Tag Archives: CIA
Special report: Rendition ordeal that raises new questions about secret trials
In 2004, Fatima Bouchar and her husband, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, were detained en route to the UK, and rendered to Libya. This is the story of their imprisonment, and the trail of evidence that reveals the involvement of the British government.
Just when Fatima Bouchar thought it couldn’t get any worse, the Americans forced her to lie on a stretcher and began wrapping tape around her feet. They moved upwards, she says, along her legs, winding the tape around and around, binding her to the stretcher. They taped her stomach, her arms and then her chest. She was bound tight, unable to move.
Bouchar says there were three Americans: two tall, thin men and an equally tall woman. Mostly they were silent. She never saw their faces: they dressed in black and always wore black balaclavas. Bouchar was terrified. They didn’t stop at her chest – she says they also wound the tape around her head, covering her eyes. Then they put a hood and earmuffs on her. She was unable to move, to hear or to see. “My left eye was closed when the tape was applied,” she says, speaking about her ordeal for the first time. “But my right eye was open, and it stayed open throughout the journey. It was agony.” The journey would last around 17 hours.
Bouchar, then aged 30, had become a victim of the process known as extraordinary rendition. She and her husband, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, a Libyan Islamist militant fighting Muammar Gaddafi, had been abducted in Bangkok and were being flown to one of Gaddafi’s prisons in Libya, a country where she had never before set foot. However, Bouchar’s case is different from the countless other renditions that the world has learned about over the past few years, and not just because she was one of the few female victims.
Documents discovered in Tripoli show that the operation was initiated by British intelligence officers, rather than the masked Americans or their superiors in the US. There is also some evidence that the operation may have been linked to a second British-initiated operation, which saw two men detained in Iraq and rendered to Afghanistan. Furthermore, the timing of the operation, and the questions that Bouchar’s husband and a second rendition victim say were subsequently put to them under torture, raise disturbing new questions about the secret court system that considers immigration appeals in terrorist cases in the UK – a system that the government has pledged to extend to civil trials in which the government itself is the defendant.
Jesse Curtis Morton: February 17, 2012* (Solitary Confinement: A First-Hand Reflection on Domestic Torture in a Time of Terror)
They locked me in this room, Alone, by myself, just me –
With no one to talk to except for the walls, or the face in the mirror I see.
So I sit, listen, and watch
the television in my head
Not a notion to move nor a second spared
I record everything that is said –
Absence of Kindness, Distinct Memories of Pain
Caused by the things that they took away
So I’m holding my breath,until they let me out
But I’m afraid of what might happen the next time I breathe.
I wrote that poem when I was 17. These days I am living it; all over again. Then it was a proverbial prison. I was a conscious youth inside one of the most dangerous institutions of America: the public high school. Today, 16 years later, I am in another – the U.S.prison system where I am but one of a growing number of Muslim Americans who dared to speak out. Today I am a pretrial federal inmate housed in solitary confinement and in conditions that best resemble those of Guantanamo Bay.
Trust me I am not alone. In 1994, my junior year of high school, the U.S. Justice Department announced that the prison population had reached one million. By 2009, that number had more than doubled to 2.3 million with 5 million more on probation or parole. U.S. citizens now represent only 5% of the global population but account for 25% of the world’s prisoners. Additionally,1 in15 Americans is in “extreme poverty” with 48% of Americans labeled “in poverty” or “working poor”, but a recent Gallup poll documented that the percentage of Americans that realize the levels of poverty are so high, has dramatically decreased. These two seemingly distinct sets of statistics suggest something more sinister is going on.
The civil rights era included prison protests like the Attica riots of 1971 and paved a way for productive reform, but today talk of human rights tends to cover a manipulative compromise with the power elite and diverts attention away from structural cause. Generally prisoners today have enhanced rights and services but like the starving people fed by NGO’s in Africa or refugee camps in Afghanistan, such rights and philanthropy are counterproductive where they allow society to ignore the root causes of such appalling levels of crime, punishment, hunger or war. These contradictions become apparent with regard to civil liberties in a time of confrontation, when the citizen is reduced to an object of propaganda about domestic enemies in order to maintain public support for wars abroad.
The authors of the American constitution unanimously resented any sacrifice of civil liberties in the name of national security, but the reaction to 9/11, the immediate passage of the Patriot Act and a new approach to law enforcement the Bush Administration called a “preventative paradigm” ushered in an order of sustained national liberty sacrifice. These changes disproportionately affected American Muslims, however while “terrorists” abroad were “disappeared”, water boarded and held without charges at Guantanamo Bay, the courts approved warrantless wiretapping, ethnic profiling, blacksite rendition and preventative detention targeting Muslims on America’s shores. Wartime propaganda alongside a wave of arrests utilizing entrapment, where undercover agents encourage fund, and coerce potential terrorist attacks, have helped to sustain support. Recent polling documents that two-thirds of Americans support sacrificing some privacy and freedoms in the fight against terrorism. Read the rest of this entry »
When I first read the U.S. government’s complaint against Aafia Siddiqui, who is awaiting trial in a Brooklyn detention center on charges of attempting to murder a group of U.S. Army officers and FBI agents in Afghanistan, the case it described was so impossibly convoluted—and yet so absurdly incriminating—that I simply assumed she was innocent.
According to the complaint, on the evening of July 17, 2008, several local policemen discovered Siddiqui and a young boy loitering about a public square in Ghazni. She was carrying instructions for creating “weapons involving biological material,” descriptions of U.S. “military assets,” and numerous unnamed “chemical substances in gel and liquid form that were sealed in bottles and glass jars.”
Siddiqui, an MIT-trained neuroscientist who lived in the United States for eleven years, had vanished from her hometown in Pakistan in 2003, along with all three of her children, two of whom were U.S. citizens. The complaint does not address where she was those five years or why she suddenly decided to emerge into a public square outside Pakistan and far from the United States, nor does it address why she would do so in the company of her American son.
The New York Police Department recommended increasing surveillance of thousands of Shiite Muslims and their mosques, based solely on their religion, as a way to sweep the Northeast for signs of Iranian terrorists, according to interviews and a newly obtained secret police document.
The document offers a rare glimpse into the thinking of NYPD intelligence officers and how, when looking for potential threats, they focused their spying efforts on mosques and Muslims. Police analysts listed a dozen mosques from central Connecticut to the Philadelphia suburbs. None has been linked to terrorism, either in the document or publicly by federal agencies.
The Associated Press has reported for months that the NYPD infiltrated mosques, eavesdropped in cafes and monitored Muslim neighborhoods with plainclothes officers. The police department’s spying operations were begun after the 2001 terror attacks with help from the CIA in a highly unusual partnership.
The May 2006 NYPD intelligence report, entitled “US-Iran Conflict: The Threat to New York City,” made a series of recommendations, including, “Expand and focus intelligence collections at Shi’a mosques.”
The NYPD is prohibited under its own guidelines and city law from basing its investigations on religion. Under FBI guidelines, which the NYPD says it follows, many of the recommendations in the police document would be prohibited.
The report, drawn largely from information available in newspapers or sites such as Wikipedia, was prepared for Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. It was written at a time of great tension between the U.S. and Iran. That tension over Iran’s nuclear ambition has increased again recently.
Police estimated the New York-area Shiite population to be about 35,000, with Iranians making up about 8,500. The document also calls for canvassing the Palestinian community because there might be terrorists there.
“The Palestinian community, although not Shi’a, should also be assessed due to presence of Hamas members and sympathizers and the group’s relationship with the Iranian government,” analysts wrote.
The secret document stands in contrast to statements by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said the NYPD never considers religion in its policing. Commissioner Kelly has said police go only where investigative leads take them, but the document described no leads to justify expanded surveillance at Shiite mosques.
