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Terror Suspect Alleges Torture

In late 2002, an FBI agent recounted that one detainee at Guantanamo Bay had been subjected to "intense isolation" for more than three months and that his cell was constantly flooded with light. The agent reported that "the detainee was evidencing behavior consistent with extreme psychological trauma," including hearing voices, crouching in a corner for hours and talking to imaginary people.

According to the e-mails, military interrogators at Guantanamo Bay tried to hide some of their activities from FBI agents, including having a female interrogator rub lotion on a prisoner during Ramadan -- a highly offensive tactic to an observant Muslim man.

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Habib was taken to the Guantanamo Bay prison in May 2002.

Three Britons released from the prison -- Rhuhel Ahmed, Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul -- have said Habib was in "catastrophic shape" when he arrived. Most of his fingernails were missing, and while sleeping he regularly bled from his nose, mouth and ears but U.S. officials denied him treatment, they said.

Habib's attorney, Joseph Margulies, said Habib had moved to Australia in the 1980s but eventually decided to move his family to Pakistan. He was there in late 2001 looking for a house and school for his children, Margulies said. U.S. officials accuse Habib of training and raising money for al Qaeda, and say he had advance knowledge of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Australian media have reported that authorities in that country cleared him of having terrorist connections in 2001 and have quoted his Australian attorney as saying he was tortured in Egypt.

On Oct. 5, 2001, Pakistani authorities seized Habib, and over three weeks, he asserts in a memorandum filed in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, three Americans interrogated him.

The petition says he was taken to an airfield where, during a struggle, he was beaten by several people who spoke American-accented English. The men cut off his clothes, one placed a foot on his neck "and posed while another took pictures," the document says.

He was then flown to Egypt, it alleges, and spent six months in custody in a barren, 6-foot-by-8-foot cell, where he slept on the concrete floor with one blanket. During interrogations, Habib was "sometimes suspended from hooks on the wall" and repeatedly kicked, punched, beaten with a stick, rammed with an electric cattle prod and doused with cold water when he fell asleep, the petition says.

He was suspended from hooks, with his is feet resting on the side of a large cylindrical drum attached to wires and a battery, the document says. "When Mr. Habib did not give the answers his interrogators wanted, they threw a switch and a jolt of electricity" went through the drum, it says. "The action of Mr. Habib 'dancing' on the drum forced it to rotate, and his feet constantly slipped, leaving him suspended by only the hooks on the wall . . . This ingenious cruelty lasted until Mr. Habib finally fainted."

At other times, the petition alleges, he was placed in ankle-deep water that his interrogators told him "was wired to an electric current, and that unless Mr. Habib confessed, they would throw the switch and electrocute him."

Habib says he gave false confessions to stop the abuse.

The State Department's annual human rights report has consistently criticized Egypt for practices that include torturing prisoners.

After six months in Egypt, the petition says, Habib was flown to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

U.S. intelligence officials have said renditions -- and the threat of renditions -- are a potent device to induce suspected terrorists to divulge information. Habib's petition says the threat that detainees at Bagram would be sent to Egypt prompted many of them to offer confessions.

His petition argues that his "removal to Egypt would be unquestionably unlawful" in part because he "faces almost certain torture."

The U.N. Convention Against Torture says no party to the treaty "shall expel, return or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture."

"The fact that the United States would contemplate sending him to Egypt again is astonishing to me," said Margulies, the attorney.

Researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.


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