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12.19 MATERIAL QUESTION
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Fabricating Terrorism: Victims of UK Injustice
Saturday, 24 April 2010
Complicit with America, Britain still denies that all 29 detainees were innocent and uncharged, yet were victimized by horrific torture, abuse, and the involvement of their own government - serious crimes against humanity under Fourth Geneva's prohibitions.
Launched in October 2003, Cageprisoners is a human rights organization dedicated to raising the "awareness of the plight of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay" and other War on Terror victims. As a "comprehensive resource," six words explain its mission: "education, campaign, support, motivation, co-operation (and) prevention" for its efforts to educate the public, campaign for Guantanamo and other detainee repatriations or their asylum, and have prisoner rights guaranteed under international law, including humane treatment not to be:
In April 2009, its report titled, "Fabricating Terrorism II: British Complicity in renditions and torture" followed its same-titled 2006 report. Part I covered 13 cases with evidence based on detainee testimonies, interviews with security service officials, and other research.
Part II updated it (including 16 other cases - 29 in all), focusing on Britain's claim to be a human rights leader. Stating it ratified the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) in 2003, its practices belie its commitment.
Prior to 9/11, Britain became complicit in America's War on Terror, and the worst of its crimes, including renouncing the rule of law, due process, and judicial fairness in persecuting innocent people, subjecting them to barbaric torture, other abuses, and long internments.
Muslims were targets of choice for their faith, ethnicity, prominence, activism, and at times charity. They've been singled out, hunted down, rounded up, held in detention, kept in isolation, denied bail, restricted in their right to counsel, tried on secret evidence and bogus charges, convicted in sham proceedings, then incarcerated as political prisoners for practicing Islam at the wrong time in America and Britain.
Targets were kidnapped, illegally detained, then extrajudicially disappeared to black sites, called extraordinary or irregular rendition, or the practice of forcibly transferring someone from one nation to another. The term is undefined in law.
Sourcewatch calls it "transferring or flying captured terrorist suspects from one country to another for detention and interrogation without the benefit of formal legal proceedings."
Others say it's "torture by proxy" in secret US or foreign black sites where anything goes and commonly does. According to the ACLU, current policies trace back to the Clinton administration, then were broadly expanded post-9/11 to Guantanamo, Bagram, Afghanistan, and facilities in Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Diego Garcia, prison ships, and elsewhere. According to former CIA agent Robert Baer:
In 2005, the British All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition (APPG) was established to investigate charges of UK involvement, because "more likely than not (targets) may be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment." Made up of a "cross party grouping of MPs and Peers from the British parliament," it calls the practice:
Besides being illegal, "the moral case is unassailable: there is simply no justification whatsoever for the UK or the US engaging in torture, whether by direct or indirect means." Nor can it provide reliable information or combat terrorism. Yet the practice continues unabated.
In November 2009, APPG published its "legal proposals to criminalise UK involvement in extraordinary rendition" in a report titled, "Extraordinary Rendition: Closing the Gap."
It called the practice "illegal, immoral, a stark breach of the rule of law and ineffective as a counterterrorism tool." It's unaddressed sufficiently in British law, so it called for "effective legislation to ensure that the UK does not facilitate or support such a practice now or in the future."
It stated that:
Torture Becomes Official US Policy - Britain Endorses It
On September 17, 2001, a secret White House finding empowered the CIA to "Capture, Kill, or Interrogate Al-Queda Leaders," authorizing a covert (black site) global network to detain and interrogate them without guidelines on proper treatment. In response to an ACLU lawsuit, George Bush acknowledged its existence without revealing program specifics, such as detainee locations or details of their confinement.
Claiming "the United States does not use torture," he admitted that "an alternative set of procedures" were involved for information not gotten by conventional means.
According to former CIA Counterrorism Center chief, Cofer Black (in September 2002): "After 9/11, the gloves came off - old" standards no longer apply. They never did but Washington now officially endorses them. UK officials are less forthcoming, but willingly partnered in America's high crimes and abuses, undermining their commitment to human rights and the rule of law.
According to Britain's Lord Bingham, "English common law has regarded torture and its fruits with abhorrence for over 500 years."
