Topic(s): Torture | Comments Off on Rene — RENDERED TO EGYPT FOR TORTURE

The idea that some speculative and foolish comment of a 24 year old could begin a 6.5 year process of torture and detention is beyond what the words tagic or folly placed beside one another can evoke. -rg
By Andy Worthington
September 4, 2008
News that three more prisoners have been released from Guantánamo
is cause for celebration, as all three men should never have been
held in the first place.
In a report to follow, I’ll look at the stories of the two Afghans
released — one a simple farmer, the other a juvenile at the time
he was seized — but for now I’m going to focus on the extraordinary
story of the prisoner released to Pakistan, Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni,
whose grotesque mistreatment involves “extraordinary rendition”
and torture spanning several continents.
A Pakistani-Egyptian national and the son of an Islamic scholar,
Madni was 24 years old when he arrested in Jakarta by the Indonesian
authorities on January 9, 2002, after a request from the CIA. He
was then rendered to Egypt, apparently at the urging of the Egyptian
authorities, working in cooperation with the CIA. In Egypt, he was
tortured for three months, and was flown back to Afghanistan on
April 12, 2002 with Mamdouh Habib, an Australian prisoner, seized
in Pakistan, who was released in January 2005, and who has spoken
at length about his torture in Egypt. Eleven months later, Madni was
transferred to Guantánamo.
Although Madni did not speak about his treatment during any of
hi s military reviews at Guantánamo, several prisoners confirmed
that he was tortured by the Egyptians. Rustam Akhmyarov, a Russian
prisoner released in 2004, said that Madni told him of his time “in
an underground cell in Egypt, where he never saw the sun and where
he was tortured until he confessed to working with Osama bin Laden,”
and added that he “recalled how he was interrogated by both Egyptian
and US agents in Egypt and that he was blindfolded, tortured with
electric shocks, beaten and hung from the ceiling.”
Akhmyarov also said that Madni was in a particularly bad mental
and physical state in Guantánamo, where he “was passing blood in
his faeces,” and recalled that he overheard US officials telling
him, “we will let you go if you tell the world everything was fine
here.” Mamdouh Habib confirmed Akhmyarov’s analysis, recalling how
Madni had “pleaded for human interaction.” He said that he overheard
him saying, “Talk to me, please talk to me … I feel depressed … I
want to talk to somebody … Nobody trusts me.” On the 191st day of
his incarceration, according to Madni’s own account, he attempted to
commit suicide.
The Tipton Three — Rhuhel Ahmed, Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul, British
citizens released in 2004 — also recalled Madni in Guantánamo. They
said that “he had had electrodes put on his knees: a nd that “something
had happened to his bladder and he had problems going to the toilet,”
but explained that he had been told by interrogators that he would
not receive treatment unless he cooperated with them, in which case
he would be “first in line for medical treatment.”
Quite what Madni was supposed to have done to justify this torture
and abuse was never adequately explained at Guantánamo. The US
authorities urged the Indonesians to arrest him after they claimed
to have discovered documents that linked him to Richard Reid, the
inept and mentally troubled British “shoe bomber,” who was arrested,
and later received a life sentence, for attempting to blow up an
American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami in December 2001, but
Madni persistently denied the connections. In his Combatant Status
Review Tribunal — in which he pointed out that he is from a wealthy
and influential family, is fluent in nine languages and is a renowned
Islamic scholar — he maintained that he was betrayed by one of four
radical Islamists whom he met by accident on a trip to Indonesia in
November 2001 to sort out family business after his father’s death.
This account was backed up during an investigation by the Washington
Post, who concluded that he rented a house in Jakarta, and did
nothing more sinister than visiting the local mosque, handing out
business cards “identifying him as a=2 0Koran reader for an Islamic
radio station,” and spending “hours on end watching television
at a friend’s house.” Succinctly summing up what happened to him,
he told his tribunal, “After I went to Indonesia, I got introduced
to some people who were not good. They were bad people. Maybe I can
say they were terrorists. When someone gets introduced to someone,
it is not written on their foreheads that they are bad or good.”
According to Ray Bonner of the New York Times, the entire basis for
Madni’s capture, rendition and torture was that Madni, described by an
uncle in Lahore as a young man who “had a childish habit of trying to
portray himself as important,” had made the mistake of telling the men
he had met — members of the Islamic Defender Front, an organization
that espoused anti-Americanism, but had not been involved in an
terrorist attacks — that bombs could be hidden in shoes.
The comment was picked up by Indonesian intelligence agents, who
were monitoring the men, and was relayed to the CIA, who decided to
pick him up after Richard Reid’s failed shoe bomb attack a few weeks
later. Although a US intelligence official confirmed Madni’s uncle’s
account, calling Madni a “blowhard,” who “wanted us to believe he
was more important than he was,” and another thought that he would
be held for a few days, “then=2 0booted out of jail,” more senior
officials clearly had other plans.
Madni’s six and a half year ordeal, therefore, was based on a single
ill-advised comment.
If Madni’s family are sufficiently well connected, it may well
be that we haven’t heard the last of this particular story of the
gruesome impact of torture arrangements between the United States
and Egypt, based on inadequate intelligence, and the quiescent role
of the Indonesian authorities. On the other hand, Madni, if released
in Pakistan, may just want to rebuild his life in seclusion. This
would be understandable, of course, but his abominable treatment
deserves to be more than a mere footnote in the history of the Bush
administration’s vile and unprincipled policies of “extraordinary
rendition” and torture.
Andy Worthington is a British historian, and the author of
‘The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in
America’s Illegal Prison’ (published by Pluto Press). Visit
his website at: www.andyworthington.co.uk He can be reached at: