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Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Incident: el-Masri kidnapped in Macedonia, detained in Afghanistan

According to a description Khaled el-Masri will give the press in one year's time (14 January 2005), on this day el-Masri was detained during a holiday and subsequently rendered for detainment Afghanistan.

While taking a bus trip to Macedonia for a cheap New Year holiday, el-Masri's is called off the bus at the Serbian-Macedonian border. For the next 23 days he claims to have been subject to repeated interrogations about his links to Islamic organisations, and about the mosque in Ulm where he worships.

During this time, he claims to have been offered a "deal" by a Macedonian authority: "We have to say you are a member of al-Qaida ... then we'll put you on a plane and take you back to Germany." He refused.

In 23 days time, he will be handcuffed, blindfolded, put in a car and told he was going to Germany. Instead, he claims to have been taken to Afghanistan, where we was beaten, stripped, have humiliating photographs taken of him, and subject to an intrusive anal search. He will remain for four more months in a filthy cell, subject to tainted water, and repeatedly interrogated by what he believes to be Americans.

After five months of detention, he will be 'released' without charge. Or more accurately, he will be dumped in an unknown country which, after wandering through the mountains and coming across a border patrol, he will discover to be Albania. He will then make his own way back home to Germany. Upon return, he will discover that his wife and family, not knowing what happened to him, have left the country to live with his mother-in-law in Lebanon. They will be reunited some time later.

According to an article on MSNBC, from 23 April 2005, Khaled El-Masri was kept in Afghanistan even after it was learned that he was an innocent man.

  • February: CIA officers in Kabul began to suspect he was the wrong man, and they raised the red flag. They send his passport back to the agency's headquarters in Langley, Va.
  • March: The CIA finish checking his passport and find it was not a fake.
  • mid-April: Officials call a special meeting at the CIA to brief director George Tenet. An officer quotes Tenet as saying, "You've got an innocent guy in the Salt Pit?" Tenet said El-Masri should be released.
  • May: National Security Council Director Condoleezza Rice learns of the mistake and orders El-Masri's immediate release.
  • 2 weeks after the above: El-Masri is still not released. Rice re-orders his release
  • 29 May: El-Masri is freed (date from New York Times article.
For those interested in further commentary (05 Dec 2005), see Katherine and Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings.

filed under: Rendition.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Incident: Alazawi detained

According to an interview she will give to The Guardian in less than one year's time, today 39 year-old business woman Huda Alazawi will be detained by US forces at Abu Ghraib. Her detention will come after a blackmail attempt, in which an Iraqi informant demanded $10,000 or he would tell the US forces that she worked for the resistance.

During her detention, she claims that the following occurred.

  • She was told that she would be tortured if she did not confess
  • Her brother Ayad was brought in, and was "brutally sexually assaulted" before her
  • She was hit such that she fell to the ground
  • She was forced to remain standing for 12 hours
  • Later, her brother Ayad was brought before her and her sister, and he was dead. He had blood on his legs, his knees, and on his forehead.
  • She was deprived of sleep by drunk US soldiers.
Alazawi was in detention during the time that the Abu Ghraib abuses became known to the American public. She states that there was a substantial improvement in her conditions after that time.

Her brother Ayad's death certificate states that he died of "cardiac arrest of unknown etiology". Photographs of Ayad's corpse were shown to The Guardian, and they report that the corpse displayed wounds consistent with Alazawi's testimony. According to the report, the photographs "revealed extensive bruising to the chest and arms, and a severe head wound above the left eye".

Two of Alazawi's other brothers remain in Abu Ghraib.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Memo: Report of Proceedings (Jassim case)

Today, a Report of Proceedings by Investigating Officers (page 1164) will be appointed by Major General David Pertraeus, and will be presented on 31 December. It will be instigated by the abuse of detainee Salah Salih Jassim, a high-school boy who suffered a broken jaw due to acts by coalition forces. Details specific to that case are included in the entry 10 December 2003.

During the investigations, other details were revealed, which are listed here:

  • "The detainees were being systematically and intentionally mistreated (heavy metal music, bullhorn, hit with water bottles, forced to perform repetitive physical exercises until they could not stand, having cold water thrown on them, deprived of sleep, roughly grabbed off the floor when they could no longer stand"
  • The acronym "IED" (Improvised Explosive Device) was written on the detainees hoods. "[I]nfantry soldiers stated they felt this was done to make them angry at the detainees, and it had exactly this effect".
  • "I saw the Chief throw them down, put his knee in his neck and back and grind them to the floor."
  • Electric shocks were given to a detainee.
  • Soldiers told to "take them [detainees] back and beat the fuck out of them", and many incidents of beatings.
This document forms part of the documentation released by various US Government Departments in response to an FOIA court order. If you are grateful for having received this information, consider supporting the organisations in the side-bar on the right.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Asamiya Palace

