Sometimes there are graphic novels that sound stranger than fiction, but are in fact all too real. Guantanamo Kid: The True Story of Mohammed El-Gharani is one such book, telling the story of the notorious detention and imprisonment camp and one of its youngest occupant, Mohammed El-Gharani, in this fascinating real-life saga.
Mohammed El-Gharani was no more than 14 when he left his native country, Saudi Arabia, in order to study English in Pakistan. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, he was seized by Pakistani soldiers outside his local mosque and then handed over to the US army. Accused of being an al-Qaida member with links to Osama Bin Laden, he was flown first to Afghanistan and then to Guantánamo Bay.
El-Gharani was one of the youngest prisoners in Guantánamo Bay, and one of the few black detainees of African descent. He was racially abused and, although only a child, subjected to the same physical attacks as his fellow prisoners. During his imprisonment, he became close friends with Shaker Aamer, the last British detainee to be released from the camp. Mohammed was held for eight years without charge or trial before lawyers from the human rights group Reprieve secured his release in 2009.
Written by journalist, Jérôme Tubiana, and illustrated by Alexandre Franc, in collaboration with El-Gharani, it will be available this Spring from SelfMadeHero.
It’s one of the darker sides of recent American history, and one I think the USA would rather forget. But, should they? A graphic novel like this not only gives the reader real insight, from one of the many innocent prisoners detained, often without real reason, by one of the world’s largest democracies, but it’s also a stark reminder of what our governments are capable of doing in our name and under the guise of liberty and freedom.
Endorsed by Amnesty International, Guantanamo Kid: The True Story of Mohammed El-Gharani is out March 1st from SelfMadeHero.