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'Fabricating Terrorism:' Victims of UK Injustice

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'Fabricating Terrorism:' Victims of UK Injustice
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UK policeLaunched in October 2003, Cageprisoners is a human rights organization dedicated to raising the "awareness of the plight of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay" and other War on Terror victims. As a "comprehensive resource," six words explain its mission: "education, campaign, support, motivation, co-operation (and) prevention" for its efforts to educate the public, campaign for Guantanamo and other detainee repatriations or their asylum, and have prisoner rights guaranteed under international law, including humane treatment not to be:

  • tortured;
  • indefinitely detained;
  • disappeared; or
  • denied proper legal representation, due process, judicial fairness, and access to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), medical personnel and families.

In April 2009, its report titled, "Fabricating Terrorism II: British Complicity in renditions and torture" followed its same-titled 2006 report. Part I covered 13 cases with evidence based on detainee testimonies, interviews with security service officials, and other research.

Part II updated it (including 16 other cases - 29 in all), focusing on Britain's claim to be a human rights leader. Stating it ratified the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) in 2003, its practices belie its commitment.

Prior to 9/11, Britain became complicit in America's War on Terror, and the worst of its crimes, including renouncing the rule of law, due process, and judicial fairness in persecuting innocent people, subjecting them to barbaric torture, other abuses, and long internments.

Muslims were targets of choice for their faith, ethnicity, prominence, activism, and at times charity. They've been singled out, hunted down, rounded up, held in detention, kept in isolation, denied bail, restricted in their right to counsel, tried on secret evidence and bogus charges, convicted in sham proceedings, then incarcerated as political prisoners for practicing Islam at the wrong time in America and Britain.

Targets were kidnapped, illegally detained, then extrajudicially disappeared to black sites, called extraordinary or irregular rendition, or the practice of forcibly transferring someone from one nation to another. The term is undefined in law.

Sourcewatch calls it "transferring or flying captured terrorist suspects from one country to another for detention and interrogation without the benefit of formal legal proceedings."

Others say it's "torture by proxy" in secret US or foreign black sites where anything goes and commonly does. According to the ACLU, current policies trace back to the Clinton administration, then were broadly expanded post-9/11 to Guantanamo, Bagram, Afghanistan, and facilities in Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Diego Garcia, prison ships, and elsewhere. According to former CIA agent Robert Baer:

"If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. It you want someone to disappear - never to see them again - you send them to Egypt."

In 2005, the British All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition (APPG) was established to investigate charges of UK involvement, because "more likely than not (targets) may be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment." Made up of a "cross party grouping of MPs and Peers from the British parliament," it calls the practice:

"a process by which a detainee is transferred from one state to another, outside normal legal processes (where they're held in) secret detention....for the purposes of interrogation, often in circumstances where they face a real risk of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment."

"This applies to the UK as it does to the US - as the authors state plainly that:

seemingly innocuous acts (e.g. allowing refueling at airports of aircraft of another State) can become wrongful under international law if those acts facilitate Extraordinary Rendition."

Besides being illegal, "the moral case is unassailable: there is simply no justification whatsoever for the UK or the US engaging in torture, whether by direct or indirect means." Nor can it provide reliable information or combat terrorism. Yet the practice continues unabated.

In November 2009, APPG published its "legal proposals to criminalise UK involvement in extraordinary rendition" in a report titled, "Extraordinary Rendition: Closing the Gap."

It called the practice "illegal, immoral, a stark breach of the rule of law and ineffective as a counterterrorism tool." It's unaddressed sufficiently in British law, so it called for "effective legislation to ensure that the UK does not facilitate or support such a practice now or in the future."

