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Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Incident: Benyam Mohammed renditioned, tortured

Today, according to an article published in the Guardian in 3 years time, along with extracts from his diary, Benyam Mohammed will detained by US forces. He will then spend the next two and a half years in various US detention facilities in Pakistan, Morocco, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay. During that time, he alleges that he was
  • kicked and punched to the point of vomiting
  • subjected to loud music
  • threatened with guns
  • told to confess and witness in court to false confessions or the torture will continue
  • tortured by having his chest and genitalia sliced with scalpels
  • sliced with razors and had some burning liquid poured over the fresh wounds to increase the pain
The latter features in the diary extracts published by the Guardian
One of them took my penis in his hand and began to make cuts. He did it once, and they stood still for maybe a minute, watching my reaction. I was in agony. They must have done this 20 to 30 times, in maybe two hours. There was blood all over. "I told you I was going to teach you who's the man," [one] eventually said.

They cut all over my private parts. One of them said it would be better just to cut it off, as I would only breed terrorists. I asked for a doctor.

Mohammed also alleges that his interrogation sessions were more like reprogramming sessions, where his tormentors tried to brainwash him into his false confession
They continued with two or three interrogations a month. They weren't really interrogations, more like training me what to say. The interrogator told me what was going on. "We're going to change your brain," he said.
The Guardian makes reference to the alleged Al Qaeda training manual on the US DoJ website in which Al Qaeda members are told to lie about torture. However they offer the following evidence in favour of his story:
  • his description of a prison near Rabat closely resembles the Temara torture centre identified in a report by HRW
  • flight records showing executive jets operated by the CIA flew in and out of Morocco on July 22 2002 and January 22 2004, the dates he says he was taken to and from the country.
In addition to this, I note that his diaries refer to "the Dark Prison". This is a name given by detainees to a prison in Pakistan. Two separate detainees have referred to this place in in previously secret military documents.

In December 2005, The Guardian's Observer will write a story linking confessions Mohammed made under coercion with the case against alleged terrorist Jose Padilla

Western agencies believed that [Mohammed] was part of a plot to buy uranium in Asia, bring it to the US and build a 'dirty bomb' in league with Jose Padilla, a US citizen. Mohammed signed a confession but told his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, he had never met Padilla, or anyone in al-Qaeda. Padilla spent almost four years in American custody, accused of the plot. Last month, after allegations of the torture used against Mohammed emerged, the claims against Padilla were dropped. He now faces a civil charge of supporting al-Qaeda financially.


Benyam Mohammed is also referred to as Benyam (Benjamin) Mohammed al Habashi, and Binyam Mohammed.

Further reading: