U.S. Navy Muslim Chaplain Ministers to Prisoners in Cuba

February 4, 2002

Source: The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

On February 4, 2002, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution reported that "some of the prisoners captured in the war on terrorism who are being held [in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba] may not be fully aware of the events of Sept. 11, according to a Muslim cleric who ministers to them... Navy Lt. Abuhena Mohammad Saiful-Islam... is a native of Bangladesh. In addition to English, the married father of one daughter speaks Bangla, Urdu and some Arabic. A former enlisted Navy payroll clerk at the Pentagon, he was involved in Islamic studies when he was recruited to complete them and become an officer because of a shortage of Muslim clerics in the military, which didn't get its first one until 1993. There are still only three in the Navy... Saiful-Islam, one of 14 imams in the U.S. military, was brought here Jan. 23 to provide for the spiritual needs of the prisoners and to advise [the commanders]... When he walks into the compound at Camp X-Ray, he said, 'I don't have enough time because everybody raises their hands and wants to talk to me'... He said, 'Some things are beginning to emerge. They want to know where they went wrong' regarding their religion."