Female Guards Vs. Detainees at Guantanamo Bay - NBC 6 South Florida

Female Guards Vs. Detainees at Guantanamo Bay

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    Female Guards Vs. Detainees at Guantanamo Bay

    The trial of the men accused of being behind the 9/11 attacks are heading back to court next week and they don't want women guarding them at the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay. A military court ruled they can't but the female guards are fighting back. NBC 6 reporter Willard Shepard reports from Guantanamo Bay. (Published Monday, Feb. 8, 2016)

    The trial of the men accused of being behind the 9/11 attacks are heading back to court next week and they don't want women guarding them at the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay.

    A military court ruled they can't but the female guards are fighting back.

    Nearly one in five guards in the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay is a woman. Their job is the same as the men, to guard detainees who don’t see them as their equals.

    "Of course being a female in this specific and unique environment has its limitations and its challenges," one female guard told NBC 6.

    NBC 6 has learned that there are detainees who reject the role of the female guard. Some even go further.

    "There are some detainees who do not like females and if they see a female's face in an item they will scratch it out," said one library officer, who displayed a magazine that had been damaged.

    Some of the detainees have actually filed official complaints saying that they did not want female soldiers guarding them.

    A military court ruled female guards cannot escort alleged 911 mastermind Khalid Shiekh Muhammed and four others to and from their upcoming hearings. Their argument is that having a female, who isn't a family member, touch them violates their religious beliefs.

    "As far as doing our job, the females are every bit as competent, every bit as happy to be here and performed this mission as their male counterparts," one female guard said.

    "I am not going to address the religions objections," said Colonel David Heath, the commander of the guards. He says he can’t talk about efforts to overturn the court’s ruling.

    "I will say that my soldiers here are just that, soldiers, they are all trained the same way," Heath said. "There's no regard given to whether they are males, females, blacks, gay. It doesn't matter to me."

    A Jordanian-born man called Zak is the conduit between the guards and the detainees. He believes it’s all just an attempt to slow down the prosecution.

    "We made it very clear to the detainees that in the U.S. military there's no discrimination in gender," Zak said. "This current issue right now is becoming something everybody talks about it, because somebody said 'how I can keep the United States busy? How can I keep the courts busy? How can I delay the procedure? Let's use religion.'"

    The 9/11 hearings are scheduled to begin next week. There’s no indication if a final decision will be made about the female guards' role before then.

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