In prison, one is not just broken by torture, beatings and violent treatment. It is the continuous, systemic and unrelenting dehumanization that wrecks you in the end.
I was spending hours alone with my thoughts, ever since a gang of pirates kidnapped me from a car outside the dusty crossroads town of Galkacyo, in central Somalia, during a reporting trip in 2012. The mystery of this song became an obsession.
In these past 10 years, the Bahraini regime has come up with new ways to torment my father. Prisoners have nothing, so the prison administration grants them certain requests only to then take them away. The regime wants prisoners to suffer beyond the prison term and the torture.
Tunisia, today, remains mired in corruption and offers few prospects to its youth; it is a very different country than the one dreamed of by the thousands who took to the streets inspired by Bouazizi. A returning ISIS fighter on the systemic dysfunction that has set so many of its youth on the path of radicalization.
I defied the regime of Hafez al-Assad in Syria since its very inception, and I spent 13 years in prison because of it. I saw how he rebuilt his reign of terror from the bones of his people after he defeated the insurgents in the 1980s. His son will accept no less.
Abu Salim was once notorious as the prison where Gadhafi’s opponents were imprisoned, all but forgotten. But in a few short years, conflict has changed the memory of that place and the prison has become embroiled in the contested narratives of post-revolution Libya.
Western prison systems still struggle to incarcerate notorious jihadists or ideologues. One major case was that of Abu Qatada, dubbed “Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man.”