The world around me was reduced to pitch black. I could sense the deliberate use of side streets by the driver as the car traveled through Cairo at midnight. We twisted and turned many times, a technique my captors often used to disorient their victims.
On my right and left were two guards from State Security. They kept a tight grip on my handcuffed arms. I remained completely silent so as not to provoke them. They had forced my shirt up to cover my head so I could not see, and my belt was tied firmly over the shirt, around my head. One of them had pushed my head down to hide me from passing pedestrians. Everything I had been carrying had been confiscated.
Those brief moments before the car reached its destination were all too familiar. I had published the accounts of many captives of State Security. Now it was my turn. I wondered what could happen to me next, but I knew the answer: anything.
“Get out, you son of a #!@$%,” said a loud and angry voice when we arrived. I was being pushed out of the car. My reception inside the building was harsh and mocking. I was slapped, kicked, and cursed, all accompanied by derisive laughter. It seemed as if these men enjoyed their work, or at least they did it purposefully. The laughter was part of their strategy to instill fear prior to interrogating newcomers. The most difficult thing about the slaps and kicks was their element of surprise. I had no means of anticipating any strike because I was blindfolded. When would I be hit next? From which side, on which part of me? I had no clue.
I wondered what they knew. What had I done that had given me away? Kick. Curse. My fear grew. I knew that this was what they wanted—to break me down before the interrogation. I decided to hasten things along by pretending to tremble. Yet real fear was start- ing to take over.
In the midst of the beating I prayed to God that he would some-how inspire my friend Najeeb, in Dubai, to change the password to the Facebook page’s e-mail account. I prayed for Najeeb to do it before the interrogation got serious. They must not know what I had done.
I wanted to see my children again.