Abu Ghurayb Prison

The Abu Ghurayb (pronounced ah-boo GRAYB), [Abu Ghraib] prison is located approximately 20 miles west of Baghdad is where Saddam Kamal (who was head of the Special Security Organization) oversaw the torture and execution of thousands of political prisoners. The prison was under the control of the Directorate of General Security (DGS) also known as the Amn al-Amm.

As many as 4000 prisoners were executed at Abu Ghraib Prison in 1984. At least 122 male prisoners were executed at Abu Ghraib prison in February/ March 2000. A further 23 political prisoners were executed there in October 2001.

The facility occupies 280 acres with over 4 kilometers of security perimeter and 24 guard towers. The prison is composed of five distinct compound each surrounded by guard towers and high walls. Built by British contractors in the 1960s, Abu Ghraib is a virtual city within a city. The political section of Abu Ghraib was divided into "open" and "closed" wings. The closed wing housed only Shi'ites. The open wing held all other varieties of real or suspected activists. The "closed" wing was so named because its inmates -- at least until 1989 -- were permitted no visitors or outside contact. Cells measured approximately four meters by four meters and held an average of 40 persons.

As of 2001 Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad, may have held as many as 15,000 persons, many of who were subject to torture. Hundreds of Fayli (Shi'a) Kurds and other citizens of Iranian origin, who had disappeared in the early 1980's during the Iran-Iraq war, reportedly were being held incommunicado at the Abu Ghurayb prison. Such persons have been detained without charge for close to 2 decades in extremely harsh conditions. Many of the detainees were used as subjects in the country's outlawed experimental chemical and biological weapons programs.

As of early 2002 the Iraqi government reported to the US that sum of 12.2 million Iraqi dinars had been earmarked for the construction of six prison blocks, four in the Abu Ghraib prison and two in the governorate of Babil prison, to accommodate 7,200 prisoners. The work had already begun. Ongoing construction activity, apparent as of mid-November 2002, suggests that Iraqi regime was planning for an increase in prison population either due to increased represssion or an increase in anti-governmental activity. Four new prison compounds appear to be in the early stages of construction. The foundation and footings are either being dug or concrete has been poured.

Saddam Hussein declared an unprecedented amnesty to thank the Iraqi people for their “unanimity” in the referendum of October 2002, which extended his powers for another 7years. The “full and complete amnesty” applied to any Iraqi imprisoned or arrested for political or other reason but reportedly murderers on a death row will be released only with consent of the victims' families. Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), the state's supreme authority, issued an amnesty to all prisoners in Iraq.

When Saddam announced his general amnesty for virtually all the nation's prisoners, the mob that assembled outside the Abu Ghraib prison started what looked like a traditional anti-American rally. They chanted praises to their dictator and shouted "Down Bush!" But the mood changed once it became clear the prisoners could bust through the gates without any resistance from guards. One guard turned toward an American photographer, smiled, stuck a thumb up and said, "Bush! Bush!"

Abu Ghuraib prison was reported to be deserted following the amnesty. However, many prisoners remained unaccounted for and according to one report Iraqi TV acknowledged that there was no freedom for those convicted of “the crimes of spying for the Zionist entity [Israel] and United States” although it fails to give numbers. According to another news report authorities claimed that 13,000 inmates were released from Abu Ghuraib prison, however numbers were unconfirmed.

There have been several press reports of mass graves within the perimeter or near the prison, but this is not apparent from imagery alone. Further analysis using ground truth imagery and human sources may help confirm the existence and location of any mass graves.

This commercial satellite imagery should prove valuable to human rights groups and the effort to bring those guilty of abuses and war crimes to trial in the future.

The Iranian dissident group Mujahedeen Khalq was based at Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, but the MEK Camp is a separate and distinct facility.

On May 24, 2004, and following the continued scandal posed by abuses of detainees at Abu Ghraib, President G.W. Bush announced in a speech that the Abu Ghraib prison would be destroyed upon the completion of a new, modern prison to replace it:

"A new Iraq will also need a humane, well-supervised prison system. Under the dictator, prisons like Abu Ghraib were symbols of death and torture. That same prison became a symbol of disgraceful conduct by a few American troops who dishonored our country and disregarded our values. America will fund the construction of a modern, maximum security prison. When that prison is completed, detainees at Abu Ghraib will be relocated. Then, with the approval of the Iraqi government, we will demolish the Abu Ghraib prison, as a fitting symbol of Iraq's new beginning"

Baghdad Central Detention Center (BCCF)

Baghdad Central Detention Center was formerly known as Abu Ghurayb Prison.

