A convicted Al Qaeda terrorist held at Guantanamo Bay watched “Arrested Development,” worked out on a spin bike, and cooked his own meals with cilantro and cloves — all in return for agreeing to testify for military prosecutors.
Ahmed al Darbi, a 42-year-old from Saudi Arabia, pleaded guilty in 2014 for his role in a 2002 terrorist attack on a French oil tanker off the coast of Yemen. Al Darbi, who has been in U.S. custody since the attack, was initially held in the infamous maximum-security prison called Camp Five, designated for “non-compliant” prisoners, where fluorescent lights were once left on 24 hours a day.
Cooperation is a rare instance at Guantanamo, according to al Darbi's testimony, which was obtained by the Miami Herald, it came with rare perks that included his immediate relocation from Camp Five to Camp Echo. The move was accompanied by a host of privileges, including Strawberries n’ Creme Oreos, fresh supplies and a place to garden his own vegetables, and a Magic Bullet blender, according to the Miami Herald.
The report indicates he also testified he was also given Rosetta Stone classes to learn English, episodes of “Arrested Development,” a PlayStation 3, materials for oil painting, and monthly phone calls with his wife and children.
It was a marked difference from his life at the prison before. Al Darbi testified during the hearing that he had previously been tortured with sleep deprivation, threats of rape, and interrogators who disrespected the Quran, the Miami Herald reports.
Now that his testimony is complete, al Darbi is set for release from Guantanamo on Feb. 20. He is expected to return to Saudi Arabia to fulfill his prison sentence under the terms of an agreement made by the Obama administration, a trade dubbed “testimony-for-release”
While the controversial detention center was ordered closed under the Obama administration, President Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 31 to keep it open indefinitely. It’s been over ten years since any new prisoners have entered Guantanamo, according to NPR.