A riveting docudrama, The Road to Guantanamo is a startling look at the U.S. military, Guantanamo Bay and three innocent British men who define "being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
The movie follows Ruhal Ahmed, Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul, three Pakistani Britons who traveled to Pakistan along with their friend Monir for a wedding. While there, the four decide to venture into Afghanistan, despite the fact that it is being attacked by the United States in retaliation for September 11. I'll just stop right here and say that they're decision to go into a war zone was just plain stupid on so many levels, but a moment of stupidity is not deserving of the punishment they are to go through. Anyway, the three get disconnected from Monir (who they never see or hear from again) and get stuck in a village full of retaliation fighters. The Northern Alliance sweeps in and captures everyone, and eventually hand the three over to U.S. forces. Despite their repeated attempts to state that they were just Britons on vacation, American forces see them as enemy combatants who are traitors to the western world. They finally end up in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they spend the next two years being tortured, interrogated and starved without any outside contact or lawyer.
The Road to Guantanamo is a frightening look at the hypocracy of the United States. I love my country, but it is hard to tolerate when you see what happens in this film. Here are three guys, all with British accents and all who have a perfectly good excuse for being in the Middle East. Yes, they were in a really bad place at a really bad time, and even British and American people can be fighting on the other side, but to deny three men (not to mention all the others) who have no specific evidence against them a lawyer or freedom for years at a time is absolutely absurd.
Of course, I am sure that there are some people in Guantanamo Bay that truly are dangerous and most likely terrorists, but if these three men are so blatantly innocent, it begs the question how many others are stuck in that prison for no good reason?
Regardless, the movie is a powerful tale of America crossing the line and three men who are taken completely out of their element and placed in a completely hopeless situation. While the movie is more reenactment than documentary, it still a moving piece that rings true on so many levels. Enough said.
The one ingredient missing from the film is a follow up on the people involved. I would have liked to see a little more of the three men after the fact and how they perceive the United States now. The movie touches on their current religious beliefs and so on and so forth, but seems to shy away from discussing current politics. More importantly, I would have liked to see some more information on the soldiers who "worked" with these men at Guantanamo. Now that they know these men are innocent, what do they think in hindsight about the way they treated them? Do they still believe the men are terrorists, or do they acknowledge their mistake?
The Road to Guantanamo is a must see picture.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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