultimately cashiered as a detention site. In Zawahiri’s “The True Facts of Jihad and the Lies of Hypocrisy” interview, for example, he claims that President Obama has not only failed to close Guantanamo, but has also “decided to transfer more than 50 inmates from Guantanamo to other secret US prisons.” The end of Guantanamo, then, might merely mean a new emphasis, in terrorist propaganda, on the places to which Guantanamo detainees get shipped.
Closing Guantanamo may indeed begin the process of consigning it to history’s dustbin and over time, whatever rhetorical import the facility holds for jihadists is likely to fade. But so long as the memory remains fresh, the concept of Guantanamo will retain some propaganda value, regardless of whether or not it remains open. Abu Ghraib teaches us that much.
All of this is not to say that Guantanamo should remain open. There are many good reasons for closing the facility. Matt Waxman has previously noted that Guantanamo Bay has “hampered cooperation with our friends on such critical counterterrorism tasks as information sharing, joint military operations and law enforcement.” He concludes that in many important ways, Guantanamo Bay “hinders our ability to play effective offense.”
Moreover, as the Center for Strategic and International Studies Commission on Smart Power wrote, “American leaders ought to eliminate the symbols that have come to represent the image of an intolerant, abusive, unjust America,” specifically because “Europe perceives that America lacks a commitment to the types of legal, institutional, and multilateral frameworks” both claim to value. And we know that jihadist organizations have attempted to exacerbate the divisions between the United States and Europe in an attempt to isolate America in its fight against terrorist organizations (Eurojihad, 37). Closing Guantanamo, then, is an important step in mending whatever rifts remain between the United States and its European allies.
Yet, a reading of jihadist propaganda also displays that just because a policy shows up in propaganda doesn’t mean that it should be dismissed. Even successful policies—those clearly situated on moral footing and successful on the field of battle—will also be attacked by terrorist organizations. A prudential evaluation will weigh their practical benefit against their potential propaganda value, ensuring that we are not creating more terrorists than we are killing, capturing, or deterring. Continued thought will need to go into how to challenge violent extremism and the narratives that jihadi propagandists invoke. Consistent efforts to monitor and reduce the capacity of terrorists to spread violent propaganda should be further explored.
Below, we have compiled the instances where Guantanamo Bay is mentioned in each speech or publication we reviewed.
al Qaeda Central
Al-Zawahiri audiotape about Guantanamo Bay prisoners, August 3, 2003
Muslim brothers everywhere […] America has announced it will start putting Muslim prisoners in Guantanamo on trial before military courts that could sentence them to death. I swear by almighty God […] that Crusader America will pay dearly for any harm done to any of the Muslim prisoners in its holding.
With God’s help, all those who helped it [America] capture a prisoner or hand him to it or to any of its agents will also pay the price. Let it be clear to those who conspire with America that America cannot protect itself, let alone protect others.
Let every prisoner held by the infidels be sure that his release is a debt hanging from the neck of every mujahid and that the end of the ordeal is close, God willing. [And let every prisoner] know that his brothers, the mujahidin, have not forgotten that they will avenge him from the new Crusaders.
When America shackles the Muslim prisoners and tortures them, it is torturing itself. When it puts them on trial, it is putting its children on trial, and when it convicts them it is convicting its people. We don’t expect any justice, fairness, or commitment to morals or beliefs from America. It has shown the world an example of making light with principles, even those they were bound to by Agreements.
But we tell America one thing: what you have seen until now is nothing but the first skirmishes. The real battle has not yet started. The American people whose armies have killed our women and children, if it is keen on its future and the future of its generations, has to take initiative and follow reason and logic before it is too late. They have been forewarned […] Muslims everywhere, America and its agents are torturing your prisoners. Show them how you will avenge them.
“Second Letter to the Muslims of Iraq,” Osama bin Laden, 2003
Free our brothers whom the tyrants have jailed, in America, Guantanamo, occupied Palestine, and in Riyadh–everywhere, for you are all-powerful. –Page 70. Al Qaeda in its Own Words
Have you not heard how they condemned the beheading of the American Berg. They condemned this because they had previously refrained from fighting the infidels. And because they did not taste the feeling of glory and did not raise their heads in pride because they do not realize the meaning of faith, which the believer uses to fight polytheism and the polytheists. “But honor belongs to Allah and His Messenger, and to the Believers; but the Hypocrites know not.” (Koranic verse) Being submissive slaves, they indeed cannot picture themselves killing the US master. Yes, they have imbibed the milk of humiliation from the breasts of their mothers and it lies deep in their veins. How can they change their behavior?
