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Ex-Taliban envoy sells his Gitmo story

Published July 23, 2006

KABUL, Afghanistan - After almost four years in Guantanamo Bay, the Taliban's ex-envoy to Pakistan says he has a "dangerous" story to tell about mistreatment, terror and confinement in the U.S. detention facility that has been criticized around the world.

And Abdul Salam Zaeef has put pen to paper to tell it.

Hundreds of copies of his book, A Picture of Guantanamo, have been bought in Kabul bazaars since going on sale this week.

"My book includes everything I endured during my detention, what I saw, what I heard and how I was treated during my three years and 10 months there," Zaeef, wearing a black turban, told the Associated Press on Saturday. "I want the world to know the truth."

Zaeef, a soft-spoken former Taliban envoy fluent in Arabic and English, was the Taliban's most visible face during the U.S.-led campaign against the hard-line regime after the Sept. 11 attacks.

He held daily press conferences at the Afghan Embassy in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, to rail against American attacks on his country.

His outbursts angered Pakistan, Washington's new ally against terrorism, which for years had supported the Taliban and other mujahedeen in neighboring Afghanistan.

Pakistani authorities arrested Zaeef and returned him to Afghanistan, where American forces detained him in January 2002 before flying him to a U.S. warship. He was then shuttled to the Bagram and Kandahar military bases in Afghanistan before being sent on to Guantanamo. He was released and returned to Afghanistan in late 2005.

Zaeef says he suffers from depression and anxiety as a result of his time in U.S. custody, which according to his book was marred by physical and mental abuse such as long-term sleep depravation.

"The treatment by the Americans during my detention was inhumane," he said during a visit to his heavily guarded west Kabul home. "So many times we were naked, punished, weren't allowed to sleep for 10 days, 20 days, one month."

But the greatest wrong was not to be put on trial and given a chance to face any charges, he said. "I was not a fighter; I never fought with the Americans," he said. "I condemned what happened with Sept. 11 in America. The main thing I want now is justice."

Zaeef said his book will soon be published in English and Arabic so it can reach a wider audience.

Suicide bombers strike twice in Kandahar

KABUL, Afghanistan - Suicide bombers killed two coalition soldiers and six Afghan civilians in two near-simultaneous blasts Saturday in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, officials said. A purported Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attacks, which came as NATO prepares to take command of the region.

Eight more soldiers were wounded when a suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden car into a coalition vehicle, said Maj. Scott Lundy, the spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition forces. He refused to disclose the nationality of troops killed and wounded. Shortly after first blast, the second suicide bomber approached a crowd of people on foot and detonated his vest, killing six Afghans and wounding 20 civilians, said Dawood Ahmadi, the spokesman for the governor of Kandahar. No coalition members were hit in the second explosion, Lundy said.

Both suicide bombers died in the attacks, Ahmadi said.

[Last modified July 23, 2006, 01:24:31]

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