American media carries a Pakistani detainee’s first public account of CIA torture in US court

American media carries a Pakistani detainee's first public account of CIA torture in US court
American media carries a Pakistani detainee's first public account of CIA torture in US court

NEW YORK, Oct 30 (APP): Majid Khan, a Pakistani detainee at the notorious United States Guantanamo Bay military prison, who was brutally interrogated at U.S. government secretive prisons described in court for the first time the intense CIA abuse tactics he endured, according to multiple American media reports.

Khan, 41, a legal US resident who lived in Baltimore and turned al Qaeda courier, told a military jury on Thursday about forced feedings and enemas, water boarding and other physical and sexual abuse he was subjected to from 2003 to 2006 in the CIA’s overseas prison network, the reports said.

He is the first-ever former prisoner of the CIA’s secretive prisons, known as “black sites”, to describe openly the inhumane “enhanced interrogation techniques” that agents used to press information and confessions from terrorism suspects and that were officially ended in 2009. Majid Khan said interrogators began to torture him shortly after his capture in March 2003 in Pakistan, though he cooperated and told them everything he knew.

“Instead, the more I cooperated, the more I was tortured,” he was quoted as saying in The New York Times. Some of Khan’s accounts were included in a 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report that accused the CIA of torturing al Qaeda prisoners far past legal boundaries with little proof the interrogation techniques produced useful information.

Reading from a 39-page account on Thursday, Khan described being beaten, starved, suspended naked from the ceiling with a hood over his head for long periods, chained in a way that kept him awake for days and held under water until he nearly drowned.

“I thought I was going to die,” he said. His account did not identify CIA agents or other countries or foreign intelligence agencies that had a hand in his secret detention, as that information is protected at the national security court, the reports said. “I would beg them to stop and swear to them that I didn’t know anything,” he said, as reported by the National Public Radio (NPR).

“If I had intelligence to give I would have given it already but I didn’t have anything to give.” Khan spoke on the first of what is expected to be a two-day sentencing hearing at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, where a panel of military officers can sentence him to between 25 and 40 years in prison. He is expected to serve a far shorter sentence due to cooperation with U.S. officials and a secret plea deal, according to the reports.

That deal will reduce Khan’s sentence to no more than 11 years with credit for time already spent in custody since his February 2012 guilty plea. Khan came to Maryland at the age of 16 when his family moved and were granted asylum in the 1990s. He graduated from a suburban Baltimore high school and worked for a telecommunications contractor in the Washington, D.C., area at the time of the 9/11 attacks. Khan said he became radicalized after his mother died earlier in 2001 and during a family trip to Pakistan in 2002 his relatives showed him “propaganda videos” about Guantánamo’s detention center.

He apologized for his actions, claiming full responsibility, and said he has forgiven his captors and torturers and just wants to be reunited with his wife and a daughter who was born while he was detained. His father wept through long stretches of the descriptions, at times hiding his head in his hands, while his sister, also tearful, tried to comfort him. The jury of Marine, Navy and Army officers watched, but displayed no emotion, according to The New York Times.

He received beatings while nude and spent long stretches in chains — at times shackled to a wall and crouching “like a dog,” he said, or with his arms extended high above his head and chained to a beam inside his cell. He was kept in darkness and dragged, hooded and shackled, his head slamming into floors, walls and stairs as he was moved between cells. Before the C.I.A. moved him from one prison to another, he said, a medic inserted an enema and then put him in a diaper held in place by duct tape so he would not need a bathroom break during flights.

Guards moving him would hood him, aside from the time he had his face duct taped. While held in a Muslim country, he said, his captors allowed him to pray. But at times the Americans did not, the Times reported. Earlier accounts released by his lawyers said he was so sleep deprived for a time that he began to hallucinate.

He described the experience: images of a cow and a giant lizard advancing on him inside a cell while he was chained to a beam above his head. He tried to kick them away but lost his balance, causing his chains to jerk him. Khan gained attention with the release of a 2014 study of the C.I.A. programme by the Senate Intelligence Committee that said, after he refused to eat, his captors “infused” a puree of his lunch through his anus. The C.I.A. called it rectal refeeding. Khan called it rape.

The C.I.A. pumped water up the rectum of prisoners who would not follow a command to drink. Khan said this was done to him with “green garden hoses. They connected one end to the faucet, put the other in my rectum and they turned on the water.” He said he lost control of his bowels after those episodes and, to this day, has hemorrhoids.

He spoke about failed and sadistic responses to his hunger strikes and other acts of rebellion. Medics would roughly insert a feeding tube up his nose and down the back of his throat.

He would try to bite it off and, in at least one instance, he said, a C.I.A. officer used a plunger to force food inside his stomach, a technique that caused stomach cramps and diarrhea. The intelligence agency declined Thursday to comment on the descriptions offered in the hearing but noted that the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program ended in 2009. Lawyers sought permission to bring Khan’s wife and daughter, who was born after his capture, to the court, but the commander of the military’s Southern Command, which oversees prison operations, opposed their attendance, according to the Times.

Like Khan, who acquired permanent resident status as a boy in the United States but never became a U.S. citizen, his wife and daughter are citizens of Pakistan. Mr. Khan began by telling the jury that he was born in Saudi Arabia and was raised in Pakistan, the youngest son of eight siblings, until his father acquired a gas station in Maryland and moved the family to the United States when he was 16. He went on to graduate from a high school in suburban Baltimore and was working for a telecommunications contractor that managed the Pentagon phone system at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks. He described the attacks and the death of his mother months earlier in 2001 as a turning point in his life. Until then, he said, he had straddled two worlds: his traditional Pakistani family life and that of an American teenager.

After his mother died, he said, he was drawn to practicing Islam. He rejected the explanation that Muslims had carried out the attack, “thinking that this was just another way the universe was kicking me while I was down, making me question my faith in Islam.” During a family trip to Pakistan in 2002 — in which both he and his sister found spouses in arranged marriages — he encountered relatives, cousins and an uncle who had in earlier years joined the jihad in Afghanistan and had ties to Al Qaeda.

“I was lost and vulnerable, and they went after me,” he said, including by showing him “propaganda videos” about the detention operation at Guantánamo, the base where he would be transferred for trial in 2006. “I went willingly to Al Qaeda,” he said. “I was stupid, so incredibly stupid. But they promised to relieve my pain and purify my sins.

They promised to redeem me, and I believed them,” Khan was quoted as saying by the Times.

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