They do not just betray these bitter manifestations but they cover them with (Islamic) doctrine and clothe them with wisdom. They lied and claimed that this matter has distorted the image of Islam in the eyes of delicate Westerners, and that the world interacted with the Abu Ghurayb and Guantanamo crime and this operation came to negatively affect this interaction and response from the world. (They even claimed) that the popularity of Bush, the dog of the Romans, was at its lowest level and this operation came to increase his popularity. It is as if the alleged free people of the world had sharpened their swords and mobilized their battalions to liberate Iraq and save the free and the bereaved women from the prisons of subjugation and oppression.
Ayman Al-Zawahiri, February 5, 2005
“It is not the freedom of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraeb(sic). It is not the freedom of the bombing of Al Sagadi, with seven ton bombs and cluster bombs…” –Page 241. His Own Words: Translation and Analysis of the Writings of Dr. Ayman Al Zawahiri
Horrreya (Freedom) — Ayman al-Zawahiri, February 5, 2005
“They will be come about except through jihad, and struggle, and more struggle, and martyrdom. They will not come about unless we eject the enemies from our house, and seize our rights with the power of jihad.” — Page 242, His Own Words: Translation and Analysis of the Writings of Dr. Ayman Al Zawahiri
Global Jihad: The Freeing of Humanity and Homelands Under the Banner of the Qur’an — Ayman al-Zawahiri, February 11, 2005
The freedom we want is not the lowly, filthy American freedom, it is not the freedom of the banks of usury, major corporations, and deceitful media, it is not the freedom of destruction of others for the sake of material interests, it is not the freedom of AIDS, spreading obscenity, and symbol marriages. It is not the freedom of gambling, alcohol and family breakups, it is not the freedom of using women as merchandise to gain customers, sign deals and attract tourists and sell products. It is not the freedom of double standards, and dividing people into robbers and robbed, it is not the freedom of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is not the freedom of selling torture machines, and supporting regimes of force, suppression and might, the friends of America, it is not the freedom of Israel massacring Muslims, destroying Masjid Al-Aqsa and turning Palestine into a Jewish state, it is not the freedom of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, it is not the freedom of carpet bombings, seven ton bombs, cluster bombs and leaf fallers, nor depleted uranium, and the destruction of villages in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is not the freedom of the government of Haliburton and its sister blood suckers. It is not the freedom of monopolization of weapons of mass destruction, developing it and then forbidding it from others. It is not the freedom of monopolizing the vote in the Security Council to the five big nations, four of whom are crusaders.
Al Jazeera Airs New Videotape by Ayman al-Zawahiri, February 20, 2005
Today, Three years have gone by since the first group of Muslim prisoners were sent to the Guantanamo prison camp after thousands were betrayed in Mazar el Sharif [Afghanistan] by the unbelievers. One may ask why all this interest in Guantanamo when our countries are filled with a thousand Guantanamos under U.S. observation. The reform which emerges from U.S. prisons like Bagram, Kandahar, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and from the launch of cluster bombs and rockets and the appointment of the likes of Karzai and Allawi.’ It is because Guantanamo exposes the truth of reform and democracy that America claims it aims to spread in our countries. If you, the people of the West, think that these cardboard governments can protect you, you are wrong. Real security is based on mutual cooperation with the Islamic nation on the basis of mutual respect and the stopping of aggression Your new crusade will, God willing, be defeated in the end, just like your earlier ones. But this will not happen, however, until after tens of thousands of your people are killed, and your economy is ruined, and after your actions have been exposed on the pages of history.
Clarification of Issues Raised by Sheikh Maqdisi During His Interview with al Jazeera Television — Ayman al-Zawahiri, July 2005
The real inferno awaits those who do nothing to free Muslim prisoners from Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and other locations. The real inferno awaits those who betray our honored sisters who are being raped day and night by the cross worshippers and the Rafidhah.
Sheikh, didn’t you know that practicing this fatwa means abandoning Jihad and surrendering Muslim lands to the cross worshippers? Didn’t you know that answering the call to Jihad does not cause death to come quicker and does not delay sustenance? Death and sustenance have been determined by Allah before one’s birth, and nothing will change that.
Ayman al-Zawahiri Interview Four Years After 9/11, September 11th, 2005
In complete collaboration it [the U.N.] remains silent about what goes on in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and Baghram, and about the way the al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners are treated. They disappear from the face of the earth! No one knows a thing about them, nor does anyone dare ask where they are, what’s been done to them, where they were arrested and tortured, and why, until when, where, and how they will be held in prison.
