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New evidence emerges of Abu Ghraib-style abuse by the US in Afghanistan
Prisoners subjected to 'mock executions' - Photographs of detainees being sexually humiliated
Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington and James Meek
Friday February 18, 2005
New evidence has emerged that US forces in Afghanistan engaged in widespread Abu Ghraib-style abuse, taking "trophy photographs" of detainees and carrying out rape and sexual humiliation.
Documents obtained by the Guardian contain evidence that such abuses took place in the main detention centre at Bagram, near the capital Kabul, as well as at a smaller US installation near the southern city of Kandahar.
The documents also indicate that US soldiers covered up abuse in Afghanistan and in Iraq - even after the Abu Ghraib scandal last year.
A thousand pages of evidence from US army investigations released to the American Civil Liberties Union after a long legal battle, and made available to the Guardian, show that an Iraqi detained at Tikrit in September 2003 was forced to withdraw his report of abuse after soldiers told him he would be held indefinitely.
Meanwhile, photographs taken in southern Afghanistan showing US soldiers from the 22nd Infantry Battalion posing in mock executions of blindfolded and bound detainees, were purposely destroyed after the Abu Ghraib scandal to avoid "another public outrage", the documents show.
In the dossier, the Iraqi detainee claims that three US interrogators in civilian clothing dislocated his arms, stuck an unloaded gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger, choked him with a rope until he lost consciousness, and beat him with a baseball bat.
"After they tied me up in the chair, then they dislocate my both arms. He asked to admit before I kill you then he beat again and again," the prisoner says in his statement. "He asked me: Are you going to report me? You have no evidence. Then he hit me very hard on my nose, and then he stepped on my nose until he broken and I started bleeding."
The detainee withdrew his charges on November 23 2003. He says he was told: "You will stay in the prison for a long time, and you will never get out until you are 50 years old."
A medical examination by a US military doctor confirmed the detainee's account, yet the investigation was closed last October. "It is further proof that the army is not seriously investigating credible allegations of abuse," said Jameel Jaffar, a lawyer for the ACLU.
The latest allegations from Afghanistan fit a pattern of claims of brutal treatment made by former Guantánamo Bay prisoners and Afghans held by the US, and reported by the Guardian last year. In December the US said eight prisoners had died in its custody in Afghanistan.
In a separate case, which the Guardian reveals today, two former prisoners of the US in Afghanistan have come forward with claims against their American captors.
In sworn affidavits to a British-American human rights lawyer, a Palestinian says he was sodomised by American soldiers in Afghanistan. Another former prisoner of US forces, a Jordanian, describes a form of torture which involved being hung in a cage from a rope for days.
Both men were freed from US detention last year after being held in Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay. Neither has been charged by any government with any offence.
Hussain Adbulkadr Youssouf Mustafa, a Palestinian living in Jordan, told the lawyer, Clive Stafford-Smith, that he was sodomised by US soldiers during his detention at Bagram air force base in 2002.
He claims to have been blindfolded, tightly handcuffed, gagged and had his ears plugged, forced to bend down over a table by two soldiers, with a third soldier pressing his face down on the table, and to have had his trousers pulled down.
"They forcibly rammed a stick up my rectum," he reports. "It was excruciatingly painful ... Only when the pain became overwhelming did I think I would ever scream. But I could not stop screaming when this happened."
In a second affidavit, the Jordanian citizen, Wesam Abdulrahman Ahmed Al Deemawi, detained from March 15 2002 to March 31 2004, says that during a 40-day period of detention at Bagram he was threatened with dogs, stripped and photographed "in shameful and obscene positions" and placed in a cage with a hook and a hanging rope. He says he was hung from this hook, blindfolded, for two days although he was occasionally given hour-long "breaks".
The Guardian asked the US military's central command, which has responsibility for Afghanistan, to respond to the allegations on Wednesday. By the time of going to press last night no response had been received other than an email from a Major Steven Wollman in Kabul, saying he was researching the question.