From Guantanamo to Makkah

By NASIM CHOWDHURY | ARAB NEWS

JEDDAH: The Grand Mosque in Makkah is a very long distance in every sense of the word from Camp Delta, the infamous US Navy detention center at the base at Guantanamo Bay, but life has its ironies and this one involves the journey made by former Guantanamo prison guard Terry Holdbrooks, who performed Umrah last week.

Terry, now known as Mustafa, embraced Islam in 2003 while guarding terror suspects (who have never gone to trial) at Camp Delta and was dismissed shortly afterward. The conduct of the inmates, a Moroccan among them in particular, was a major factor behind his conversion. Prior to that, his only exposure to Muslim culture amounted to seeing actor Morgan Freeman play a Muslim character in the movie “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.”

His interaction with the prisoners drove him to look into Islam and study it for himself, and it was in this journey of reading and insight that convinced him to embrace the faith, he says.

“It (Islam) has kept my life very simple and very military-like with regard to regiment and structure,” he said. “I enjoyed the military, and I enjoy Islam for the discipline that it requires of its followers.”

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