Amir Meshal is a Muslim American from New Jersey. In 2006, he traveled to Mogadishu, Somalia to study Islam, but had to quickly leave the country when violence and unrest erupted. In order to escape, Meshal was forced to cross the border into Kenya because a recent bombing shut down the airport in Somalia. While in Kenya, Meshal was arrested and handed over to U.S. officials who detained him in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia for the next four months.
During this period, Meshal was interrogated over thirty times about connections to al Qaeda, which he continually denied. The interrogators threatened him with torture and rendition to another country that could “make him disappear.” He was subjected to unsanitary conditions without consistent access to food and water, while being denied contact with a lawyer or his family. Without any charges brought against him, Meshal was released in May, 2007.