Washington (MEMO) – FBI interrogators have been accused of carrying out torture by a prisoner who was held by the US government for 13 years on American soil, for alleged involvement in the planning of the September 11 attacks in 2001.
Speaking for the first time after his release three years ago Qatari citizen Ali Al-Marri said the FBI agents subjected him to various forms of torture including “dry-boarding,” which is an interrogation technique that includes having socks stuffed down the throat to induce the sensation of death by asphyxiation.
“I have never experienced death, but I assume this is the nearest thing to dying,” he told ITV News yesterday.
“You’re suffocating, you can see your life coming out of your face and you cannot even move,” he said.
Al-Marri alleged that threats were made against his wife and children in an attempt to force him to cooperate. Al-Marri, who denies the allegation that he was involved in terrorism, said his FBI interrogators threatened to “round up his entire family and put them in jail, even up to the point of torturing them, having them removed from their jobs and revoking their citizenship”. They also threatened to pick up his kids and place them in the cell next to him so he could hear them crying.
One of his interrogators, former FBI Agent Ali Soufan, is alleged to have threatened to bring homosexuals from the military to molest him and “enjoy” molesting him according to a report by the advocacy group CAGE, which is leading a campaign to expose systematic torture by US officials. The report claims that FBI agents threatened to bring his wife and rape her in front of him.
Al-Marri said the threats were made while he was kept in solitary confinement without charge for six years at a naval brig in South Carolina. FBI agents told him that he would be sent to black sites, to become a military lab rat, even though he maintained his innocence.
In addition to the psychological operations (PSYOP), Al-Marri said he was subjected several kinds of abuse including sleep deprivation, forced nudity, being deprived of a mattress and being forced to sleep on a metal bed for years as well as being subjected to other extreme conditions.
According to the CAGE report, which is based on the review of 35,000 pages of documentation including prison logs, “there was a deliberate pattern on the part of the prison authorities to undermine Ali’s religious and cultural values, as well as make his life as difficult as possible”.
“The policies implemented,” continued the report, “appear to have had the purpose of forcing compliance with the interrogators”.
Al-Marri said he had traveled to the US with his wife and five children legally on 10 September 2001, to attend graduate school in Illinois. After the 9/11 attack he was initially charged with fraud based on information found on his computer, but the then-president George W. Bush declared him an “enemy combatant”.
In 2014 he was released. Ali Al-Marri maintains that he had no information to give the intelligence agencies in the US, and they eventually gave up attempting to coerce him into doing so. Al-Marri said that the coercive detention and his desire to see his family again led him to admit to things he otherwise never would have. At the time, he accepted that he had provided material support for terrorism, albeit without full knowledge.
While Ali Al-Marri took a plea deal and admitted to being an unknowing part of the 9/11 plot, he now emphatically denies every allegation that he was involved in terrorism, and claims he did so due to the coercion of being in solitary confinement and suffering sustained abuse.
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