The Road To Guantanamo

In September 2001, the mother of Pakistani Asif Iqbal returns to Tripton in England. She has found a bride for his son in a village not far from Faisalabad. A few days later, Asif goes to the Punjab to meet the woman he is to marry. In need of witnesses for the marriage, he calls his friends Ruhel, Shafiq and Monir in England to invite them to the wedding. The four young men meet in Karachi, where they attend a mosque with Shafiq’s Pakistani cousin. The Imam asks them to go to Afghanistan to help the people there. The bus fare is cheap and Afghanistan sounds like an adventure to the four friends.
After an exhausting journey they arrive in Kandahar at night. It is the night of the first US bombing raid on Afghanistan. The US troops have begun their offensive against the Taliban in retaliation to the attacks of September 11. The four men move on to Kabul, where they fall ill and are obliged to stay on. They set off again, hoping to get back to Pakistan, but soon find themselves penetrating deeper into the war zone until they are finally arrested. After weeks of detainment they are flown out to Guantanamo, the US base on Cuba, where they are imprisoned as potential terrorists. The secret service believes the young men to be somehow associated with Mohammed Atta and Osama Bin Laden. Although it soon transpires that there is no truth in these allegations, it is two years before Shafiq, Asif and Ruhel are able to return to Tripton. To this day there is still no trace of Monir, whom the friends lost in Afghanistan. This film makes use of archive footage, interviews and dramatised scenes to recreate the authentic story of their odyssey.
by Michael Winterbottom, Mat Whitecross
with Rizwan Ahmed, Farhad Harun, Waqar Siddiqui, Arfan Usman
United Kingdom 2006 95’

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