It stated that:

  • evidence shows that extraordinary rendition is longstanding, but more frequent during America's War on Terror;
  • it expressed great concern about Britain's involvement; clear evidence shows it, but "no prosecutions have taken place to date;"
  • it called for new legislation to criminalize specific practices, including providing transport facilities like airports or planes at home or in British territories;
  • it stated "There is no doubt that the UK has been involved with the US rendition programme," but the government has been silent on the practice even though there's been "direct involvement of MI5 officers;"
  • it cited a Joint Committee on Human Rights report titled, "Report on Allegations of UK Complicity in Torture"  providing evidence it's true;
  • it mentioned other evidence as well, including detainee testimonies, interviews with legal representatives and insiders, investigative journalists' accounts, exhibits, parliamentary inquiries, and information gotten under Freedom of Information legislation;
  • it cited Manfred Nowak, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture saying he received "credible evidence from well-placed sources familiar with the situation" of Britain's involvement; and
  • it affirmed that "It is unlawful to aid, abet, counsel or procure the commission of a criminal offence" like illegal renditions and torture, calling for complicit government officials to be held accountable.

Torture Becomes Official US Policy - Britain Endorses It

On September 17, 2001, a secret White House finding empowered the CIA to "Capture, Kill, or Interrogate Al-Queda Leaders," authorizing a covert (black site) global network to detain and interrogate them without guidelines on proper treatment. In response to an ACLU lawsuit, George Bush acknowledged its existence without revealing program specifics, such as detainee locations or details of their confinement.

Claiming "the United States does not use torture," he admitted that "an alternative set of procedures" were involved for information not gotten by conventional means.

According to former CIA Counterrorism Center chief, Cofer Black (in September 2002): "After 9/11, the gloves came off - old" standards no longer apply. They never did but Washington now officially endorses them. UK officials are less forthcoming, but willingly partnered in America's high crimes and abuses, undermining their commitment to human rights and the rule of law.

According to Britain's Lord Bingham, "English common law has regarded torture and its fruits with abhorrence for over 500 years."

The 1984 UN Convention against Torture defines it as:

"any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether or physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity."

Article 3 states:

"No State Party shall expel, return ('refouler') or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture."

Article 4 says:

"Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture."

In his book titled, "Enemy Combatant: A British Muslim's Journey to Guantanamo and Back," Moazzam Begg wrote:

"The sad fact is (the UK government) acted duplicitously, immorally and unlawfully. It is not just their uncritical acceptance of and obedience to torturous conditions, regimes, and physical restraint or worse. They were there by choice." They were complicit "in breach of international law (but remain) unperturbed in using information" known to be worthless and "abhorrent to the British way of life."

Fabricating Terrorism II covers 29 case studies "mostly detailing the experiences of British citizens and British residents granted asylum (showing how they) passed through a subterranean system of kidnappings, ghosted to 'black sites,' suffering abuse and torture" to extract information and confessions known to be unreliable and false." In addition, no one was charged with terrorism or other crimes. UK authorities knew it before their rendition, yet allowed it and their torture to happen.

Cageprisoners "found systematic violations of international law," showing senior government officials lied to Parliament, its committees and the public regarding their complicity with America. UK security forces were present during torture interrogations. They supplied falsified evidence leading to kidnappings, renditions, illegal detentions and torture. No evidence proves their direct participation, but they're "unequivocally guilty of facilitating" the above practices and enlisting other States as willing partners. "Not exactly a clean pair of hands."

Cageprisoners published its report in April 2009. Torture, abuse and degrading treatment continue unabated globally under the Obama administration despite promises to end them.

Treatment at Guantanamo and Other Torture Prisons

Despite no involvement in terrorism, prisoners are subjected to horrific torture, abuse, and humiliating treatment as "unlawful enemy combatants" - now called "unprivileged enemy belligerents," defined as anyone (with or without evidence) suspected of "engag(ing) in (or materially supporting) hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners."

International law expert Francis Boyle calls it this legally nihilistic "quasi-category....where human beings (including US citizens) can be disappeared, detained incommunicado, denied access to attorneys and regular courts, tried by kangaroo courts (with no right of appeal, convicted), executed, tortured, assassinated and subjected to" unspeakable treatment.

Whatever its wording, the notion is "a long-defunct World War II era legal category of dubious provenance....superseded by the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949" and their Common Article 3, requiring detainees to be treated humanely and prohibiting:

  • "violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture (and) degrading treatment."

