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Released Detainee Tells of Killings by Prison Guards

Moazzam Begg is a British citizen who was recently released after three years of incarceration, first at Bagram AFB and then at Guantanamo. His nightmare began when he was arrested at gunpoint at his home in Pakistan. Alternet has a transcript of an interview with him. Don't miss it. Here is his description of two inmates whose beating deaths he witnesses. At the end, he also commends some of the other prison guards.

DEEPA FERNANDES: I wonder if you can talk us through what happened to you from when you were picked up from your house in Pakistan to your time in prison at Guantanmo Bay.

MOAZZAM BEGG: Yes. It was three years of my life, so it is very difficult to condense into a few minutes. But, I can try to highlight the most profound parts of my incarceration including being held by the Americans in Kandahar, in Bagram, and ultimately in Guantanamo for 2 years. During my time there, I witnessed things that I would have never perceived the United States would be capable of. With my own eyes, I witnessed the killing of at least two detainees by military police with their own hands.

DEEPA FERNANDES: That is a grave charge. What happened?

MOAZZAM BEGG: In the first instance, they claimed it was someone who was trying to escape from a cell that was a couple of cells away from me. They caught him, and after they'd beaten him, they dropped his body if front of my cell, near where the medical room was.

Shortly after that, he was pronounced dead. He was carried out on a stretcher, with his body covered. They stated at that time that he wasn't dead. I overhead the guards saying that he had been killed, and they were running around in bit of a frenzy worried about what had taken place.

A year or so later, someone confirmed to me that he was killed. The second person was beaten to death in the same cell as me. He was held with his hands tied above his head with a hood placed about it and suspended for several days. He had been on sleep deprivation, which was one of the forms of punishment there for those who seem to be non-cooperative.

Eventually, the guards came in to take him for interrogation. His body went limp. Rather then try to assist him, they punched and kicked him. They dragged him off afterwards, and we never saw him or heard from him again. Later, I was told he was killed.

I was moved to Guantanamo Bay shortly afterwards. After I'd been at Guantanamo about a year and a half, some officers of the CID, Criminal Investigation Department came and asked me if I was willing to point out the detainees that were killed.

They showed me some photographs and asked me afterwards if I was willing to point out the perpetrators, which I did. Then, they asked me if I would be willing to testify in a trial as a witness, to prosecute these people, which I found very ironic, as they were trying to put me through some sort of military commission at that point.

To be fair to the Americans, there were some individuals soldiers, I came across who were some of the most humane individuals I have come across in my life, and I salute them, and consider them my friends.

Now go read the rest.

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  • Re: Released Detainee Tells of Killings by Prison (none / 0) (#1)
    by The Heretik on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    The story of Moazaam Begg should be a warning to any who believe what is done in the dark in secret will take the color of light when it is revealed. More on this with links at Getting What We Want

    Re: Released Detainee Tells of Killings by Prison (none / 0) (#2)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    Basically what he have here is a "he said-she said" situation. If CID took statements they are either still investigating, or didn't find evidence of a crime. What I would like to know is more about the person involved, and if he is trying to sue the US. Do I believe him? No, but I'm willing to listen.

    Re: Released Detainee Tells of Killings by Prison (none / 0) (#3)
    by john horse on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:27 PM EST
    PPJ, re:"If CID took statements..." Given the Bush administration classification of detainees as nonpersons having neither the rights of accused criminals or POWs, we don't know, do we, if the CID is required to investigate allegations of abuse of detainees? Do you think these allegation should be investigated? Are they required to be investigated? Under what law? "What I would like to know is more about the person involved..." You could be concerned about whether the allegation is true or not. You could be concerned about whether this allegation is even being investigated, since you admit you don't know. Instead all you are concerned about is whether anyone can dig up anything on this guy so that his charges can be better dismissed.

    Re: Released Detainee Tells of Killings by Prison (none / 0) (#4)
    by jimcee on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:27 PM EST
    Just makes me think about that part of the Al Queda training manual that calls for crying abuse after an encounter with US forces. The idea is that there are some in the West who will hang thier hat on any accusation of abuse by US forces. Then they will set up a hue and cry on behalf of the detainee and his cronies while ignoring the fact that the person may be rather suspect. A fifth-column perhaps? Made up of the bitter Left and thier media enablers to erode the confidence of the American people from within? I guess I'll just consider the source of the complaints and call it a day but if you what to side with this guy that's fine by me. Afterall we are the company we keep.

    jimcee...you have made it clear what company you keep...the kind that lies to congress to start a war, and not only never attends a funeral of those killed in the war, but will even lie to their parents to suit their own needs. Not to mention the kind that makes excuses for torturing people to death. So I will consider the source when you try to accuse anyone who protests the actions of your side...who I recognize not as countrymen but as particularly loathesome critters hiding behind false patriotism.

