Tag Archives: rendition
Refusing to collude with the FBI and resisting enlistment into the agency’s army of informants and agent provocateurs is proving to carry hefty consequences. The most recent case of Yonas Fikre is the latest in a string of punitive prosecutions that demonstrate the US government’s eagerness to punish Muslims for their unwillingness to become the devils’ advocates.
Yonas Fikre, an American Muslim now residing in Sweden, was tortured in the United Arab Emirates at the behest of the US government shortly after refusing to become an informant for the FBI.
On 1 May, less than three weeks after Fikre’s allegations were made public, the Justice Department charged Fikre, his brother, Dawit Woldehawariat, and a third man, Abrehaile Haile, with conspiring to hide $75.000 worth of money transfers to the UAE and Sudan from the government, all in violation of federal reporting requirements for large international financial transactions. Woldehawariat, Fikre’s brother, was also charged with failing to file a tax return in 2009 and 2010. There are no allegations of terrorism associated with the charges.
After being stranded abroad by being placed on the No-fly List, Yonas was ominously ’warned’ by a US official about a possible lack of co-operation during an initial courtship to endear his services: ‘The time to help yourself is now‘ the missive ended. Shortly after that, he was abducted and tortured.
Gadeir Abbas, a lawyer with the Council on American-Islamic Relations who has been working with Fikre, informed Mother Jones that the federal charges were retaliation for Fikre’s refusal to cooperate with the FBI.
‘It is disappointing but not surprising that the FBI is retaliating against Yonas by filing specious charges against him after they promised to make his life difficult after he refused to become their informant. While FBI agents lied to Yonas about many things, in this case, it seems that they have kept their word.’
Thomas Nelson, Fikre’s Portland, Oregon-based lawyer, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that he was unaware of the charges against his client. But Abbas said he’s been in touch with Nelson since then and the two are working together to decide what to do next.
Yonas Fikre candidly discusses the FBI’s failed attempt to recruit him as an agent provocateur, followed by the chillingly account of his subsequent arrest and torture in the UEA after the agency placed him on the no-fly-list, barring him from returning to the US. The details of his ordeal and evidence strongly suggest that Emirati intelligence arrested and tortured Fikre not only with the knowledge of the FBI but at their behest.
It’s sometimes easy — too easy — to think, talk or write about the assault on civil liberties in the United States, and related injustices, and conceive of them as abstractions. Two weeks ago, the Editorial Page Editor of The New York Times, Andrew Rosenthal, wrote that ever since the 9/11 attacks, the United States has created ‘what’s essentially a separate justice system for Muslims.’ That should be an extraordinary observation: creating a radically different — and more oppressive — set of rules, laws and punishments for a class of people in the United States based on their religious affiliation is a disgrace of historic proportion. Yet here we have someone occupying one of the most established media positions in the country matter-of-factly observing that this is exactly the state of affairs that exists on American soil, and it prompts little notice, let alone protest.
There are many factors accounting for the willingness to tolerate, or even approve of, this systematic persecution, most of which I’ve written about before. But one important reason I want to highlight here is that — as is true of America’s related posture of endless wars — its victims, by design, are so rarely heard from. As is true for most groups of humans who remain hidden, they are therefore easily demonized. This invisibility also means that even those who object in principle to what is being done have difficulty apprehending in a visceral way the devastation that is wreaked in the lives of these human beings who have done nothing wrong. Their absence from our discourse can confine one’s understanding of these issues to the theoretical realm, and thus limit one’s ability to truly care.
I spent the last week traveling to several cities where, without planning to do so, I met dozens of people whose lives have been seriously impeded or fully wrecked by the abuses carried out in the name of the War on Terror. This happens whenever I travel to speak at events, and it’s one of the reasons I do it. Meeting such people isn’t the reason for my travel. These meetings usually are unplanned. But the decade-long abuses carried out in the post-9/11 era are so pervasive, so systematized, that no matter what city I visit, it’s very common for me to end up meeting people — usually though not always Muslims — whose lives have been unjustly and severely harmed by these state actions.
And it’s not only the targeted individuals themselves, but entire communities of people, whose lives are substantially damaged. Being able to meet and speak with people directly affected personalizes the issues for me that are most frequently written about here, and so I want to describe several of those encounters I had just in the last week.
Last June, while Yonas Fikre was visiting the United Arab Emirates, the Muslim and United States Citizen from Portland, Oregon was suddenly arrested and detained by Emirati security forces. For the next three months, Fikre claims, he was repeatedly interrogated and tortured. Fikre says he was beaten on the soles of his feet, kicked and punched, and held in stress positions while interrogators demanded he “cooperate” and barked questions that were eerily similar to those posed to him not long before by FBI agents and other American officials who had requested a meeting with him.
Fikre had been visiting family in Khartoum, Sudan, when, in April 2010, the officials got in touch with him. He agreed to meet with them, but ultimately balked at cooperating with FBI questioning without a lawyer present and he rebuffed a request to become an informant. Pressing him to cooperate, the agents told him he was on the no-fly list and could not return home unless he aided the bureau, Fikre says. The following week he received an email from one of the US officials; it arrived from a State Department address:
“Thanks for meeting with us last week in Sudan. While we hope to get your side of the issues we keep hearing about, the choice is yours to make. The time to help yourself is now.”