No longer under the bogus War on Terrorism where imperial rights replace human ones.

Of the original 517 Guantanamo detainees:

  • few at most committed violent acts;
  • many were randomly seized, guilty only of being in the wrong place at the wrong time;
  • 95% were sold for bounty - $5,000 per claimed Taliban and $25,000 for alleged Al Queda members; and
  • 20 were children, some as young as 13, yet were treated as horrifically as adults.

Alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was victimized, despite no evidence of his involvement, yet in custody, he:

  • was initially held in Afghanistan;
  • had no lawyer;
  • was isolated at black sites for over two years, including the secret "Dark Prison" near Kabul International Airport, infamous for its brutalizing torture in total darkness;
  • another north of Kabul called the "Salt Pit," where in 2002, a detainee was stripped naked and left chained to the floor in frigid temperatures until he died;
  • in Afghanistan, Mohammed was hog-tied, stripped naked, hooded, and repeatedly abused in numerous ways, including being:
  • kept in prolonged isolation for months;
  • waterboarded numerous times;
  • chained naked to a metal ring in his cell in a painful crouch in intense heat and extreme cold;
  • subjected to deafening sounds round the clock for weeks;
  • forcefully thrown against walls, a procedure called walling;
  • suspended from the ceiling by his arms so his toes barely touched the ground;
  • beaten with electric cables;
  • given electric shocks; and
  • forced to endure a variety of stress positions for extended periods, causing excruciating pain until -
  • in 2006, he was sent to Guantanamo where his torture continued, including being waterboarded over 180 times and subjected to numerous other tortures.

Since its 2002 opening, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) represented hundreds of Guantanamo detainees, publishing detailed accounts of their treatment that remain unchanged, appalling, and illegal. Besides the above listed ones, they include:

  • 20 or more daily hours in tiny cells with virtually no human contact;
  • severe discipline for the slightest infraction;
  • holes for toilets;
  • burning lights 24 hours a day;
  • sleep deprivation;
  • painful shackling;
  • physical attacks by guards;
  • confinement in boxes in extreme stress positions causing severe physical and psychological pain and trauma;
  • under restraint for hunger strikers, force feeding through their noses and throats abrasively enough to draw blood - a procedure causing excruciating pain;
  • instances of severe beatings causing deaths; in some cases, willful murders; and
  • to exact confessions, some are told they won't be killed, but will taken to the brink of death and back repeatedly.

War on Terror Rendition and Torture Case Studies

Examples of UK involvement in several are recounted - subjecting innocent victims to barbarous tortures. They're explained to arouse public outrage enough to stop them and hold those involved (in America and Britain) accountable and punished.

Farid Hilali - A British Resident of Moroccan Nationality

Initially detained in 1999 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), he was tortured and interrogated at the behest of  Britain's security services, then sent to Morocco for  more. After release, he came to the UK, was arrested on immigration charges, then re-arrested when Spain charged him with terrorism, specifically for alleged 9/11 involvement. The evidence was entirely bogus, but it stuck.

During his UAE interrogation, a British government representative was present. Introducing himself, he explained: "If you want to come out of this problem, you have to cooperate with the British government;" that is, tell what you know meaning say what they wanted to hear, no matter how false.

Failing to "cooperate," Hilali was violently beaten for an extended period, isolated in a dark cell for three days with no food or water, had no human contact, was told it was only the beginning, and it continued in Morocco - not to learn about him, but about Britain and others there, alleged terrorists despite no evidence.

In testimony to his lawyers, Moazzam Begg said MI5 agents first visited him in 1998. Hilali wrote him from Dubai explaining he was arrested in Pakistan, transfered to Dubai authorities, and severely tortured to confess that he belonged to the Armed Islamic Group (GAI) connected to bin Laden.

His case is significant in one respect. It occurred pre-9/11, showing rendition and outsourced torture predated it, but intensified greatly thereafter, Britain very much involved as it remains today.

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