Topic(s): Torture | Comments Off on Rene — SEIZED, HELD, TORTURED: SIX TELL SAME TALE

Ian Cobain
The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/)
Tuesday December 6, 2005
Mamdouh Habib, 49, an Australian citizen, was caught up in the
rendition system after being arrested near the Pakistani-Afghan border
shortly after the 9/11 attacks. His lawyers say he was bundled aboard
a small jet by men speaking English with American accents and flown
to Egypt, the country where he was born. For the next six months,
they say, he was held in a Cairo jail, where he was hung from hooks,
beaten, given shocks from an electric cattle prod, and told he was
to be raped by dogs.
Habib also says that he was shackled and forced into three torture
chambers: one filled with water up to his chin, requiring him to
stand on tiptoe for hours, a second with a low ceiling and two feet
of water, forcing him into a painful stoop, and a third with a few
inches of water, and within sight of an electric generator which his
captors said would be used to electrocute him.
He made statements – which he has since withdrawn – declaring that he
had helped train the 9/11 attackers in martial arts. Habib was moved
to Afghanistan and then to Guantanamo. Last January he was released
without charge and allowed to return to his wife and three children
in Sydney.
Maher Arar, 34, a Canadian citizen, was seized in September 2002
while travelling through JFK airport in New York, on his way home
after a holiday in Tunisia. After being questioned for 13 days
about a terrorism suspect – the brother of a work colleague – he
was handcuffed, placed in leg irons, and put aboard an executive
jet. Hearing the crew describe themselves as members of the “special
removals unit”, and discovering he was bound for Syria, the country
where he was born, he begged them to return to the US. The crew,
he says, ignored his pleas and suggested he watch a spy film that
was being shown on board. After landing in Jordan, Arar says he was
driven to Syria, where he was held in a small underground cell which
he likened to a grave. His hands were repeatedly whipped with cables,
he says. He added that he would eventually confess to anything put
to him. Arar was released a year later after the Canadian government
took up his case. The Syrian ambassador in Washington announced that
no terrorist links had been found. Arar is suing the US government.
Amnesty International has highlighted the plight of two Yemeni friends,
Salah Nasser Salim ‘Ali, 27, and Muhammad Faraj Ahmed Bashmilah, 37,
arrested separately in August 2003. Salah was detained in Indonesia,
then flown to Jordan, where Muhammad was already under arrest. They
say they were hung upside down and beaten for several days, before
being flown to an unknown country about four hours’ flying distance.
Neither man knew that the other was under arrest, but both described
being detained in solitary confinement in an old underground prison,
staffed by masked American guards, where western music was played
in their cells 24 hours a day. Both men say they were moved after
eight months, spending around three hours in a small aircraft, and
then a helicopter, before being taken to another underground prison,
this time modern, with air conditioning and surveillance cameras
in the cells. This too was run by Americans, they say. The two men
were returned to Yemen last May, but remain in custody. Amnesty says
Yemeni officials have said they are being held at the request of US
authorities. “What we have heard from these two men is just one small
part of the much broader picture of US secret detentions around the
world,” said Sharon Critoph, the Amnesty researcher who interviewed
them in Yemen.
Ahmed Agiza, 43, a doctor, and Muhammad Zery, 36, were abducted
in Stockholm in December 2001, with the connivance of the Swedish
government. Both were seeking asylum in Sweden, and had been
convicted in absentia of membership of a banned Islamist group in
their native Egypt. Agiza admits knowing Ayman Zawahiri, Osama bin
Laden’s second-in-command, but says he severed all links many years
ago and insists he has renounced violence.
According to evidence to a Swedish parliamentary inquiry last year,
they were taken to Bromma airport, Stockholm, by uniformed Swedish
police and Americans wearing suits. They were stripped, searched,
sedated and dressed in boiler suits and hoods. They were shackled
and bundled on to a Gulfstream 5 executive jet, before being flown to
Cairo. This aircraft has flown in and out of the UK at least 60 times
since December 2001, most recently with a new tail number. Senior
Swedish police officers told the parliamentary inquiry the aircraft
was operated by the CIA.
Both men later told relatives and Swedish diplomats that they were
subjected to electric shock torture in Egypt. Zery was released
from prison almost two years later. Agiza was jailed for 25 years,
reduced to 15 on appeal.