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The Case Against Rumsfeld: The Victims
Arkan Mohammed Ali
Arkan Mohammed Ali is a 29-year-old Iraqi citizen who was detained by the U.S. military at various locations in Iraq, including Abu Ghraib prison. Ali was detained for almost one year, from July 2003 to June 2004. While in custody, Ali was tortured and subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment, including severe beatings to the point of unconsciousness, stabbing and mutilation, isolation while naked and hooded in a coffin-like box, mock execution and death threats.
Military personnel severely beat Ali during interrogations, sometimes leaving him unconscious. U.S. forces cut Ali with a knife, shocked him with a small metal device, and urinated on him to humiliate and degrade him. He was repeatedly locked in a wooden coffin-like box for several days, sometimes after having been stripped naked and left with a hood tied over his head. On other occasions, Ali was kept in a “silent tent” in which he was denied sleep for days at a time. When it appeared as though he might be falling asleep, guards would drag Ali facedown along the ground and severely beat him.
Ali was also repeatedly threatened and subjected to psychological intimidation while in custody. U.S. military personnel made multiple death threats against Ali, including threatening to run him and other detainees down with a large military vehicle and brandishing guns and swords and threatening to slaughter him. Soldiers also threatened to transfer Ali to Guantánamo, where he was told soldiers could kill detainees with impunity.
Upon Ali’s release, an American official threatened him by telling him that if he ever reported or discussed the abuse he and others suffered in detention, the United States government would find him and he would never see his family again.
Ali continues to suffer the lasting effects of injuries incurred while in United States custody. Among other things, he has severe scars on his arm from the stabbing and burning he suffered. Ali also has frequent traumatic nightmares, and episodes of shortness of breath and an involuntary gulping reflex, which he never experienced prior to his detention.
Thahe Mohammed Sabbar
Thahe Mohammed Sabar is a 38-year-old Iraqi who was detained by the United States military for approximately six months from July 2003 to January 2004. Sabar was detained at various locations in Iraq, including Camp Bucca and Abu Ghraib prison. While in American custody, Sabar was subjected to acts of torture and cruel and degrading treatment. Sabar’s quality of life has suffered greatly since his detention. He has nerve damage and pain in his shoulder and is prone to uncontrollable bouts of shaking and crying.
Sabar received frequent and severe beatings from U.S. military personnel. Soldiers used guns and an electric weapon to beat and shock Sabar, and forced him and other detainees to run through a gauntlet of 10 to 20 uniformed soldiers, who screamed at them and beat them with wooden batons. Sabar was also shackled to a fence with his hands behind his back and was left for several hours at temperatures exceeding 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
In addition to physical abuse, Sabar was sexually assaulted by U.S. military personnel. On one occasion, one or more soldiers inserted their fingers into Sabar’s anus and grabbed and fondled his buttocks while making moaning sounds and jeering at him. This was done in the presence of other soldiers, including women, in order to further degrade and demean Sabar.
Soldiers also staged mock executions with Sabar and other detainees to terrorize and humiliate them. During one such execution, Sabar and others were forced to stand against a wall in front of a firing squad. The squad simulated gunfire and then laughed as the detainees lost control of their bladders. In addition, soldiers pushed Sabar briefly into a cage of live lions. Sabar was also threatened by soldiers who told him they would send him to Guantánamo, where he would be killed.
Throughout his detention, Sabar was routinely deprived of food and water. At times, guards gave Sabar and other detainees spoiled food, which caused some detainees to vomit. He was also kept shackled for extended periods and denied access to a toilet, causing him to soil his pants. As a result of this treatment, and of the sexual and physical abuse, Sabar currently suffers from incontinence, impotence and nightmares.
After his release from custody, Sabar returned to Abu Ghraib to seek return of property confiscated from him by U.S. forces and to inquire about a business partner who remained in custody. Military personnel responded to his requests by detaining him once again in a locked room. He was finally released without his property. Sabar left and fears that he will be further detained or killed if he seeks remedies for his injuries or his losses.
Mehboob Ahmad is a 37-year-old citizen of Afghanistan. Ahmad was detained by U.S. military for approximately five months from June to November 2003. He was held at various locations in Afghanistan, including the Gardez firebase and the Bagram Air Base. During his detention, Ahmad was tortured and subjected to otherwise cruel and degrading treatment by U.S. military personnel.
