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Torture, rendition, and other abuses against captives in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere

 
  

Project: Prisoner abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

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Mid-December 2001

       Sometime in December, [Sources: Petitioners' Brief on the Merits, in the case of Shafiq Rasul, et al., v. George W. Bush, et al., No. 03-334, US Supreme Court] Rhuhel Ahmed, Asif Iqbal, and Shafiq Rasul are handed over to US forces. The “Tipton three,” as they will be known, are taken by Northern Alliance troops to a US military base, together with 200 other prisoners. The journey by means of containers is allegedly so exhausting, that the three are among only 20 who survive. They suffer from “cold, dehydration, hunger, and uncertainty.” As they are handed over, US soldiers allegedly kick and beat them. According to Iqbal, “They kept calling us ‘motherf_ckers,’ and I think over three or four hours ... I must have been punched, kicked, slapped or struck with a rifle butt at least 30 or 40 times.” One of the soldiers says, according to Iqbal, “You killed my family in the towers [of the World Trade Center], and now it's time to get you back.” [The Guardian, 8/4/2004] The three Britons are temporarily detained at the US military base at Kandahar. Allegedly they are systematically deprived of sleep and kept on a special diet designed to weaken them. In the meanwhile they are interrogated. In one instance, according to Iqbal, US soldiers hold a gun to his head during questioning. “An American shouted at me, telling me I was al-Qaeda. I said I was not involved in al-Qaeda and did not support them. At this he started to punch me violently and then when he knocked me to the floor started to kick me around my back and in my stomach.” [The Guardian, 8/4/2004]
People and organizations involved: Rhuhel Ahmed, Asif Iqbal, Shafiq Rasul
          

Late morning, November 25, 2001

       Two CIA agents, “Dave” and Johnny Michael Spann, are singling out prisoners for interrogation in an effort to determine their affiliations and backgrounds and screen them for possible links to al-Qaeda. Two television crews—from Reuters and the German station ARD—are present. Lindh has been pointed out to Spann as a Westerner, or at least someone who speaks English. Spann approaches Lindh and begins asking him questions: [Times of London, 11/28/2001; Guardian, 12/1/2001; Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Spann - “[Speaking to Lindh] Hey you. Right here with your head down. Look at me. I know you speak English. Look at me. Where did you get the British military sweater?” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Lindh does not respond and Spann walks away. A few moments later, Northern Alliance soldiers approach Lindh and tighten the ropes around his elbows. A Northern Alliance officer kicks him lightly in the stomach. Later, Lindh is brought over to a blanket covering bare earth and pushed down so he sits cross-legged on the blanket. Spann then squats down on the edge of the blanket, and faces Lindh: [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Spann - “[Speaking to Lindh] Where are you from? Where are you from? You believe in what you're doing here that much, you're willing to be killed here? How were you recruited to come here? Who brought you here? Hey! [He snaps his fingers in front of Lindh's face. Lindh is unresponsive] Who brought you here? Wake up! Who brought you here to Afghanistan How did you get here? [Long pause] What, are you puzzled?” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Spann kneels on the blanket and attempts to photograph Lindh with a digital camera. [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Spann - “Put your head up. Don't make me have to get them to hold your head up. Push your hair back. Push your hair back so I can see your face.” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
An Afghan soldier pulls Walker's hair back, holding his head up for the picture. [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Spann - “You got to talk to me. All I want to do is talk to you and find out what your story is. I know you speak English.” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Dave then walks up and speaks with Spann. [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Dave - “Mike!” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]

Spann - “[to Dave] Yeah, he won't talk to me.” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]

Dave - “OK, all right. We explained what the deal is to him.” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]

Spann - “I was explaining to the guy we just want to talk to him, find out what his story is.” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]

Dave - “The problem is, he's got to decide if he wants to live or die and die here. We're just going to leave him, and he's going to f_cking sit in prison the rest of his f_cking short life. It's his decision, man. We can only help the guys who want to talk to us. We can only get the Red Cross to help so many guys.” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]

Spann - “[to Lindh] Do you know the people here you're working with are terrorists and killed other Muslims? There were several hundred Muslims killed in the bombing in New York City. Is that what the Koran teaches? I don't think so. Are you going to talk to us?” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Walker does not respond [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Dave - “ [to Spann] That's all right man. Gotta give him a chance, he got his chance.” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Spann and Dave stand and keep talking to each other. [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Spann - “[to Dave] Did you get a chance to look at any of the passports?” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]

