FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Post 9/11 Torture Network

by PATRICK COCKBURN

Here is an account by a Libyan, who did not want to disclose his name, of what it was like to be tortured by Libyan security. He says: “I was blindfolded and taken upstairs. I was shocked with electricity and made to sit on broken glass. They were kicking and punching me until I confessed. I said ‘No’.” This went on for over a week.

One day the interrogators tied his hands behind his back and took him upstairs. He continues: “They opened the door and I saw my son and wife. There were five or six members of security with masks. They tied me to a chair and one of them said: ‘Do you want to sign or should we torture them?'”

According to the prisoner one of the interrogators took his 10-month-old son and put a wire on his hand and “he screamed and his face turned red”. The little boy appeared to stop breathing. Soon afterwards the prisoner signed the confession demanded by Libyan security.

The testimony about the baby’s torture in front of his father was recorded by Human Rights Watch in Tripoli in 2005. The same year the UK signed a Memorandum of Understanding accepting Libyan diplomatic assurances that torture would not be used against Libyan exiles repatriated from the UK to Libya. Few documents agreed to by a British government exude so much hypocrisy and cynicism.

Will the close co-operation on what amounted to farming out torture by the CIA and MI6 to Muammar Gaddafi and his interrogators be forgotten in the rush of events in Libya? Western intelligence services presumably hope so. The fragile and divided Libyan authorities may think twice before quarrelling with the very organizations whose aid over the past six months enabled them to defeat Gaddafi.

I saw Abdelhakim Belhaj, the head of the military council controlling all militia brigades in Tripoli, last week and asked him about how he was arrested in Malaysia, tortured in Thailand, and sent back for more torture and imprisonment in Abu Salim prison in Tripoli. Given the Libyan rebels’ reliance on Nato air strikes, I thought it likely that Belhaj, a founder of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group which had been accused of links to al-Qa’ida, would avoid talking about his rendition. Instead Belhaj showed that he was still a very angry man. He said he was considering suing those responsible.

It is good that Belhaj is not willing to cover up what happened to him, and that his story is confirmed by documents in Tripoli proving the cosy relationship between MI6, the CIA and Gaddafi. It should help to discredit the way in which the world’s most disgusting and oppressive dictators have been able in the decade since 9/11 to claim that anybody opposing them was an Islamic fundamentalist linked to al-Qa’ida. By 2003 the government of Uzbekistan boiled to death two prisoners and still got a US grant for its security services.

The degradation of standards started almost immediately in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban with the denial of the status of prisoners of war being granted to captives. In northern Afghanistan General Rashid Dostum, a warlord of notorious brutality but an ally of the CIA, had hundreds, if not thousands, of prisoners buried alive or packed into containers to suffocate.

It now turns out that several of the rebels who played a crucial role in overthrowing Gaddafi, and have been lauded as freedom fighters by Western leaders, were among those savagely tortured by MI6’s friends in Abu Salim. This might just begin to turn the tide against the systematic mistreatment of prisoners which has become such a hallmark of the security world since 9/11.

PATRICK COCKBURN is the author of  The Occupation: War, resistance and daily life in Iraq and Muqtada! Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia revival and the struggle for Iraq.

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s China-Bashing
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
Dean Baker
Time for an Accountable Federal Reserve
Ted Rall
Working for US Gov Means Never Saying Sorry
Dave Welsh
Hunger Strikers at Mission Police Station: “Stop the execution of our people”
John Eskow
The Death of Prince and the Death of Lonnie Mack
May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail