The words are of little consolation to Shahzada as he struggles to rebuild a life he says is in ruins, in a nation he views as worse off than a decade ago when U.S. troops swooped in, promising to rebuild, secure and transform Afghanistan.
Like several other Guantanamo detainees interviewed, Shahzada said he has come to see the toll that the U.S. invasion took on his country as a bigger curse than the years he spent locked up in the seaside prison for suspected terrorists.
Since the attacks of Sept. 11, the United States has held more than 200 Afghans in Guantanamo Bay. All but 20 have been released. Now back in their war-torn homeland, the men serve as legacies of what is arguably the most notorious institution of the U.S. war against terrorism. Their different paths reflect some of the unintended consequences of the way the United States has waged this battle.
Some have again taken up arms against the Americans and their allies. Others have stayed out of the battle but consider their status as a former Guantanamo detainee a badge of honor and express support for the Taliban.
There are those who opted to let bygones be bygones, even going as far as keeping an open line of dialogue with Western officials in Afghanistan.
Shahzada said he remains too angry to forgive, yet he is too scared to fight.
“I am worried for my life,” Shahzada, who is about 50, said while sitting on the floor of a spartan living room in Kabul, clutching a string of crimson worry beads. “They destroyed my life, and they made me dishonorable.”
Before the hijacking of four commercial airliners prompted the United States to deploy troops and warplanes here, Shahzada, a father of six, looked after a vineyard in Dand, a village in southern Kandahar province, the birthplace of the Taliban.
In the 1980s, he was among the Afghans who took up arms to expel the Russians. After the Soviets left and the Taliban movement established a new government, he said that he sought to keep to himself.
“They treated people like donkeys, not human beings,” he said, referring to the fundamentalist Islamic group that imposed dogmatic rules.
It took several days for news of the worst attack on American soil to reach Shahzada's dusty village, just south of the provincial capital. It took a few weeks for the first Americans to stream in from neighboring Pakistan hunting for al-Qaeda leaders who had set up shop in this landlocked, impoverished country.
It took more than a year and four months for U.S. soldiers to storm into his house. In the early hours of Jan. 29, 2003, Shahzada said, soldiers whisked him away, suspecting that he was associated with al-Qaeda and the Taliban.