Dave - “There's a couple of Saudis and I didn't see the others.” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]

Spann - “I wonder what this guy's got?” [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
Walker is then taken back to the group of prisoners by an Afghan guard. [Newsweek, 12/6/2001]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh, Mike Spann, "Dave"
          

December 28, 2001

       Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed (the “Tipton Three”), held at Sheberghan prison, are among thirty to fifty other foreign prisoners whose custody is taken over by US Special Forces from the troops of the Northern Alliance. [Sources: Composite statement by Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed: Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, 7/26/2004] Abdul Razaq, a Pakistani teacher of English, says he is singled out for no other reason than that he speaks English. [The Guardian, 12/3/2003] Taken to the main gate, US Special Forces personnel surround them pointing their guns at them. One by one they are stripped of all their clothes, despite the freezing temperature, and photographed. After five minutes they are allowed to put their clothes back on. [Sources: Composite statement by Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed: Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, 7/26/2004] One by one, they are taken to a shed. With their hands and feet tied with plastic cuffs, each of them is questioned by US soldiers in uniform. As one American starts the interrogation, another soldier, Rasul says, keeps a machine gun aimed at him. The interrogator, according to Rasul, says, “if you move, that guy over there will shoot you.” When it is Iqbal's turn, a soldier, he says, is “holding a black 9mm automatic pistol to my temple. The barrel of the pistol was actually touching my temple.” [Sources: Composite statement by Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed: Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, 7/26/2004] Razaq's interview takes only three or four minutes with only two questions asked: “What is your name, and why have you come to Afghanistan?” [The Guardian, 12/3/2003] Immediately after the interrogations, the non-Afghan prisoners have a sandbag put over their heads. For three or four hours, they have to wait in the cold for all detainees to complete the interrogations. “I think we were all suffering from the cold, dehydration, hunger, the uncertainty as well as the pain caused by the plastic ties,” Ahmed recalls. “Added to this, periodically Special Forces soldiers would walk along a line of sitting detainees and kick us or beat us at will.” Iqbal remembers that “one of them said ‘you killed my family in the towers and now it's time to get you back.’ They kept calling us motherf_ckers and I think over the three or four hours that I was sitting there, I must have been punched, kicked, slapped or struck with a rifle butt at least 30 or 40 times. It came to a point that I was simply too numb from the cold and from exhaustion to respond to the pain.” [Sources: Composite statement by Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed: Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, 7/26/2004] In the end, the prisoners are dragged, tied up and hooded, the skin scraping off their feet, to the backs of a number of trucks that take them to an airstrip. Loaded onto freezing cold cargo planes, they are forced to sit on the floor, still hooded, with their tied-up feet straight in front of them and their hands tied behind their backs. [Sources: Composite statement by Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed: Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, 7/26/2004] Rasul testifies, “Given that I was extremely weak and that I was suffering from dysentery, dehydration, hunger, and exhaustion it was impossible to maintain this position for more than a few minutes at a time. If however I leant back or tried to move, I would be struck with a rifle butt. These blows were not designed to prevent us from falling back or to adjust our position, they were meant to hurt and punish us.” [Sources: Composite statement by Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed: Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, 7/26/2004] They eventually land at a US air base at Kandahar. According to Razaq prisoners arriving at Kandahar are offloaded in a particularly violent manner. “They haul you from your neck and drop you off the plane.” Relating his experience at Kandahar, Mohammed Saghir, a grey-bearded sawmill owner, says: “They would just pick us up and throw us out. Some people were hurt, some quite badly.” And Pakistani detainee Shah Mohammed, who arrives at Kandahar from a prison near Mazar-e-Sharif, says: “They kicked us out of the plane and threw us on the ground.” [The Guardian, 12/3/2003] At Kandahar, probably on the evening of December 28, the newly arrived prisoners are forced to walk in a circle which is “unbearably painful” because their cuffs cut into their skin. US soldiers force their foreheads into the stony ground, hit, kick, and punch them and occasionally strike them with a rifle butt. They cut off their clothes and carry out “humiliating” cavity searches. [Sources: Composite statement by Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed: Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, 7/26/2004]
People and organizations involved: Mohammed Saghir, Noor Aghah, Rhuhel Ahmed, Asif Iqbal, Shafiq Rasul
          

