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Ahmed Abdul Qader, released a year and a half ago, said: “I cannot live my life regularly. I try, but it is like part of me is still at Guantánamo.”

“People tell me ‘don’t look back, look forward,’ but the problem is when I look forward, it is dark,” he said. “That is what scares me the most.”

As Americans, we don’t always see the other side of situations, especially ones involving terrorism. We are engulfed in fear, but in our attempt to rid that fear, we inflict greater fear upon other innocent people. That isn’t to say that Guantanamo does not house radical terrorists who are hell bent on destroying the U.S. Obviously they exist, but to assume that everyone who looks suspicious is a terrorist plays into the fear that terrorists want to create. They sparked the fire, but we are the ones pouring gasoline on it. Qader sees darkness because in our world, he is as much engulfed in the flames of fear as any Westerner is. The only difference is he is burning because of us.

We should be hyper-vigilant, but we shouldn’t throw morality and rationality out the door. Those factors help dictate the trajectory of the situation at hand.

Asked what he thinks about the United States, Mr. Qader said he understood why, after Sept. 11, it would detain him. Still, he said, it should have freed him after a year or two; imprisoning him for so long “hurt me very bad.”

It is much easier to view the situation this way from an American’s point of view, but to see that this man, who endured imprisonment for 13 years, harbors no hatred, just pain, for what the U.S. government put him through, should be reassuring to government officials and the general public. People have to understand that not all of the accused are guilty of treason. Some were just in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

The U.S. government took his youth and peace from him. It should apologize and truly free Qader, just as he wishes. Only in admitting its faults can it view the issue of Guantanamo with less bias, because admitting they were wrong means admitting that innocent people are victims of the treatment at Guantanamo.

Source: After Yemeni’s 13 Years in Guantánamo, Freedom for the Soul Takes Longer

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