Radiolab reporter Latif Nasser’s investigative radio documentary series, ‘The Other Latif’ revisits Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, the 18-year-old America’s souvenir of human rights abuse, through a personal history of one of the stranded detainee, who happens to share the name of the host.
The Podcast series, in six episodes, attempt to reconstruct the life of Abdul Latif Nasser, an alleged terrorist who was cleared for transfer to his home country, Morocco, but stranded after a ‘bureaucratic delay’ in his last ticket to freedom during Obama administration. The host and producer Latif Nasser immerse himself into tracing the best collectable truth about his namesake for three years, coming out with an appealing story of choice and its cost.
The Infamous torture facility, still holding 40 detainees, has not found its place in 2020 US presidential election debates. Obama’s vow to shut down Gitmo in his eight years got nowhere as American federal agencies were hell-bent not to admit their guilt. ‘The Other Latif’ portrays the collateral damage of a man who is living a third of his life in Gitmo when America chose reputation over ethic.
The story begins with the host, Nasser Latif, finding a tweet about an emergency appeal to then US president, Barack Obama for intervention into Abdul Latif Nassar’s case. Baffled by the similarities in the name, Latif explores more about Abdul Latif, detainee 244 at Guantanamo Bay.
He learns that the other Latif is, according to the US government, Al-Qaeda’s top explosives expert, and one of the most important advisors to Osama bin Laden. The claims are conflicted by Shelby Sullivan Bennis, counsel for Abul Latif triggering a lot of missing links to make logic. Latif gets on an expedition to find the truth which is classified from him by both government and the other Latif.
From sunflower fields in Sudan to the confinements of Guantanamo Bay cell, Latif makes sure he leaves no stone unturned to learn about the life and situation of his namesake. Dozens of interviews including the family of Other Latif in Morocco and veterans who captured Latif, the podcast touch upon most of his life other than 2002 to 2006, the opening years in Guantanamo.
Although some of the appropriation and comparison of Latif misses the reality about Muslims on the other side of the world, he tries to be impartial and weigh on collected evidence. Latif interviews dozens of veterans in different fields to help find answers with no word from the other Latif to speak for himself. The only link to the other Latif, Shelby finds herself in a quandary with almost all her knowledge categorised as classified.
Latif’s attempts to reassure faith in American values doesn’t sell well amidst the revelations of unjust profiling of war prisoners. The last episode details the double-faced American scrutiny into the sovereignty of other countries. Gitmo is still operational, as America accuse China on mass detention of Uyghur Muslims. The series also explicitly says that with Trump, the case was closed.
The narrative style with spoiler alerts and elements of generation z podcast monologues at times becomes overdone. The host is never heard gentle but restless throughout the series. He keeps reporting the interview ahead of the interviewee actually say it. nonetheless, the plot of the story and its impressive weave never stops you from listening until the end.
The foley, background tracks and the silence all fine-tune the listening experience as the series travel from soccer games to the frontline in Afghanistan. The changing landscape, in our imaginations, is a win for the crew.
‘The other Latif’ is a deconstruction of a point of view that undermines the liberty of many lives for the security of America. In the due process of making the documentary, one Latif celebrates his newly awarded American citizenship whereas the other finds accept the fact, there is no return home.