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The new breeding ground for terrorists

Aspen Times writer

Dear Editor:(Re: Tim Golden and Don Van Natta Jr., “Value of Guantanamo detentions challenged,” June 21, A16.)Holding detainees “as much for what officials do not know about them as for what they do” – as reported by The New York Times’ Tim Golden and Don Van Natta Jr. about Guantanamo – is a clear-cut human rights violation.Prisoners, whose human rights have been systematically violated, sooner or later respond in kind. They respond outraged and want to take action – even at the risk of annihilation – so that the truth may come out.There is a deep-seated need to set matters straight and to fight against the patent wrongs and slimy falsification of truth to which they have been subjected. That’s why the Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt tells us that hypocrisy – paying lip service to human rights, for instance, while secretly perpetrating something else – is the principal ground for violence.Though Gen. Geoffrey Miller claims the quality of intelligence improves the longer detainees are imprisoned, such legally dubious sentences often have unintended blow-back, as demonstrated in the case of the Egyptian terrorist Sayid Qutb.Held for nine years in a high-security prison and executed under Nasser in 1966 after a high-profile trial, his pent-up outrage at his mistreatment was distilled in his book “Signposts on the Road,” which became a posthumous bestseller in the Islamic world and the primer of what came to be known later as the al-Qaeda movement.So, the whole purpose of this terrorist movement, at least as it was originally conceived out of Qutb’s prison experience, was a driving need to redress the injustice coated in hypocrisy to which he, and others like him, had been subjected during their long years of confinement in Nasser’s political prison camps.Tales of their experiences there played a pivotal role in the recruitment of new radicals to the movement – much as in early Christianity, the blood of martyrs proved to be the seed of converts to the new faith.If we don’t watch our step here and persist in repeating Nasser’s fateful mistake, then places like Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib will soon become our new Coliseums and the next best breeding grounds for a thousand Qutbs.Joel BrenceAspen


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