Socialist Worker

Beaten at length, eyes gouged, fingers bent—torture and the war on terror

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2478

A conveniently leaked 15-page US military intelligence report described Shaker Aamer as a “close associate of” Osama bin Laden with a history of “jihadist combat”.

It even suggested he had “the necessary power and control to issue an order for other detainees to attempt suicide”.

There were three Guantanamo suicides on a single day in 2006.

Actually the suicides—if they were that—came after prisoners were taken to a secret part of the base and tortured.

The treatment they received isn’t fully known. Some of what military police officers (MPs) did to Shaker is.

One affidavit in a US court described some of his treatment.

“On June 9th, 2006, [Aamer] was beaten for two-and-a-half hours straight. Seven naval military police participated in his beating. Mr Aamer stated he had refused to provide a retina scan and fingerprints.

“He reported to me that he was strapped to a chair, fully restrained at the head, arms and legs.

“The MPs inflicted so much pain, Mr. Aamer said he thought he was going to die.

“The MPs pressed on pressure points all over his body: his temples, just under his jawline, in the hollow beneath his ears.

“They choked him. They bent his nose repeatedly so hard to the side he thought it would break. They pinched his thighs and feet constantly. They gouged his eyes.

“They held his eyes open and shined a mag-lite [torch] in them for minutes on end, generating intense heat.

“They bent his fingers until he screamed. When he screamed, they cut off his airway, then put a mask on him so he could not cry out.”


Why torture witness Shaker was silenced by the spooks

Shaker Aamer was witness to a key piece of embarrassing torture in Bagram, the US base in Afghanistan.

Shaker was held there before he went to Guantanamo.

He was held for so long because he saw the torture of Libyan

Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi.

This resulted in a false confession that Saddam Hussein was working with Al Qaida. It was a necessary lie in the Iraq war.

The other secret was that British intelligence was involved in torture.

MI6 officers watched as US officers smashed Shaker’s head against a wall.

The cops investigated MI6 complicity in torture at Bagram prison.

Yet they did not take a statement from Shaker Aamer.


Britain’s industry of rendition

There were some 1,622 flights in and out of Britain by aircraft used in rendition torture flights between 2001 and 2006.

The case of British resident Binyam Mohamed shows how it was done. He was detained for nearly seven years between 2002 and 2009.

His rendition took him to torture prisons in Morocco and Kabul, then to Guantanamo.

British intelligence officers took part in his interrogations.

He was beaten, cut and burned, hung from ceilings and played loud music and taped screams.

“It became like a routine,” he said. “Then they’d tip some kind of liquid on me—the burning, the stinging, was like grasping a hot coal.”

Binyam was released without charge. The Court of Appeal ruled British intelligence had been complicit in his “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”.

Britain’s rulers outsourced most of the torture to make it deniable. Labour foreign secretaries David Miliband and Jack Straw lied about Britain’s role in it.


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