A detainee at the Guantanamo Bay detention center has given the first public account in a US court of torture at a clandestine CIA facility during Washington’s decades-long so-called “war on terror.”
Majid Khan, a former resident of a Baltimore suburb, detailed having been subjected to diving, physically and sexually abused and having suffered other forms of torture in a CIA “black site” used by the United States in the wake of the attacks by the September 11, 2001.
Khan’s testimony Thursday, which came during a sentencing hearing in a war crimes tribunal on the US base in Cuba, marks the first time that a former “black site” detainee has publicly described abuses committed as part of the called “enhanced interrogation” by the US spy agency. techniques, “according to the New York Times.
Khan had previously pleaded guilty to charges related to his role as an al-Qaeda messenger and planner.
“I thought I was going to die,” Khan said during testimony, detailing various devious techniques, including being suspended naked from a ceiling beam for long periods, repeatedly being doused with ice water to keep him awake for days, and having his head held low. the water to the point of nearly drowning, only to be seen running down his nose and mouth when the interrogators let him get up.
Khan said that during the roughly three years he was detained at CIA sites, he was beaten, forced enemas, sexually assaulted and starved to death. He was transferred to the US military detention center in Cuba in September 2006.
“I would beg them to stop and swear I didn’t know anything,” he said. “If I had intelligence to give, I would have already given it, but I had nothing to give.”
While part of Khan’s treatment had previously been detailed in a 2014 US Senate Intelligence Committee report, which accused the CIA of going beyond its legal limits by attempting to extract information on al-Qaeda. , public personal accounts of high-level detainees have been published. virtually nonexistent.
“The more I cooperated and told them, the more they tortured me,” Khan told the court apparently agreeing with the conclusion of the Senate intelligence report that the conduct of the US agents was not only inhumane, but often ineffective.
Rights monitors have continued to hold accountability for abuses committed at secret sites, and the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, said in 2017 that the conduct was a “clear violation of the Convention against Torture and is sending a dangerous message of complacency. ” and impunity for officials in the United States and around the world. “
They have also increasingly urged US President Joe Biden to end indefinite detentions at Guantanamo, something his former boss, former President Barack Obama, had promised and failed to do.
Agreement with the Prosecutor’s Office
Khan, reading a 39-page statement, spoke on the first day in what is expected to be a two-day hearing. He pleaded guilty in February 2012 to charges including conspiracy, murder, and material support for “terrorism.”
A panel of military officers selected by a Pentagon legal official, known as the convening authority, is set to sentence Khan to between 25 and 40 years in prison. However, it will serve far less due to its extensive cooperation with US authorities, including the case against the five men currently detained at Guantanamo who are tasked with planning and providing logistical support for the September 11 attacks.
Under the plea agreement, which was not disclosed to jurors, the convening authority will reduce Khan’s sentence to no more than 11 years, and he will receive credit for his time in custody since his guilty plea in February. 2012.
That means that he should be released early next year, resettled in a third country, still unknown, because he cannot return to Pakistan, where he has citizenship.
‘I tried to make up for the bad things’
Born in Saudi Arabia, Khan came to the United States with his family in the 1990s. He graduated from high school in the suburbs of Baltimore and had a tech job in Washington, DC, where he was working during the September 11 attacks. September.
He said he turned to al-Qaeda after the death of his mother, whom he described as the most important person in his life.
He admitted to handing over $ 50,000 of al-Qaeda funds used for a deadly attack on a Marriott hotel in the Indonesian capital Jakarta in 2003, although he previously said he did not know how the money would be used.
The 41-year-old also admitted planning other attempted attacks with the alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
During the testimony, Khan apologized for his actions, while saying that he has also forgiven his captors.
“I’ve also tried to make up for the bad things I’ve done,” he said. “That is why I pleaded guilty and cooperated with the United States government.”
The United States is currently holding 39 men at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station Detention Center. Khan is the first of several so-called “high-value” detainees who went through CIA interrogation programs to be convicted and sentenced.
The trial of the five men in the September 11 attacks, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, remains in the pre-trial stage and a judge has said it will begin next year.