He took a small syringe and stuck it into my arm.
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“That’s it. I am done.”
“What is that?” I screamed. "It is against the law –”
“Pain sharpener,” he said and, fast as a lightning, leaned into me with a fist.
He took his gun, put it in my mouth and scotch-taped it fixed several times by running the tape around my head. And then he started to beat me and say non-stop, “Will it go off or not?” I think I started choking on my own blood, I felt my eyes shut, and I almost hoped that the gun would go off. But it didn’t.
He ripped off the tape, some of my hair and yanked his gun out of my mouth. I had half of my mouth sliced up and most of teeth knocked out into the back of my throat. The American screamed in English:
“Do you know what I want from you?”
I could not talk even if I wanted. I could not think. My mouth was full of blood. I was interested only in puking.
Then he asked in me Arabic, just like an imam scowls giving insane lectures:
“Qat`a alwerayyid – ulla qat`a la`wayyid?”
It really got me. Because he spoke just like a man from Syria or Iraq would speak, using an old Arabic saying, “Cut your veins, but don’t cut your tradition.”
A kafir speaks my language, knows my customs, and he gets away with sowing suffering on the soil of Islam. I wanted to cry.
“I’ve just softened you up. When I’m done with you, even Chechens wouldn’t want to have you for a girlfriend,” he said, urinated on us and left.
Next month or so was sheer hell, a very cold hell. I couldn’t pray. I couldn’t eat because my mouth couldn’t heal and had teeth missing. Hutch was meaner than the Chechens that beat me up when I was joining the effort. He kept me in a dark room. All this time he used psychological warfare. Most of the day I was shut up and I had to listen to recordings of a Wahabi imam reading Koran verses reminding Moslems to kill, to punishing Islam’s enemies.
Sometimes Hutch played speeches by Saddam, Arafat, my favorite poet Mahmoud Darwish.
It got to me. I hated Hutch, and I hated him for being able to use Islam against me. I hated him for speaking my language. I hated myself for thinking that I was so cool being on the radio here in Caucasus. I hated myself for being too stupid and too young to try this thing.
I started to hate this land, Koran, Islam.
Every time I was pulled out of my cell, Hutch would taunt me and say, “Well, has Mohammed been good to you?” and stuff like that. I think that’s how this psycho war trick won.
I wanted to go back to the States.
I was thrown into a different hole. When I woke up from the cold, there was this sick sweet smell everywhere and my clothes. I dug deeper into the pile of clothes and garbage. I felt a man’s hand. He was cold. I called out to him... I guessed it was Gamzat. He was very dead, dead, like rotten dead. I moved him, and found another body, all soft and slimy. There was no escape. I had enough.
I did tell him how I joined, and what I did in al-Thawra. Very soon, his injections and tortures made me tell him everything I’ve done on the radio and probably many important names. I knew I had no hope of returning to the unit alive, because I did not take my life, as a proper mojahid should have done. I did not want to get handed over to the Russians or the Georgians, because that would be the life of an animal. The only thing I wanted was to get back to the States, to my parents. I didn’t want any of this Jihad anymore, I told Hutch.
One day he walked in to the hut. I felt a breath of warm air come in. I could thank him for this. Hutch said:
“Well, what you told me has just bought you a promotion of sorts. Remember, I know your social security number, I know where you live, and if I see your Halloween face again, I will cut it off with no hesitation.”
I was happy and I almost felt like I would do anything to be his friend.
The next day I was blindfolded and taken into a Jeep with some American and Georgian soldiers. They put me into a box, hammered it shut and told me that I could take my blindfold off, that my hands were untied. I realized I was in a box too small to stand up or lie down. They shoved the box on top a truck and drove me some more, and then I heard an airport. Through tiny cracks between the planks, I was happy to see American planes.
I heard a loader pick up my crate and people discussing me as a prisoner. Someone knocked on my carte and told me that I was a prisoner of the United States. I said that I was a US citizen, but they ignored me just like a cargo.
They took my crate into the cargo plane and it seemed like I spent a day in the back of the plane, in the dark, no bathroom, no food, only water sprinkled on me through a couple of breathing holes in the top of the crate. I heard people load the plane with more stuff, then the plane shut itself up, and we took off. In about five hours, we landed somewhere, where I was taken out into another plane, where they let me eat crackers and drink cool-aid, all through the same holes. I felt satisfied and fell asleep.
We were flying long time, must have been a day. When we landed, I was convinced we were in the South. I smelled flowers and lawn. I was happy to wait.
“Looky what we got for Christmas. The box says an English speaker,” I heard one voice.
“Let’s talk to him,” I heard a second voice say.
A crow bar opened my crate and I saw two Military Police guys stare at me. The sunshine blinded me. I could not move my arms. I smiled. They said:
“Prisoner 051003! Welcome to Cuba!”
I was in heaven.
[an]1. My Name Is Sayfullah http://www.lit.org/view/16449; 2. A Crucible for Sayfullah http://www.lit.org/view/17459; 3. The Last Jihad http://www.lit.org/view/21327; 4. The Captive of Caucasus