You are here: Home / Projects / The Guantánamo Testimonials Project / Testimonies / Testimonies of the Prisoners / Guantanamo Bay Detainee Statements (Al Murbati)

Guantanamo Bay Detainee Statements (Al Murbati)

This is a summary of the statements made by Mr. Isa Ali Abdulla Al Murbati to his lawyers. It is taken, verbatim, from pp. 10-14 of Guantanamo Bay Detainee Statements, a document produced in May 2005 by attorneys Mark Sullivan and Joshua Colangelo-Bryan, of the firm Dorsey & Whitney LLP.

Pursuant to an order entered by the U.S. District Court in the habeas corpus litigations initiated by a number of prisoners, all notes taken during client interviews with Guantánamo prisoners must be reviewed by the Department of Defense and deemed unclassified by them. The statements on which the Sullivan and Colangelo-Bryan summary are based have been reviewed by the Department of Defense and deemed unclassified. 

Pursuant to the court order and military regulations, the notes are to be sent by military personnel, via secure means, to a secure facility in Crystal City, Virginia, where counsel with security clearance are permitted to review classified materials. In violation of the court order and military regulations, the attorney-client-privileged notes that the attorneys provided to U.S. military personnel at Guantanamo Bay following one visit were sent via regular mail from Guantanamo Bay to the secure facility. The notes they took with Isa Ali Abdulla Al Murbati during that visit never arrived at the secure facility. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, these notes may have been "lost in the mail." As a result, they were unable to include as many statements from Mr. Al Murbati as they would have otherwise.

Summary of Mr. Al Murbati's Statements

Mr. Al Murbati was seized in Pakistan in or around November 2001. Thereafter he was transferred to U.S. custody in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

A. Treatment While in U.S. Custody in Afghanistan

One night shortly after being transferred to Kandahar, Mr. Al Murbati was shackled to a pole outside in very cold weather. Approximately every hour, U.S. military personnel threw cold water on Mr. Al Murbati while he was shackled to the pole. The next morning, Mr. Al Murbati was taken to an area that was surrounded by barbed wire and away from other detainees; Mr. Al Murbati believes he was taken to this area because the Red Cross visited the main detention areas on certain days. That evening, Mr, Al Murbati was shackled again to the pole and water was thrown on him throughout the night again. This pattern persisted for approximately a week.

Mr. Al Murbati saw detainees at Kandahar whom he estimates were twelve years old. On one occasion, MPs shackled a young detainee's hands behind his back and forced the detainee onto his stomach. One MP lifted the youth's hands and another MP lifted the youth's feet so that the youth was held several feet in the air. The MPs then dropped the youth to the ground.

Mr. Al Murbati met an elderly detainee at Kandahar. The detainee said that he was over 100 years old. MPs forcibly shaved this detainee's beard.

Mr. Al Murbati was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in or around early summer 2002.

B. Camp Delta

1. Conditions in Camp Delta

A unit of MPs, known as Unit 94, worked in the India and Papa blocks of Camp Delta approximately two years ago. The members of Unit 94 wore a distinctive circular arm patch containing the emblem "9/4." The members of Unit 94 were almost uniformly large in size.

Unit 94 conducted searches of persons and cells in a particularly rough manner. Often Unit 94 MPs shackled two detainees together to bring them outside, where full body searches (including cavity searches) were conducted; unlike other groups of MPs, Unit 94 MPs nearly always performed cavity searches. When moving detainees from cells, Unit 94 MPs made shackles particularly tight and would often pull detainees' arms behind their backs very violently.

On one occasion, members of Unit 94 threw rocks at the cell block imam during prayers.

At night, members of Unit 94 would hit rocks with brooms throughout the cell block, making sleeping virtually impossible.

In September and October 2003, Mr. Al Murbati was housed in Camp Delta's Romeo Block. During this period, Mr. Al Murbati was told frequently that his detainee classification level had been changed. Because detainees are allowed different sets of items based upon level, MPs frequently gave and took items from Mr. Al Murbati during this period. On one occasion, two

(end of page 10)

lieutenants (a man and a woman) and a sergeant came to Mr. Al Murbati's cell and told Mr. Al Murbati that he had been classified as a level-four and would have to forfeit certain items. Mr. Al Murbati said that he would give the items back. The sergeant said that a full search would have to be performed of Mr. Al Murbati's cell and person, including a cavity search. Mr. Al Murbati protested that a routine search would be sufficient.

The lieutenants, who were standing on different sides of Mr. Al Murbati's cell, then sprayed mace at Mr. Al Murbati simultaneously. Mr. Al Murbati was blinded. He felt a blow to his chest that rendered him almost unable to breathe. An IRF then entered the cell and threw Mr. Al Murbati down, thereby hitting Mr. Al Murbati's shoulder and head on the floor. The IRF shackled Mr. Al Murbati and took him to the shower to rinse the mace from his eyes.