The document also renews debate over how the NYPD privately views Muslims. Commissioner Kelly has faced calls for his resignation recently from some Muslim activists for participating in a video that says Muslims want to “infiltrate and dominate” the United States. The NYPD showed the video to nearly 1,500 officers during training.
Documents previously obtained by the AP show widespread NYPD infiltration of mosques. It’s not clear, however, whether the May 2006 report prompted police to infiltrate the mosques on the list. One former police official who has seen the report said that, generally, the recommendations were followed, but he could not say for sure whether these mosques were infiltrated.
A current law enforcement official, also familiar with the report, said that since it was issued, the NYPD learned that Hezbollah was more political than religious and concluded that it’s not effective to monitor Shiites.
Both insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the program.
The Justice Department’s investigation into the deaths of two detainees in Central Intelligence Agency custody should conclude soon, Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday.
Holder made no mention of proceeding with prosecutions in the cases and suggested they would be closed.
“There were ….things that were done during the course of those interrogations that are antithetical to American values, that resulted in the deaths of certain people,” Holder said during testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “That investigation has run its course. We are at a point where we are about to close those investigations.”
Holder stirred significant controversy by re-opening inquiries into alleged abuses involving about 100 terrorism suspects during the “enhanced interrogation techniques” program authorized by President George W. Bush and during interrogations before that program was formally authorized.
Seven former CIA chiefs asked President Barack Obama to shut down the probes, but he did not do so. Then-CIA director Leon Panetta also reportedly objected to the renewed inquiries, saying they could demoralize Agency personnel.
Last year, Holder announced that the bulk of the inquiries would be closed, but that a full investigation would proceed into two detainee deaths.
The probe, conducted by a federal prosecutor from Connecticut, John Durham, reportedly used a grand jury investigation in Alexandria, Va. to look into the deaths, including that of a prisoner in Afghanistan at a site called the Salt Pit.
A spokesman for Durham had no comment Thursday.
By Josh Gerstein
Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi serve claim on Sir Mark Allen in first test of legislation described as a ‘licence to kill’
Two prominent Libyan dissidents are suing a former senior MI6 officer in a move which could expose the role of ministers in the men’s abduction to Tripoli, where they say they were tortured by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s secret police.
Lawyers for Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi have served a claim on Sir Mark Allen, the MI6 officer at the centre of the affair. They are suing Allen, then the most senior officer in MI6 responsible for counter-terrorism, alleging “complicity in torture” and “misfeasance in public office”.
Whitehall officials have repeatedly defended MI6′s actions, saying the agency was following “ministerially authorised government policy.”
The case will be the first significant test of a little-known piece of legislation, section seven of the 1994 Intelligence Services Act, which protects MI6 officers from liability for criminal acts abroad as long as their actions have been authorised by a cabinet minister.
Jack Straw, who was foreign secretary at the time, and former prime minister Tony Blair, have both sought to distance themselves from the matter. In a BBC radio interview, Straw said: “No foreign secretary can know all the details of what its intelligence services are doing at any one time.”
Straw declined to comment on Monday but has said in the past that he was “always happy to deal with any questions relating to his time as home secretary or foreign secretary”.
The two men are also claiming damages for “unlawful detention, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, batteries and assaults” by US, Thai, and Libyan agents.
In a claim which has been sent to government lawyers, the men’s solicitors, Leigh Day, told Allen that if he denied the claims, they would demand disclosure of documents, including MI6 communications with Gaddafi’s government, the CIA, MI5 and other British government agencies. The law firm has demanded a response within six weeks.
Suleiman Abdallah Salim is a Tanzanian national who was abducted in Somalia in April 2003 by a notorious Somali warlord known as Mohammed Deere, well-known for being in the pay of the CIA. During his capture at the hands of Deere’s henchmen, Suleiman was so badly injured that he had to be taken to hospital. However, after less than 24 hours he was dragged from his hospital bed by Deere, and delivered to some Americans who were waiting at an airstrip just outside Mogadishu.
