- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2009

LAHORE, Pakistan | Every morning at dawn when he wakes up, Muhammad Saad Iqbal said, he is startled to see the stark white walls of his room, where sunlight streams in from a small window.

It takes him a couple of minutes to remind himself that he is home - in Shadbagh, a congested area near the older part of Lahore.

After finishing his morning prayers, Mr. Iqbal raises both his hands and thanks God for bringing him back safely. “I thought my life was finished,” he said. “I thought I was never going to return.”

Almost five months after returning from six years in U.S. custody - five of them at Guantanamo Bay - Mr. Iqbal said he still has nightmares about the ordeal he suffered.

Sometimes he wakes up drenched in cold sweat, his fingers tightly clenched into fists, remembering the time he says he was locked in an isolation cell where huge floodlights remained switched on for 24 hours.

“It was like a cage - smaller than a grave.” He said the space measured just 6 feet by 4 feet.

On other occasions, he said, he recalls seeing the Koran being desecrated by U.S. officials.

See related story: Rehabilitation never tried at Gitmo

A similar charge was made in a 2005 Newsweek magazine article by an anonymous senior U.S. government official. The source later wavered, forcing Newsweek to retract the article. That story, however, sparked riots in Pakistan and Afghanistan against U.S. disrespect of the Koran.

Mr. Iqbal also asserted that female guards touched his genitals, a charge that seems to go beyond what other former prisoners have reported happening at Guantanamo. “They did horrible things to me… sexually, I mean,” he said.

Other former detainees and FBI officials have claimed that some prisoners were doused with a red paint and told it was a woman’s menstrual blood.

Mr. Iqbal’s claims could not be independently verified.

The Defense Department did not respond to a request for comment.

An October 2005 unclassified Defense Department memo summarizes why U.S. officials took Mr. Iqbal into custody. The memo says Mr. Iqbal was an acquaintance of Richard Reid, the so-called “shoe bomber” who attempted to blow up an airliner with explosives in his shoes. The memo says Reid had associated with al Qaeda members in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The memo is part of a package of unclassified material posted on the Internet by the New York Times last month.

Story Continues →