A shackled detainee is transported away from his annual Administrative Review Board hearing with U.S. officials at Guantanamo Bay. (Brennan Linsley/Associated Press)

The four letters below were sent last year by Guantanamo Bay detainee Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, better known as Abu Zubaydah, to his lawyer Amanda L. Jacobsen. They are being published with Zubaydah’s consent.

‘Who should you care for?”

Dear Amy:

You asked me why I have not called my mother and father, after all these years, finally we are allowed to Skype video call with our family, which I have wanted for so long. But here is the reason why: it is too difficult, the way they do it. They say we are allowed a 30 minute call, but after just saying hello, there is a 10 minute gap, and then hello in return, and a 10 minute gap. My mother. I have not seen her in so long now. In my culture, if you ask: Who should you care for? The answer: your mother. Okay, and THEN who? The answer again: your mother. Okay, okay, and THEN who? A third time: your mother. And then I should care next about my father. One of the prisoners here in the cell block with me, Hamabali, after all of these years, they told him now finally he could see his mother, and when he saw her, he began to cry. He is an old man, and his mother even older. But mother is mother. And she will likely die before he

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Zayn Husayn

‘When I was a 15 year old boy’

Dear Amy:

I find myself so surprised by people who think of other people based upon the color of their skin. I feel just as I did when I was a 15 year old boy living in Saudia Arabia. My friends and I loved to get together to watch American movies. But sometimes in the movies we were shocked to hear the racist things they said. And we were ashamed. It was embarrassing. We would turn to our friends, sitting next to us, who were black, and they didn’t understand, and we didn’t understand, only that it made us feel sad.

Zayn Husayn

‘The limits of our scale’

Dear Amy:

Here is what I think about the human mind:

It is like a scale for weighing, which can measure up to 1 kilo only. It can be extremely precise, telling in fine detail to the hundredth and thousandth decimal place the weight of a beautiful diamond. But try to consider something too great, 10 kilos, 20 kilos, beyond its comprehension, and you will break the scale.

So, too, for me: there are ideas which are beyond human comprehension and if we try to consider them with our 1 kilo scale, it will break the scale, by which I mean, it can make you crazy, or it will read at most a measure of 1 kilo, which is to say, give an inaccurate reading. Of course, this does not mean that we should stop searching and trying to comprehend, but as we do so, it must be understood within the limits of our scale.

Zayn Husayn

‘Trouble with my eye.’

Dear Amy:

Here is a story that I think you will appreciate. A new doctor came to check on me and I told him I was having trouble with my eye. He asked which one, so I took out my glass eye to show him. He jumped back aghast. I asked him: Didn’t you know from my medical file that I have only one eye? He said no. I asked him: what about this eye patch I wear, couldn’t you tell from that? And he said, oh, I thought you just liked to wear that for style. They think I am like a cartoon Caribbean pirate. AAARRGGH! It’s funny, but actually he was a good doctor.

Zayn Husayn