- Nationality: Saudi
- Residence: Britain
- Marital Status: Married
- Date of Arrest: 1/15/2002
- Location of Arrest: Captured in Jalalabad hospital and taken to Guantanamo Bay. Sustained injuries.
“The youngest…he doesn’t even know who his Daddy is because he has never seen him or spoken to him until this day” – Mrs Z. Aamer
Shaker Aamer has a home in Battersea with his British wife and four British children, the youngest of whom he has never seen. His application for British citizenship was in progress when he was seized in Afghanistan and imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. He has been threatened with rendition to Egypt. If the British Government denies him the rights to return to this country, his wife will be without a husband and his young family without their father.
Shaker grew up in Medina, in Saudi Arabia. He left home when he turned 17, and went to America. He spent a happy year in Maryland, before returning to Saudi Arabia. Then he travelled in Europe and the Middle East, before moving to London where he met his wife Zinnira Siddique, and started a family. Zinnira said she married Shaker because she saw the kindness in his heart, and he made her laugh. “He is so funny. If he was here now, he would make you laugh.” Shaker was a hands-on dad, changing nappies without complaint and entertaining the baby. Michael was born in 1999, and Saif a year later. Shaker always told Zinnira that he wanted 12 children, but he has never set eyes on his 4th child, as Faris was born after 2002, after Shaker had been seized by the US Military.
Shaker worked as an Arabic translator for the solicitor who advised him on his immigration case. People always approached him for advice about their problems, and translating for refugees put Shaker where he loved to be – in the role of counsel, listening and advising. He needed more work to support his expanding family, but he was hampered by his immigration status. Until he had British nationality, it would be hard. Shaker dreamed of starting his own business selling clothes. He travelled to the Middle East, collecting samples of material. Shaker and Zinnira wanted to find a perfect home for their family, and better opportunities for Shaker, while his status in Britain was resolved. They decided to look in a Muslim country. They made trips to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and, in June 2000, Shaker visited Afghanistan to do voluntary work for an Islamic charity. He stayed in Kabul, sharing a house with Moazzam Begg, the British detainee released from Guantanamo in January 2005. Soon after he arrived in Afghanistan the country was pitched into war in the wake of 9/11. When the bombing in Kabul began, Shaker moved to Jalalabad and, fearing he would be taken prisoner by the Northern Alliance, went into hiding with an Afghani family. Soldiers arrived and seized him at gunpoint. He was sold, first to the Northern Alliance, and then to a group in Kabul. He was taken to somewhere outside Kabul in the middle of the night. A helicopter arrived, and when he heard the sound of American accents, he was filled with relief. But he had been sold yet again, this time to the U. S.
Shaker was taken to the Dark Prison in Kabul where he suffered such torture that he cannot talk about it. Then he was taken to Bagram Airforce Base where he was forced to stay awake for 9 days without food. Next he was taken to Kandahar where he suffered yet more cruelty. “They were jumping up and down on me in their boots, on my back and head. Yelling about my religion, my family and my race. A soldier took the holy Qu’ran and threw it in the shit bucket on the floor.”
When Shaker arrived in Guantanamo, he was assured he would never leave. “You’ve come to your end. You will not be going anywhere from here.” Shaker says he was thrown to the ground, beaten and stripped naked, and that the soldiers stuck their fingers up his anus. When he was eventually given his prison uniform, they gave him clothes many sizes too small. It was the beginning of a ritual of humiliation and abuse that has lasted without respite for nearly 4 years.
Because he is well-educated and acts as a translator for the other prisoner, the U. S. Military named him “The Professor”. They think because of the status that is bestowed on him he must be a major leader among the prisoners. Because of this, Shaker was kept in isolation for a year. He had no window and only an opening for the air-conditioning. He was often kept in freezing conditions in nothing but shorts. His frame wasted from lack of food, and he was denied a tooth-brush for 8 months.
Shaker has been treated brutally during interrogations. In the interrogation room, Shaker is tied up on the floor for hours before the interrogation begins. Frozen by the air conditioning, he is not allowed to use the toilet and defecates himself.
Despite all the attempts to break his humanity, Shaker remains the kind and supportive man Zinnira remembers. He looks out for his fellow detainees, acting as “next friend” for those without a lawyer.
Zinnira and her 4 children have been waiting 4 years for their husband and father to return home. “Whenever Shaker travelled before he would always come home quickly because he missed his family. He is taking a long time this time.” Zinnira received sporadic letters from Shaker until June 2003. She has heard nothing from him in over 2 years. Shaker has written his wife a 20 page letter, but his lawyer is not allowed to deliver it. The children do not know where their father has gone. Zinnira says, “My children are very sensitive, so I have told them he has gone abroad to study. I think they would take it very badly if they knew the truth.”
The absence of her husband has taken an immense toll on Zinnira’s health and she has spent some time in hospital. She would wander the corridors knocking on doors. When the person came out asking why she was knocking on the door she said “I am looking for my husband.”
Whilst the British Government is refusing to make representations on his behalf, Shaker is on hunger strike. In a recently declassified statement, Shaker wrote:
“I am dying here every day, mentally and physically. This is happening to all of us. We have been ignored, locked up in the middle of the ocean for many years… I have problems many problems from the filthy yellow water…I have lung problems from the chemicals they spread all over the floor…I am already arthritic at 40 because I sleep on a steel bed, and they use freezing air conditioning as part of the interrogation process. I have ruined eyes from the permanent, 24-hour fluorescent lights. I have tinnitus in my ears from the perpetual noise…I have ulcers and almost permanent constipation from the food. I have been made paranoid, so I can trust nobody, not even my lawyer. I was over 250 lbs. I dropped to 130lbs in the hunger strike. I want to make it easy on everyone, I want no feeding, no forced tubes, no ‘help’, no ‘intensive assisted feeding.’ This is my legal right.”NOTE!
Everyone who was actively following Shaker’s case were overjoyed when we heard that he was to be released along with four other detainees. At the very last moment, this article came out and blew a hole in everyone’s hopes, especially his familys…
US refuses UK request for Guantánamo release
Thursday December 13, 2007
Details of a disagreement between the UK and US governments over the security threat posed by two British residents being held in the Guantánamo Bay prison camp emerged today.
The foreign secretary, David Miliband, said in a statement that Saudi national Shaker Aamer would not be released because the US government had “expressed significant additional security concerns” and had rejected the foreign office’s request.
News of the refusal contradicted reports last Thursday that Aamer would be one of four British residents who would be released imminently from the camp, albeit to his home country of Saudi Arabia.
Write to him:
Shaker Abdur Raheem Aamer
Letters for Shaker’s family can be sent to:
PO Box 45798
Be sure not to mention anything political or religious in the letter.