The 1984 UN Convention against Torture defines it as:
Article 3 states:
Article 4 says:
In his book titled, "Enemy Combatant: A British Muslim's Journey to Guantanamo and Back," Moazzam Begg wrote:
Fabricating Terrorism II covers 29 case studies "mostly detailing the experiences of British citizens and British residents granted asylum (showing how they) passed through a subterranean system of kidnappings, ghosted to 'black sites,' suffering abuse and torture" to extract information and confessions known to be unreliable and false." In addition, no one was charged with terrorism or other crimes. UK authorities knew it before their rendition, yet allowed it and their torture to happen.
Cageprisoners "found systematic violations of international law," showing senior government officials lied to Parliament, its committees and the public regarding their complicity with America. UK security forces were present during torture interrogations. They supplied falsified evidence leading to kidnappings, renditions, illegal detentions and torture. No evidence proves their direct participation, but they're "unequivocally guilty of facilitating" the above practices and enlisting other States as willing partners. "Not exactly a clean pair of hands."
Cageprisoners published its report in April 2009. Torture, abuse and degrading treatment continue unabated globally under the Obama administration despite promises to end them.
Treatment at Guantanamo and Other Torture Prisons
Despite no involvement in terrorism, prisoners are subjected to horrific torture, abuse, and humiliating treatment as "unlawful enemy combatants" - now called "unprivileged enemy belligerents," defined as anyone (with or without evidence) suspected of "engag(ing) in (or materially supporting) hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners."
International law expert Francis Boyle calls it this legally nihilistic "quasi-category....where human beings (including US citizens) can be disappeared, detained incommunicado, denied access to attorneys and regular courts, tried by kangaroo courts (with no right of appeal, convicted), executed, tortured, assassinated and subjected to" unspeakable treatment.
Whatever its wording, the notion is "a long-defunct World War II era legal category of dubious provenance....superseded by the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949" and their Common Article 3, requiring detainees to be treated humanely and prohibiting:
No longer under the bogus War on Terrorism where imperial rights replace human ones.
Of the original 517 Guantanamo detainees:
Alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was victimized, despite no evidence of his involvement, yet in custody, he:
Since its 2002 opening, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) represented hundreds of Guantanamo detainees, publishing detailed accounts of their treatment that remain unchanged, appalling, and illegal. Besides the above listed ones, they include:
War on Terror Rendition and Torture Case Studies
Examples of UK involvement in several are recounted - subjecting innocent victims to barbarous tortures. They're explained to arouse public outrage enough to stop them and hold those involved (in America and Britain) accountable and punished.
Farid Hilali - A British Resident of Moroccan Nationality
Initially detained in 1999 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), he was tortured and interrogated at the behest of Britain's security services, then sent to Morocco for more. After release, he came to the UK, was arrested on immigration charges, then re-arrested when Spain charged him with terrorism, specifically for alleged 9/11 involvement. The evidence was entirely bogus, but it stuck.
During his UAE interrogation, a British government representative was present. Introducing himself, he explained: "If you want to come out of this problem, you have to cooperate with the British government;" that is, tell what you know meaning say what they wanted to hear, no matter how false.
Failing to "cooperate," Hilali was violently beaten for an extended period, isolated in a dark cell for three days with no food or water, had no human contact, was told it was only the beginning, and it continued in Morocco - not to learn about him, but about Britain and others there, alleged terrorists despite no evidence.
In testimony to his lawyers, Moazzam Begg said MI5 agents first visited him in 1998. Hilali wrote him from Dubai explaining he was arrested in Pakistan, transfered to Dubai authorities, and severely tortured to confess that he belonged to the Armed Islamic Group (GAI) connected to bin Laden.
His case is significant in one respect. It occurred pre-9/11, showing rendition and outsourced torture predated it, but intensified greatly thereafter, Britain very much involved as it remains today.
Binyam Mohamed - a British Resident of Ethiopian Nationality
After being granted UK asylum in 1994, he converted to Islam, then travelled to Pakistan and Afghanistan to learn more about his new faith. Post-9/11, Pakistani authorities arrested, interned, and abused him in the presence of MI6 officers.
He was then renditioned to Morocco, held from July 2002 - January 2004, and reported the following abuse:
British authorities gave interrogators questions and were kept informed, apparently directing the entire process.
In January 2004, Mohamed was flown to Afghanistan, held at the "Dark Prison" near Kabul airport, and remained there until May for more torture, including:
He was then taken to Bagram Airbase, forced to sign a confession that he planned a dirty bomb attack on a US city, so to end his abuse he said "whatever they wanted to hear."