Ahmad still suffers from leg pain and sometimes cannot move his limbs when he awakes, as a result of the physical abuse and torture he suffered while in U.S. custody. Painful techniques used on Ahmad included hanging him upside-down from the ceiling with a chain, and repeatedly pushing and kicking him while he knelt on a wooden pole with his hands chained to the ceiling. Ahmad repeatedly lost consciousness while hanging upside down. Ahmad was also forced to maintain painful positions, including extended periods of time squatting against a wall, arms outstretched, with heavy water bottles in each hand. Soldiers also administered painful electrical shocks to Ahmad during interrogation, causing his body to thrash uncontrollably.
Ahmad was also sexually and psychologically traumatized by U.S. military personnel. He was forced to strip and stay naked for long periods of time, was probed anally and was threatened with a snarling and barking dog at close range. Interrogators taunted Ahmad by directing insults at his mother and sister and implying that soldiers would rape his wife. He was also threatened with transport to Guantánamo.
Like other detainees, Ahmad was subjected to extreme sensory deprivation and isolation. He was forced to wear sound-blocking earphones; he was forced to wear black, opaque goggles almost continuously for more than a month, and was not allowed to speak with other detainees for the five months that he was in custody.
Sherzad Kamal Khalid
Sherzad Kamal Khalid is a 36-year-old Iraqi citizen who was detained by the United States military for approximately two months from July 2003 through September 2003. Khalid was held at various locations in Iraq where he was subjected to frequent and severe beatings, sexual abuse and other cruel treatment.
Military personnel regularly and intentionally inflicted physical abuse on Khalid during his detention. Soldiers would severely beat Khalid before each interrogation, leaving his body covered with deep bruises. They also kicked and punched Khalid repeatedly over a period of hours while he was hooded and shackled and seated on the ground, terrorizing and injuring him with random and unanticipated blows. On one occasion, Khalid was forced to run a gauntlet of 10 to 20 uniformed U.S. soldiers who beat him with batons.
Like many other detainees, Khalid was sexually assaulted and humiliated. During a severe beating, soldiers punched him in the mouth, breaking one of his teeth, and grabbed his buttocks while brandishing a long wooden pole and threatening to sodomize him on the spot and on every night of his detention. Soldiers also simulated anal rape by grabbing his buttocks and pressing a water bottle against the seat of his pants.
Throughout his detention, interrogators threatened to kill Khalid and subjected him to mock executions in order to coerce confessions. Soldiers would demand a false confession while holding a gun to his head, and placed him before a mock firing squad with simulated gunfire. Soldiers also pushed Khalid and other detainees briefly into a cage of live lions.
Khalid was also routinely deprived of sleep, food and water. At times, guards gave Khalid spoiled food, causing him to vomit. He was also kept shackled for extended periods and denied access to a toilet, which would cause him to soil his pants. On one occasion, Khalid was shackled to a fence with his hands behind his back and was forced to stand in that position for several hours at temperatures exceeding 120 degrees Fahrenheit, without any water or food. At another point of his detention, Khalid was forced to stay in a so-called “silent tent” for several days, during which time he was severely beaten whenever he started to fall asleep.
After his release from custody, Khalid accompanied fellow detainee Thahe Mohammed Sabar back to Abu Ghraib. Sabar sought the return of property confiscated from him by U.S. forces and also wished to inquire about a colleague who remained in custody. Both Khalid and Sabar were detained in a locked room by military personnel and were then released without receiving any response to their inquiries. As a result, Khalid now fears that U.S. forces will detain him again if he pursues remedies for the injuries and losses he incurred at the hands of American military officials in Iraq.
Khalid continues to suffer from stomach ulcers as a result of an untreated stomach infection suffered while in detention. He also suffers from severe depression and nightmares.
Said Nabi Siddiqi
Said Nabi Siddiqi is a 50-year-old citizen of Afghanistan. Siddiqi was detained by the United States military for nearly two months from July to August 2003 at various locations, including detention facilities in Kandahar and Bagram. During his detention, Siddiqi was subjected to torture or other cruel and degrading treatment.