After a short time in Somalia, Suleiman was taken to Nairobi, where he was held near the airport for eight days, and interrogated by members of the CIA and FBI. It appears that initially Suleiman’s interrogators thought that he was someone else – a Yemeni – but even so, they did not release him. After eight days in Nairobi, Suleiman was taken on a CIA plane to Bossasso in Somalia, and then to Djibouti. From Djibouti, Suleiman was taken to Afghanistan, where he spent over five punishing years in secret US prisons, including the notorious Dark Prison, the Saltpit, and finally Bagram Airforce Base.
During his entire time in US custody, Suleiman never saw a lawyer, nor was he allowed any contact with family members. Indeed, Suleiman’s family had absolutely no idea where he was until he reappeared over five years after his disappearance.
Ultimately, Suleiman was released back to Tanzania in July 2008, with a piece of paper from Bagram saying that he was not considered a threat to the United States. To this day, Suleiman has been given no assistance at all by any of the governments or individuals complicit in his abduction, secret detention and torture, and there is no court in the world where he could bring a case with any hope of getting through the doors of the court, let alone an award to help him get on with his life.
Undeterred, since his release, Suleiman has worked to rebuild his life again, and has done remarkably well so far. Last year Suleiman married a local woman, who has recently given birth to a baby girl. However, Suleiman is struggling to provide for his new family, and he cannot find work in his already, economically depressed island home. Suleiman is looking for funds to travel to Japan where he has been offered a job loading containers in a dock, and to provide for his new family whilst he gets himself on his feet.
You can donate to Suleiman at the following bank account details below:
Account name: Suleiman A Salim
Account number: 5391729998
Swift Code: EXTNTZTZ
Chips UID 370780
Bank Address: Exim Bank (T) Ltd, Dar-Es-Salam, Tanzania
Written by Arnaud Mafille
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Ten years after the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, many in America, in Europe or in the Muslim world now challenge the western presence there. In 2001, some of those sentiments already existed but were covered by the trauma of 9/11. In that context of fear and emotion, the announcement of the arrest of a European “al Qaeda lieutenant” was a key element to conduct and justify the invasion of Afghanistan both in France and the UK.
On 7 October 2001, allied armed forces officially launched “Operation Enduring Freedom”, the invasion of Afghanistan. The enemy had been designated and the US and the UK governments had secret evidence proving that Osama bin Laden was behind the attacks and the Taliban were the helpers of Al Qaeda. Questions regarding the official line were not given any weight.
Emotion and fear were also at their pinnacle in France. When George W. Bush Jr sent an ultimatum to the Taliban regime only few days after the 9/11, the French population was wondering if their military should be part of the foreseeable invasion of Afghanistan. Read the rest of this entry »
In summary, it is the same again and again …
If you are Muslim, more or less young, bearded, attending a mosque, who has childhood friends, neighbours or co workers sharing the same convictions, if you communicate between each other – like everyone else – by phone … This, then, becomes an ideal “terrorist” cell, a network of “sleepers” to perfection, which, tomorrow might need to make one of JT and the press’s headlines. This cell can then be yet another addition to the hunt bag of French terrorist hunters. These hunters, who in reality are the antiterrorist judges, specialise in this field. In the legal domain, they are specialists only in the morbid arts of burying the living in the graveyards of solitary confinement and legal torture, as well as in the arts of making false records, resemblances of cases and fantastical accusations.
As for the sentences, they distribute the maximum possible on those who are culturally educated and well instructed to make them seem like the heads. They make the rest look like a bunch of blunt knives and give them just under the maximum sentence, which holds the same torments of destroying their familial, professional and social lives.
Recent revelations in Wikileaks, relayed by the daily Le Monde, 1 December 2010, written by Piotr Smolar, whose courage I salute (it is rare to see such evidence from a journalist when it comes to judicial French injustice committed with impunity against, what is meant by term, Islamists), finally gave credible evidence and a voice to the somewhat muffled cries that I have been consistently pushing from the abyssal areas of `total isolation and legal torture’ of the French prisons for the past ten years! Read the rest of this entry »