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Bangladeshi released from Guantanamo alleges torture

Khaleej Times Online (AFP)
4 March 2007

MOINDH, Bangladesh - A Bangladeshi man held at the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay says he was tortured with electric shocks and accuses his guards of desecrating the Koran.

Mubarak Hussain Bin Abul Hashim, 32, was freed last Thursday after being returned from the United States in December and detained in Bangladesh for a further two months.

Describing his five years at Guantanamo as a “living hell,” Mubarak, who denies any militant links, said his release was the ”happiest day” of his life.

He was one of about 400 “enemy combatant” suspects detained at the base and later released after investigators there found no evidence he had links to Islamic militants. No terrorism charges were ever filed against him.

“I lived for five years in a perpetual state of fear but I thought Allah will save me because I am not a terrorist,” he said, speaking to AFP at his middle-class family home in eastern Brahmanbaria district.

The former madrassa student echoed allegations by other former detainees about desecration of the Koran at the US camp.

“They (the guards) kicked the holy Koran and threw it in the toilet,” he told AFP.

During interrogations, Mubarak also said he received electric shocks, was deprived of food and subjected to cold temperatures at Guantanamo.

“They used to give electric shocks, saying I had links with international terrorist groups. They gave electric shocks for a few seconds, several times in a day when they took me for interrogation,” he said.

“There were air conditioners above the interrogation cells and they used to put us inside the cell at a cold temperature. Some prisoners used to be kept for months in those interrogation cells at low temperatures. I was kept for two days straight without food and without any clothes,” he added.

Mubarak, who is single, said he did not have any immediate plans for his future and was still struggling to cope with the psychological strain of his detention.

“I still cannot sleep properly because these terrible memories haunt me,” he said, adding he could not describe his happiness at finally being reunited with his family.

Other Guantanamo Bay detainees have made allegations of ill treatment. However, a US military probe into abuse allegations found no evidence of improper treatment of prisoners, US officials said last month.

In June 2005, 17 former prisoners returned home to Pakistan with some alleging that guards had desecrated the Koran.

One of the prisoners told AFP at that time he saw guards throw the Koran into a bucket full of urine and faeces. Another said guards had spat on the book.

A German-born Turk, Murat Kurnaz, in January told a German parliamentary committee that he was tortured with electric shocks while in US custody in Afghanistan.

The US Defense Department said in June 2005 an investigation it carried out found that overall US soldiers at Guantanamo Bay handled the holy book with respect, but added the Koran had been kicked and a copy sprayed with urine in separate incidents.

Mubarak was arrested in Pakistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks and flown to Guantanamo. Bangladesh police had said Muabark was picked up in the Pakistani city of Peshawar and then handed over to the United States.

The son of a Muslim cleric, Mubarak said he had gone to Peshawar to study at a madrassa.

Mubarak’s father has said the US authorities “destroyed” his son’s life. He said that his son was “a victim of the American war on terror.”

Although Mubarak has not been indicted on any terrorism-related offences in Bangladesh, he was charged in February with failing to produce a passport on his return to the south Asian country and is now on bail.

About 385 detainees are still being held at Guantanamo.

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