Torture News Roundup: A Woman Tortured?

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Top Story

  • Female prisoner at Bagram:  In an interview, Binyam Mohamed revealed that there was a female prisoner  when he was imprisoned at Bagram in June 2004 for around 3-4 months:

    1.  He saw a female prisoner wearing a shirt with the number 650 at Bagram prison.

    2.   The guards frightened the male prisoners into not talking with the woman prisoner for fear that the prisoners “would know who she was.”

    3.  In terms of how this woman may have been tortured, Binyam knew that the woman was kept in isolation and he “could tell that she was severely disturbed.”

    4.  Binyam heard that she had children, but did not see the children at Bagram.

    5.  The woman was from Pakistan and she had studied or lived in America.

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Binyam identified Aafia Siddiqui from the picture on the right in the introduction, which is similar to this courtroom sketch in 2008:

BM: Basically, nobody talked to her in the facility, and she was held in isolation, where…she was only brought out to the main facility just to use the toilet.  But all I knew about her was that she was from Pakistan, and that she had studied, or she had lived in America.  And the guards would talk a lot about her, and I did actually see her picture when I was here a few weeks ago, and I would day she’s the very person I saw in Bagram.

CP: And that’s the very picture I showed you of Aafia Siddiqui?

BM: That’s the very picture I saw.

Aafia Siddiqui is an “An American-educated neuroscientist who is the only woman accused of working for al-Qaeda’s top leadership.” She is a mother of 3 children, fundraiser for Islamic causes, and is married to Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, known as Ammar alBaluchi, a nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who the US says claimed to be the 9/11 mastermind.  The US alleged that Dr. Siddiqui had opened a post office box in Maryland for Majid Khan, who lived in Baltimore and now is imprisoned at Guantanamo.

A major story about Aafia Siddiqui has been the “mystery” about her “disappearance with her children from the Pakistani city of Karachi in 2003.”  It was suspected that the US government rendered her to a black site :

Her family claimed that she was abducted and imprisoned in a secret US detention centre. Six human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have listed her as a possible “secret detainee”.

On March 18, 2003, the FBI issued an “alert requesting information” about Dr. Siddiqui , who disappeared around March 28, 2003.  The US was claiming that Dr. Siddiqui was linked to al Qaeda suspects Khan and her husband, who both disappeared from Karachi at the same time as her:

Majid Khan and Ali ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Ali both disappeared from Karachi at almost precisely the same time as Siddiqui did. They did not reappear until September 2006, after their transfer to Guantanamo from CIA custody. For more than three years, they had been secretly held by the CIA or one of the CIA’s proxies. Like many others, they had been arrested by the Pakistani intelligence services and handed over to CIA as part of the “war on terror.”

The Pakistani media reported that Dr. Siddiqui had been “picked up in Karachi by an intelligence agency” and “shifted to an unknown place for questioning.” A Pakistani “government spokesman” later said “she had been handed over to US authorities in 2003.”

In 2004, the US government named Siddiqui as “one of seven suspected al-Qaeda associates feared to be planning at attack.”

Washington said, however, that it had no information linking her to any specific terror attack and that she had not been charged with any terrorist offences.

Binyam says he saw her at the Bagram prison during the summer of 2004. Dr. Siddiqui’s lawyer stated that her client “doesn’t know how many years, but it was the same location, and her captors were Americans, and the treatment was horrendous.”

Media reports indicate that “her movements until 2008 are uncertain.” It’s a bit interesting that in 2008 a western aid worker and journalist publicly alleged that Dr. Siddiqui was imprisoned at Bagram based upon a book written by a former prisoner.

The FBI then said Dr Siddiqui was arrested on 17 July 2008 in the Afghan province of Ghazni by local security forces who allegedly found documents including recipes for explosives and chemical weapons in her handbag.

The official government story is that the US did not  meet up with Dr. Siddiqui until after she was arrested by the Afghan police for suspicious behavior.  When she was arrested, she had a “handbag full of chemicals and information on chemical, biological and radiological weapons, as well as descriptions of “various landmarks” in the United States.” FBI agents and US soldiers “interrogated her the following day” when the 90-pound woman grabbed one of their guns:

The soldiers were unaware that she was being held behind a curtain and a warrant officer put his M4 rifle on the ground.

Ms Siddiqui allegedly grabbed the rifle and fired two shots at a US army captain but an interpreter pushed the gun away as she fired. As the soldiers returned fire, she was hit at least once. “The warrant officer saw and heard Siddiqui fire at least two shots as Interpreter 1 tried to wrestle the gun from her. No one was hit,” the criminal complaint says. “The warrant officer heard Siddiqui exclaim, ‘Allah akbar!’ Another interpreter heard Siddiqui yell in English, ‘Get the f*** out of here!’ as she fired the rifle.”

