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Officials at Gitmo say most detainees have gained weight since they arrived at the facility. In the kitchen, where food is prepared for both detainees and troops, boxes of bananas and pita wait to be incorporated into a dinner menu.
Bread, milk, vegetables and fruitbananas, apples, pears or datesare included in each meal. The cooks use a lot of currybreakfast might be curried eggs, dinner a curried-chicken stewto approximate the cuisine of at least some of the prisoners. "The food I ate there was the best I'd ever had in my life," says Pakistani Shah Mohammed, now 21, who says he landed at Gitmo after he was kidnapped by an Uzbek commander and sold to the Americans for a bounty being offered for al-Qaeda fighters. He was released last July, after his interrogators concluded that he not only had had no contact with Osama bin Laden's group but also hadn't even known 9/11 had happened until they showed him pictures. "I'd like to visit America someday," he says. "Some of the wardens and soldiers became my friends."
In letters to their families, which are censored coming in and going out, some detainees have given the conditions at Gitmo decent reviews. Airat Vakhitov, one of eight alleged Talibs from Russia, wrote to his mother in Tatarstan that his conditions in Gitmo were much better than in the best Russian sanatorium. In fact, his mother Amina is concerned lest the Americans extradite her son to face a worse fate back home; she and another Russian mother have petitioned the U.S. government not to deport their sons. One detainee's brother, Arsen Mokayev, who served two years in prison for a criminal offense, sees it this way: "If they get into the hands of Russian investigators, they will be tortured and humiliated, and their will and beliefs might be broken. In the U.S., even if they are executed, they will think they are dying for their religion, which is just fine for a devout Muslim."