by Willard Manus
The fall-out from 9/11 is the controversial subject of
THE MAURITANIAN, the prize-winning film starring Jodie Foster and Tahar Rahim, directed by Kevin Macdonald.
Based on the memoir Guantanamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi, the film depicts the days following 9/11 when the USA, enraged by the sudden and horrific attack on the World Trade Center, sought to arrest and punish those who might have taken part in the plot.
Slahi (powerfully portrayed by Rahim) was a young Mauritanian Moslem who was radicalized when Russia invaded Afghanistan and turned it into a Soviet satellite. Slahi fought with the Moujhadeen against the Russians, alongside fellow volunteers from Al-Queda, some of whom were later involved in the 9/11 plot.
This connection resulted in his being placed on the USAs wanted list. He was eventually tracked down and arrested by army intelligence officers, who then proceeded to interrogate him.
Later Slahi was sent to Guantanamo Bay and imprisoned there. No formal charges were made against him, though, and he languished in Gitmo for many years, in a kind of limbo (along with dozens of other suspected Al-Queda operatives).
ACLU lawyer Nancy Hollander (the impressive Foster) heard of his situation,
she volunteered to represent him when his case finally came up for trial.
Much of THE MAURITANIAN deals with the explosive relationship between
attorney and client.