First week of January 2002

       The Tipton Three are still in a detention center in Kandahar. Shafiq Rasul is interrogated by a British soldier, who says he is a member of the SAS. Two US soldiers are present, one of whom puts an arm around Rasul's neck and says: “Wait until you get back to the tent you will see what we are going to do to you.” [Sources: Composite statement by Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed: Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, 7/26/2004] Also this month, Rasul has the “very painful” experience of something being inserted into his anus. In other parts of the detention center, he hears soldiers intimidate prisoners with dogs. [The Guardian, 8/4/2004] When Rhuhel Ahmed is questioned by the SAS man, one of the US soldiers holds a gun to his head, telling him he will be shot if he moves. When Ahmed is taken out of the tent, US soldiers force his head down and throw him on the floor, forcing his head into the broken glass and stones on the ground and pulling his arms behind him. The next day, Asif Iqbal receives the same treatment after refusing to confess to the SAS officer. All three are also threatened with being put into one of the England's high security prisons. [Sources: Composite statement by Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed: Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, 7/26/2004]
People and organizations involved: Rhuhel Ahmed, Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal
          

January 2002 and after

       Pakistan turns Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a Libyan national, over to US authorities. Libi is believed to have run the Khaldan paramilitary camp in Afghanistan for al-Qaeda. Interrogations start and a debate soon erupts with regard to which methods can be employed. The CIA advocates threatening him with his life and that of his family. [Washington Post, 6/27/2004] The CIA's actions are, according to Newsweek, facilitated by a February 2002 secret presidential order “authorizing the CIA to establish secret detention facilities outside the US and to use extra harsh interrogation methods” (see After February 7, 2002). [Newsweek, 5/24/2004] Some time after his handover to the US, Al-Libi is rendered to Egypt. According to an ex-FBI official, the CIA “duct-taped his mouth, cinched him up and sent him to Cairo. At the airport the CIA case officer goes up to him and says, ‘You're going to Cairo, you know. Before you get there I'm going to find your mother and I'm going to f_ck her.’ ” [Newsweek, 6/21/2004] Al-Libi is said to provide the US with valuable intelligence including information about an alleged plot to blow up the US Embassy in Yemen with a truck bomb and the location of Abu Zubaida, who will be captured in March 2002 (see March 28, 2002). However, he will also provide false information (see February 14, 2004) that will end up in major speeches by both President Bush (see October 7, 2002) and Secretary of State Colin Powell (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003). The FBI has thus far taken the lead in interrogations of terrorist suspects, because its agents are the ones with most experience. The CIA's success with Al-Libi contributes to the shift of interrogations from the bureau to the CIA. [Washington Post, 6/27/2004] Such methods as making death threats, advocated by the CIA, are opposed by the FBI, which is used to limiting its questioning techniques so the results from interrogations can be used in court. [Washington Post, 6/27/2004] “We don't believe in coercion,” a senior FBI official says. [The Guardian, 9/13/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi
          

