“9/11 events affected many lives in the world, but it had a tremendous effect on mine in particular. I was in my twenties and full of energy, when suddenly my cherished life was shattered to pieces. As a Muslim with background in aerospace, I was of course singled out, and detained by U.S officials under the preventive detention policy, that was established by former attorney General John Ashcroft. However, my agony did not end there; for the next seven months, I was held incommunicado, beaten, ill-treated, and held under conditions that was described by the federal Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr as “oppressive” and caused a stern rebuke from the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention which condemned the “ high-security prison regime (involving impositions that could be described as torture) which, for no reason whatsoever, was imposed on [Benatta] while he was under investigation by the FBI” . The irony is that this ill-treatment, this torture to be more precise, did not take place in Guantanamo or Abu-Ghraib, but right within the jurisdiction of the United States, in the Metropolitan Detention Center, Brooklyn to be precise.
In all, I spent nearly five years in detention, and was unaware of how far, the horrors of 9/11 have changed our world. Freedom has been restricted and flying became a bit more of a hassle. We let fear and hatred get the best of us. I believe many people in the world, especially Americans, desperately wanted everyday life to be the same as it was before 9/11. I, for one, desperately wanted my life back to normal. I have been trying to put the shattered pieces of my life together for years now to no avail. I even went back to the University and finished a master degree in Aerospace Studies, thinking that that extinguished lamp will light again in my lifetime. However, I soon realized that getting a job in the aerospace industry is very slim if not impossible; thanks to that “Terrorist label” that is still hunting me and will probably do so for the rest of my life.
I miss the America of the old days; I have seen a very dark, scary side of America where the rules of law were basically non-existent, and wish to never ever see that side again. There is no denial that the U.S government made its share of mistakes as did other nations, however, greatness is not by keep doing the same mistakes but by learning from them, fixing them, and never repeating them again. In this age and time, I agree that security should be a priority; however, I do also believe that we can accomplish that without compromising civil liberties, as Benjamin Franklin once said “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty, nor safety”. What makes this nation great is by believing that all men and women are created equal, by believing in truth and justice among others. The founding fathers made sure that future governments are bounded by a written constitution that protects individual rights.
I was moved when the American people elected the first African American to the White House, and I thought the country is getting back on the right track. However, I do believe that there is more work to be done, and that some issues had to be addressed before moving forward. It is not as simple as it may seem to just flip the pages and assume that everything is alright; it is not, since innocent people, such as me, had their lives ruined and continue to suffer as a result.
I hope that peace will prevail on earth; that justice will be served in the near future; that I will be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and to be able to close the book on those dark times. As I wish , that one day, be able to visit the U.S, stand at the world trade center, and pray for those who lost their lives completely unnecessarily in that horrible day.”