Read the rest of this entry »
Re: Aafia’s Upcoming Appeal Process, the Role of Your Government, and Broken promises.
This Friday, February 10, 2012, the world will be watching as court-appointed attorneys (who are paid by the US government, and [who] Aafia has repeatedly attempted to fire) – will argue before a US Court of Appeals and purport to represent my sister’s interests against her will. This mockery of justice is simply yet another example of how Aafia’s conviction of a crime she did not commit is virtually guaranteed in the US “justice” system. Meanwhile, US agents who have perpetrated crimes against her – including kidnapping, torture, assault, and false imprisonment, have not been called to account.
It has now been three and a half years since agents of the US government shot my sister and the beginning of the 10th year since she was abducted – a Pakistani citizen – abducted from Pakistan through a rendition operation locked up in Afghanistan, and forcibly removed from Afghanistan after an implausible shoot out, and illegally transferred her to the United States.
So-called “high-profile” American criminal defense attorneys convinced the government of Pakistan to pay them millions of dollars – and then refused to resign when Aafia did not accept them. Neither did the Pakistani Government intervene. There can no longer be any doubt that Aafia will never receive justice in the US legal system.
I want to remind you today of the promises that you made, your Prime Minister made, Interior Ministry made and Foreign Ministry made. The promises that said Aafia will be back. Raymond Davis and several other mercenaries have walked free from our land, but innocent citizens are languishing due to the negligence and criminal silence of your administration.
Now, more than ever, the fate of this Daughter of the Nation lies in the hands of the Pakistani government to bring her home. We can only but request and protest, How you respond to our plea’s will be your legacy and will define our nation; let it be of Pride, not Shame.
Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui
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.
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 »
On 7 March 2003 a CIA Gulfstream Jet landed at a remote airstrip in north-eastern Poland. Human rights officials and campaigners are convinced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, one of the most senior al-Qaeda suspects, was on board.
American agents took him to a secret facility where, he says, he was tortured before being eventually transferred to Guantanamo Bay.
The secret transfer of CIA prisoners is said to have taken place in both Poland and Lithuania – a region where,
only a generation ago, people were subject to arbitrary detention and torture at the hands of Communist secret police. Now, seven years on, the full story of Poland’s secret detention site is emerging.
Dick Marty, the Council of Europe’s former Rapporteur on Torture, told the BBC: “If I use the judicial standard of proof – and I used to be a magistrate – then I say ‘Yes, Mohammed was in Poland. Yes, he was tortured.‘ Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner on Human Rights, said he now believed detainees had been subjected to “intense torture” and called for prosecutions. Read the rest of this entry »
Contractors greedily grope for tax dollars while rendered meat lays exposed
A billing dispute between contractors in an upstate New York courthouse has revealed documents detailing sensitive information about the CIA’s controversial rendition program.
The CIA program — in which the agency captures and flies terror suspects for interrogation at covert prison sites in countries like Egypt, Syria and Morocco — has long been shrouded in secrecy.
But now documents from a trial in Columbia County provide rare details about the costs — tens of millions of dollars — and operations of the program, including sensitive material like the plane’s logs of air-to-ground phone calls. In one instance, the rendition of a terror suspect cost almost $340,000.
Though the CIA’s secret interrogation program has been closed under the Obama administration, rendition continues in certain circumstances. Critics of rendition say torture was routine during the interrogations.
As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama pledged “a top to bottom review of the threats we face and our abilities to confront them.” He promised a sweeping overhaul of the Bush administration’s war on terror, which he criticized for compromising American values.
But a former high-ranking CIA official reveals that even before he took office, Obama’s team “signaled” they had no intention of rolling back secret programs begun under the Bush administration. In his first televised interview, for next Tuesday’s Top Secret America John Rizzo, a 34-year agency veteran described as “the most influential lawyer in CIA history,” tells FRONTLINE:
I was part of the transition briefings of the incoming Obama team, and they signaled fairly early on that the incoming president believed in a vigorous, aggressive, continuing counterterrorism effort. Although they never said it exactly, it was clear that the interrogation program was going away. We all knew that.
But his people were signaling to us, I think partly to try to assure us that they weren’t going to come in and dismantle the place, that they were going to be just as tough, if not tougher, than the Bush people.
Rizzo, who was forced to withdraw his nomination to become CIA general counsel because of controversy over his role in developing the CIA’s secret detention and interrogation policies, also told us:
With a notable exception of the enhanced interrogation program, the incoming Obama administration changed virtually nothing with respect to existing CIA programs and operations. Things continued. Authorities were continued that were originally granted by President Bush beginning shortly after 9/11. Those were all picked up, reviewed and endorsed by the Obama administration.
Look for more of our exclusive interview with Rizzo, where he talks about his role in approving enhanced interrogation techniques, and creating the CIA’s secret detention system, next week. Top Secret America airs Tuesday, Sept. 6 at 9 pm (check local listings).