Gamel Sadek is a Muslim schoolteacher living in Kandahar, Afghanistan, with his wife and children. As the War on Terror ramps up following 9/11, he is “sold” in March 2002 by his neighbor to CIA investigators seeking any information that might lead to Osama Bin Laden. He is taken away and brutally interrogated.
At the same time, retired Army interrogator, John Anderson is asked to return to duty, and is flown to Afghanistan, leaving his son behind. Guided by his faith, John is an expert in “old school” psychological interrogation and shocked by the new methods used by U.S. operatives to break the Jihadists, which includes the use of torture in CIA-run black sites. Gamel is flown to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, one of these black sites, and is the first “high value target” that John will interrogate.
John becomes witness to the various torture methods used on Gamel, including waterboarding and mock execution in a coffin. Despite being held off the ground on a hook for days, Gamel keeps proclaiming his innocence.
Gamel is renditioned to Guantanamo where new methods of “interrogation” are supposed to bring results. During the trip he is submitted to sensory deprivation by being prevented to hear, see or move.
The CIA interrogators consider Gamel a terrorist by inferring that his imam is linked to Al-Qaeda. He is regularly beaten and humiliated.
John arrives and tries to bond with the detainee but his superiors insist that the new methods must be used to get a confession, fast.
Like all other detainees, Gamel is submitted to all kind of beatings, physical and psychological torture with unbearable lights and sounds, while at the same time being constantly interrogated. The detainees organize a rebellion against the military prison, which will be crushed in more violence.
During Gamel’s interrogations, John is caught between his convictions–his belief that Christian civilization is under attack by the Muslim world–and his doubts about Gamel’s terrorist connections. A human rights lawyer, Robert Levin, takes on Gamel’s case and gets his “enemy combatant” status—which allows the U.S. government to hold him indefinitely—to be reviewed.
John will be the key player during this hearing and will ultimately decide to defend his religious beliefs and his culture over Gamel’s rights.