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Monday, September 27, 2004

Evidence against prisoners at GTMO obtained by torturing other prisoners

Today, according to an article published in the National Journal in over a year's time, Farouq Ali Ahmed (17 years old) will present his case to Combatant Status Review Tribunal Number 8. He stood accused of being associated with the Taliban and of having been a member of Al Qaeda. The government's case cited the following:
  • Detainee admitted to giving his passport to a person known by him to be a member of the Taliban.
  • Detainee admitted to lodging at an official Taliban residence in Kabul, with a Taliban representative he met in Quetta, Pakistan.
  • Detainee was observed carrying an AK-47 and wearing fatigues at Osama bin Laden's private airport in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
  • Detainee was captured by Pakistani forces as part of an organized group of 30 mujahedeen after the fall of Tora Bora.
The first two items are by Ahmed's own admission, and are consistent with his story that he had gone to Afghanistan during the rule of the Taliban to teach children the Quran. If the evidence against Farouq were restricted to the first two items, he would be, by any reasonable estimate, innocent of the charges against him. It is those second two items that Ahmed strenuously denies.

The source of the second two items is another prisoner: Mohamed al-Kahtani. During his interrogation stress and duress techniques were used against him:

On August 8, 2002, Detainee 063 was moved into an "isolation facility," where he stayed for the next 160 days, his cell continually flooded with light, his only human contact with interrogators and guards. He was questioned for 18 to 20 hours a day for 48 out of 54 straight days; he was threatened with a menacing dog; he was forced to wear a bra while thong panties were placed upon his head; he was leashed and ordered to perform dog tricks; he was stripped naked in front of women; he was taunted that his sister and mother were whores and that he was gay.
Many of these techniques are approved of by a majority of Americans, and considered 'not torture'. Yet despite their alleged mildness, they had a disastrous effect on the prisoner's state of mind
By late November 2002, an FBI agent wrote, Detainee 063, Mohamed al-Kahtani, was "evidencing behavior consistent with extreme psychological trauma (talking to nonexistent people, reporting hearing voices, cowering in a corner of his cell covered with a sheet for hours on end.)"
It is from this detainee that government obtained its evidence that Farouq was anything more than a Quran teacher.

Farouq is not the only victim of al-Kahtani's testimony, suggesting that the strategy of torturing prisoners and using their testimony against others is not rare.

Remes and Falkoff cited Detainee 063 as a source of the allegations against two of their other clients, as well. In the cases of two clients, including Farouq, they cited the same snitch identified in Farouq's personal representative's memo as the source of allegations. On behalf of another detainee, the lawyers identified yet another snitch, who had reportedly told tales during physically severe questioning in Afghanistan.


Further reading, opinions and commentary:

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Hostages, release of women from prisons demanded

Today a web site will release images of British and two American hostages seized in Iraq on Thursday. The men identify themselves as Briton Kenneth Bigley and Americans Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley. Militants in a videotape with the hostages accuse the US of violating the honour of Muslim women (c.f. Hersh's claims from 08 July 2004). They threaten to kill the hostages unless all women are released from Abu Ghraib and Umm Qasr prisons.