In September 2004, he was transferred to Guantanamo, placed in "super maximum" Camp V, further abused, explaining MI6 officers were very much involved, and at one point said he'd be tortured.
He was an innocent victim, later released, and now resides in Britain.
Jamal Al-Harith - A British Citizen
After converting to Islam, he spent years abroad learning about his new faith. On October 2, 2001, he attended a Pakistan religious retreat, feared he'd be suspected as a British spy, tried leaving for Turkey, but Taliban forces seized and imprisoned him. After the Afghan invasion, he contacted Britain's Kabul embassy, then followed ICRC advice to remain where he was while they tried to arrange for his UK return.
However, US Special Forces intercepted him, said he could fly home, yet took him to Kandahar Airbase where he was stripped naked and beaten, then sent to Guantanamo where he was:
MI5 operatives had full knowledge of his treatment, abandoned one of their subjects, and tried to get him to confess to terrorism, even after checking his background and finding nothing incriminating.
In March 2004, Al-Harith was released, is currently, with other detainees, suing top Bush administration officials for redress, saying:
Omar Deghayes - A British Resident of Libyan Nationality
Like Moazzam Begg, Deghayes wanted to experience life under Taliban rule after seeing how western media distorted it. When war broke out, he left for Pakistan, was arrested and visited numerous times by British officials who said they'd help but didn't, even though they knew he was innocent.
In mid- 2002, he was taken to Bagram Airbase, then to Guantanamo, where torture and abuse took his sight in one eye. He was falsely charged with fighting for the Chechen mujahideen and traveling to Iran with other alleged terrorists.
After six years of incarceration without charge or trial, he was released and now lives in Britain where he's involved in projects helping others at Guantanamo and elsewhere - innocent victims, detained without charges, tortured, and abandoned by their governments.
Shaker Aamer - A British Resident of Saudi Nationality
Working as an Arabic translator in Britain, he went abroad to earn more, and performed charity work in Afghanistan where, post-9/11, an Afghan family kidnapped him, sold him to the Northern Alliance, who turned him over to Americans for bounty.
He was badly abused, taken to Bagram Airbase, starved for nine days, horrifically treated, then moved to Kandahar, beaten, and deprived of sleep. Two British agents visited him, knew he was innocent, witnessed his torture, and didn't help.
After transfer to Guantanamo, torture and abuse continued for another four years. "The complicity of the British government in Aamer's situation is undeniable...."
Yet he was respected for being kind and leading others in a hunger strike to stop horrific, abusive treatment. It took its toll, reflected in his own words, saying:
On February 19, 2010, the London Guardian's Adam Gabbatt headlined his article, "Shaker Aamer: last British resident held in Guantanamo Bay."
Now aged 42, he's a former Londoner with a British wife and four children, in US custody since 2001 after traveling to Kabul to do charity work in June. In December 2007, his release was thought imminent, but he's still incarcerated. After leading a 2005 hunger strike, he was isolated in a six by eight foot cell where he remains, innocent, abused, and guilty of being Muslim in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Tarek Dergoul - A British Citizen
In July 2001, he took an extended holiday to Pakistan, then Afghanistan for a prospective business opportunity. While there, Northern Alliance fighters sold him for bounty to Americans. Britain was complicit from the start.
Incarcerated at Bagram, UK representatives participated in interrogations, understood his situation, yet facilitated his transfer to Guantanamo. In March 2004, he was released, arrested on arrival in Britain, then let go without charge the next day. His experience traumatized him enough to remain silent for months. Finally he spoke publicly, explained his ordeal, and that he suffers from migraines, memory loss and depression.
Moazzam Begg - A British/Pakistani National
In July 2001, he moved to Kabul with his family to continue work on a girls school he helped fund. In October, they left for Islamabad, Pakistan for safety where, in January 2002, Pakistani intelligence and CIA agents abducted him, took him to Kandahar, then Bagram and Guantanamo. He was falsely called an enemy combatant and al-Qaeda member, charges he categorically denies.
During internment, he was kicked, beaten, suffocated with a bag over his head, stripped naked, chained by his hands to the top of a door, left hanging, and led to believe he'd be executed. Mostly in isolation, he was tortured, interrogated over 300 times, threatened with death, and witnessed the murder of two detainees.