This month, an unnamed screener was sent to Abu Ghraib. The screener's report back on 10 May 2004 will be made public thanks to NGO's Freedom of Information Act request. The following is an excerpt from the memorandum (page 238):
In reference to detainee abuse, I know the following. I heard that a soldier took a female detainee and took her shirt off. The linguist did not report it and they both got charged. I never witnessed the use of dogs during interroations nor did I witness any detainee abuse. I did not witness any detainees wearing women underwear. One day during a screening, one of the detainees was stripped of all his clothes. The detainee was in one of the rooms. For about 15 minutes, no one touched him. There was a MP female who wored during the in-processing of detainees. The female would hit the detainee on his legs to make him open his legs. She would first hit his left leg and then his right until he fell down. He was then pulled up and pushed to the wall. The MPs were rough and having a female searching a male is not right because that is against their religion. There were many detainees who came in abuse (sic). While were were screening the detainees, they would ask us "Are they going to beat us here too?" In the medical facility, they would start talking. Some would have broken shoulders, others came in on crutches. They did not know who beat them. They said they were beat at ASAMIYA PALACE. The detaines said that even the linguist beat them. They didn't know if Americans were involved. They were abused with cigarette burns, and electric shocks. The doctor documented the bruises. I would say there were about 90 incidents that took place in ASAMIYA PALACE. Some detainees would say they were beat up by Iraqis. [censored] name was mentioned by a lot of detainees. He was accused of bribing people for money and taking revenge on them. One detainee stated that [censored] would stick bottles up their rectum. The detainee could not sit down.

... A detainee said he was tortured for 7 days at night at the palace. They submitted two sworn statements. I heard this January or February time frame. There was a group that had been taken to the palace. They were two sisters, two brothers, and two uncles. One of the ladies does not want to talk about what happened to her.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Incident: Salah Jassim jaw broken

Today, Iraqi high-school student Salah Salih Jassim will have his jaw broken while detained by coalition forces in Iraq. Here is an excerpt (page 1171) of his statement made during an internal investigation of the incident, taken 04 January 2004.
Q: How did your jaw get broken?
A: A soldier hit me.
Q: How do you know that if you had a bag over your head?
A: Not sure if it was a soldier but someone hit me.
Q: Then what?
A: The soldiers, one soldier, took the bag off my head, gave me water and told me to say I had fallen.
Q: What was happening one hour before you got hit?
A: They were hitting me.
Q: Where?
A: Stomach, neck, back.
Q: With what?
A: With hands and boots.
Q: Were people talking to you in Arabic?
A: Yes.
Q: What did he/they say?
A: One man said that I was crying. He asked me why I was crying like a woman.
A similar statement was made 18 December 2003 (page 1185, 1187), except that the victim claims to have been kicked.

The findings summary will state (page 1166):

There is no direct evidence that anyone saw the injury take place. [censored] was closest to [censored - presumably Jassim] when the incident occurred. He claimed in his first statement that he was helping Mr. [censored - presumably Jassim] get up when he lost his balance and fell. In later statements [censored] recanted this earlier statement and testified that he did not see Mr. [censored - presumably Jassim] fall. The greater weight of evidence suggests that [censored] claim is the most plausible. There is no direct evidence to the contrary.
A memorandum (page 1173) containing recommendations regarding the incident will later decide that the exact cause of the injury could not be determined.

In a Report of Proceedings by Investigating Officers (page 1164 onward), despite repeated witness statements from soldiers saying that they were told not to physically harm detainees, the following statement was made by a witness.

I saw the Chief throw them down, put his knee in his neck and back and grind them to the floor. He would use a bull-horn and yell at them in Arabic and play heavy metal music extremely loud, they got so scared they would urinate on themselves. He was very aggressive and rough with detainees.
Further, it was determined (see page 1199 Memorandum for Record)) that Jassim had "IED" (Improvised Explosive Device) written on his hood, with the implication that he had committed this crime. This practise was used to make infantry soldiers angry at the detainees, and had the desired effect (see Report of Proceedings by Investigating Officers page 1164 onward).

However, despite the above, the memorandum (page 1173) of recommendations regarding the incident concludes that the Commander showed the appropriate level of supervision and leadership. No court-martials or punishments have resulted from this incident.

This document forms part of the documentation released by various US Government Departments in response to an FOIA court order. If you are grateful for having received this information, consider supporting the organisations in the side-bar on the right.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Incident: Abdul Kareem

Today Abdul Kareem, a 44-year-old man who "appeared to be in good health" will be taken to a facility near Mosul and placed in the "general population holding area."

In four days from now, he will be found dead in his cell. He will have multiple wounds, a laceration on his head surrounded by internal bleeding, bruising on his abdomen and a clear fluid in his right ear.

Kareem's body will be sent to Baghdad for autopsy, however the battalion and group command will cancel the procedure.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Document: DOD impersonating FBI, using "torture techniques"

This document forms part of the documentation released on 15 December 2004 by various US Government Departments in response to an FOIA court order.

An email is sent from an unknown party in MLDU to DOD. A heavily and strategically censored email will be released to the public in one year's time, who will see it in the following form:

MLDU has had a long standing and documented position against use of some of DOD's interrogation practises, however, we were not aware of these latest techniques until recently.

Of concern, DOD interrogators impersonating Supervisory Special Agents of the FBI told a detainee that [half line censored]. These same interrogation teams then [about one line censored]. The detainee was also told by this interrogation team [about one line censored].