Where are the international agreements and U.N. treaties? What about human rights—in fact, how about just even animal rights?!
And so the very same abhorrent regimes still practice the very same abominable policies, with the blessing of America and in defense of its interests, and the interests of Israel—against the real enemy, that is, the resisting mujahid Islam, and not the fake Islam, an Islam of begging and pleading.
Isn’t it America that’s sending prisoners from Guantanamo and Baghram to Egypt and Jordan, where they are tortured by the very same regimes that America insists should respect human rights? Brother Ibn al-Sheik al-Libi was placed in a coffin and shipped from Baghram to the National Security Department in Cairo, where he was severely tortured and held for one year, after which he was sent back once again to Baghram. This is one of thousands of examples.
In closing, I take this opportunity to address our captives, who are being held in Crusader jails, and especially our mujahid Sheikh Omar Abd al-Rahman, as well as our captives in America, in Guantanamo, in Abu Ghraib, in Baghram, in the secret American jails around the world, and in the prisons of the tyrants of Egypt, the Peninsula, Syria, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, and in Palestine and elsewhere—I say to them: We have not forgotten you. We are still committed to the debt of your salvation. And with Allah’s strength, we will continue to deliver blows to America and its allies, until we shatter your shackles.
Ayman al Zawahiri, March 4, 2006
Bush is not spreading human rights either. Instead, he is spreading secret prisons everywhere, practicing mean torture in Baghram, Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo. He sends Muslims to be tortured in prisons belonging to his friends, Bush lied in his State of the Union speech when he said that the great Egyptian people have voiced their [true] opinions in the last presidential elections. The whole world knows how the Egyptian presidential elections were conducted – through forgery and criminal ways.
A Testimony to the Trust — Osama Bin Laden, May 23, 2006
‘And then I call to memory my brothers the prisoners in Guantanamo — may Allah free them all — and I state the fact, about which I also am certain, that all the prisoners of Guantanamo, who were captured in 2001 and the first half of 2002 and who number in the hundreds, have no connection whatsoever to the events of Sept 11th, and even stranger is that many of them have no connection with al-Qaida in the first place, and even more amazing is that some of them oppose al-Qaidas methodology of calling for war with America.
Zawahiri Addresses Afghans, May 30, 2006
It was also preceded by insults to the holy Koran in Bagram and Guantanamo and by the Danish, French, and Italian peoples’ mocking of the most noble Prophet, God’s peace and blessings be upon him. Yesterday’s incidents were also preceded by Clinton’s and Thatcher’s honouring of Salman Rushdie, rewarding him for offending the Prophet, may God’s prayers and blessings be upon him, and his holy household.
“…I request every Muslim in Palestine to stand by the causes of his Ummah in Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines, and Guantanamo…” –Page 342. His Own Words: Translation and Analysis of the Writings of Dr. Ayman Al Zawahiri, June 9, 2006
Sheikh Abu Yahya al-Libi, An Interview with as-Sahab, June 17, 2006
Interviewer: You passed through a number of prisons. Could you tell us about some of those American detention centers?
Al-Libi: The story of the prisons is a tragic one. If truth be told, our arrest revealed to us many things which were previously hidden and which one can only discover by experience and by direct contact with the Americans. We found great difference and huge discrepancy between what we see and hear in the media and the reality which is hidden from many Muslims and even many Mujahideen, due to the blackout America imposes on all media. First of all, I say that the whole world is now part of the United States of America. Its center is Washington and there isn’t a country on earth – however much it claims to be hostile or opposed to America – which doesn’t have a prison which the US uses against the Mujahideen. In Pakistan – Pakistan is one of the biggest detention centers for the Mujahideen. In Karachi, this metropolis in which there are more than 20,000,000 Muslims, there are American-run prisons. And the country which really contains large prisons and massive detentions centers for the Mujahideen and their supporters is Afghanistan. All of Afghanistan has become a prison for the Mujahideen, and the biggest of the prisons used by the US are (1) the central prison, or – as the Mujahideen refer to it – the Prison of Darkness, or the Prison of Torture, which is located in Kabul, and (2) Bagram prison, which is well-known to the media, and from which Allah saved us by His Grace. There’s also Guantanamo, similarly well-known. And as for the prisons which are located in the Arab countries, they are countless.
Malicious Britain and its Indian Slaves — Ayman al-Zawahiri, June 10, 2007
Amid a rant against the Mecca Agreement signed in February 2007, Zawahiri quotes Dr. Abd-al-Aziz al-Rantisi:
“Because America deprived us of security in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iran, the Philippines, Chechnya, Kashmir, and other areas and continues to strike us either directly or by giving our enemies all kinds of support in order to strike us on her behalf, we must respond to this aggression by putting a blockade of terror against America.”