While Dr. Siddiqui was shot at least once, she had not yet been treated by a medical doctor in the US when she appeared for her bail hearing before a NY court on August 11, 2008.  The    judge “ordered the government to provide a doctor” as it appeared that she had “non-trivial medical issues”.  So, for almost a month, while she had “received some medical attention since coming” to the US, she had not yet been treated by a medical doctor because the prosecutors considered her a “high security risk.” Dr. Siddiqui attended the bail hearing in a wheelchair because she feared “she was bleeding internally, and has 6-8 stitches on her abdomen from surgery after she was shot.”

In March 2009, a US court concluded that her “mental disease” rendered her unfit for trial.  The federal prosecutors disagree, claim that she is faking any mental illness. The court will hold a hearing this June on her competency to stand trial.  One child was with Dr. Siddiqui when she was captured in Afghanistan but the other two children are still missing.

How Prisoners Were Tortured

  • A new British complicity case involves Rangzieb Ahmed, who had 3 fingernails removed and was threatened with an electric drill:

    Three fingernails had been extracted from Ahmed’s left hand by the time he was deported to the UK in September 2007, after 13 months in Pakistani custody.

    Amin was questioned several times by MI5 officers after being detained by ISI in April 2004 and held for 10 months. He says that before being questioned by two MI5 officers who called themselves Matt and Chris, he was beaten by ISI officers, deprived of sleep and threatened with an electric drill.

  • New pictures taken last year show sexual torture. In this older picture, one prisoner was forced to masturbate in front of other prisoners and US soldiers. A Sunday Herald report provides glimpses of some pictures not publicly disclosed yet. The report states that some of the “US torture pictures were taken by members of the American 800th Military Police Brigade sometime late last year” while others involve Lynndie England who was at Abu Ghraib:

    In other pictures, two naked Iraqis are forced to simulate oral sex and a group of naked Iraqi men are made to clamber on to each other’s backs. One dreadful picture features nothing but the bloated face of an Iraqi who has been beaten to death. His body is wrapped in plastic.

    Other pictures, which the world has not seen, but which are in the hands of the US military, include shots of a dog attacking a prisoner. An accused soldier says dogs are “used for intimidation factors”.

    There are also pictures of an apparent male rape. An Iraqi PoW claims that a civilian translator, hired to work in the prison, raped a male juvenile prisoner. He said: “They covered all the doors with sheets. I heard the screaming … and the female soldier was taking pictures.”

Evidence of Torture

Investigations & Prosecutions

  • Today, Spain OKs probe of torture complaint against Bush’s torture lawyer team.

    A senior Spanish judge has ordered prosecutors to investigate whether key Bush aides should be charged with crimes over the Guantanamo Bay detention center, a lawyer said Sunday.

    …The prosecutor’s office will make a decision within five days, said Boye, one of the report’s authors. Garzon accepted the complaint under Spanish law because there were several Spaniards at Guantanamo who allegedly suffered torture.

    …It names Gonzales, … and other top Bush administration officials John C. Yoo, Douglas J. Feith, William J. Hayes II, Jay S. Bybee and David S. Addington.

  • The Spanish criminal complaint leaves door open for adding higher ranked Bush officials. Experts say this complaint may be successful because it is filed against lower-ranking government team of lawyers, but is worded to allow adding Bush to the proceedings if investigation provides evidence of responsibility for the torture. The complaint uses the recently declassified DOJ memos.
  • The Salt Lake Tribune editorial calls for “tracking torture” by investigation, and possibly prosecutions.

    President Barack Obama must, for the sake of the country and its standing in the world, appoint an independent commission to fully investigate the Bush administration’s secret use of torture and other breaches of the laws and principles embodied in America’s founding documents.

    It is not enough, as the new president has done, to condemn and to renounce policies that compromised the United States’ long commitment to basic human rights, and to international standards of humane treatment of prisoners of war.

    We need a bipartisan commission to determine precisely how and why this happened, and to identify all the people responsible for it. But the commission should not be charged with undertaking a criminal investigation. That is the responsibility of the Justice Department and, ultimately, the courts.

Status of Guantánamo Prisoners

  • Albania: Obama petitioned to accept Uighurs in US.  A former Chinese Muslim Guantánamo prisoner, Abu Bakker Qassim, wrote President Obama on March 24, asking that his 17 compatriot Uighurs still imprisoned be released and allowed to live in the US.
  • Human Rights Watch urges Obama DOJ to expedite status review and release of juveniles imprisoned at Guantánamo for more than 6 years.

