A former Islamist fighter who went to Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union and was later captured in the American war on terror – spent 14 years in Guantanamo Bay – as a result – spoke to RT as part of the Unheard Voices project.
In the early 1990s, Mohamedou Ould Slahi had a romantic notion of pursuing a noble cause and wanted to risk his life for something greater than himself. He traveled from Germany to Afghanistan with plans to join the Mujahideen. At the time, the Afghan Islamists were hailed as heroic freedom fighters, a ‘David’ who had defeated ‘Goliath’ in the mighty Soviet Union and was on his way to overthrow the communist government in Kabul.
“Saudi Arabia, the Gulf countries, Germany, where I lived, supported Afghanistan. We used to watch movies. We used to watch news, documentaries about Afghanistan. And I decided to join the Mujahideen, “ recalled the former fighter jet when he spoke to RT in Mauritania.
In fact, Afghanistan was engulfed in civil war, with various factions fighting over resources and political power. The training camp where Slahi joined was run by Al-Qaeda, founded a few years earlier by Osama Bin Laden, a son of a wealthy Saudi family who had himself joined and helped fund the US-backed-and-armed- Mujahideen. Slahi said he had no idea he was pledging allegiance to an international terrorist organization.
“I was very young and I was very misinformed. This was a very large propaganda machine led by the United States and its Western allies and Arab allies. They gave me a wrong picture, “ he remembered.
I thought it was a very good thing to liberate people and establish a free country – I did not even know what a free country meant, to be honest.
Slahi’s Afghan travels and a phone call from a cousin, an employee of Bin Laden, landed him in the crosshairs between Western intelligence. He was investigated for possible terrorist connections while living in Canada before returning to Mauritania, and after 9/11 he was marked as a person of interest whose rights were irrelevant to Washington’s revenge.