“They are the ones who test the latest achievement of the American diabolic mind in weapons of mass destruction against us, and they are the ones who continue to incite their allied regimes to pursue and eliminate our Muslim youth, and they are the ones who fight Muslims in their daily struggle to survive, and they are the ones who plunder Muslims’ resources and show creativity in their humiliation of Muslims even on their television screens as they did in the Nazi-Zionist detention in Guantanamo and as they are doing today in Iraq. We cannot account for all of the American forms of aggression against Muslims but suffice it to say that the American propaganda has turned every Muslim into a terrorist pursued and wanted everywhere in the world. Why should we not pursue them the way they pursue us? What should we not terrorize them the way they terrorize us?”
Terrorism: Al Amriki Calls for Muslims to Greet President Bush “With Bombs” — Azzam Al-Amriki, January 7, 2008
Today, as yesterday, America’s armed forces engage in mass-casualty aerial bombings, much of which is now fully automated, as if you are dealing with money transfers and not matters of life and death. And much of which depends on so-called intelligence from satellites and spy planes which — sorry to say — do not distinguish between friend, foe, and innocent by-stander, in the same way that white phosphorus and depleted uranium also pick their victims indiscriminately. Today, as yesterday, America’s homesick, half-mad soldiers rape, pillage, and murder, then plant weapons and fabricate reports to cover up their evil deeds. And today, more than ever before, America’s military and intelligence services are guilty of the most atrocious forms of torture and arbitrary and unlawful detention of innocents in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and elsewhere, including on American soil.
The unspeakable acts the barbaric American interrogators commit in those hellish chambers of torture and cruelty, the horrors and humiliation they visit upon their innocent Muslim victims, and their mocking and desecration of the Islamic religion and persecution of the Muslims for their faith, these atrocities shall never be forgotten nor go unpunished. For the CIA can destroy as many videotapes as it likes, because everything is being recorded by God in a book which records everything in minute graphic detail and whose entries are only erased by repentance.
Al-Sahab Releases Video of “True Imam” on Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, September 28, 2008
Pakistan has wronged the entire Islamic world and the Islamic religion. It was due to Pakistan’s help that so many Afghan and Iraqi children have been shredded with explosives, so many mothers’ and sisters’ homes have been ruined, and the champions of Islam have been put into the cages of the notorious jail at Guantanamo Bay.Today, Pakistan has become the forerunner in the war against the Mujahideen.
The propaganda machine of the Christian Crusade is not restricted to the Hijab. Before this, pictures were drawn in degradation of the Prophet (PBUH), and before that, they desecrated the Quran in Guantanamo and Iraq. – 3
How? How can we reject the excellence and glorious deeds of Obama?! He has done so much! He has done the following:
- backtracking in his determination to close Guantanamo when he decided to transfer more than 50 inmates from Guantanamo to other secret US prisons – 7
Obama did not speak a word about the war against Gaza, nor its siege which continues until today with the approval of the US. He has not spoken a word about the suffering of the people of Gaza, the bombing of civilians in Afghanistan, the bombing of villages and tribes of Pakistan, nor the bloody massacre and exile of two million refugees from the Swat valley, nor Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, US secret prisons, nor the expansion of US prisons such as Bagram, nor US evasion of the Geneva convention in regards to treatment of prisoners, nor hiding the numbers and names of the prisoners held in their secret jails and their fate, nor about the obligation of the US towards them, nor the policy of rendition [of prisoners] to be tortured in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and other places. – 12
Another example is his promise to close Guantanamo Detention Facility, now deciding to transfer fifty inmates to various of their secret prisons. – 14
Nine Years After the Start of the Crusader Campaign — Ayman al-Zawahiri, 9/15/2010
Glory be to Allah: aren’t the NATO forces which are coming and going as they please in Pakistan and being helped and supplied by the government of Pakistan and its army and security organs, aren’t these forces from the states in which the Prophet – sallallahu alayhi wa sallam – was insulted publicly on the pages of newspapers and in other media? And aren’t they the forces which humiliated the noble Qur’an in Guantanamo, Iraq and elsewhere? And aren’t the forces of the Pakistan Army the ones who contravened the rules of Shari’ah by destroying and burning Lal Masjid, and killing in it hundreds of male and female martyrs in order to get closer to America and earn its pleasure.
