Al-Qaeda prisoners share cell with Dearborn man, are shocked to learn about U.S. Muslims

A man from Dearborn Heights who was imprisoned in Yemen for 177 days earlier this year has given his first extensive interview since being freed in September.

Haisam Farran, a 54-year-old retired Marine, was in the country's capital of Sanaa working for a company that provided security services for western firms. But just six days after he arrived, Farran was captured by anti-American Houthi insurgents, who were convinced he was a spy. 

Thus began Farran's 177-day stay in a prison dubbed “Guantanamo Yemen" — a name that came from Farran's fellow cellmates, who happened to be al-Qaeda operatives. Farran told the Washington Post that he tried to bond with the anti-American fighters by telling them about Dearborn: 

Farran was moved to a different cell with a new group of al-Qaeda prisoners. He described them as hard-core, and he worried that they might harm him. Farran, who speaks fluent Arabic, emphasized his Lebanese heritage, but that was not much better than saying he was American, because he is a Shiite; al-Qaeda is a Sunni terrorist group, and hostilities between the two branches of Islam run deep.

But the al-Qaeda prisoners were also curious about Farran. He told them about the Yemeni community in Dearborn. His cellmates thought all Muslims were mistreated in United States and could not pray freely there. Farran gently correctly them.

Read the full story at the Washington Post.

About The Author

Lee DeVito

Leyland "Lee" DeVito grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, where he read Metro Times religiously due to teenaged-induced boredom. He became a contributing writer for Metro Times in 2009, and Editor in Chief in 2016. In addition to writing, he also supplies occasional illustrations. His writing has been published...
Scroll to read more Metro Detroit News articles
Join the Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.

Newsletters

Join Detroit Metro Times Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.