A different group of MPs worked in Camp Delta before and after Unit 94, This group of MPs wore dark circular arm patches with a white rectangle in the center.

On one night in the Mike Block of Camp Delta, the lights in Mr. Al Murbati's cell were suddenly turned off; normally, the lights were on continuously even during the night. Mr. Al Murbati then heard a dog barking and a very bright spotlight was shined in his face. Members of the unit that wore the dark circular arm patch entered Mr. Al Murbati's cell. The MPs told Mr. Al Murbati to get off his sleeping mat and go to his knees, facing the wall. When Mr. Al Murbati did not respond immediately, the MPs sprayed mace in his face.

An IRF then took Mr. Al Murbati to an isolation cell. In the isolation cell, Mr. Al Murbati suffered a cut on his hand. An MP saw this cut and, evidently, reported it to an officer. The officer came to Mr. Al Murbati's isolation cell and sprayed mace on Mr. Al Murbati. Then, an injection was given to Mr. Al Murbati that made him very sleepy. Mr. Al Murbati was taken to the psychiatric block in Camp Delta where he was kept for several days without further incident.

2. Interrogations in Camp Delta

Within a few days of arriving at Guantanamo Bay, two older interrogators dressed in civilian clothing showed Mr. Al Murbati a document. The interrogators told Mr. Al Murbati that the document was a transcription of an audiotape made of a high-ranking al Qaeda member from Kuwait that described potential targets. The interrogators asked Mr. Al Murbati where the next attack would occur. When Mr. Al Murbati was unable to respond he was put in solitary confinement and threatened with a transfer to Egypt where, he was told, he would be tortured.

Typically, Mr. Al Murbati's interrogations in Camp Delta were conducted from approximately 6 a.m. until 4 p.m., or from 10 p.m. until 4 a.m. For the entirety of most sessions, Mr. Al Murbati was made to sit on the floor with his ankles shackled to the floor and with his hands pulled under his legs and also shackled to the floor.

During certain interrogations, the air conditioning was set very high, making the interrogation room quite cold. At other times, there would be no air conditioning, making the interrogation room very hot.

On multiple occasions, the floor of the interrogation room had been treated by what appeared to be a mixture of water and a powerful cleaning agent This mixture would be thrown on Mr. Al

(end of page 11)

Murbati's face and body, causing great irritation. Because he would be shackled when this occurred, Mr. Al Murbati was unable to do anything to alleviate the irritation.

Especially when the air conditioning was turned off, the cleaning agent that was put on the floor would make breathing difficult. The cleaning agent also caused mucous discharges from Mr. Al Murbati's nose.

Several days after a contentious interrogation, Mr. Al Murbati was taken from Camp Three to Camp One. There, in an interrogation room, he was shackled to the floor by his hands and feet, with his hands pulled underneath his legs. For approximately 12 hours, very loud music and white noise was played through six speakers arranged close to Mr. Al Murbati's head.

This technique was used on multiple other occasions as well, most of which occurred in or around Ramadan 2003 (October and November). In certain sessions, multiple flashing strobe lights were used as well; these lights were so strong that Mr. Al Murbati had to keep his eyes closed. The interrogation rooms were always cold when the music and strobe lights were employed. Generally, Mr. Al Murbati was not asked any specific questions during these sessions, although sometimes he was told that he needed to cooperate generally.

When Mr. Al Murbati was not in the interrogation room during this period, he was moved from cell to cell in the Tango and Oscar blocks, typically on an hourly basis. As such, Mr. Al Murbati was never able to sleep for more than short periods even when not in the interrogation rooms. Mr. Al Murbati knows of at least one other detainee (Faruk el Meki, a Saudi) who was subjected to similar treatment with respect to the use of music in the interrogation room and frequent moves among cells.

At other times, when Mr. Al Murbati was shackled and facing away from the door someone would enter the room quietly and then blow a very loud horn in Mr. Al Murbati's ear.

Interrogators (as well as MPs) would often tell Mr. Al Murbati that the European detainees had all been sent home and that the Afghan and Pakistani detainees were being sent home as well. The interrogators would say that only the Arabs would be left at Guantanamo Bay.

During one session, Mr. Al Murbati was shoved violently into the wall of an interrogation room. For this reason, he refused to walk back to his cell. He was then dragged by his shackles toward the cell; Mr. Al Murbati has a scar on his ankle that he attributes to this event. Because the dragging caused Mr. Al Murbati to bleed, he was placed on a stretcher and carried back to his cell. There, the MPs who had been carrying Mr. Al Murbati forced his head into the toilet and flushed the toilet.

