On torture tactics: Death threat a routine CIA technique, says Zaeef

Published: December 15, 2014
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He noted he had witnessed some prisoners, including al Qaeda suspects, unconscious and severely beaten, and their bones fractured. PHOTO: AFP

He noted he had witnessed some prisoners, including al Qaeda suspects, unconscious and severely beaten, and their bones fractured. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: 

Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, who had served as an Afghan ambassador in Pakistan during the Taliban rule in Afghanistan, while commenting on a recently revealed CIA torture techniques report has shared his own heart-wrenching memories being detained for four years at the Guantanamo Bay – US prison camp in Cuba.

The US military and security agencies kept hundreds of terror suspects including Afghans and Pakistanis for years and their defence lawyers say most of them were kept without fair trial and legal rights.

“Death threats to me and other Guantanamo inmates were a routine technique of the guards. They used to force us to give information to the interrogators. Once three gunmen and two guards, holding big sticks, threatened to shoot and beat me if I did not reply to questions by an interrogator,” Zaeef told The Express Tribune in an exclusive interview by phone.

Zaeef has written in his book that he was handed over to the US troops at Peshawar airport days after he was picked up from his residence at the posh F-10 sector of Islamabad in late 2001. Then Pakistani officials insisted Zaeef had been handed over to Afghan authorities at Torkham border after Islamabad de-recognised the then Taliban government. He was released in September 2005 after languishing in US detention centers at Bagram, Kandahar in Afghanistan and Guantanano.

“Depriving prisoners of sleep and keeping them in solitary confinement were also common techniques to force the inmates to share information. I could not sleep for a whole month,” the ex-Afghan envoy mentioned.

He went on to say that an Afghan national and the al Qaeda leader Khalid Sheikh Muhammad were shifted to Guantanamo from Afghanistan in boxes.

“The Afghan national had told me he was forced to remain in a box for eight days,” Mullah Zaeef replied when asked how other prisoners were treated at Guantanamo.

He noted he had witnessed some prisoners, including al Qaeda suspects, unconscious and severely beaten, and their bones fractured.

Zaeef believes that it was not only the CIA but all American state institutions were responsible for the ill-treatment meted out to the prisoners.

“I do not think the US administration had any respect for human rights. They pursue policies only for own interests,” he said.

When his attention was drawn to condemnation of the CIA’s brutal acts by President Ashraf Ghani, who has also sought a report about Afghan prisoners, Zaeef said the Afghan government is “helpless and no one will listen to it.”

Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2014.

 

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Reader Comments (10)

  • lkhan
    Dec 15, 2014 - 1:15PM

    Guantanamo is a black mark against democratic rights so precious to the citizens of the USA and its constitution. Cheney and company’s policies make them no better than those they pursued. Torture tactics make one just as inhumane as terrorists in the first place, and beyond limits of international laws – exactly what extremists would desire, excellent propaganda against democracies. Absolutely no justification for it.

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  • ajeet
    Dec 15, 2014 - 1:37PM

    At least it has put the fear of the other gods into the minds of the extremists.

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  • Striver
    Dec 15, 2014 - 2:01PM

    Those extremists forcing Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism should be taken to Baghram and Guatanamo to put some fear into their hearts.

    Only week states respect human rights. Powerful ones flout it.

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  • Ranjha
    Dec 15, 2014 - 4:27PM

    @ajeet:

    All the class ridden, hateful hindus in the US have corroded the morality of this once beautiful nation, built on the principals of kindness, fairness and equality! The people of the US are slowly realising that these pundits littering their halls of power and academia are a curse whose only job is to work as sleeper agents for mother india to export more and more jobs there, leaving the people of the US destitute!

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  • Hamid Niazi
    Dec 15, 2014 - 4:47PM

    “…unfazed that many of the foreign nationals rounded up and held for years, including those tortured, eventually were found not to be terrorists…”

    The fact he is unfazed, unremorseful and would do it again describes the barbaric values held by this same country that brutalised Black slaves, Indigenous Indians and more recently justified the shooting of Blacks by the Police Force.

    The debate is not and must not be if useful information was received or not, the Question is how can you ever justify TORTURE. Sheikh Khalid Mohammed has been DROWNED (water boarded) 183 times, deprived of sleep for over 180 hours, left in a box for over 7 days ……. By any description this is torture.

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  • bahaha
    Dec 15, 2014 - 6:18PM

    The natural question that arises is revenge when and how? Forgiveness only if Bush condi and the IMF chief are handed over to an international court of justice. That’s the way its done in this world

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  • unbelievable
    Dec 16, 2014 - 4:10AM

    I don’t suppose he finds it ironic that he represented a regime which gave nobody a fair trial, executed people in the thousands, prohibited free speech, no newspapers, no soccer, no TV, and they wouldn’t have allowed him to publish a book either. His regime was so abhorrent/terrible that there were only two countries on the planet that would recognize it.

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  • Gurion
    Dec 16, 2014 - 11:18AM

    @Striver:

    Only week states respect human rights.

    You have a grudge against the month and the year states?!

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  • Gurion
    Dec 16, 2014 - 11:22AM

    @Striver:

    Those extremists forcing Muslims and
    Christians to convert to Hinduism
    should be taken to Baghram and
    Guatanamo to put some fear into their
    hearts.

    Tell me all about how Islam spread in the world.

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  • Sexton Blake
    Dec 16, 2014 - 1:59PM

    As usual we have the normal idiots supporting US torture or castigating Indians, and given time others castigating Pakistanis.

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