And the Noble Knight Dismounts — Ayman al-Zawahiri, June 8, 2011
America threw in the Arabian Sea, a sea of glory the Arabs and foreigners would testify for. America refrained from giving the heroic Mujahid a grave, but the hearts of tens of millions became graves for him. America with her despicability showed that she does not know [the concept] of honor among adversaries, and O’ how could she know it when she lacks honor in the first place. America that signed the Geneva [Convention] agreement to protect civilians and prisoners became the first to violate them in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Guantanamo and her underground prisons around the world.
Statement Regarding the Succession in the Leadership of Qaida’t al-Jihad — Ayman al-Zawahiri, June 16, 2011
We ask Allah to help us in working on releasing the Muslim prisoners, the lions in the chains who have to be patient, and have bared responsibility, sacrificed and suffered for the cause of supporting Islam and Muslims. And we assure those beloved ones that we haven’t forgotten about them and we will not Allah-willing; as we did not forgot our Mujahid Shaykh who speaks the truths, Omar Abdulrahman, and we did not forget our brothers in Guantanamo and Baghram and Abu Ghraib, and America’s secret and known prisons and in every ‘Guantanamo’ the agents of America established under her supervision in the Muslim homelands.
The crusaders have again committed their renewed crime by burning the Holy Our’an and mocking the messenger of Allah, prayer and peace upon him. Again the Crusaders burned the Holy Our’an in Kabul after they degraded it continuously, that even one of the soldiers in Guantanamo urinated on the Holy Our’an. And after each one of their crimes, they pretend to be apologetic and they claim that they would investigate what had happened. And this is the [same] silly mockery that Obama has done again as well as his Secretary of Defense this time also. The Crusaders Americans and their allies have showed over and again their grudge and hatred to Islam, the Book of Islam, the Prophet of Islam-prayer and peace upon him-and the Hijab of the female Muslims. [Qur’anic Verses]
O People of Tunisia, Support Your Shariah — Ayman al-Zawahiri, June 2012
As for those, they have gone beyond Napoleon, for they spoke out against that which you cannot speak out against. They said: “There is no Shariah nor Qur’an nor Sunnah nor unanimity in rule, nor in constitution or laws.” Even the principles and not just the judgments of Shariah will not be a source of legislation or law. It is centrist, moderate, enlightened Islam, the imam of which gave fatwas for the permissibility of fighting Muslims in the American army in Afghanistan, so that his job promotion would not be affected, and to bring the criminals from the mujahideen to American justice in Guantanamo and in secret prisons. After the First World War, when the secularists claimed that they forbade the Ottoman Caliphate for Turkey, Ahmed Shawqi exposed them by saying:
“In their own hands they transgressed against the loyalty of their pride, full of the talents of the conqueror. They removed from necks a good necklace and accepted coats as a good covering. An honor that has stayed for a long time has been removed in one day and night, and a relationship whose existence was important…”
46 Years After the Year of the Naksa — Ayman al-Zawahiri, July 2013
The first crime is what America is doing in Guantanamo in terms oppression, repression, aggression and assault against Muslims, who have been oppressed and imprisoned without charges or a trial for 13 years. It is that crime that exposed the lie about freedom, human rights, democracy and rights of the peoples that America keeps singing about. The hunger strike of our imprisoned brothers in Guantanamo exposed the real ugly, hated face of America, and we pledge to Allah that we will not spare any effort until we free them and all our captives, and on top of them, Omar Abdul Rahman, Aafia Siddique, and Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, and every oppressed Muslim all over with the help and aid of Allah. Moreover, we must help every oppressed person in this world to get his rights back from his oppressor. This is our religion and these are the laws of our Shariah.
The second issue is the lies of imposter Obama about the campaigns of spy planes against Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and other Muslim countries. I say to him: O lying imposter! You don’t have the courage to admit your defeat and loss and the failure of your Crusader force in front of the will of Muslims and their sincerity and their jihad in Iraq and Afghanistan. You are defeated and don’t have the courage and bravery to admit that; rather, you insist in the last stages of it to plant with your spy planes more hatred, malice and animosity against America and its allies and agents. These spy planes will not protect you from defeat; they are a sign of your failure and the repeated failure of your government. You killed in Vietnam 5 million people, then fled in defeat, and today you are defeated after you killed millions in Iraq and Afghanistan. You leave after your defeat a heritage of hatred and pursuit of revenge against you and your criminality and aggression.
As-Sahab: “We go back to America, and its treatment of the captive Muslims in Guantanamo, and its repetitive abuses of them in terms of sexual assault, solitary confinement, and forced eating, in barbaric ways, and other such abuses. What is the reason for this escalation against the captive Muslims?”