On another occasion, Mr. Al Murbati entered an interrogation room that had liquid on the floor, which smelled of urine. Mr. Al Murbati was shackled so as to be sitting in the liquid. An interrogator in civilian clothing ran a mop through the liquid and then over Mr. Al Murbati's body and face. The interrogator said to Mr. Al Murbati, "see what Zaccaria did to you." Mr. Al Murbati understood that the interrogator was referring to a detainee from Yemen named Zaccaria; Mr. Al Murbati believes that he had heard this detainee in the interrogation room before he entered.

(end of page 12)

Interrogators employed religious themes at times. For example, while Mr. Al Murbati was shackled to the floor, songs were played that had Arabic-language lyrics praising Jesus Christ. An interrogator once told Mr. Al Murbati that if he "admitted his mistakes" he would be "delivered like Jonah from the whale." Another interrogator pressed Mr. Al Murbati about why Christians were not allowed to touch the Koran; Mr. Al Murbati answered that under certain circumstances not even Muslims were supposed to touch the Koran.

C. Camp 5

Mr. Al Murbati has been in Camp 5 since in or around May 2004. Typically, he is allowed an hour of exercise once per week in a very small outside area. However, at times, Mr. Al Murbati has been interrogated instead of being allowed to exercise. Also, there have been times when the Red Cross has visited Camp 5 and exercise has not been permitted.

1. Conditions in Camp 5

The water from the faucet in Mr. Al Murbati's cell is often yellow. If a white wash cloth is placed under the water when it is running yellow, the wash cloth will turn yellow. Mr. Al Murbati receives no bottled water. Generally he is allowed to take one to two showers per week, although on occasion no showers are permitted.

The food in Camp 5 is of very poor quality. Mr. Al Murbati rarely receives MREs.

There is a detainee named Abu Adbul Aziz in Camp 5 whom Mr. Al Murbati met in Camp Delta. Mr. Aziz could walk when Mr. Al Murbati met him. Now, however, Mr. Aziz is always in a wheelchair, even in the shower. Mr. Aziz told Mr. Al Murbati that approximately a year ago, he was made to sit on the floor in Camp Delta by four MPs. The MPs pushed Mr. Aziz's head forward violently and to an extreme angle, causing Mr. Aziz great pain. Mr. Aziz was then shackled tightly and put into a car where he sat for a number of hours before being taken to the Naval Hospital. According to Mr. Aziz, an x-ray was taken that showed that bones in his back had been broken.

While in Camp 5, Mr. Al Murbati was designated a level-one detainee. One day, a young, white sergeant who has a reputation for being difficult with detainees gave Mr. Al Murbati breakfast without a spoon, Mr. Al Murbati pushed his hands out of the slot in his cell door through which food is passed and demanded a spoon. Evidently, this startled the sergeant.

Shortly thereafter, Mr. Al Murbati was taken to an interrogation session. After the interrogation, seven MPs, including the sergeant, came to the interrogation room. The sergeant said that based on the earlier incident Mr. Al Murbati would be designated as level-two. The sergeant demanded that Mr. Al Murbati hand over the white t-shirt that Mr. Al Murbati was wearing because white t-shirts are only for level-one detainees. Mr, Al Murbati said that he would hand over the shirt when he returned to his cell. The MPs then held Mr. Al Murbati down and cut the shirt off.

Several days later, Mr. Al Murbati was given another white t-shirt, apparently by mistake, and taken to an interrogation room. There, the sergeant came again and said that Mr. Al Murbati could not wear a white t-shirt. Mr. Al Murbati gave the t-shirt to the sergeant and was then taken

(end of page 13)

back to his cell. After entering his cell, Mr. Al Murbati put his shackled hands through the slot in the cell door so that the shackles could be removed per the usual procedures. The sergeant grabbed the belt that is attached to the shackles and pulled it violently, even putting his foot against the cell door to create greater leverage. This caused Mr. Al Murbati's hands and forearms to be pulled through and against the small metal slot, causing significant injury. During counsel's first visit with Mr. Al Murbati in October 2004, Mr. Al Murbati was wearing a cast due to the injuries he suffered during this incident.

2. Camp 5 Interrogations

For the past few months, Mr. Al Murbati has not been interrogated often. Prior to that, he was typically interrogated once or twice a week. During those interrogations, Mr. Al Murbati was told frequently that if he cooperated, he would receive good "recommendations." He was told that if he did not cooperate, he would be transferred back to Bahrain to be imprisoned, sent to Saudi Arabia where "they have no mercy" or kept at Guantanamo Bay forever. He also has been told that if he is returned to Bahrain that he could be sent to Saudi Arabia at the request of the Saudis.

During one interrogation session, Mr. Al Murbati told his interrogator that the interrogator should talk to his lawyer. The interrogator told Mr. Al Murbati, "do you think your lawyer can bring you home? You are in our control. Your lawyer is nothing and can't help you,"

Abu Abdulla, a Kuwaiti in Camp 5, reported to Mr. Al Murbati that he had been told by an interrogator not to talk to his lawyers because it "would not be good" for him.