    * Mohammed el Gharani – a Chadian who was brought to Guantanamo at the age of 15. Although a federal court ruled in January 2009 that the government’s evidence is too weak to justify el Gharani’s continued confinement, he remains in Guantanamo.

       * Mohammad Jawad – an Afghan brought to Guantanamo at the age of 16 or 17, who has been charged with attempted murder by a military commission. He was reportedly subjected to torture and other abuse while in US custody, and has attempted suicide at least once.

       * Omar Khadr – a Canadian brought to Guantanamo at the age of 15, who has been charged with murder by a military commission. Previously held in prolonged solitary confinement, he also reports having been subjected to torture and abuse.

       * Mohammad Khan Tumani – a Syrian brought to Guantanamo at the age of 17, who has as reportedly subjected to physical and psychological abuse . He has not been charged with an offense.

       * Fahd Abdullah Ahmed Ghazni – a Yemeni brought to Guantanamo at the age of 17. Although he was cleared by the US government to leave Guantanamo more than a year ago, he remains in detention.

  • GOP NIMBY resolution wants Obama to keep Gitmo prisoners away from Camp Pendleton.

    The Obama administration didn’t specifically cite Camp Pendleton as a likely site to relocate prisoners from the Cuban prison; it simply hasn’t excluded it from the list, and this is what Harkey along with several members of congress have tried to do. Representatives Darrell Issa, Brian Bilbray, and Duncan Hunter have unveiled House Resolution 633, which would prevent federal funds from being used to transfer prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to the Naval Consolidated Brig at Miramar, California, the Camp Pendleton Base Brig–or to construct facilities for those detainees at those locations.

Additional News


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  1. neither firefox nor safari wanted to let me in.

    also posted at orange land.

    this is 2nd week of this new series.  

  2. Thank you, PDNC, for this comprehensive summary of others summary of others who have been tortured and “disappeared,” and other news!  Particularly, the in-depth story of Aafia Siddiqui, which seems so suspicious in all respects.  I suppose it had to do with her charity work that she was “kidnapped” and, quite apparently, renditioned, along with her children.  What a horror story!

    Every bit of the torture that we have come to know that has been committed in our names sickens one inside, so much so, it’s hard not to wake up at night, sometimes, without that sick feeling inside.

    The action of the Spanish court is encouraging to say the least. And another action which took place is also encouraging.  If you have not yet seen it, it is here.  Although I find it pathetic and a statement by our own country that we have yet to take appropriate action toward accountability by the high level officials of the Bush Administration, I am pleased, nonetheless, to see the actions being taken by the International community.

    Good job, PDNC!

  3. Aafia Siddiqui was married to Mohammed Khan, with whom she had 3 children. He divorced her around the time of the birth of the third, and there is quite a bit of acrimony between him and her family.  The marriage to Ammar al Baluchi that is often cited, as you cited it, is denied by her family, and should properly be classed as part of the information that presses allegations of terrorism against her.

    The suspicions against her for terrorism, and Majid Khan, and Uzair Paracha and his father, stem from the interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, and should be viewed as information derived from torture. The allegations about her doing work in blood diamonds in Africa are fairly well discounted by the facts surrounding the alleged transaction, and prosecutors in the ICT-SL say it isn’t uncommon for someone to make this sort of identification without there being any merit to it.

    Thanks for posting this. There have been quite a few female prisoners in Afghanistan, and the International Justice Network documents thousands of child prisoners. Many had come to believe that ‘Prisoner 650’ and Aafia Siddiqui were two different people, since the U.S. Central Command confirmed Prisoner 650, but said she was not Ms. Siddiqui. Now we get Binyam Mohamed again saying they are the same person.

    Also, for inclusion in your documentation, the Ghazni police had a different version of the shooting at the police station in Ghazni, it was documented by Reuters Asia on August 5, 2008:

    Afghan police in Ghazni however, told a different story. They said officers searched Siddiqui after reports of her suspicious behaviour and found maps of Ghazni, including one of the governor’s house, and arrested her along with a teenage boy.

    U.S. troops requested the woman be handed over to them, but the police refused, a senior Ghazni police officer said.

    U.S. soldiers then proceeded to disarm the Afghan police at which point Siddiqui approached the Americans complaining of mistreatment by the police.

    The U.S. troops, the officer said, “thinking that she had explosives and would attack them as a suicide bomber, shot her and and took her”. The boy remained in police custody.

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