TheIntercept, Oct. 3, 2016
Two former CIA captives recently described being threatened with a makeshift electric chair — a previously unreported torture method — while being held in the U.S. government’s infamous “Salt Pit” prison in Afghanistan.
Ridha al-Najjar, 51, and Lufti al-Arabi al-Gharisi, 52, described a metal device that had wires with clips that would attach to the fingers, and a helmet connected to wires. “I saw an electric box, … the chair. They said, we will torture you with electricity here,” al-Gharisi said.
Al-Gharisi said he was forced into the chair and connected to the machine, but was never actually electrocuted.
Both men also described various forms of water torture, including having their heads dunked in a bucket of water until they couldn’t breathe, waterboarding, and being strapped to a board while submerged face down in a bathtub.
There is no mention of electric chairs in the unclassified executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Torture Report that was released in December 2014.
Both men are Tunisian citizens, and were released and repatriated to their home country last year. Neither was ever charged with a crime, and the U.S. government did not compensate either for their torture or 13 years of detention without charge.
The abuses the two men describe took place at the Salt Pit — a converted brick factory north of Kabul, Afghanistan, referred to in the Senate’s Torture Report as “Detention Site COBALT.” Many of the most sadistic abuses of the CIA program’s history took place at the facility.
CIA interrogators quoted in the declassified executive summary of the Senate report describe the prison as “a dungeon,” where detainees “cowered” when interrogators entered their cells, looking “like a dog that had been kenneled.”
U.S. and Pakistani forces captured al-Najjar near Karachi, Pakistan, breaking into his family’s home in May 2002. According to the Senate torture report, the CIA initially thought he was Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard, but the U.S. government has never publically presented evidence for that allegation.
Al-Najjar described the day he was transferred to the “dark prison” as the “worst experience of his life”: On that day an Arab interrogator entered his cell, demanding information, and when al-Najjar could not provide it, the interrogator said “wait until you see what happens to you where we take you next. At the next place we will hang you from your anus.”
Najjar’s interrogators then doubled him over and chained his wrists to his legs. They put a bag over his head, and inserted something into his rectum, he recalled.
Documents examined by Senate investigators noted that anal exams at the Salt Pit were often conducted with “excessive force.”
Two months after al-Najjar was transferred to the Salt Pit, in November 2002, Afghan detainee Gul Rahman was tortured to death there. He was dragged outside of his cell, stripped naked, beaten, and repeatedly immersed in cold water. After being put in an isolation cell overnight, he died of hypothermia. An internal CIA investigation admits that Rahman froze to death, but blames it on Rahman.
Al-Najjar told Human Rights Watch that when he first arrived at the facility, he was stripped naked, thrown on a concrete floor, and doused with cold water. The same Arab interrogator that had threatened to hang him “from his anus” cocked a gun and held it to the back of his head, saying that if al-Najjar did not talk, he would kill him.
His interrogators would hang him from the ceiling for 24-hour periods, his wrists strapped to a metal bar over his head and his toes barely able to touch the ground. Often, according to al-Najjar, while he was in this position, guards would beat his legs and back with a baton, or punch him in the kidneys.
While in CIA custody, al-Najjar was kept in a dark room, and could only see when his interrogators shined a light in his face. He was fed every third day and forced to wear a diaper that was only changed every four days.
According to the Senate report, CIA officials initially recommended that interrogators utilize “Najjar’s fear for the well-being of his family to our benefit,” and said that interrogators should use “vague threats” to produce a “mind virus” that would cause al-Najjar to believe abuses would worsen until he cooperated. In August 2002, the CIA authorized an interrogation plan for al-Najjar that consisted of loud music, purposefully bad food, sleep deprivation, and hooding. But his mistreatment seems to have gone far beyond that.
On Sept. 21, 2002, less than a month into his time at the Salt Pit, CIA cables described al-Najjar as “clearly a broken man” and “on the verge of complete breakdown.” But his torture continued, and he was not transferred out of CIA custody until 2004.
U.S. and Pakistani forces captured al-Gharisi near Peshawar in Northern Pakistan in May 2002. His interrogators repeatedly accused him of having ties to al Qaeda — ties which he says he repeatedly denied to his interrogators. He would eventually be rendered to the Salt Pit and tortured for hundreds of days.
Al-Gharisi said he suffered many of the same abuses as al-Najjar, including sleep deprivation, water torture, being threatened with an electric chair, and being hung from a rod while beaten with batons. During his interview, al-Gharisi pointed to spots where his teeth had been knocked out.
Al-Gharisi was transferred into military custody sometime in late 2003.
During his time in CIA custody, al-Najjar claims to have suffered broken bones, broken hips, a broken ankle, damaged knees and a damaged jaw. He received treatment after being transferred into U.S. military custody, but declined to have arthroscopic surgery on his knee, worried that it would make it worse.
Today, al-Najjar and al-Gharisi are dependent on their families, unable to find work due to lingering physical and psychological trauma. Al-Najjar says he lives with chronic pain in his ankle, hips, and backbone, and that he has kidney pain, a hernia, and blood in his stool. Al-Gharisi says he has chronic pain, and blurred vision. He says he does not see a doctor, because he cannot afford one.
The U.S. has not compensated any of the 119 detainees held in CIA custody for mistreatment.
Правительство США жестоко нарушало мои права человека при проведении кампании террора, которая заставила меня покинуть свою родину и получить политическое убежище в СССР. См. книгу «Безмолвный террор — История политических гонений на семью в США» — «Silent Terror: One family’s history of political persecution in the United States» — http://arnoldlockshin.wordpress.com
Правительство США еще нарушает мои права, в течении более 12 лет отказывается от выплаты причитающейся мне пенсии по старости. Властители США воруют пенсию!! Всё это — ещё доказательство, что настоящий действующий закон в США — Закон джунглей.
ФСБ — Федеральная служба «безопасности» России — вслед за позорным, предавшим страну предшественником КГБ, выполняет приказы секретного, кровавого хозяина (boss) — американского ЦРУ (CIA). Среди таких «задач» — мне запретить выступать в СМИ и не пропускать большинства отправленных мне комментариев. А это далеко не всё…
Арнольд Локшин, политэмигрант из США