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Jordanian describes hell at US prisons

IslamOnline.net
By Tareq Delwani, IOL Correspondent
July 5, 2004


AMMAN, July 5 (IslamOnline.net) – Jordanian Wesam Abdul Rahman never imagined that he will end up in the notorious Guantanamo detention camp in Cuba after an odyssey that took him to other inhumane US prisons spread across Afghanistan.

He was released from the notorious US Guantanamo Camp in Cuba in March 2004, put into a plane to Istanbul, Turkey, then flown to Jordan. He was released recently after the Jordanian security authorities were finished with him.

What he saw in the US-run facilities out there dwarfed the unspeakable torture and abuse by US troops of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Gharib.

Lengthy interrogation sessions, sleep deprivation, severe isolation, poor food rations and showers available only once every three months were regular features of his daily regimen in Bagram, Afghanistan, where a tragedy that will haunt him ever after starts.

"I was arrested by Iranian security forces en route back to Jordan from Pakistan only to be handed over to the Afghans on March 1, 2002," Abdul Rahman opened his exclusive statements to IslamOnline.net.

"Shortly afterwards, I was harshly questioned by US interrogators in an underground prison, where I spent 14 months in a dimly lit, pocket-size room packed with other prisoners from Jordan, Iraq, Tajikistan, Yemen, Uzbekistan and Tunisia," added bony Abdul Rahman, who lost some 40 kilograms of his weight.

They were surviving there on only three pieces of bread a day and piled up so that they can have some sleep.

Abdul Rahman was then moved to a sickening solitary confinement to spend an entire one year without charge or access to lawyers.

The Hell In Bagram

Beating to death, stripped naked before female soldiers, insulting the Noble Qur’an and Islam, thrown on the floor with their hands and feet tied together are some of the torture tactics used by the US jailers in Bagram, 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of Kabul, according to Abdul Rahman.

"At Bagram, we arrived - with hour heads covered in plastic bags, legs shackled and hands cuffed - to a flood of insults, swear words, kicks and sexual abuse," Abdul Rahman spoke about the worst days of his life.

He went on: "The US jailers used to let loose their dogs to intimidate and provoke us, taking delight in seeing us gripped with fear. They also forced us to take off our clothes and stand in a way I’m ashamed to describe. We regularly underwent anus checks, which was the most humiliating."

Abdul Rahman said that he and some 70 other prisoners were also denied the right to perform their daily prayers and recite the Noble Qur’an.

"As days went by, I realized that I would end up in a tomb or be sentenced to life in a US prison."

Asked about the interrogation techniques, Abdul Rahman said the US interrogators used to extract false confessions on their links with Al-Qaeda network.

"We categorically denied such allegations and lie detectors proved us right," he said.

"Though I denounce the activities of Al-Qaeda, I can now understand their hatred and grudge towards the Americans. I will never forgive them. My only charge was being a Muslim."

The American military has a primary detention facility at their main base at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

Another 19 transit detention centers are placed around the country, some in very rugged and remote areas where troops from a 20,000-strong US-led force are fighting Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other militants.

So far, only the International Committee of the Red Cross has been able to visit the estimated 300 people detained at Bagram.

‘Journey To Guantanamo’

Abdul Rahman was told then that he would be taken in a "journey" to Guantanamo.

"I couldn’t sleep that night because of the appalling conditions of the prisoners there. They threw us inside a military cargo plane with our hands tied to its sides. After 26 hours of flying, we arrived in Cuba exhausted only to collapse later because of the physical duress and lack of food and water," Abdul Rahman added.

In Guantanamo, matters were much worse. One poorly-served meal a day, no beds, cells with poor ventilation and sometimes without windows can sum up the situation there.

"Even the religious guides were just spies for the Americans. The people who appeared on TV screens playing football joyfully were not also prisoners. They are misleading the world," Abdul Rahman said.

Abdul Rahman also refuted US claims that most of the detainees are A-Qaeda members, saying only five percent of them belonged to Osama Bin Laden’s network.

"Most of us were teachers in Pakistan or volunteers in Islamic relief agencies," he said.

Two allegations of prisoner abuse emerged in Afghanistan following international outcry over the treatment of detainees in Iraq.

The allegations are believed to include assault, poor living conditions and sleep deprivation.

The US military said Saturday, July 3, it was investigating a new allegation of prisoner abuse in Afghanistan.

In a landmark ruling, the US Supreme Court endorsed June 28 the right of prisoners held incommunicado at Guantanamo to challenge their captivity in American courts.


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