Zawahiri: “A study of the history of the West and its ideologies interprets all of these behaviors. The West is a system that does not believe but in power and achieving benefits and pleasures. Therefore, what they claim of morals, values, and principles is a kind of the moral hypocrisy. It only has values, principles, and morals that work for their favor. They see that it is their right to deprive whoever they want if it threatens their interests.
“How can we forget that America eradicated an entire nation, the nation of the Native Americans?
“How can we forget that the West brought from Africa nearly five million slaves to operate its farms and its factories, and build its countries, and fight in its wars without any rights? So it did not enrich with human energy to transform it into other types of energy. It abandoned the slaves.
“How can we forget that the West occupied our countries, and in its occupation, committed countless crimes and atrocities, and looted our fortunes, and it is still looting in order to live prosperously?
“How can we forget that the secularist West is the one that established a religious state in the heart of our Islamic world? It is secular and it established a religious Zionist state, and it continues to support it with various form of support.
“Agreements about prisoners, preventing torture, and human rights – all these agreements – the West wrote them for itself, to be applied on the Westerners in their wars among one another. However, they deny them and abrogate them when they fight the Muslims, just like democracy, which they consider a doctrine and a practice specific to them, and no one else should enjoy of its features other than them, and no one else should enjoy its features other than them. Algeria, Egypt and Gaza are witness to that.”
As-Sahab: “What do you advise the Muslims and the mujahideen in order to fulfill their duty towards the captives such as those in the prisons of America and others of their allies among the Arabs and the non-Arabs?”
Zawahiri: “I advise them to capture Westerners and especially the Americans as much as they can, to exchange them for their captives.”
al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula
Inspire, Issue 1, June 2010
“That’s not to mention the crimes at Abū Ghraib and Guantanamo, those ugly crimes which shook the conscience of humanity.” Page 9.
“We are not against Americans for just being American; we are against evil, and America as a whole has turned into a nation of evil. What we see from America is the invasion of two Muslim countries, we see Abū Ghraib, Baghram and Guantanamo bay. We see Cruise missiles and cluster bombs, and we have just seen in Yemen the death of 23 children and 17 women.” Page 57.
“Our brother Adnan gave us this wonderful opportunity to tell his story on life in jihad and to highlight some of the interesting events that took place in Afghanistan all the way to his imprisonment in Guantanamo.” Page 60.
Inspire, Issue 2, October 2010
“This led to my speedy transport to Guantanamo Bay prison. My stay on the base was for a total of two weeks. … We were greeted at Guantanamo with swearing and beating as we were dragged to our cells. That is when the dirty American program began against us. They insulted our religion and we were subjected to physical and psychological forms of torture through sleep deprivation and exposure to hot and cold weather in special rooms. We were also used as guinea pigs for their experiments. For example, they would experiment with certain drugs on us so that one would find one of us for days unable to sleep while his neighbor is sleeping endlessly for a few days.” Page 14.
“They would expose us to hunger and they would try to seduce some of us through their women. Nevertheless, with all this torture and temptation, Allah was protecting us. We would defend the Qur’an and take from them what we wanted by force. The Muslim is honorable if he takes jihad as his path.” pg. 14-15
“The sacrifices of the mujahidin played a role in our release from Guantanamo. … After spending five years at Guantanamo, I was told that I would be released. … We boarded the plane while giving a final glance at Guantanamo Bay, the place that Allah blessed us with raising on it the call to prayers and worshiping Him on its soil.” Page 15. (Part of an article by a former detainee about his experiences.
“We boarded the plane while giving a final glance at Guantanamo Bay, the place that Allah blessed us with raising on it the call to prayers and worshiping Him on its soil. … Why did you head towards Yemen even though the Saudi government said that it has subjected the Guantanamo inmates to a rehabilitation program?” Page 42-3.
“I would always laugh whenever the start of Ramadan would occur in America and the President would take a few minutes to articulate on how marvelous Islam is; almost as if he himself was to become Muslim. I would laugh because they would show this face in their country, and a different face in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay.” Page 48.
Inspire, Issue 5, March 2011
“I have one sister who is married and four brothers, one of whom is detained at Guantanamo since the beginning of the invasion of Afghanistan, and another killed most likely by a man who is a contractor of the political security forces in Sana’a.” (Interview with Shaykh Abu Hurairah) Page 25.
