Annie Machon: ex-MI-5 whistle-blower, activist and author joins Jack Etkin for an elucidating and revealing look at ‘Deep State’ and high-level national and international intelligence and security methodologies. Annie covers subjects such as false-flag/black operations, the MI-5’s botched attempt on Gaddafi’s life, the London Tube bombing (7/7), 9/11 and others. This penetrating and articulate interview is a must see.
This article was published on?guardian.co.uk at?18.46 BST on Thursday 4 August 2011. A version appeared on p10 of the?Main section section of?the Guardian on?Friday 5 August 2011. It was last modified at?00.06 BST on Friday 5 August 2011.
Government ministers were extraordinarily sensitive about the contents of the secret?MI5 and?MI6 interrogation policy document when the Guardian became aware of its existence two years ago.
Initially, its purpose was to permit the questioning of prisoners being held at Bagram air base, north of Kabul, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, despite it being clear that these men were being severely abused by members of the US military.
In time, the policy developed into one governing the conduct of British intelligence officers who were questioning terrorism suspects held by some of the world’s most notorious security agencies.
As a number of these men began to emerge from captivity, some bearing clear signs of having been tortured, the ministers became even more nervous. The disclosure of the contents of the document helps explain why.
Tony Blair evaded a series of questions over the role he played in authorising changes to the instructions in 2004, while the former home secretary David Blunkett maintained it was potentially libellous even to ask him questions about the matter.
As foreign secretary, David Miliband?told MPs the secret policy could never be made public as “nothing we publish must give succour to our enemies”.
Blair, Blunkett and the former foreign secretary Jack Straw also declined to say whether or not they were aware that the instructions had led to a number of people being tortured.
The head of MI5,?Jonathan Evans, said that, in the post 9/11 world, his officers would be derelict in their duty if they did not work with intelligence agencies in countries with poor human rights records, while his opposite number at MI6, Sir John Sawers,?spoke of the “real, constant, operational dilemmas” involved in such relationships.
Others, however, are questioning whether, in the?words of Ken Macdonald, a former director of public prosecutions, “Tony Blair’s government was guilty of developing something close to a criminal policy”.
The Intelligence and Security Committee, the group of parliamentarians appointed by the prime minister to assist with the oversight of the UK’s intelligence agencies, is known to have examined the document while sitting in secret. However, it is unclear what ? if any ? suggestions or complaints it made.
Paul Murphy, the Labour MP and former minister who chaired the committee in 2006, declined to answer questions about the matter.
A number of men, mostly British Muslims, have complained that they were questioned by MI5 and MI6 officers after being tortured by overseas intelligence officials in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Guant?namo Bay. Some are known to have been detained at the suggestion of British intelligence officers.
Others say they were tortured in places such as Egypt, Dubai, Morocco and Syria, while being interrogated on the basis of information that could only have been supplied by the UK.
Some were subsequently?convicted of serious terrorism offences or subjected to control orders. Others were returned to the UK and, after treatment, resumed their lives.
One is a?businessman in Yorkshire, another a?software designer living in Berkshire, and a third is a?doctor practising on the south coast of England.
Some of the men have brought civil proceedings against the British government, and a number have received compensation in out-of-court settlements. Others remain too frightened to take action.
Scotland Yard has examined the possibility that one officer from MI5 and a second from MI6 committed criminal offences while extracting information from detainees overseas, and detectives are now conducting what is described as a “wider investigation into other potential criminal conduct”.
A new set of instructions was drafted after last year’s election,?published on the orders of David Cameron, on the grounds that the coalition was “determined to resolve the problems of the past” and wished to give “greater clarity about what is and what is not acceptable in the future”.
Human rights groups pointed to what they said were serious loopholes that could permit MI5 and MI6 officers to remain involved in the?tortureof prisoners overseas.
The issue of alleged torture in custody continues to haunt political, military and intelligence elites on both sides of the Atlantic. On Thursday a judge in America allowed a former military contractor who claims he was imprisoned and tortured by the US army in Iraq to sue the former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld personally for damages.
The man, an army veteran whose identity has been withheld, was working as a translator for the US marines in the volatile Anbar province when he was detained for nine months at Camp Cropper, a US military facility near Baghdad airport dedicated to holding “high-value” detainees.
The US government says he was suspected of helping to pass classified information to the enemy and helping anti-coalition forces enter Iraq. But he was never charged with a crime, and he says he never broke the law.
Lawyers for the man, who is in his 50s, claim he was preparing to return to the US on annual leave when he was detained without justification and that his family were told nothing about his whereabouts or whether he was still alive.
Court papers filed on his behalf say he was repeatedly abused, then released without explanation in August 2006. Two years later, he filed a suit in Washington arguing that Rumsfeld personally approved torturous interrogation techniques on a case-by-case basis and controlled his detention without access to the courts, in violation of his constitutional rights.
Binyam Mohamed, 33, returned to Britain in 2009 after his release from Guantan?mo Bay. An MI5 officer was alleged to have been involved in an interview with Mohamed in Pakistan and to have seen him three times while he was being held in Morocco.
