Guantánamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi, ed. Larry Siems

Hardcover, 432 pages
Publisher: Canongate Books (January 2015)
Language: English
Selected by Barbara Epler

Mohamedou Ould Slahi has been detained at Guantanamo Bay since 2002. He learned English specifically in order to write this memoir, which he finished in 2005. It was eventually declassified in 2013, after a long legal battle, and edited by Larry Siems, who had spotted Slahi’s name in the course of compiling the Torture Report, a distilling of over 140,000 documents concerning torture at Guantanamo. During his 13 years in Guantanamo, where he remains, Slahi was subjected to interrogation so specialised and so intense that it had to be personally signed off by Donald Rumsfeld. The US government currently has no plans to free Slahi.

There are over 2,500 redactions made in the text of Guantanamo Diary.


I should not feel rested in my cell for more than an hour: that is one of the most important methods in breaking somebody in detention, because you must hate your life, your guards, your cell, your interrogators, and even yourself. And that is exactly what ___________________ did until ____________________ and _____________ ordered otherwise.

_____________________ was a white man in his 20s, very tall, lazy, non-athletic looking.

_______________ is my best friend,” he told me once.

“How do you know __________?” He didn’t answer me, he just smiled, but he kept mentioning _______________and how he had abused me. I always changed the subject because I didn’t want the other guards to know that beating me was something normal. I was glad my guards didn’t know everything that happened to me; I didn’t need the gang to be encouraged to do crimes.

_________________ was the most violent guard. In Building __________ the guards performed regular assaults on me in order to maintain the terror. They came in a big masked team, screaming and giving contradictory orders so I wouldn’t know what to do. They would drag me out of my cell and throw my belongings all over the place.

“Get up… Face the wall… You’ve been resting lately too much… You have a pillow… Ha ha! … Look inside his cell… The piece of shit might be hiding something… We found two kernels of rice hidden beneath his mattress… You have 20 seconds to put everything where it belongs!” The game was over when they made me sweat. I knew the guards didn’t have the order to beat me, but this guard used every opportunity to hit me and claw me deeply. I don’t think that he is the smartest guy, but he was well trained in how to beat somebody without leaving irreparable injuries. “Hitting in the ribs is painful and doesn’t leave permanent scars, especially when treated right away with ice-cubes,” one of the guards told me. ________________ was both violent and loud, but thank God, he was very lazy; he only barked at the beginning of the shift and after a short time he disappeared from the stage to watch a movie or go to sleep.

_____________________ didn’t have any bad feelings about his job; on the contrary, he was rather proud of what he was doing, and he was mad at the fact that he was taking care of the dirty part of the job and he wanted to be rewarded adequately. “Fuck the interrogators: we do the work and they take the credit,” ___________________told me once.

He also didn’t get along with ______________________,the only guy that outranked him. “__________________ is a pussy!” he described him once. But ___________________ was not a social person anyway. He could not lead a normal conversation like everybody else. He rarely spoke, and when he did, it was about his wild sex experiences. One common thing among the guards is that most of them never understood the fact that some people don’t have sex outside marriage.

“You’re gay,” was the usual response.

“How can you buy a car without test-driving it?”

“First of all, a woman is not a car. And I am doing it because of my religion.” Even ____________ interrogator _________________ shocked me once when ______ said, “I wouldn’t marry anybody before test driving him.” But I still do believe that some Americans don’t believe in premarital sex.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ about himself.* He told me he had been tasked to gather Intels about me before my kidnapping from ____________, and gave evidence of this by accurately recounting details of my special situation. I had never noticed him in the blocks of __________________ nor was I supposed to. _________________ was mostly partnered with _______________________ ; at the beginning,and in the decisive period, _______________ was in charge. _________________ was in good physical shape, unlike his friend ____________.

___________________moderately and dutifully followed the rules he was given by_________________and the rest of the __________________ and his associate delivered my water diet, gave me PTs, forbade me to pray or fast, and kept giving me a “Party-shower.” ________________ was even the one who came up with that annoying _______________________________ every piece in a defined place, toilet and sink always dry, so I ended up having to use my uniform because I had no towel. ______________________________________________________ Nonetheless, I can tell you truthfully that ________________________didn’t enjoy bothering me or torturing me.

“Why did you forbid me to pray when you knew its an illegal order?” I asked him when we had become friends.

“I could have but they would have given me some shitty job.”

  • Face the Wall