These tactics have produced no intelligence of a threat neutralization nature to date and CITF believes that techniques have destroyed any chance of prosecuting this detainee.

If this detainee is ever released or his story made public in any way, DOD interrogators will not be held accountable because these torture techniques were done the "FBI" interrogators. The FBI will be left holding the bag before the public.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Letter from Noor

Some time this month a letter from a woman identified only as Noor will be smuggled out of Abu Ghraib prison and will circulate widely in Iraq and amongst anti-Coalition forces. I include here excerpt from the letter (translation from the previous link)
This is a message from your sister Noor, in the American-Zionist prison of Abu Ghraib. Where should I start? The pen is unable to describe to you the misery and the indignation in the prison. Shall I describe for you the hunger while you eat, or shall I describe the thirst while you drink, or the nudity while you dress, or the sleep deprivation while you rest?

... But when I reflect upon our desecrated honour and my situation, I burst into tears.

... Dear brothers and sisters, how can I, in Allah's Name, describe or put into words, the mental and physical suffering we undergo at the hands of the Americans, let alone the severe beatings and daily torture which we try to endure to keep our honour and save your trust.

... You are responsible before Allah for our destiny. The Americans in Abu Ghraib have already desecrated both the honour of you and us.

In whosoever's hand this message finds itself, I request and urge you in the Name of Allah, to raise your voices against this brutal treatment, especially the noble scholars of Islam who fear Allah, who have a pulpit and a platform, this message is a trust which you have to broadcast from your platform, you noble ones.

Remember that once you looked to your sisters in Palestine? Now we are suffering, especially when we see the Zionists drinking alcohol and then violating our honour and chastity like wild beasts. We scream for help to save us from these beasts but no one seems to hear our desperate cry.

You noble one. How many times have you died! Our honour and chastity has been violated, our clothes have been torn, our stomachs have been starved, and our tears are running but there is no supporter or helper.

I do not want to say farewell before saying Fear Allah in your next of kin. The wombs are full from illegitimate bastards from rape. We urge you again: Fear Allah and remember your next of kin!

Also before the farewell: I call upon the nobles ones, if you have weapons attack the prison and kill us with them (Americans) inside the prison. I urge you by Allah, I urge you by Allah, I urge you by Allah!

Your sister in Allah,

The letter will be treated with scepticism until the Taguba Report lists "[a] male MP guard having sex with a female detainee" as one of its findings from the photographic evidence (which was withheld from the public).

Professor of Political Science at Baghdad University, Prof Huda Shaker al-Nuaimi, was assigned by Amnesty International to track-down Noor. In an article in the Guardian called The Other Prisoners, Shaker states

We believe she was raped and that she was pregnant by a US guard. After her release from Abu Ghraib, I went to her house. The neighbours said her family had moved away. I believe she has been killed.
Newsweek will also note that a female detainee named Noor (last name withheld) was photographed being sexually humiliated. I do not know whether or not this is the same "Noor".
Noor, a detainee whose full name is being withheld by NEWSWEEK, was forced to expose her breasts and genitalia and is shown in the MPs' pictures giving a forced smile for Graner, who sources believe was the photographer.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Incident: Haji Abdul Rahman detained

This month, according to a statement on the ACLU website, Haji Abdul Rahman will be detained at various facilities in Afghanistan including Bagram and Gardez. He will be kept for approximately five months. He claims that during this time, he was:
  • forced to wear blackout goggles for the entire first month of his detention;
  • deprived of sleep by loud noises and bright lights;
  • forced to strip naked and photographed repeatedly;
  • probed anally on multiple occasions;
  • cuffed with a chain attached, which would be jerked to wrench his shoulders and wrists;
Rahman now has nerve damage in his leg and back, which causes great pain and occasional near-paralysis. He has vision problems, and suffers from memory lapses. He also has emotional problems.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Incident: Mohammed Karim Shirullah detained

This month, according to a statement on the ACLU website, Mohammed Karim Shirullah will be detained at various facilities in Afghanistan including Bagram. He will be kept for six months. He claims that during this time, he was:
  • severely beaten, to the extent that his right eardrum ruptured;
  • denied medical treatment for the aforementioned ruptured eardrum, resulting in his deafness in the right ear;
  • forced to maintain painful and contorted positions;
  • subjected to sensory deprivation and isolation;
  • stripped naked and photographed;
  • anally probed;
  • stripped and doused in water during interrogations;
  • forced to use an open toilet;
Shirullah is now deaf in his right ear, experiences painful swelling in his legs, and cannot sleep without medication.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Incident: Saddam Selah detained at Abu Ghraib

Today, Saddam Saleh will be arrested and taken to Abu Ghraib. He will spend 18 days there. After release, he will claim to have been one of the prisoners shown naked and hooded as Private Lynndie England, cigarette in mouth, points at his genitals. He will further claim that while he was there he was:
  • kept naked for 23 hours per day;
  • subjected to loud music;
  • urinated on;
  • beaten with an iron bar;
  • dragged on the floor in chains;
He will also claim to have observed an Iraqi girl of about 16 years being raped, screaming, in front of her father.