January 11, 2002-April 30, 2002

       The first prisoners who arrived at Guantanamo Bay (see January 11, 2002) are accommodated in a location known as “Camp X-Ray.” This camp consists of small cages, measuring eight-by-eight feet, with open-air, chain-link walls, a concrete floor and a roof made of wood and metal. [American Forces Press Service, 1/14/2003] Inside, detainees are provided with a mattress, a blanket, a sheet, two towels, a toothbrush, shampoo, soap, flip-flops, two buckets, and plastic water bottles. [The Guardian, 12/3/2003] One of the buckets is for water to wash with; the other to urinate in. [Sources: Composite statement by Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed: Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, 7/26/2004] The cages have no plumbing and thus guards have to escort detainees to portable toilets. [American Forces Press Service, 1/14/2003] The cells at Camp X-Ray are described by released British prisoners as being without privacy and open to the elements as well as to “rats, snakes, and scorpions.” [The Mirror, 3/12/2004] During the first weeks until about the middle of February, the prisoners, according to Asif Iqbal, are “not allowed any exercise at all.” [Sources: Composite statement by Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed: Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, 7/26/2004] And later, Amnesty International confirms that prisoners are kept inside their cages “sometimes up to 24 hours a day with little exercise time out of their cells.” [Amnesty International, 10/27/2004] Only after some months, according to the Tipton Three, are prisoners allowed, “once a week, to walk in a small recreation yard for about 5 minutes.” [The Mirror, 3/12/2004] Jamal Udeen recalls: “Recreation meant your legs were untied and you walked up and down a strip of gravel. In Camp X-Ray you only got five minutes.” [The Mirror, 3/12/2004] At first, prisoners are allegedly allowed a shower—a cold two-minute one—only once a week, and never in solitary confinement. Later the number of showers is increased to three a week. [The Mirror, 3/12/2004] Eating has to be done in 10 minutes and the amount of food is very little. [The Guardian, 12/3/2003] Speaking to each other is strictly prohibited. [The Guardian, 12/3/2003] Five days later, however, he will be allowed to speak to neighboring detainees. [Sources: Composite statement by Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed: Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, 7/26/2004] But apparently worse than the accommodations is the uncertainty the prisoners are facing. “When we first got there, the level [of fear] was sky-high,” Asif Iqbal, Rhuhel Ahmed, and Shafiq Rasul, who were among the first to arrive, recall: “We were terrified we might be killed at any minute. The guards would say, ‘Nobody knows you're here, all they know is that you're missing and we could kill you and no one would know.’ ” [The Guardian, 8/4/2004] The prison operations at Guantanamo are at first handled by two Joint Task Forces: JTF-160 and JTF-170. JTF-160, first under the command of Brig. Gen. Michael R. Lehnert, is responsible both for guarding the prisoners, and for dealing with migrants seeking asylum. JTF-170, under command of Major-General Michael E. Dunlavey, is tasked with handling interrogation operations for the Department of Defense and ensuring coordination among government agencies involved in the interrogation of the suspected terrorists. [American Forces Press Service, 1/14/2003] It consists of personnel from the DIA, the CIA, and the FBI. [The Guardian, 10/16/2002] Sccording to later statements by several officers who served at Guantanamo, aggressive methods of interrogation are introduced in early 2002. Prisoners are derived of sleep, forced into “stress positions,” and put into extra cold, air-conditioned rooms. [New York Times, 5/13/2004]
People and organizations involved: Asif Iqbal, Shafiq Rasul, Rhuhel Ahmed, Jamal Udeen, Michael E. Dunlavey, Michael R. Lehnert
          

January 24, 2002

       A five-page memo prepared by military officers at Guantanamo lists twenty-nine concerns that the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) raised during its visit earlier that month (see January 17-21, 2002). The memo lays out a decision by the detention commanders to provide detainees with items valued by Muslims: cloth for their Korans, daily prayer calls, and shorts for the shower. Detainees will also be told that the orange color of their jumpsuits does not signify a death sentence, which it traditionally does in some Middle Eastern countries. This has apparently not gone unnoticed by US officials. “The detainees think they are being taken to be shot,” the same or a different memo from the Pentagon says. “Should we continue not to tell them what is going on and keep them scared?” [Washington Post, 6/13/2004]
          

mid-February 2002

       Just before Rhuhel Ahmed is to be flown to Guantanamo in February from his prison at Kandahar, he is visited by an official from the British Foreign Office. An MI5 officer, who is also present, tells Ahmed his friends are in Cuba and have confessed to everything. If he confesses too, the officer says, he will go home. [Sources: Composite statement by Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed: Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, 7/26/2004] “All the time I was kneeling with a guy standing on the backs of my legs and another holding a gun to my head.” [The Observer, 3/14/2004] Ahmed's account is similar to that of another Briton, Tarek Dergoul, who claims to have been interrogated at gunpoint in early 2002 (see January 2002). The MI5 man alleges, according to Ahmed: “We've got your name, we've got your passport, we know you've been funded by an extremist group and we know you've been to this mosque in Birmingham. We've got photos of you.” But these statements are not true. [The Observer, 3/14/2004] Ahmed decides to agree to everything they charge him with, including being paid by Al Muhajeroon and intending to fight holy jihad. “I was in a terrible state. I just said ‘OK’ to everything they said to me. I agreed with everything whether it was true or not. I just wanted to get out of there.” On the day Ahmed leaves for Guantanamo, which is five days later, the Foreign Office representative comes to see him again simply to tell him he is going to Cuba. Ahmed too has his beard and head shaven before being put on the plane. He arrives in the middle of February. On arrival at Guantanamo, Ahmed, is kicked so hard, he cannot walk “for nearly one month.” [Sources: Composite statement by Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed: Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, 7/26/2004]
People and organizations involved: Rhuhel Ahmed
          

September 11, 2002

       Suspected top al-Qaeda planner Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is captured in Pakistan and transferred to US custody. According to US officials interviewed by the New York Times, Mohammed is subjected to the technique called “waterboarding,” which entails being “strapped to a board and immersed in water ... to make the subject believe that he might be drowned.” [New York Times, 6/27/2004] Mohammed is believed to have been interrogated in Thailand. [The Observer, 6/13/2004]
People and organizations involved: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed
          

November 8, 2002-December 5, 2002

       Bisher al-Rawi and Jamil al-Banna, both British citizens, and Abdullah El-Janoudi, a legal British resident, travel from London to Gambia, reportedly in relation to a mobile peanut oil processing company set up by Rawi's brother, Wahab al-Rawi. [Amnesty International, 8/19/2003] The British security services instruct their Gambian counterparts to arrest the men upon arrival. As the three men exit the plane at Banjul airport, they are arrested by members of the Gambian National Intelligence Agency (NIA). Wahab has already arrived at Banjul and is at the airport to meet them. He is also arrested. The three men are told they have been arrested because of irregularities with their papers. When Wahab refuses to cooperate and asks either for a lawyer or a representative from the British high commission, the Gambian agents laugh and tell him it was the British who ordered the arrests. [The Guardian, 7/11/2003] They are subsequently interrogated by the NIA in Banjul and then by US agents who have a file on Bisher from the British. According to the file, Bisher's hobbies include flying planes and parachuting. According to Livio Zilli of Amnesty International, one of them is warned that if he does not cooperate he will be turned over to the Gambian police who will “beat and rape him.” [Amnesty International, 8/19/2003] According to a later habeas petition filed in court, they are subjected to “‘stress and duress’ techniques at the direction of the representatives of the United States.” [Sources: Petition for writ of habeas corpus for Bisher al-Rawi, Jamil el-Banna and Martin Mubanga, 7/8/2004]
People and organizations involved: Jamil al-Banna, Wahab al-Rawi, Amnesty International, Bisher al-Rawi, Abdullah El-Janoudi
          

December 2002

       US troops arrest Saif-ur Rahman in the northeastern province of Kunar, Afghanistan, and fly him out by helicopter to Jalalabad. There, according to an account Rahman later provides to Associated Press, he is stripped and doused with ice-cold water. Two US interrogators question him with two dogs. After 24 hours, Rahman is sent to Bagram, where he is deprived of sleep, forced to stand for a long period of time, humiliated by female soldiers who scream abuses at him, and forced to lie on the floor with his arms and legs spread wide and a chair placed on his hands and feet. For 20 days he remains handcuffed. At some point, interrogators threaten to send him to Guantanamo. “One of them brought me 50 small stones and said ‘count these stones.’ When I finished he said, ‘We will send you there for 50 years.’ ” When a military spokesperson is later asked to comment on Rahman's account, the spokesperson says it sounds only partially true (see January 22, 2002). [Associated Press, 3/15/2003]
People and organizations involved: Saif-ur Rahman  Additional Info 
          

(December 2002 or January 2003)

       Bisher Al-Rawi and Jamil al-Banna are detained incommunicado in Banjul, Gambia, for roughly two months. From there they are transferred to Bagram in secret. [Amnesty International, 8/19/2003] Bisher al-Rawi will later say that in Bagram, he was subjected to sleep deprivation and intimidation. [The Independent, 1/16/2005] The fact that they are taken to Bagram first, and only later to Guantanamo, fuels suspicions that they are tortured in Afghanistan. [The Guardian, 7/11/2003] At no time during their detention, are they permitted to see a lawyer, despite the fact that a habeas corpus petition has been filed on their behalf and is pending before British courts. By February or March, Rawi and Banna are in Guantanamo. [Amnesty International, AI Index AMR 51/114/2003, 8/19/2003 Sources: Petition for writ of habeas corpus for Bisher al-Rawi, Jamil el-Banna and Martin Mubanga, 7/8/2004] In Guantanamo, Al-Banna will tell Asif Iqbal that Bagram was “rough” and “that he had been forced to walk around naked, coming and going from the showers, having to parade past American soldiers or guards including women who would laugh at everyone who was put in the same position.” [Sources: Composite statement by Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed: Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, 7/26/2004]
People and organizations involved: Bisher al-Rawi, Asif Iqbal, Jamil al-Banna
          

March 24, 2003

       Briton Martin Mubanga, a Guantanamo detainee since April 20, 2002 (see Spring 2002), writes coded letters from his cell to his relatives. He says US guards at the base have threatened him with sexual assault and physical violence. He also reports that US soldiers attempt to “shame” Muslim prisoners by offering them prostitutes. [Independent, 8/8/2004]
People and organizations involved: Martin Mubanga
          

