Three of the British detainees recently released from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have claimed their 26 months spent in custody were a nightmare of torture and ill treatment.
In the wake of their release, one major British newspaper reported shocking tales of allegations by the detainees that naked prostitutes were paraded in front of the cages holding suspected al Qaeda terrorists and Taliban fighters within the prison.
Three of the detainees, who spoke at length to David Rose from the highly respected Observer newspaper in London, alleged that beatings, injections and psychological torture were used against them while they were chained to the floors of their open cells.
Rose, who had visited Guantanamo last October, told AFP that he found their allegations credible but recognized that they could not be corroborated. They had described conditions at the camp in much the way he had observed them, he said.
According to Rose, the detainees—five Britons in all were released—were each subjected to 200 interrogation sessions by agents of the FBI, CIA, MI5 and MI6.
One of them, Jamal al-Harith, said that parading prostitutes, on at least 10 occasions, before devout Muslims was a “profoundly disturbing experience for these men.”
He also claimed that force-feeding was used to end a hunger strike by 70 percent of the 600 inmates, which started after a guard kicked a copy of the Koran. He described being beaten by a squad of “heavily protected men in riot gear, with batons and shields” for refusing to accept “a mystery injection.” <>The Mirror<> newspaper in Britain said the soldiers were part of the U.S. military’s Extreme Reaction Force (ERF).
Alleged Jamal, whose lawyer believes his client was subjected to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment: “I could hear their feet stomping on the ground as they got closer and closer to my cell. They were given a briefing about me refusing the injection, and then I heard them readying themselves outside. I was terrified of what they were going to do. I had seen victims of ERF being paraded in front of my cell. They had been battered and bruised into submission. It was a horrible sight, and a frequent sight. The officers barked in automaton-like unison: ‘Comply. Comply. Comply. Do not resist. Do not resist.’”
The three who spoke to journalist Rose, told him they were captured by the Northern Alliance and held in Shebargan Prison before being sent to Guantanamo. They said they were really in Afghanistan to attend a wedding and provide humanitarian aid.
They also alleged that they witnessed a massacre at Shebargan in November 2001, in northern Afghanistan. The warlord Gen. Rashid Dostum, a staunch ally of the United States, controlled the area, and U.S. Special Forces were also present.
According to Asif Iqbal, a detainee who claimed he was in Afghanistan to get married, he and several hundred others were placed in shipping containers outside Shebargan. Many died of asphyxiation.
“The last thing I remember is that it got really hot, and everyone started screaming and banging. It was like someone had lit a fire beneath the containers. You could feel the moisture running off your body, and people were ripping off their clothes. They’d herded maybe 300 of us into each container. When we got out, about 20 in each container were still alive,” he said.
He also told the British media that, maddened by thirst, he wiped the streaming walls with a cloth, and sucked out the moisture, until he realized he was drinking the bodily fluids of the massacred prisoners.
In the opinion of Observer journalist Rose, the massacre at Shebargan, in which many of the containers were riddled with bullets, took place under the gaze of U.S. Special Forces.
American Free Press asked the Pentagon about the reports of torture and mistreatment at Guantanamo.
“Any allegation of mistreatment is untrue,” said a Navy spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Flex Plexico.
Questions to the State Department concerning allegations made by the former detainees were directed to “guidance” at the Department of Defense.
“Lies and fabrications. Untrue and not credible,” responded Pentagon “guidance.”