"I wish to see him and hug him and sit next to him and hold his head in my arms and tell him that I love him."
This week, Senior Staff Attorney Wells Dixon and Advocacy Program Manager Aliya Hussain are at Guantánamo for a Military Commission hearing in the case of Majid Khan. Majid was captured and disappeared in 2003. He spent three years as a “ghost detainee” in secret CIA detention, where he was tortured, before being brought to Guantánamo in 2006. His family thought he was dead. Years later, in 2012, he was charged in the Military Commission system and accepted a plea agreement. His extensive torture is widely documented, in both the Senate Torture Report and subsequent declassified notes, made public by Reuters. At yesterday’s hearing the "material support" charges against Majid were dropped, because material support has been ruled in federal court not to be a triable offense in the commissions.
The adjustment of the plea is an illustration of the fundamental uncertainty that continues to surround the commission system. Majid’s decision to cooperate with the government – despite everything it has done to him – is a courageous leap of faith reflecting his willingness to take responsibility for his actions and determination to move on, in hopes of being reunited with his wife and daughter one day soon.
Thinking back on what the family went through for the last 10 years, Majid’s father, Khan Ali, wrote movingly about the experience:
My name is Khan Ali, Majid Khan is my youngest son. His mom passed away in 2001, and we were both very close to him. He went missing on march 2003 and I didn’t know where he was and what happened to him. At the same time, we had a raid in our home: the FBI came to my house and investigated me and my children every day. I was so hopeless because there is no one to ask for help. But the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] helped us, and they are still are helping us at our difficult time.
It was very stressful for me and my family. Because of stress, I suffered with Bell’s palsy. Half of my face got paralysis.
After three years of his missing and no news of his wellbeing, I found out through a reporter that he was transferred to Guantánamo Bay. I was shocked and worried for my son, then ICRC contacted us and we got the lawyer who helped us and got the situation under control.
I started receiving his black highlighted letters with literally two or three lines showing. Then I learned about his torture, which his sibling hid from me years... I can't begin to explain how painful it was for me to read and imagine what my young son had gone through. Our family got shattered and became isolated, and we were all not prepared to how to handle this.
I haven't slept well for years because a thousand what if's and why didn't I's go through my head constantly. Now I am getting old, and so when I pass I will see his mother and I can tell her that he is free and he is fine and he got a second chance that he deserves. I also wish to see him and hug him and sit next to him and hold his head in my arms and tell him that I love him.
I request the courts be lenient as he has not harmed anybody. He has a heart of gold, he was misguided and he regrets. When he told me over the phone that his ideas were wrong and he is deeply sorry, he meant it.