May 2003

       Infantry units from the Florida National Guard arrive at the Assad airbase located northwest of Baghdad. They are assigned the task of overseeing a detention center that has been set up in an aircraft hangar. The cells of this makeshift prison are separated with concertina wire. The US soldiers are “instructed to use sleep deprivation on prisoners, and taught to perform mock executions.” The interrogators are “not in regular army uniform, and the soldiers never [learn] their real names.” Camilo Mejia, a member of the Florida National Guard, will later tell The Guardian: “We had a sledgehammer that we would bang against the wall, and that would create an echo that sounds like an explosion that scared the hell out of them. If that didn't work we would load a 9mm pistol, and pretend to be charging it near their head, and make them think we were going to shoot them. Once you did that, they did whatever you wanted them to do basically.” Mejia, the son of a famous Nicaraguan political songwriter and folksinger and who later applies for status as a conscientious objector, will say that many soldiers were uncomfortable with these tactics. “The way we treated these men was hard even for the soldiers, especially after realizing that many of these ‘combatants’ were no more than shepherds.” Mejia will also say that when his platoon leader objected to using these techniques, he was told that his refusal to do so could end his military career. [The Guardian, 5/15/2004]
          

Evening November 4, 2003

       Staff Sgt. Ivan L. Frederick II takes wires from a shower and places them on a hooded detainee's hands telling him he will be electrocuted if he falls off the box. [Los Angeles Times, 10/21/2004] An Army investigator has instructed Frederick to “stress out” the detainee so he will talk. The detainee allegedly knows the location of soldiers' remains. Frederick says the investigator has told him he can treat the prisoner anyway he wants “as long as you don't kill him.” Despite these directions, Frederick later confesses he is aware he is committing abuse. “I was wrong about what I did, and I shouldn't have done it. I knew it was wrong at the time because I knew it was a form of abuse.” [New York Times, 10/21/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ivan L. Frederick II
          

Evening November 4, 2003

       Abdou Hussain Saad Faleh, detainee No. 18170, is taken from his cell in the Hard Site in Abu Ghraib. “On the third day, after five o'clock,” he later testifies, “Mr. [Charles] Graner came and took me to room Number 37, which is the shower room, and he started punishing me. Then he brought a box of food and he made me stand on it with no clothing, except a blanket. Then a tall black soldier came and put electrical wires on my fingers and toes and on my penis, and I had a bag over my head.” [Washington Post, 5/21/2004 Sources: AR 15-6 Investigation of the Abu Ghraib Detention Facility and 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, 8/23/2004]
People and organizations involved: Charles Graner, Abdou Hussain Saad Faleh
          

November 8, 2003

       Spc. Sabrina Harman connects electric wires to the fingers, toes, and penis of a detainee who is jokingly referred to as “Gilligan.” She tells him that he will be electrocuted if he falls off the box he is standing on. She later tells investigators, who ask for an explanation, that she was “just playing with him.” [Washington Post, 5/22/2004 Sources: Sabrina Harman]
People and organizations involved: Sabrina Harman
          

November 26 or 27, 2003

       A civilian contractor starts interrogating a detained Iraqi policeman at Abu Ghraib. He asks the detainee a question, and then warns that if he does not answer he will bring Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick into the cell. A military intelligence soldier witnesses Frederick going in and out of the cell several times. At one point, Frederick puts his hand over the detainee's nose, not allowing him to breathe. Frederick also uses a “collapsible nightstick” to possibly twist the detainee's arm. At the end of the session, Frederick tells the military intelligence soldier he knows ways to do this without leaving marks. [Sources: AR 15-6 Investigation of the Abu Ghraib Detention Facility and 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, 8/23/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ivan L. Frederick II
          

