Former Guantanamo detainee Mohammed Jawad responds to a welcome from family and friends in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Tuesday after his release from prison.
In December 2002, Mohammed Jawad was accused of throwing a grenade into a Jeep carrying U.S. troops and shipped off to Guantanamo Bay from Afghanistan. Jawad’s now home after seven years, and there’s a bit of a difference between his side of the story and the Pentagon’s—namely, he claims he was just 12 years old when he was arrested, while U.S. officials pegged him as 18 at the time.
Either way, Jawad is taking the issue to court and suing the U.S. over his ordeal, according to his lawyers. —KA
One of the youngest and most controversial prisoners in Guantánamo, Mr Jawad is now finally a free man after being flown back to Kabul on Monday and reunited with his family and friends.
But after seven years in custody — six of them in Guantánamo — he faces a long struggle to pick up the pieces of his lost childhood and teenage years, and to build a future for himself in a country still at war with the Taleban.
“This is one of the happiest moments in my life — to be back in Afghanistan after all this time,” he told The Times.
“I hadn’t done anything — they took me for nothing. All I could do was hope that one day I’d be free and back home in Afghanistan with my mother.”
When he was reunited with her, she refused initially to believe he was her son because he had changed so much, and fainted in a fit of hysterics, according to a family friend. Only when she came round and checked for a distinctive bump on the back of his head, did she embrace him as her offspring, said Sher Khan Jalalkhil, a close friend of Mr Jawad’s father.