The media has frequently made the deplorable decision to present prisoners at Guantanamo Bay as innocent choir boys, wrapped up in the evil that is a U.S. prison system run by blood thirsty prison guards. Such is the case of a recent piece by the BBC, covering a love-fest reunion between the former Guantanamo guard who has seen the light, repenting for his evil ways, and two ex-inmates whose only goal in Afghanistan back in 2001 was to provide aid work, sight see, and smoke dope.
The BBC interview with the three individuals - former prison guard Brandon Neely and former inmates Ruhal Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul - asks the question: "But what were the pair doing in Afghanistan in 2001?"
Ahmed's response goes unquestioned (emphasis mine throughout):
Mr Ahmed admits they had a secret agenda for entering Afghanistan, but it wasn't to join al-Qaeda.
"Aid work was like probably 5% of it. Our main reason was just to go and sightsee really and smoke some dope".
Indeed, a true to life Harold and Kumar.
But what were the benevolent ones, Ahmed and Rasul, really doing at the time that the BBC would rather whitewash in their reporting?
In a television program known as Lie Lab, in which programmers (who had already presupposed the two were telling the truth) used newly developed MRI techniques to see if their subjects were honest, a column in The Guardian notes the following about Ruhal Ahmed's appearance:
"...when confronted with results that suggested he was less than forthcoming with the truth, Ahmed confessed (Rasul had refused to go through with the test) not only to visiting an Islamist training camp but also handling weapons and learning how to use an AK-47."
Individuals with less than nefarious aspirations tend to shy away from jihadist camps and assault rifles. Yet, the BBC report fails to mention this in any capacity. In fact, they simply take the word of Neely who believes in his former captives wholeheartedly:
Does their former prison guard believe them? Yes, says Mr. Neely, who says he thinks it was a case of "wrong place, wrong time".
Case closed. The reasoning behind Neely's compassion towards Ahmed and Rasul is noble in and of itself:
"It was no different from me sitting at the bar with a friend of mine talking about women or music," says Mr. Neely. "He would say, 'you ever listen to Eminem or Dr Dre' and he threw off a little rap and it was just funny. I thought how could it be somebody is here who's doing the same stuff that I do when I'm back home."
It would seem that Mr. Neely's assessment eclipses that of the U.S. government because, well, terrorists simply don't listen to Eminem or Dr. Dre.
Brandon Neely is a controversial figure himself. He is a former member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), which is a clear indication of his leftist stance on the War on Terrorism. Additionally, the IVAW has had some other questionable members in its ranks, most of which are simply embellishing their role in the military to a drastic degree.
However, they have also had some domestic terrorists in their own ranks, including a wannabe bomber of the Gathering of Eagles, and another who made assassination threats against conservative author Michelle Malkin.
Neely on the other hand, falls into another category all together - army veteran who refuses a subsequent call to serve his country. Not only did Neely get away with his scheme to avoid his duty to country, he also advises others to follow his path, as author Andy Worthington recalls:
The Army attempted to recall Brandon from his Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR) status to active duty in May 2007, but this is his explanation of what happened next: "I ignored all letters to my house. I refused to sign for anything at the house and refused to pick up mail at the post office. I was sent threatening letters and emails stating that my discharge would be changed if I did not respond. Well, I never responded and on June 23rd 2008 I received my honorable discharge from IRR in the mail. My advice would be: if you are recalled just ignore it, they never once came to my house or job."
Meanwhile, the tactic used by the BBC to treat Guantanamo prisoners as paperboys caught up in the militant American occupation is nothing new for an organization that feels compelled to place the word 'terrorists' in quotation marks, as if to express alarm that anyone could be identified as such.
In a report covering the release of five Guantanamo Bay Britons in 2004, the BBC again fails to mention a word about the reason the two were detained, instead focusing on Rasul's love of soccer, fashion, clubbing, and describing Ahmed as 'a very friendly boy' who was a keen kick-boxer.
Which begs the question, if feet are your weapons of choice, why the AK-47?
Photo Credit: BBC