December 4-22, 2003

       Saddam Salah al-Rawi is taken to Abu Ghraib and registered under number 200144. [The Guardian, 5/13/2004] For the first 18 days of his detention at Abu Ghraib, he will be subjected to a series of techniques. Interrogations follow only after this period. The first MP Al-Rawi encounters puts a hood over his head, cuffs his hands, and leads him away, “intentionally smashing [his] face against several doors along the way.” [Sources: Testimony of Saddam Saleh Al Rawi] “He locked his arm under mine and holding the back of my head he beat my head against the doors of the cells,” Al-Rawi will later recall. [The Guardian, 5/13/2004] In another testimony, Al-Rawi repeats the same allegation: “Wherever he saw a wall, he would hit me against it. Wherever there's a door, he would push me and hit me against it.” [ABC News, 8/8/2004] He is left in a cell, still hooded and cuffed, with three or four other prisoners, who are also tied up but have no hoods on. He asks one of them, whom he later names as Thamir Issawi, to lift up his hood to allow him to breathe more easily. “When he opened my hood I could see his back. He was naked. All of them around me were naked.” [The Guardian, 5/13/2004] It was, according to Al-Rawi, “something I have never seen in my life. A man's buttocks were facing me.” [ABC News, 8/8/2004] “I was so shocked and disgraced that I asked the man to put my hood back on, which he did.” [Sources: Testimony of Saddam Saleh Al Rawi] An hour later, soldiers take him into the hall, and order him to strip. “I refused to because it is forbidden for Muslims.” Al-Rawi faces the inevitable. “They forced off my clothes and beat me,” he says. [Sources: Testimony of Saddam Saleh Al Rawi] “I was completely naked with two bags on my head.” [ABC News, 8/8/2004] The soldiers then force him to stand on a box with his hands on his head. “I stood like this for an hour, or an hour and a quarter. Then some American soldiers came and they were laughing and some were beating me. They were beating me on my back and my legs. They were beating and laughing.” [The Guardian, 5/13/2004] His next experience is an example of the “stress positions” tactic. “Next, they made me hold a plastic chair over my head for a long time. All along, I could hear them laughing and snapping photographs.” [Sources: Testimony of Saddam Saleh Al Rawi] Elsewhere, he reportedly says, “I remember them taking pictures. I remember there were these prisoners standing beside me. I was hooded but I remember a flash from the camera and the sound of a click when they took the picture.” [The Guardian, 5/13/2004] At one point, he cannot take it any longer. “I became so exhausted that I fell down and hit my head on the wall.” [Sources: Testimony of Saddam Saleh Al Rawi] At that moment, “I lost consciousness.” [The Guardian, 5/13/2004] The soldiers then remove his hood, [ABC News, 8/8/2004] and when he regains consciousness, Al-Rawi comes face to face with his attackers. “I saw Sgt. Joyner, an Egyptian translator who wore fatigues, named Abu Hamed, two male soldiers, one with glasses, and one female soldier. ... Then a soldier from another group came and peed on me.” [Sources: Testimony of Saddam Saleh Al Rawi] [In a May 30, 2005 email to the Center for Cooperative Research, Sgt. Joyner denied abusing detainees] Next, Al-Rawi later recounts, “they started to drop cold water on me.” [The Guardian, 5/13/2004] “Other soldiers then dragged me along the floor in the hall and did other similar things to keep me awake all night.” [Sources: Testimony of Saddam Saleh Al Rawi] In the morning he is put in cell 42 in Tier 1-A, and allowed a few moments alone. His cell has a water tap, a loo, and a metal bunk bed, but no sheets, blanket, or mattress. [The Guardian, 5/13/2004 Sources: Testimony of Saddam Saleh Al Rawi] “I was still naked and very tired. I sat against the wall, shivering and trying to sleep. I could see through some small openings in the wall that the sun was rising.” Somewhat later that morning, Al-Rawi meets with Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick and a female sergeant who take him to another room. “I was still unhooded and untied. They gave me some cloth to cover myself. Sergeant Ivan threatened me, saying that if I didn't give up any information, he would have other soldiers rape me. (Abu Hamed was translating.) I was so stunned that I couldn't reply.” [Sources: Testimony of Saddam Saleh Al Rawi] Al-Rawi is often left in his cell with his hands and feet bound; sometimes in a way designed to be highly uncomfortable. One such “stress position” leaves him with his hands and feet stuck through the metal bars of his cell door and tied together at the outside. A civilian American with a goatee beard, whom Al-Rawi identifies as “Steven,” possibly private contractor Steven Stephanowicz, forces him to adopt the so-called “scorpion” position. “They tied my hands to my feet behind my back,” explains Al-Rawi. “My left hand to my right foot and my right hand to my left foot. I was lying face down and they were beating me like this.” [The Guardian, 5/13/2004] During his first 18 days at Abu Ghraib, Al-Rawi says he is almost constantly tortured, “for 23 hours per day.” During this time, there are no interrogations, no investigations, and no medical treatment. He encounters the whole range of techniques, starting with the familiar nudity. “They left me naked the entire time.” [Sources: Testimony of Saddam Saleh Al Rawi] He is also subjected to sleep deprivation. “There was a stereo inside the cell and it played music with a sound so loud I couldn't sleep. I stayed like that for 23 hours.” [The Guardian, 5/13/2004] Al-Rawi is beaten repeatedly. “One time they knocked out two of my teeth [lower left molars].” He is also threatened with dogs. “Whenever they took me out of my cell, they used dogs to threaten me.” [Sources: Testimony of Saddam Saleh Al Rawi] On one occasion a naked Al-Rawi is pushed from behind by a guard towards another guard holding a dog on a leash. At some point the experience becomes too much to bear. “In my cell I was shouting,” said Al-Rawi, “ ‘Please come and take me. Please kill me. I am Osama bin Laden, I was in the plane that hit the World Trade Centre.’ I wished for death at that time,” he says. “I wanted to be dead 1,000 times. I asked my God to take my soul.” [The Guardian, 5/13/2004] After these 18 days, his preparation for interrogation has finished. He has his clothes returned and is finally questioned. Having lost all defenses he gives any answer his interrogators want. “I just didn't care anymore.” [Sources: Testimony of Saddam Saleh Al Rawi] “Whatever they asked me, I said yes. They told me I was from Ansar al-Islam [a militant Iraqi group] and I said yes. I told them the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammad [another Iraqi militant group] was my cousin. They asked me about Zarqawi [a Jordanian militant thought to be in Iraq] and al-Qaeda and I said yes even though I don't know who they are.” [The Guardian, 5/13/2004] He even declared being Osama bin Laden himself. “I did the explosions on September 11,” he said. “The interrogators just said, ‘Bullsh_t!’ to all of my answers and beat me.” [Sources: Testimony of Saddam Saleh Al Rawi]
People and organizations involved: Abu Hamed, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Saddam Salah al-Rawi, Steven Stephanowicz, Ivan L. Frederick II, Thamir Issawi
          