An Iraqi detained at the Abu Ghurayb prison complex was killed when he and seven others sought to escape on 13 June 2003, CENTCOM announced in a 14 June 2003 press release on its website. All seven of the other escapees were injured in the incident, two critically. According to CENTCOM, coalition military-police guards fired several shots "in self-defense" and in an effort to prevent the escape attempt. "Detainees throwing rocks and brandishing shanks [sic] rushed the guards," the press release stated. One guard was slightly injured. The escape attempt was the second in as many days. Two prisoners attempted to escape detention at Baghdad International Airport on 12 June 2003.

On 16 August 2003 three mortar rounds were fired into the Abu Grahib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad, killing six Iraqi detainees and injuring many more. About 500 prisoners, including common criminals and suspected anti-American guerillas, are housed in tents, while the main prison building is being renovated.

Coalition forces engaged an individual in the vicinity of the Abu Ghyriab prison 17 August 2003. The individual was later identified as a reporter. The individual was evacuated to the 28th Combat Support Hospital and was pronounced dead on arrival.

Some five thousand people were being held at the prison as of April 2004. On 21 April 2004 at least 21 prisoners were killed when suspected anti-coalition rebels shelled Baghdad's largest prison in what a US general says might have been a botched attempt to free insurgents detained for taking part in the uprising against coalition forces. US General Mark Kimmitt said those killed in the prison attack were all security detainees round up by coalition forces. "We have initial reports that 18 mortar rounds were fired earlier this afternoon at the Baghdad confinement facility. Preliminary reports indicate that more than 21 detainees were killed and more than 100 wounded."

In late April 2004, a number of photographs surfaced which depicted abuse and torture of Iraqi prisonners held at the Abu Ghurayb prison while in US custody. Some of the pictures published depict US soldiers, both men and women in military uniforms, laughing and giving thumbs-up signs while posing with naked Iraqi prisoners made to stand, stacked in a pyramid or positioned to perform sex acts. This follows the March 2004 announcement by the US Army that six members of the 800th Military Police Brigade were being investigated for allegedly abusing about 20 prisoners at Abu Ghurayb.

As of early May 2004, the 16th Military Police Brigade and the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade had been assigned responsibility over Abu Ghurayb, with the chain of command changed with both unit reporting directly to the U.S. commander in charge of the military's prisons in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller.

As of mid-September 2004, the facility was reportedly equipped with a new $26 million hospital.

Camp Vigilant Compound

Camp Vigilant can hold 600 detainees.

A 13 June 2003 incidient involved the escape and recapture of detainee # 8968 and the shooting of eight detainees at Abu Ghraib (BCCF) (320th MP Battalion). Several detainees allegedly attempted to escape at about 1400 hours from the Camp Vigilant Compound, Abu Ghraib (BCCF). A 15-6 investigation by CPT Wyks (400th MP Battalion, S-1) concluded that the detainee allegedly escaped by sliding under the wire while the tower guard was turned in the other direction. This detainee was subsequently apprehended by the QRF. At about 1600 the same day, 30-40 detainees rioted and pelted three interior MP guards with rocks. One guard was injured and the tower guards fired lethal rounds at the rioters injuring 7 and killing 1 detainee.

Camp Ganci / Ganci Encampment

Camp Ganci consists of eight encampments with a total capacity of 4,800, and, as of May 2004, held 3,200 detainees. Detainees held at Camp Ganci were housed in 25-man tents; each tent being surrounded by sandbags stacked three high on all sides, and each cellblock fitted with several concrete bunkers to protect detainees from mortar attacks. Mortar attacks from outside the prison were one of the biggest threats facing the detainees. Each cellblock has a detainee "mayor" who helps resolve issues. Detainees held at Camp Ganci all were allowed to retain their civilian clothing.

An 07 November 2003 incident involved the Escape of detainee # 14239 from Abu Ghraib (320th MP Battalion). A detainee allegedly escaped at 1330 from Compound 2 of the Ganci Encampment, Abu Ghraib (BCCF). An SIR was initiated by SSG Hydro (320th MP Battalion, S-3 Asst. NCOIC). The SIR indicated that a detainee escaped from the North end of the compound and was discovered missing during distribution of the noon meal, but there is no method of escape listed in the SIR. No information on findings, contributing factors, or corrective action has been provided to this investigation team.

An 08 November 2003 incident involved the escape of detainees # 115089, #151623, # 151624, # 116734, # 116735, and # 116738 from Abu Ghraib (320th MP Battalion). Several detainees allegedly escaped at 2022 from Compound 8 of the Ganci encampment, Abu Ghraib. An SIR was initiated by MAJ DiNenna (320th MP Battalion, S-3). The SIR indicated that 5-6 prisoners escaped from the North end of the compound, but there is no method of escape listed in the SIR.

