Ahmed Rabbani, whose nickname is “Badr” (“Moon”), is a Pakistani national of Rohingya Burmese ethnic background, who was born and grew up in Saudi Arabia, before moving to Karachi (PK) where he ran a small taxi service. He has a son and daughter from his first marriage, and had divorced and remarried shortly before he was “kidnapped” on September 10, 2002. His current wife was pregnant at the time, and he has never been able to meet, let alone touch, his son Jawad, who is now 17.
The Pakistan authorities sold Ahmed for a $5,000 bounty with the story that he was actually Hassan Ghul, a notorious terrorist, to the American authorities. The CIA placed Ahmed in their “Dark Prison” and “Salt Pit” programs in Kabul (AF) where he spent 545 days. A fine artist, Ahmed has painted the shocking details of his abuse, though these pictures remain classified.
In 2014 the Senate Intelligence Committee revealed that Hassan Ghul was captured while Ahmed was in the Dark Prison, but was deemed “cooperative” and set free. He was killed by a drone strike in 2012.
Meanwhile, Ahmed was rendered to Guantánamo Bay in September 2004, where he was assigned Internment Serial Number (ISN) 1461. He has been held in Guantánamo for 16 years without trial. Ahmed continues to suffer dreadfully. For years, he was fully compliant with the often irrational rules of the prison, but watched with increasing despair 740 of 780 detainees go free. He was offered liberty for his testimony in the military commissions to details he gave about a high ranking Al Qaida member, but his freedom was denied — in flagrant violation of the UN Convention Against Torture — because he said they were lies he confected to end the abuse, which he refused to repeat as true.
Meanwhile, in 2013 he started a hunger strike—a peaceful protest against his continued torture. Ahmed has continued this protest off and on for the last seven years. It is his only avenue to make people aware of his illegal detention and torture. He resumed his strike on July 3, 2020. From a weight of 77.1 kg at the time of his capture, he declined to 36.3kg in January 2021 — or, as Ahmed likes to put it, 53% of his body has “escaped” from his Guantánamo cell.
However, this comes at a great cost, both physical and mental. The US military adopted a gratuitously painful “forced feeding” regime (New York Times, Feb. 22, 2006) that was characterized as “torture” by the UN Human Rights office. If you do not agree to go to the “torture chair” voluntarily twice a day, the ERF Team (Emergency Response Force) will come and force you, using all the physically abusive means recently condemned by US law enforcement agencies. The tube is then forced up your nose and liquid forced into you, as demonstrated by, and on, Yasiin Bey in this Guardian video. Yasiin did not make it through the procedure once, but Ahmed has endured it several thousand times.
Ahmed’s fragile body has been wrecked, such that he is still force fed even when not on a hunger strike, as he cannot hold down most solid foods. The psychological harm is exacerbated by the fact that he is an accomplished cook who – when the food is available - makes special home dishes for the other detainees. His desire is to go home to his family, but in the meantime he has asked that his suffering should be made known to the world.