After his 2005 release, he documented his experiences in two books: "Enemy Combatant: A British Muslim's Journey to Guantanamo and Back," and "Enemy Combatant: My Imprisonment at Guantanamo, Bagram, and Kandahar," explaining his experiences and Britain's complicity, saying:
Zeeshan Siddiqui - A British Citizen
In May 2005, he was arrested in North West Pakistan, allegedly for involvement with UK Islamic militants, but he was never charged. After his 2006 release, he told the BBC:
British and Pakistani intelligence interrogated him. According to his lawyer, he was severely tortured to extract false confessions of Al Qaeda movements and other terrorist networks. After release, he returned to Britain, was put under a control order restricting his travel, and requiring that he report regularly to local police, even though authorities knew he was innocent. In Pakistan, he performed humanitarian work and had no terrorist connections.
Mohammed Naeem Nor Khan - A Pakistani Citizen
In July 2004, Pakistani authorities arrested him in Lahore after two Malaysian students claimed he was involved in an Al-Qaeda cell. After 18 months of incarceration, he was denied legal representation, the right to defend himself in court, and became a "ghost detainee," despite no incriminating evidence against him.
Allegedly his computer science background made him suspect. In June 2005, the UK Telegraph said MI5 officials interrogated him, obtaining a confession of his involvement in a London cell planning to attack London's Heathrow Airport. It was gotten under duress, the result of torture and abuse.
Never charged or tried, Kahn was released in 2007 after three years of lawless detention and serious abuses.
Abu Faraj Al-Libbi - A Libyan Citizen
After his May 2005 arrest, George Bush called him Al-Qaeda's No. 3, declared a "critical victory in the war on terror," but intelligence officials had doubts. He wasn't one of the FBI's most wanted or on the State Department's "Reward for Justice," list offering up to $25 million for capturing alleged terrorists.
After internment, he was disappeared, taken to a secret Islamabad location, and interrogated by US and Pakistani authorities. Also by UK officials about the July 7, 2005 London transport system bombings and other information he had. He was later taken to Guantanamo where he remains.
Alam Ghafoor - A British Citizen
On a business trip to Dubai with three friends, British authorities asked local authorities to detain and interrogate him. Ghafoor explained:
He was then "surrounded by six or seven Arabs, two or three shouting in English, two or three shouting in Arabic, and one trying to speak in Urdu. There are all these fingers pointing with them saying to me, 'You are the bomber, you are linked to London bomb, we want information from you now.' I was totally gobsmacked, I was like, 'I don't know anything about this.' "
He tried explaining to no avail. They kept him in detention, deprived him of sleep for four days. He felt he was losing his mind and the walls were closing in, finally saying he divulged all he could, but if they'd provide pen and paper he'd write whatever they wanted.
After a few days, they let him shower, shave, and dress in his own clothes. At that point, a British Embassy member met him, saying she'd get him out as soon as possible. He explained he'd been tortured, humiliated and degraded. Throughout questioning, he asked why he was there and was told that British intelligence requested it.
Azhar Khan - A British Citizen
On arrival in Cairo in July 2008, Egyptian authorities detained and subjected him to cruel and inhuman treatment, revealing Britain's involvement. He was held for two days, got no food or water, and couldn't make calls or leave the room.
He was then cuffed, hooded, covered with a blanket, and taken to a secret prison for interrogation, at which time he was subjected to electroshocks, beatings, starvation, sleep deprivation, and painful stress positions for extended periods. He was asked nothing about Egypt, only about Britain and people he allegedly knew there. MI 5 was involved.
Later released to the UK, he was never charged and remains free.
All 29 detainees were innocent and uncharged, yet were victimized by horrific torture, abuse, and the involvement of their own government - serious crimes against humanity under Fourth Geneva's prohibitions against "violence to life and person (including) cruel treatment and torture" as well as provisions for the rights of "protected persons."
Complicit with America, Britain still denies them, in breach of Geneva and other international laws. Post-9/11, War on Terror priorities supercede human rights and civil liberties. Muslims became targets of choice, and still do for their faith at the wrong time in both countries.
Yet writing in the Daily Telegraph in early February 2010, Jonathan Evans, MI5 director-general in 2007, said:
He lied as do his American counterparts.
Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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