    Re: Released Detainee Tells of Killings by Prison (none / 0) (#7)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:27 PM EST
    John H – I said “if” because we have only the word of this individual that CID interviewed him, just as we have only his word about the rest. Let’s ask some questions, based on what he said, and what he didn’t say. He makes a big point of being British, but doesn’t tell us why he was living in Pakistan. Now I know he has a right to, if Pakistan doesn’t care, but what was he doing there? Perhaps this statement will tell us something:
    “As I got older, I discovered a little bit more about my Islamic identity, although I wasn't too attached to begin with, though I was as a Muslim as any Muslim, mainstream people were. As I got older, I saw things that changed me and my perspective on life, particularly in relation to the Muslim world visa vi the rest of the world. That happened through first with the Gulf War but even more so by the conflict in former Yugoslavia with the attack by the Serbs on Bosnian Srebrenica and that was a crucial catalyst and I think a turning point in my life.” PRATAP CHATTERJEE: And you actually went to Bosnia yourself….
    So he went to Bosnia, and he went to Pakistan and he went to Afghanistan and he visited some camps and he says there were mix-ups and confusion, that the camps he visited were good camps. This is a link to the complete interview. Now, is he guilty? I don’t know. If he is human he slanted the story to his advantage, but I don’t hold that against him. He does make one point I found interesting:
    “MOAZZAM BEGG: Yes, and that is the great irony. When the United States struck, they struck like a bull in a china shop.”
    Yes, we did, and yes we do. Limiting yourself to only the same type of weapons that the enemy has is stupid, and we aren’t going to do that any more. And he does make one statement that seems glaringly untrue:
    “In the words of many interrogators I came across, and one in particular who said, and I quote "I know that there is nobody being held here in Guantanamo Bay that has committed an act of belligerence against the United States, because if we did have somebody like that we would have processed them through our courts, punished them, and locked them up for a very long time."
    Just like he claims to know that the majority of the people there were not captured in battle and he met only one al-Qaida. When he starts these statements the question becomes, how could he know? So, one fib? Two fibs? Who knows? And then he writes:
    “MOAZZAM BEGG: In the first instance, they claimed it was someone who was trying to escape from a cell that was a couple of cells away from me. They caught him, and after they'd beaten him, they dropped his body if front of my cell, to where the medical room was. Shortly after that, he was pronounced dead.”
    Here again, he didn’t see him beaten. Was he injured during the attempted escape? We don’t know, but it is reasonable to assume he was. That is a big difference between what Begg claims and what probably happened. You believe the war`is wrong, I do not. Our conclusions will be based on that.

    Re: Released Detainee Tells of Killings by Prison (none / 0) (#8)
    by jimcee on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:27 PM EST
    All I am saying is that it has been found that when people of nefarious means get busted they have been trained to blame racism, anti-muslimism, torture, the US, etc. It wouldn't hurt to let that bit of information sink in before you shoot off accusations about treatment of prisoners from 'thier own words'. As I said earlier; the Left has become the fifth column in the war on terror although I don't believe they have become that consciously. It seems that the hatred of Bushco has driven them to distraction and has allowed them to be manipulated by radical Islamists. I find it as interesting as how many American heros such as Charles Lindburgh and Henry Ford were seduced towards Nazism. Or how many American intellectuals were attracted to the CP-USA from the '30's to the '50's and beyond. Blind trust is a rather dangerous thing on either side of the argument.

    Re: Released Detainee Tells of Killings by Prison (none / 0) (#9)
    by john horse on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:27 PM EST
    jimcee, Since your comments followed mine, then I will assume your "fifth columnist" remarks were directed at me. Which comment of mine do you believe supports terrorism and erodes the confidence of the American people from within? Is it when I question whether the CID is legally required to investigate charges of abuse? Is it when I ask whether allegations of abuse should be investigated? Is it my statement that we should be concerned whether these allegations are true or not? Is it my statement that these allegations should be investigated? Please note that nowhere in my comments do I indicate whether I believe or disbelieve the allegations. By the way, you imply that Begg was a person of "nefarious means". Please note that he was released without charges. However, since you make this accusation, I'm sure you can supply the documentation to prove what you are saying. But there I go again, thinking this is a free society and I have the right to express my opinion. People might read my comments and start think about the way things are and start to also ask some questions. And you know where that will lead, to the erosion of this country from within. Criticism isn't treason anymore than namecalling is reasoned discourse.

    Re: Released Detainee Tells of Killings by Prison (none / 0) (#10)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:28 PM EST
    John H writes:
    Is it when I question whether the CID is legally required to investigate charges of abuse?
    The question is, of course, deeper than that. Was it the CID, or another agency? Was it anyone? Again what we have are claims with no substance. I noted several statements by Begg that raises questions. His description of himself indicates that he was radicalized by Kosovo and the Gulf War. So he went to Pakistan. A valid question is, how were you supporting your wife and family? He speaks of "camps." Was he assisting, or just visiting? My very own guess is that he meant no real harm, and actually falls into the "useful idiot" category. I.e. People who help who but don't know what they are really doing. Someone saw him, and ratted him out. Three years later, after he has signed a confession, he is released because it is decided that he is no real problem. There are many people in jail for being in very similar situations.

    jimcee: "I find it as interesting as how many American heros such as Charles Lindburgh and Henry Ford were seduced towards Nazism." I find it interesting that you fail to note that FDR was a Communist. Jim: "He does make one point I found interesting: “MOAZZAM BEGG: Yes, and that is the great irony. When the United States struck, they struck like a bull in a china shop.” "Yes, we did, and yes we do. Limiting yourself to only the same type of weapons that the enemy has is stupid, and we aren’t going to do that any more." Alienating an entire region through obvious lies and illegal conduct, and carrying out a genocide -- these are counterproductive acts -- except to racists.