Dead Men Left

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


Further accounts of the abuse and torture in Guantanamo Bay have been released, including this telling detail:

Britain and the US last night faced fresh allegations of abuses after a British terror suspect said an SAS soldier had interrogated him for three hours while an American colleague pointed a gun at him and threatened to shoot him.

The allegation is contained in a new dossier detailing repeated beatings and humiliation suffered by three Britons who were captured in Afghanistan, then held in Guantánamo Bay for two years, before being released in March without charge.

Rhuhel Ahmed, one of the "Tipton Three", claims in the 115-page dossier that shortly after his capture in November 2001 he was interviewed in Afghanistan by a British interrogator who said he was from the SAS. Mr Ahmed alleges he was taken by US guards to be interrogated by the British officer in a tent. "One of the US soldiers had a gun to his head and he was told if he moved they would shoot him," the report says. The SAS officer pressed him to admit he had gone to Afghanistan to fight a holy war. Last night the Ministry of Defence said it would investigate the allegation.


The dossier also alleges complicity by Britain in their treatment. The three challenge a claim by the Foreign Office junior minister, Chris Mullin, who in the Commons said no Briton had complained of their treatment in Guantánamo. Mr Iqbal says a British embassy official took down a two-page list of alleged abuses, while the two others say they made their complaints orally. Mr Rasul says he was interrogated by British personnel up to seven times, with MI5 officers questioning the Britons repeatedly.

Victoria Brittain, writing in today's Guardian, adds some background on the brutal incompetence of proceedings:

Bishar al-Rawi, who is Mr Banna's close friend and translator, has lived here for 20 years, including schooling at Millfield, and has a sister and brother here who are British citizens with business interests. The two men were kidnapped by the Americans, with the connivance of the British, while they were on a business trip to Gambia to start a mobile peanut oil factory in October 2002, and taken to Afghanistan.

Mr Rawi's older brother, Wahab, a British citizen, was arrested at the same time in Banjul, but released after 27 days' interrogation, and came back to England having lost $250,000 on his failed business venture. Bishar went through about 50 interrogations in Guantánamo, including some that asked him about the very same Argos catalogue battery charger that got him arrested in the UK in 2002 as he was about to board the plane to Gambia. The British judge threw the case out then.

What is going on here when the US investigators did not know the outcome of the court case in Britain against Bishar? Or that Abu Qatada, one of the Islamic clerics who interest them so much, is in Belmarsh prison?

Nor were they, or British officials in Guantánamo, very quick to find out that, although the investigators forced the Tipton men to confess they were three men in a video of a Bin Laden rally in Afghanistan, their court, workplace and university records show they were at home when the video was shot in 2000.

And how can British intelligence officials quietly go along with the US practice of sending men like Mamdouh Habib, an Australian, to Egypt to be tortured?