Terry Holdbrooks didn’t know anything about Islam when he was assigned to guard the Guantanamo Bay detention center. The lone son of junkie parents, raised by his ex-hippie grandparents, he liked hard drinking, hard rock, and tattoos. But once there he became intensely curious about Islam, wondering how the detainees could keep smiling in the face of Guantanamo’s abuses, he tells the Guardian. Six months later he’d converted, in a secret ceremony with the detainees.
Holbrooks saw prisoners “locked up in horrible positions for hours upon hours,” but insists that the detainees “were having a lot more fun than I was,” because they could openly defy their persecutors. He hated the other guards, who he describes as “ridiculous Budweiser-drinking, cornbread-fed, tobacco-chewing drunks, racists, and bigots.” The army soon discharged Holdbrooks, citing a “general personality disorder.” Today, he’s a practicing Muslim. Why? It’s the “structure, order and discipline,” he explains. “I just love them.”