“Allahu Akbar,” convicted felon Moncef Slaoui shouted Monday morning as he stood atop the gallows at Guantanamo Bay and leered menacingly at the man he held responsible for ordering his imminent death.
Below him, Vice Adm. Darse E. Crandall and a few high-ranking officers watched in silence while the hangman standing beside Slaoui slipped a braided rope around his neck. Slaoui struggled but was no match for the towering soldier who effortlessly pinned Slaoui’s wrists to his back, then bound them with a zip tie. Slaoui spat in the soldier’s face.
“Bag the prisoner,” Adm. Crandall ordered, and the soldier put a black hood over Slaoui’s head.
“How’s that appeal coming along?” Adm. Crandall bellowed.
At the end of Slaoui’s tribunal last Thursday, his lawyer, Omar Akbar, promised to appeal the verdict to an unspecified authority. He caught the first flight leaving GITMO Thursday afternoon and hadn’t been heard from since; Slaoui’s calls to Akbar’s office in D.C. went unanswered.
“It once amazed me, Mr. Slaoui, how little regard you people have for human life. Like others who stood where you are now, you were consumed by greed, which has led to this ineluctable fate. “I didn’t put you on gallows; you put yourself there,” Adm. Crandall said, and motioned at the soldier to push the button.
But the hinged door beneath Slaoui’s feet did not swing open.
“It’s broken, sir,” the soldier said.
“Allah speaks,” Slaoui muttered from underneath his hood. “He’s not ready to receive me yet.”
Adm. Crandall said, “He’ll be ready as soon as I can get an electrician here, so don’t get your hopes up.”
While they awaited the arrival of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers electrician, Slaoui hurled Arabic curses at the admiral, calling him an impious infidel, a blasphemer, and an enemy of Allah. He said Allah and His Messenger would avenge him.
The electrician arrived 30 minutes later and tested the box, pushing the green and red buttons after the soldier had moved Slaoui aside. He removed the cover and began fiddling with the wires, commenting that his visit marked the second time in two years a connection had come loose. He fixed it in five minutes, then tested the circuit, pressing the green button to open the door and the red one to close it.
“All done, Admiral,” he said, and left the platform.