An 24 November 2003 incident involved a riot and shooting of 12 detainees #150216, #150894, #153096, 153165, #153169, #116361, #153399, #20257, #150348, #152616, #116146, and #152156 at Abu Ghraib (320th MP Battalion). Several detainees allegedly began to riot at about 1300 in all of the compounds at the Ganci encampment. This resulted in the shooting deaths of 3 detainees, 9 wounded detainees, and 9 injured US Soldiers. A 15-6 investigation by COL Bruce Falcone (220th MP Brigade, Deputy Commander) concluded that the detainees rioted in protest of their living conditions, that the riot turned violent, the use of non-lethal force was ineffective, and, after the 320th MP Battalion CDR executed "Golden Spike," the emergency containment plan, the use of deadly force was authorized. Contributing factors were lack of comprehensive training of guards, poor or non-existent SOPs, no formal guard-mount conducted prior to shift, no rehearsals or ongoing training, the mix of less than lethal rounds with lethal rounds in weapons, no AARs being conducted after incidents, ROE not posted and not understood, overcrowding, uniforms not standardized, and poor communication between the command and Soldiers.

An 13 December 2003 incident involved the shooting by non-lethal means into crowd at Abu Ghraib (320th MP Battalion). Several detainees allegedly got into a detainee-on-detainee fight around 1030 in Compound 8 of the Ganci encampment, Abu Ghraib.

An 13 December 2003 incident involved the shooting by non-lethal means into crowd at Abu Ghraib (320th MP Battalion). Several detainees allegedly got into a detainee-on-detainee fight around 1120 in Compound 2 of the Ganci encampment, Abu Ghraib.

An 13 December 2003 incident involved the shooting by non-lethal means into crowd at Abu Ghraib (320th MP Battalion). Approximately 30- 40 detainees allegedly got into a detainee-on-detainee fight around 1642 in Compound 3 of the Ganci encampment, Abu Ghraib (BCCF).

An 17 December 2003 incident involved the shooting by non-lethal means of detainee from Abu Ghraib (320th MP Battalion). Several detainees allegedly assaulted an MP at 1459 inside the Ganci Encampment, Abu Ghraib (BCCF). An SIR was initiated by SSG Matash (320th MP BRIGADE, S-3 Section).

Camp Redemption

In May 2004, detainees at Camp Ganci were moved to the newly-opened detention facility, Camp Redemption, also located at Abu Ghurayb Prison. Some media reports erroneously suggested that Camp Ganci had merely been was renamed Camp Redemption at the behest of the Iraqi Governing Council.

Camp Redemption feature several improvements over Camp Ganci to make the detainees more comfortable. For starters, Camp Redemption is covered in gravel whereas Camp Ganci was all mud. In addition, tents there have wooden floors, while prisoners are provided with cots; neither amenity was available at Camp Ganci. And most importantly, as a result of having access to electricity, Camp Redemption was to eventually have heating and air conditioning in the tents.

Hard Site

The Hardsite is the part of the Abu Ghurayb Prison in which the abuses of Iraqi detainees descreibed in the Taguba Report took place. According to DoD, only the most dangerous prisoners and those most valuable in terms of intelligence value are held in the hardsite.

As of mid-May 2004, the hardsite also housed the prison's only five women prisoners and about 1,400 Iraqi criminals, who were managed by the Iraqi corrections system. The women prisoners at Abu Ghraib were guarded by at least two female military police officers each shift to ensure modesty, though two of them were set to be released in a matter of days.

An 24 November 2003 incident involved the Shooting of detainee at Abu Ghraib (320th MP Battalion). A detainee allegedly had a pistol in his cell and around 1830 an extraction team shot him with less than lethal and lethal rounds in the process of recovering the weapon. A 15-6 investigation by COL Bruce Falcone (220th Brigade, Deputy Commander) concluded that one of the detainees in tier 1A of the Hard Site had gotten a pistol and a couple of knives from an Iraqi Guard working in the encampment.

An 14 January 2004 incident involved the escape of detainee #12436 and missing Iraqi guard from Hard-Site, Abu Ghraib (320th MP Battalion). A detainee allegedly escaped at 1335 from the Hard Site at Abu Ghraib (BCCF). An SIR was initiated by SSG Hydro (320th MP Battalion, S-3 Asst. NCOIC). The SIR indicates that an Iraqi guard assisted a detainee to escape by signing him out on a work detail and disappearing with him.

Camp Avalanche

In late May 2004 many prisoners from Camp Ganci and Camp Vigilant were moved to a new area, called Camp Avalanche. The prisoners live in tents on concrete, reducing the level of dust. Fans are used for cooling and the camp has more showers for prisoners.