Siddiqi was forced into painful and abusive positions for long periods during interrogations. Among other tactics, soldiers forced Siddiqi to hold a 15-pound piece of wood in his cuffed hands and maintain a pushup position while he was doused with water. Soldiers would beat Siddiqi if he did not maintain the positions, and also kicked and punched him during the interrogations, while flashing bright lights into his eyes and yelling directly into his ears at top volumes. During one two-week span, military personnel interrogated Siddiqi every night, keeping him handcuffed and blindfolded for that entire period of time.
American forces also exploited Afghan cultural norms to further demean and degrade Siddiqi. Soldiers sexually humiliated Siddiqi by stripping him naked and taking photographs, and by probing his anus. During interrogations, soldiers made animal sounds and demanded to know which animals Siddiqi had sex with, and repeatedly told him that his wife was a slut and his daughter was a street beggar. Soldiers also threw stones at Siddiqi and other detainees while they used the toilet and forced them to publicly expose themselves.
During his detention, U.S. military personnel intentionally ignored Siddiqi's medical needs and treated him in a manner that worsened his health. Upon his detention, soldiers confiscated his asthma inhaler despite his shortness of breath. Soldiers also kept Siddiqi and other detainees from sleeping for lengthy periods by throwing stones at them all night and by awakening them and forcing them to roll around while dousing them with water and verbally abusing them. In addition, Siddiqi was kept for weeks in an outdoor area with no protection from the elements and extreme weather.
As a result of his treatment while in United States custody, Siddiqi suffered severe psychological and physical injuries. He continues to suffer the lasting effects of those injuries. Among other things, he has suicidal thoughts and nightmares, is quick to anger, and suffers from memory loss.
Mohammed Karim Shirullah
Afghan citizen Mohammed Karim Shirullah, who is 47, was detained by United States military at various locations in Afghanistan, including the Bagram air base. He was detained for approximately six months, from December 2003 to June 2004. During his detention, Ahmad was tortured and subjected to otherwise cruel and degrading treatment.
Soldiers severely beat Shirullah while in custody. On one occasion, he was beat so fiercely that the blows ruptured his right eardrum. He was never treated after the beating and he is now deaf in his right ear. Shirullah was also forced to maintain painful and contorted positions, including maintaining a T-position for an hour and sitting in a small space with no back support with his legs tied and his eyes and ears covered.
Like other detainees, Shirullah was subjected to extreme sensory depravation and isolation. He was forced to wear black, opaque goggles and wrist restraints for more than two weeks. Military personnel also kept him in solitary confinement in a room with no windows for more than one month. For the entire time of his detention -- about six months -- Shirullah was forbidden from speaking with any other detainees.
Shirullah was also sexually and psychologically traumatized by U.S. military personnel. Soldiers stripped him naked, probed his anus and photographed him. Interrogators would also strip him naked and throw water on him during interrogations. As with other detainees, military personnel forced Shirullah to use an open toilet, with knowledge that such treatment would cause psychological suffering by Afghan cultural norms.
Shirullah continues to suffer from the injuries incurred while in detention. In addition to the deafness in his right ear, Shirullah experiences painful swelling in his legs. He is also unable to sleep through the night without medication.
Haji Abdul Rahman
Haji Abdul Rahman is a 50-year-old citizen of Afghanistan. Rahman was detained by the United States military for approximately five months, from December 2003 to May 2004. He was held at various locations in Afghanistan, including the Gardez firebase and the Bagram air base. Rahman suffered severe physical and psychological injuries as a result of torture or other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
While in custody, American personnel deliberately inflicted pain on Rahman. During interrogation, soldiers forced Rahman to wear blackout goggles and kneel with his hands cuffed behind his back; soldiers then placed a chain through the handcuffs, which they repeatedly jerked to pull his arms and wrench his shoulders and wrists. He was forced to wear extreme restraints, blackout goggles and handcuffs for virtually the entire first month of his detention. After that first month, soldiers placed Rahman in solitary confinement for 15 days and made him wear blackout goggles and sound-deadening headphones for no reason other than to intimidate, humiliate and degrade him.
Like other detainees, Rahman was subjected to sleep deprivation. He was detained in brightly lit areas for approximately three months, during which time military personnel made loud noises to keep him awake. This sleep deprivation was used to disorient and dehumanize Rahman and other detainees.
Rahman was also sexually humiliated. He was forced to strip naked in front of other people and military personnel anally probed him on multiple occasions. Rahman was also forced to wear blackout goggles while he was naked. He was photographed repeatedly without his clothes on.