Inspire, Issue 7, September 2011
“Now you cannot look at the last ten years and say that what we did in Guantanamo Bay and the torture that we’ve done elsewhere has made the world safer; that’s just an untenable position.” (Quoting Clive Stafford Smith.) Page 7.
“Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and secret extraordinary renditions showed the world the American understanding of human rights.” Page 14.
Inspire, Issue 10, March 2013
“But this freedom declamation did not stop Americans from torturing Muslim prisoners in Bagram, Abu Ghuraib (sic), Guantanamo and other secret prisons.” Page 12.
“This is not the first incident of its type, rather it represents a recurring mode practiced by the US soldiers in Guantanamo, Bagram, Iraq and Afghanistan.” Page 12.
“In Afghanistan, tens of thousands were killed in the December 2001 invasion by the Americans in a blind rage, most were innocent civilians. Guantanamo has been filled not only with your mujahideen brothers, but also hundreds of innocent civilians. All being tortured and subjected to the most despicable crimes.” Page 23.
“[Anwar Awlaki] said to the Muslims ‘…For how long will you watch the best of your sons sent to Guantanamo, whilst the tyrants wine and dine in the white house?’” Page 41.
“They did so many times before in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, Iraq War, Assassination of Shaykh Usama Ibn Laden.” Page 41.
Inspire, Issue 11, May 2013
“There is also the secret prisons and black sites file, we could not miss out Guantanamo Bay detention camp. The American nation should have a good grasp of all of these and other historical facts so that they can comprehend the background and the context of the Boston Marathon operation, Detroit, September 11 and other operations which are barely a wave of anger; vengeance.” Page 30.
Inspire, Issue 12, April 2014
“This reminds me of the words of brother ‘Ali Hamza Bahlūl, one of the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay – may Allah hasten their release.” Page 26.
“We will not talk through the falsity of the portrayal of the nature of the morals of America, a country found on the violation of others’ rights; It killed and annihilated the America’s native peoples, the Indians. But we are certain that the sweet dream America propagated vanished into a terrifying nightmare: Abu Ghraib, black sites, Guantanamo and the US soldiers’ crimes in Afghānistān and Irāq are too clear to need clarification. Actually, there is no possible way to express these inhumane crimes perpetrated against human rights. Here we could say America has lost the most important element of global leadership: morals and principles.” Page 53.
Inspire, Issue 13, December 2014
I hereby propose some questions to the reasonable, if there are any: Isn’t it our right to demand and seek to release Sheikh Umar Abdur Rahman? Can’t they determine the fate of the prisoner Aafia Siddiqu and set her free after long years of injustice, torture and arrest? Isn’t it our right to seek to free our imprisoned brothers and sisters in Guantanamo prison, the prisons of the US lackeys in Islamic countries, and other US black sites around the globe? Isn’t it our right to relieve them of their tragic situation and barbaric oppression that is outlawed in all human customs and covenants? Is there anything in this list and other lists of American oppression any tyranny that we can negotiate on with America? Indeed, this response proves the mujahideen right in their decision. It is impossible to settle anything with the American government except by one method: the method of direct killing and counterattacking, which puts the lives of all Americans in danger, inside and outside of America, in the air, on the ground and in the sea. Page 8.
We the Muslims do not have an inherent animosity towards any racial group or ethnicity. We are not against Americans for just being Americans. We are against evil and America as a whole has turned into a nation of evil. What we see from America is the invasion of (inaudible) countries, we see Abu Ghraib, Baghram and Guantanamo Bay, we see cruise missiles and cluster bombs and we have just seen in Yemen the death of 23 children and 17 women. We cannot stand idly in the face of such aggression and we will fight back and incite others to do the same.
44 Ways of Supporting Jihad — Anwar al-Awlaki
28. Fulfilling our responsibilities towards the Muslim POW
Rasulullah (saaws) says: “And free the prisoner; (al Bukhari.) Our scholars say that it is a duty on Muslims to free the POWs even if they have to expend all their money. Many mujahideen are forgotten, lingering in prison cells in every continent around the world. Not even the islands of the sea are spared. We need to raise the awareness of the ummah regarding their issue, keep them in our dua and fight for their release.
Beyond Guantanamo — Anwar al-Awlaki
The same thing happened with the Guantanamo detainees. In early 2002 the first images appeared of Muslims being transported to Guantanamo bay hooded, shackled, deprived of senses and bare footed. Reports began to emerge how US soldiers were throwing Qur’ans in toilets and female US interrogators were smearing menstrual blood on the faces of the Muslims detainees yet there was a deafening silence from the majority of the Muslims until when it was announced in March 2004 that five Britons would be coming home from the Guantanamo bay suddenly statements of support began to appear from everywhere once victory has been declared and their ordeal was over.
