Ex-POWs tell of abduction, torture in Africa
Monday, March 27, 2006
By CHRIS STURGIS
Special to The Times
TRENTON — Ali Jaouhar spent 23 years in a prisoner-of-war camp in the
Western Sahara territory run by the Polisario Front backed by Cuba’s
“They kicked us in our intimate parts. They spat in our faces,” he said.
His eyes welled with tears as he described a fellow prisoner being
doused with gasoline and burned alive, and another being crushed by a
truck because he told his captors he simply couldn’t work anymore.
Jaouhar and others, including Saadani Ma Oulainie, 28, who can’t
remember a time before her family was held in a Polisario refugee camp,
visited Trenton Tuesday in the hope their stories will save others.
Jaouhar and Oulainie hope their stories will convince the United States
to liberate any remaining detainees and discredit the corrupt Communist
The delegation is touring with the National Clergy Council of
Washington, D.C., and was hosted locally by the Monmouth Worship Center,
an Assembly of God congregation in Marlboro, Monmouth County, led by the
Rev. Ken Jascko. At a luncheon Tuesday at the Trenton Marriott at
Lafayette Yard the delegation outlined the abuses detainees faced.
Jaouhar said prisoners seldom received mail, but in one case the Red
Cross delivered a letter informing him his wife had died. He missed his
chance to raise his daughter, only 8 months old when he, an officer in
the Royal Air Force of Morocco, was captured.
His incarceration cost him “my youth; the springtime of life,” he said.
He got out of the camp two years ago and is now living in the
“beautiful, green city of Sefrou, near Fez.”
But adjusting has been difficult. “It’s a different mentality now,” he
said. “I found the family disintegrated. We can’t communicate.”
Oulainie practically grew up in a Polisario camp for refugees and
remembers nothing of her life before her family was incarcerated when
she was about 5. When she was about 10, her mother tearfully packed her
things and lied to her that she was going on a summer vacation.
Oulainie was torn from her mother and siblings and sent to Cuba, where
such children were forced to chop sugar cane, where she remained until
2002. She has since been reunited with her mother and some siblings, but
her father died in prison.
Through a translator, Oulainie said she has come to the United States to
While the politicians grapple with questions of power and leadership,
she said, “that shouldn’t impede resolution of the humanitarian crisis.
Something has to be done to alleviate this human catastrophe.”
Jascko said the delegation broadened his perspective about the world.
“As a pastor, I hear problems all day long — financial problems and
marital problems. But in the United States, you never hear about people
being abducted, separated from their families and tortured.”