Rahman continues to feel the effects of the injuries he incurred while detained by the United States. Among other things, he has nerve damage in his leg and back, which causes great pain and occasional near-paralysis; has vision problems; and suffers from memory lapses. Rahman also has emotional problems and is quick to anger, which has caused difficulties with his family and work.
Iraqi high school student Ali H. was only 17 years old when he was detained by the U.S. military in August 2003. He was held in detention for four weeks at Abu Ghraib prison and other locations throughout Iraq. Ali still feels the effects of the debilitating physical and psychological injuries he sustained while in detention.
During his arrest and subsequent detention, Ali suffered excruciating pain and was subjected to degrading and inhuman treatment. Soldiers shot Ali in the neck and back and threw him to the ground before arresting him. Military personnel refused to provide medical care for Ali for hours after the arrest, even though he was bleeding profusely from two gunshot wounds. The bullets were eventually removed from Ali’s neck and back in a brutal fashion and without anesthetic. He was then denied food, water and pain medication for almost two days after he was shot.
The pain inflicted on Ali continued well after the bullets were removed. While he was housed in an outdoor tent at Abu Ghraib, Ali received a life-threatening shrapnel wound during a mortar attack. Once again, military personnel refused to provide Ali with adequate medical care and pain medication. While recovering from abdominal surgery, military personnel intentionally inflicted further pain and torture on Ali. He was dragged roughly from one location to another and kept shackled hand and foot to a bed with a blanket placed over his face. He was then moved to another prison location where he was forced to sleep on the ground outdoors in extremely hot weather without any shelter, despite being in excruciating pain and having an intravenous tube in his arm. Military personnel refused to change the bandages on Ali’s surgical wound, which became infected and leaked pus.
Military personnel continued to degrade Ali even at the time of his release. After telling Ali that he would be sent to another prison, they cut off his identification bracelet, confiscated his release papers and physically threw him from a bus to the ground outside while he still had an intravenous tube in his arm.
Now 21, Ali continues to suffer the lasting effects of his treatment. Among other things, Ali suffers from severe abdominal pain and debilitating fatigue, which often forces him to leave school early or not go at all. His physician has informed him that his condition may worsen over time and advised him not to lift objects weighing over two pounds. In addition to his physical pain, Ali has recurring nightmares of his time in detention and often screams and cries out in his sleep, waking his parents.
Note: Ali H. fears for his safety and has asked that the media and others refrain from using his full name.
Najeeb Abbas Ahmed
Najeeb Abbas Ahmed, a 62-year-old Iraqi citizen, was detained twice in 2003 by the U.S. military and held for several months in various locations in Iraq. While in custody, Ahmed was physically abused and repeatedly denied proper medical care for an existing heart condition. Because of the torture and other cruel and degrading treatment he suffered in detention, Ahmed sustained severe physical and psychological injuries that have left him unable to work.
While Ahmed was in custody, U.S. soldiers beat and taunted him. Ahmed’s captors slammed his head into a wall and then forced him to kneel with his head against the wall, despite a back injury that caused him excruciating pain. At another point, soldiers restrained and stepped on Ahmed, spat on him, and exposed themselves to him.
U.S. military personnel also denied Ahmed water and proper medical care. Soldiers confiscated Ahmed’s medicine for high blood pressure and heart disease and refused to provide proper treatment when Ahmed suffered chest pains and heart attacks. On one occasion, after he suffered a heart attack, military personnel transferred Ahmed to a local hospital for treatment but later removed him against the treating physician’s warnings. On a separate visit to a hospital where Ahmed was taken after suffering a stroke, soldiers refused to untie his hands, forcing him to eat his meals by putting his mouth to his tray.
In addition, U.S. military personnel exposed Ahmed to temperatures exceeding 120 degrees Fahrenheit, in small, enclosed spaces, causing him to have difficulty breathing. During this time, Ahmed suffered from severe diarrhea but was denied access to a lavatory or any privacy.
Ahmed continues to suffer the effects of the abusive treatment he endured while in U.S. custody. His cardiologist has informed him that his treatment in detention caused his heart condition to worsen to the point where he will need surgery. Ahmed also suffers from emotional trauma, including debilitating depression, irritability, and negative thoughts. Because he was captured twice by U.S. forces and subjected to abuses both times, he is terrified it will happen again.