June 27, 2004

       The Washington Post quotes a former senior official from the Justice Department saying interrogators were allowed to deceive detainees into thinking they would be seriously harmed. “Clearly, that is not considered torture. It might be unpleasant and it might offend our sensibilities in most situations, but in these situations they were necessary and productive.” In deference to his own profession, he adds: “We never had a situation where we said, ‘You can do anything you want to.’ We never, ever did that. We were aggressive, but our people were very scholarly and lawyerlike.” [Washington Post, 6/27/2004]
          

July 12, 2004

       British detainee Moazzam Begg, being held in Guantanamo, manages to send a handwritten four-page letter uncensored by US authorities. Begg's lawyers in the UK describe this as an “oddity.” His solicitor Stafford Smith says the letter must have been released either “by mistake or because someone in the US has a conscience.” In the letter, Begg describes having been subjected to “pernicious threats of torture, actual vindictive torture, and death threats, amongst other coercively employed interrogation techniques.” This happened “particularly, though unexclusively in Afghanistan.” Interviews, Begg writes, “were conducted in an environment of generated fear, resonant with terrifying screams of fellow detainees facing similar methods. In this atmosphere of severe antipathy towards detainees was the compounded use of racially and religiously prejudiced taunts. This culminated, in my opinion, with the deaths of two fellow detainees (see December 3, 2002) (see December 10, 2002) at the hands of US military personnel, to which I myself was partially witness.” [The Guardian, 10/1/2004]
People and organizations involved: Stafford Smith, Moazzam Begg
          

September 13, 2004

       A marine who was a prison guard at Guantanamo in 2003 tells Seymour Hersh, anonymously, that he and his colleagues were encouraged by their squad leaders to “give the prisoners a visit” once or twice a month. This means they could rough them up. “We tried to [expletive] with them as much as we could—inflict a little bit of pain,” he says. But the fear of exposure held them back. “We couldn't do much. There were always news people there,” he says. “That's why you couldn't send them back with a broken leg or so. And if somebody died, I'd get court-martialed.” The mistreatment was often administered ad hoc. The marine says: “A squad leader would say, ‘Let's go—all the cameras are on lunch break.’ ” He also recalls hooding prisoners and then driving “them around the camp in a Humvee, making turns so they didn't know where they were. ... I wasn't trying to get information. I was just having a little fun—playing mind control.” A senior FBI official tells Hersh that FBI agents at Guantanamo have described similar activities. [The Guardian, 9/13/2004]
People and organizations involved: Seymour Hersh
          


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