Umar Ibn Khattab: His Life and Times and His Character — Anwar al-Awlaki
Every sinister method of interrogation is used against [Muslim prisoners]. They would use against them homosexuals to rape them. They would bring their mothers and sisters and wives, and they would rape them in front of these brothers. The United Nations knows about it. Amnesty International knows about it, and they are doing nothing. In fact, sometimes they are encouraging it.
The Constants on the Path of Jihad — Anwar al-Awlaki
Jihad is appropriate for every time and age…. One of the false beliefs out there is that jihad is attached to some particular lands. If you want jihad then you have to go to this particular area…. If the land ceases to be a front, people would think, well, that’s it, jihad is over…. So we have to establish an important principle, and that is, jihad is global. Jihad is not a local phenomenon, jihad is global, and jihad is not stopped by borders or barriers…. You cannot convey the message of Allah without [military] jihad.
“Lend Me Your Ears Episode 6,” John Cantlie, November 21, 2014
Now take the case of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, held since 2009 by Afghans who harbored al-Qaeda back in 2001. They demanded five high-profile Guantanamo prisoners in exchange. The Pentagon wanted to keep them. They were the hardest of the hardcore, according to John McCain. But Obama wanted the exchange, and five years after Bergdahl was taken, he got it, on June 1st of this year.
Execution of Steven Joel Sotloff, September 2, 2014
From what little I know about foreign policy, I remember a time you could not win an election without promising to bring our troops back home from Iraq and Afghanistan and to close down Guantanamo. Here you are now, Obama, nearing the end of your term, and having achieving none of the above, and deceivingly marching us the American people in the blazing fire.
Dabiq, Issue 4 — John Cantlie, October 2014
America has paid ransoms and exchanged prisoners for hostages held by terrorist groups before. Just this year there was the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan, who was exchanged for no less than five high-level prisoners out of Guantanamo. Britain has also paid ransoms and exchanged prisoners for hostages with known terror groups. — Page 54
Dabiq, Issue 5, November 2014
And from the Arabian Peninsula, Imam Muhammad Ibn ‘Abdil-Wahhab (rahimahullah) revived the da’wah of tawhid and wala’ and bara’, calling firmly to the Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wa sallam) without compromise.
The istishhadiyyin (suicide bombing) of September 11th, the prisoners behind the bars and wires of al-Hayir (a prison in the Arabian Peninsula) and Guantanamo Bay, the operators against the murtaddin and crusaders in the Arabian Peninsula, and the pure blood spilled upon its blessed land, were all from the fruits and blessings of the light shining forth from the Arabian Peninsula. –Page 26
Dabiq, Issue 6, December 2014
A Message of Congratulations on the Release of Jihadi Leaders from Guantanamo Prison – citation of letter from Mullah Omar. –Page 24, footnote
Dabiq, Issue 7, February 2015
Multiple non-western captives of the Islamic State are depicted in orange jumpsuits.
Dabiq, Issue 8, March 2015
He was appointed by the Taliban as the director of the military college in Kabul, and also went on to play an important role as a field commander on the frontlines during the crusader invasion of Afghanistan. He was captured by the Americans in one of the battles and was amongst a number of prisoners who were transferred to Guantanamo where he was imprisoned for six and a half years in some of the most horrifying conditions. The Americans then handed him over to their Afghan puppets and he spent another year and a half imprisoned by the murtadd regime. –Page 30
Major Speeches with No Mention
Al Baghdadi’s sermon from the mosque in Mosul does not mention Guantanamo Bay. 7/5/2014
Nor does his second speech (11/14/2014): https://pietervanostaeyen.wordpress.com/2014/11/14/audio-message-by-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-even-if-the-disbelievers-despise-such/
- Another ISIS speech with no reference to GITMO
- Another ISIS speech with no reference to GITMO
- No mention of GITMO
- In the most important speech since the American intervention, no mention of GITMO.
al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent
Resurgence, Issue 1, October 2014
He spent several years of his life in prison, first in Pakistan and later in Guantanamo following his arrest from Iraqi Kurdistan. After his release from Guantanamo he helped establish Jihad in Pakistan’s cities along sound military lines. May Allah be pleased with him and accept his Jihad, immigration, imprisonment and martyrdom. Ameen!
When I first joined Jihad, this young man had already been imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. George Bush had publicly expressed great joy at his arrest. After his release from prison several years later, he could not resist the call to Jihad, just as any true believer could not have done.