World Bulletin / News Desk
A human rights organization says it has collected evidence of two previously unreported cases in which U.S. agents tortured Libyans held by American forces in Afghanistan.
In a report released on Thursday, Human Rights Watch also says it acquired new evidence of the extent to which the United States and some of its allies, including Great Britain, allegedly detained exiled opponents of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and forcibly transferred them back to Libya.
Human Rights Watch said that it assembled its report by interviewing victims and witnesses familiar with alleged abuses and by combing through once-secret archives that became public during the Libyan revolution that led to Gaddafi's ouster and eventual death.
Documents found in the archives following the collapse of Gaddafi's regime included classified correspondence between top Libyan officials and officials from the CIA and Britain's spy agencies MI5 and MI6.
They illustrate how, between late 2003 when Gaddafi agreed to give up his weapons of mass destruction programs, and the 2011 Libyan revolution, Gaddafi and Western intelligence agencies quietly cooperated in battling Islamic fighters.
"Not only did the U.S. deliver Gaddafi his enemies on a silver platter, but it seems the CIA tortured many of them first," Laura Pitter, a counterterrorism expert at Human Rights Watch and author of the report, said in a written statement.
"The scope of Bush administration abuse appears far broader than previously acknowledged and underscores the importance of opening up a full-scale inquiry into what happened," she said.
Waterboarding is a form of simulated drowning that President Barack Obama and human rights activists have condemned as torture.
But U.S. and British officials defended their governments' actions.
"It can't come as a surprise that the Central Intelligence Agency works with foreign governments to help protect our country from terrorism and other deadly threats. That is exactly what we are expected to do," said Jennifer Youngblood, a CIA spokeswoman.
Some of the other nations that Human Rights Watch alleged to be U.S. collaborators in these operations are the Netherlands, Pakistan, China, Malaysia, Morocco and Sudan.
DETAINEE SAYS HE WAS WATERBOARDED
The most dramatic, and potentially controversial, of the report's 14 case studies relate to alleged waterboarding.
Human Rights Watch said that testimony from former detainee Mohammed Shoroeiya about how he allegedly was waterboarded repeatedly by U.S. interrogators was "detailed and credible." Shoroeiya claimed he had been waterboarded while in U.S. custody in Afghanistan, and that a doctor was present during the interrogation sessions, the group said.
It said that a second former Libyan detainee, Khalid al-Sharif, described how he was subjected to a "similar type of treatment," though this did not involve being strapped to a board.
Human Rights Watch said both detainees claimed that they were hooded and had ice water poured over their noses and mouths until they felt like they were suffocating - the sensation associated with waterboarding.
The accounts by the Libyan detainees, one-time members of a militant faction called the Libyan Islamist Fighting Group, contradict claims by former President George W. Bush, former CIA director Michael Hayden and other U.S. officials that waterboarding was only used on three militants in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks - none of them Libyan.
U.S. officials expressed skepticism about the waterboarding allegations. And there are apparent differences in how the Libyans describe their treatment and the waterboarding procedures used in three cases that U.S. authorities have confirmed - those of alleged al Qaeda militants Abu Zubaydah, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.
In those cases, official investigations reported, the interrogation subjects were doused repeatedly, but in short bursts, with bottled water.
"The agency has been on the record that there are three substantiated cases in which detainees were subjected to the waterboarding technique," the CIA's Youngblood said.
"Although we cannot comment on these specific allegations, the Department of Justice has exhaustively reviewed the treatment of more than 100 detainees in the post-9/11 period - including allegations involving unauthorized interrogation techniques - and it declined prosecution in every case," she added.
PIVOTAL 2003 ADDRESS
One case discussed at length by Human Rights Watch is that of a Libyan known as Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, who ran a training camp for fighters in Afghanistan.
Information gleaned from al-Libi under interrogation about alleged contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda helped drive the Bush administration's campaign to build public support for the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell highlighted the allegations in his pivotal February 2003 address to the U.N. Security Council.
However, al-Libi subsequently recanted his allegations about Iraq and al Qaeda.
Human Rights Watch said it was told by al-Libi's relatives that even though he led a training camp, he was opposed to al Qaeda's philosophy and activities and was focused on ousting Gaddafi.
Nonetheless, he was captured by Pakistan, turned over to U.S. authorities, sent for a time for allegedly abusive imprisonment in Egypt, turned back over to U.S. forces and subsequently sent to Libya.
Human Rights Watch says that in 2009, it arranged a brief visit with al-Libi in a Libyan prison. But the group said al-Libi refused to speak to it. Two weeks later, Human Rights Watch says, Libya reported that he committed suicide.
Human Rights Watch demanded that Obama direct the U.S. Attorney General to open a criminal investigation into U.S. interrogation and detention practices.
Only last week, however, Attorney General Eric Holder announced he was closing the last elements of what had become a wide-ranging investigation into these issues, without bringing any criminal charges.
On Tuesday Donald Trump urged the government to cancel an order with Boeing Co to develop a revamped Air Force One saying that current costs were out of control
Belgium is the EU country with the highest per capita number of fighters who have joined fighting in Syria and Iraq, a figure estimated at 465.
Cuts due to funding shortage concern Dadaab and Kakuma camps, which host more than 400,000 refugees
Natural gas pipeline project announced by Putin in Dec. 2014 to carry gas from Russia to Turkey through the Black Sea
Thousands of tourists visit the cities every year but the existence of a visa regime for all but a handful of countries and an onerous registration process has stymied the growth of tourism.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for a public ban on the full-face veil as her political party gears up to back her for a fourth term in office and has slammed the West for their failure to aid the people of Syria
Trump stoked concerns that Washington's near 70-year European defence guarantee might no longer hold when he said on the campaign trail he would think twice about helping NATO allies who did not pay their defence dues.
The chancellor wins 89.5 percent of delegates’ votes at the party convention.
Army counter-terrorism forces, meanwhile, reportedly wrest city’s Al-Barid district from terrorist group
Former Lords Resistance Army commander Dominic Ongwen faces 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity
Although the phase-out decision itself was legal, the court found, the firms have a right to "appropriate" compensation -- which is not provided for in the law as it stands.
NATO chief says importance of bond between Europe and North America at core of upcoming FMs' meeting
All in all, there will be less than 18 months to negotiate, Michel Barnier says
Total number of fatalities in the Mediterranean since Jan. 1 is now 4,715, up by 1,148 compared to last year, IOM says
"Aleppo is a disgrace," she said in a speech to her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, slamming Russian and Iranian support for the bombardment by Bashar al-Assad's regime.
In an address to the Security Council, which was holding talks on the country after at least 31 people died in weekend clashes, UN Special Representative to DR Congo Maman Sambo Sidikou spoke of a "sense of apprehension."