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A Saudi detainee narrates his torture in Guantánamo

Al-Arabiya
September 9, 2007                                                                    
                    Get Arabic original here.

Forced to wear women's clothes to confess

Dubai. Saudi Guantánamo detainee, Muhammad al-Qahtani, confirmed he was exposed to beating and humiliation in prison. That is why he had to confess his prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, he said.

The United States claims that al-Qahtani is the 20th hijacker of the 9/11 group. Formal documents indicated he was tortured badly in his prison, including being beaten, held for long durations in physically uncomfortable situations, threatened with dogs, exposed to very loud music, locked in very cold rooms, and being exposed naked before female US soldiers.

“Some ways to torture al-Qahtani were to force him to wear women clothes, to threaten him with dogs, and to imprison him individually for 160 days”, general Randall Schmidt, an Air Force officer, said. “For about 48-54 days, al-Qahtani was interrogated 18-20 hours daily”, Schmidt added.

Schmidt concluded that although al-Qahtani was treated very badly, he faced nothing irregular and was not actually tortured [sic] since he was not deprived from food, water, or health care, in addition to the fact that he was not physically harmed.

On the other hand, the Saudi detainee said he had to confess and admit to the US accusations under the stress of torture. He said he had to confirm he traveled to Afghanistan in 2001, received training to carry out terrorist attacks, and met with Osama Bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda where he agreed to perform a suicide attacks for al-Qaeda.

However, al-Qahtani denied all of that, according to what al-Hayat newspaper published on Sunday 9/9/2007, where he said: ”I’m a businessman, I’m peaceful and have no connection at all with terror, aggression, or fighters”.

“When torture stopped, I explained over and over again that all what I said was incorrect, I have no intention to kill innocents whatsoever“, al-Qahtani told the Administrative Review Board.

This is the first time the American authorities allow al-Qahtani quotes to be published since he was detained in Guantánamo five years ago. His records in the US say that he was about to be the 20th hijacker to take over one of the planes that were used to execute 9/11 attacks. He was blocked by immigrations officers in the Orlando Airport (Florida), who denied his request to enter the United States.

“Authorities found $2400 with al-Qahtani upon his arrest, and he had no return ticket, besides the first hijacker Mohammed Atta was waiting for him”, said Jeffery Gordon, the spokesman of the US defense ministry. “We believe he is a dangerous terrorist”.

Gordon claimed that the US deals with the detainees humanely, and that they condemn the use of torture. Nevertheless, Army interrogators concluded in 2005 that al-Qahtani faced severe torture. That was confirmed by the ex-secretary of defense Rumsfeld, who justified that by saying that detainee might not confess easily when interrogated.

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