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The Other Latif

Author: WNYC Studios

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Radiolab reporter Latif Nasser always believed his name was uniquely his own. Until he makes a shocking discovery that he shares his name with another man: Detainee 244 at Guantanamo Bay. The U.S. government paints a terrifying picture of The Other Latif as Al-Qaeda’s top explosives expert, and an advisor to Osama bin Laden. Nasser’s lawyer claims that he was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and that he was never even in Al-Qaeda. This clash leads Radiolab’s Latif into a years-long investigation, trying to uncover what this man actually did or didn’t do. Along the way, Radiolab’s Latif reflects on American values and his own religious past, and wonders how his namesake, a fellow nerdy, suburban Muslim kid, traveled such a strikingly different path.
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Radiolab’s Latif Nasser always believed his name was unique, singular, completely his own. Until one day when he makes a bizarre and shocking discovery. He shares his name with another man: Abdul Latif Nasser, detainee 244 at Guantanamo Bay. The U.S. government paints a terrifying picture of The Other Latif as Al-Qaeda’s top explosives expert, and one of the most important advisors to Osama bin Laden. Nasser’s lawyer claims that he was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and that he was never even in Al-Qaeda. This clash leads Radiolab’s Latif into a years-long investigation, picking apart evidence, attempting to separate fact from fiction, and trying to uncover what this man actually did or didn’t do. Along the way, Radiolab’s Latif reflects on American values and his own religious past, and wonders how his namesake, a fellow nerdy, suburban Muslim kid, may have gone down such a strikingly different path.
My Namesake

My Namesake

2020-03-1042:262

We hear the evidence against Abdul Latif Nasser -- at least the evidence that has been leaked or declassified -- and we meet Shelby Sullivan-Bennis, his attorney, who contests more or less every government claim against him. Sullivan-Bennis walks us through the excruciating process that came close to releasing Abdul Latif Nasser in the waning days of the Obama administration, but fell apart at the last minute. He is now technically a free man -- he was cleared for transfer home in 2016 -- yet he remains stuck at Guantanamo Bay, thanks in part to a Presidential Tweet.   A photo of Abdul Latif Nasser  Read more about Abdul Latif Nasser at the New York Times’ Guantanamo Docket.  This episode was produced by Annie McEwen, Latif Nasser, Sarah Qari, and Suzie Lechtenberg. Fact checking by Diane Kelly and Margot Williams. Editing by Jad Abumrad and Soren Wheeler. Original music by Jad Abumrad, Alex Overington, Annie McEwen, and Amino Belyamani.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
Morocco

Morocco

2020-03-1046:57

  Latif travels to Abdul Latif’s hometown of Casablanca, Morocco, to try and find out: was he radicalized? And if so, how? Latif begins by visiting the man’s family, but the family’s reaction to him gets complicated as Latif digs for the truth. He finds out surprising information on a political group Abdul Latif joined in his youth, his alleged onramp to extremism. Tensions escalate when Latif realizes he’s being tailed.  Read more about Abdul Latif Nasser at the New York Times’ Guantanamo Docket.  This episode was produced by Sarah Qari, Suzie Lechtenberg, and Latif Nasser. With help from Tarik El Barakah and Amira Karaoud. Fact checking by Diane Kelly and Margot Williams. Editing by Jad Abumrad and Soren Wheeler. Original music by Jad Abumrad, Alex Overington, and Amino Belyamani.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
Sudan

Sudan

2020-03-1037:42

  Latif turns his focus to Sudan, where his namesake spent time working on a sunflower farm. What could be suspicious about that?  Latif scrutinizes the evidence to try to discover whether - as Abdul Latif’s lawyer insists - it was just an innocent clerical job, or - as the government alleges - it was where he decided to become an extremist fighter.   This episode was produced by Suzie Lechtenberg, Sarah Qari, and Latif Nasser. With help from Niza Nondo and Maaki Monem. Fact checking by Diane Kelly and Margot Williams. Editing by Jad Abumrad and Soren Wheeler. Original music by Jad Abumrad, Alex Overington, Jeremy Bloom, and Amino Belyamani.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
Afghanistan

Afghanistan

2020-03-1001:02:441

Latif investigates the mystery around Abdul Latif’s classified time in Afghanistan. He traces the government’s story through scrappy training camps, bombed out Buddhas, and McDonald’s apple pies to the very center of the Battle of Tora Bora.  Could Abdul Latif have helped the most sought-after and hated terrorist in modern history, Osama bin Laden, escape? The episode ends with a bombshell jailhouse interview with Abdul Latif, the most reliable evidence yet of what was going on in this man’s mind in the months after 9/11. This episode was produced by Annie McEwen, Sarah Qari, Suzie Lechtenberg, and Latif Nasser. Fact checking by Diane Kelly and Margot Williams. Editing by Jad Abumrad and Soren Wheeler. With help from Neel Dhanesha, Kelly Prime, and Audrey Quinn. Original music by Jad Abumrad, Alex Overington, Annie McEwen, and Amino Belyamani.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
Cuba-ish

Cuba-ish

2020-03-1058:081

Latif heads to Guantanamo Bay to try to speak to his namesake.  Before he gets there, he attempts to answer a seemingly simple question: why Cuba? Why in the world did the United States pick this sleepy military base in the Caribbean to house “the worst of the worst”?  He tours the “legal equivalent of outer space,” and against all odds, manages to see his doppelgänger… maybe. This episode was produced by Bethel Habte and Simon Adler, with Sarah Qari, Suzie Lechtenberg, and Latif Nasser. Help from W. Harry Fortuna and Neel Dhanesha. Fact checking by Diane Kelly and Margot Williams. Editing by Jad Abumrad and Soren Wheeler. Original music by Jad Abumrad, Simon Adler, Alex Overington, and Amino Belyamani. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
Despite being cleared for transfer back to his family in Morocco in 2016, Abdul Latif Nasser remains stuck at Guantanamo Bay. Why? Latif talks to some of the civil servants actually responsible for Abdul Latif’s transfer and they tell him a dramatic story of what went on behind the scenes at some of the highest levels of government.  It’s a surprisingly riveting story of paperwork, where what’s at stake is not only the fate of one man, but also the soul of America.   This episode was produced by Sarah Qari, Annie McEwen, Suzie Lechtenberg, and Latif Nasser, and reported by Sarah Qari and Latif Nasser. Fact checking by Diane Kelly and Margot Williams. Editing by Jad Abumrad and Soren Wheeler. Original music by Jad Abumrad, Dylan Keefe, Alex Overington, and Amino Belyamani.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
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