Faisal Mostafa, 47, a chemist from Stockport, was repatriated from Bangladesh last summer after being detained in Dhaka in 2009. He is said to have been hooded, strapped to a chair and questioned about the UK while a drill was driven into his shoulder and hip.
Alam Ghafoor, 40, from Huddersfield, said he was held on a business trip in the United Arab Emirates after the London 7/7 bombings. The Foreign Office insisted he had not been detained at the request of the UK. Released after signing a false confession.
Zeeshan Siddiqui, a British citizen detained by the Pakistani security services and tortured while they accused him of being a member of al-Qaida. He returned to the UK and was placed under a control order. He absconded and is still missing.
Previous articles on RAB
Bangladesh Torture Centre
Exclusive : British authorities pressed for information while men were held at secret interrogation centre where inmates are known to have died under torture, Guardian investigation reveals
Ian Cobain, and Fariha Karim in Dhaka/Guardian UK
January 17, 2011
UK authorities passed information about British nationals to notorious Bangladeshi intelligence agencies and police units, then pressed for information while the men were being held at a secret interrogation centre where inmates are known to have died under torture.
A Guardian investigation into counter-terrorism co-operation between the UK and Bangladesh has revealed a detailed picture of the last Labour government’s reliance on overseas intelligence agencies that were known to use torture.
Meetings and exchanges of information took place between British and Bangladeshi officials in an effort to protect the UK from attacks that might be fomented in Bangladesh, according to sources in both countries.
The likelihood that a number of suspects would be tortured as a result of the meetings went unmentioned, according to the sources. Subsequently, more than a dozen men of dual British-Bangladeshi nationality were placed under investigation, and at least some suffered horrific abuse from the Bangladeshi authorities.
At one point Jacqui Smith, then home secretary, flew to Dhaka for face-to-face meetings with senior officials from one agency, the Directorate-General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), whose use of torture had been the subject of a detailed report by Human Rights Watch, the New York-based NGO, less than eight weeks earlier. Seven months before the visit, a report prepared by Smith’s own department had documented the widespread concern about the routine use of torture in Bangladesh. Smith spoke publicly during the visit about the dangers that could be posed by dual nationals; privately, according to a senior DGFI counter-terrorism officer, she urged that the agency investigate a number of individuals about whom the British were suspicious.
In September it emerged that in recent years MI5 and MI6 have always asked the home secretary or foreign secretary for permission before conducting any information exchange where there was a risk of an individual being tortured. Smith, her successor Alan Johnson and David Miliband, the foreign secretary during the period of the joint UK-Bangladeshi counter-terrorism campaign, have declined to answer questions about the matter.
A number of the British suspects were taken to the secret interrogation centre, known as the Task Force for Interrogation cell (TFI). The location of the TFI and the methods employed by those who work there became clear during the Guardian investigation, with both former inmates and intelligence officials speaking out about its operations.
Faisal Mostafa, from Manchester, was taken to the TFI after Smith’s visit to Dhaka and is alleged to have been forced to stand upright for the first six days of his incarceration, with his wrists shackled to bars above his head. He is then alleged to have then been beaten and subjected to electric shocks while being questioned about Bangladeshi associates. At the point at which he was to be questioned about his associates and activities in the UK, he is said to have been blindfolded and strapped to a chair while a drill was slowly driven into his right shoulder and hip.
This abuse during questioning about the UK is said to have been repeated on a number of occasions. The Guardian has seen evidence that supports the allegation that he was tortured in this manner. The report prepared by Smith’s own department povides warning that the paramilitary police unit that seized this man used precisely this method of torture.
Matiur Rahman, deputy chief of operations at the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the police unit that detained the man, said: “The British were interested in him for some time. There was an assumption he was part of an international network. They gave information to us, and we gave information to them.”
After being tortured for several weeks the man spent almost a year in jail before being freed on bail and allowed to return to the UK.
A second man, Gulam Mustafa, from Birmingham, was being held in Bangladesh during Smith’s visit, and was released before being held a second time last April. He says he was tortured on both occasions while being questioned about associates in the UK, with his interrogators beating him, subjecting him to electric shocks and crushing his knees. He was eventually transferred to a prison hospital, where he was treated for injuries suffered he suffered during interrogation.Bangladeshi police officers who arrested him the second time say his first arrest had been at the request of MI6. “When we received the file from his first arrest from RAB, it was marked ‘MI6 File’,” said one senior detective. He added that when this man was arrested for the second time, officials from the British high commission in Dhaka contacted police and asked to be debriefed on the results of his interrogation. “They wanted maximum information.” he said.
A third man, Jamil Rahman, from Swansea, is suing the Home Office, alleging that MI5 was complicit in his torture after he was arrested in 2005 and allegedly tortured in between interrogation by two British intelligence officers.
Smith said she would not answer questions “about the timings of any specific authorisations she may or may not have given the security service”. She declined to say whether she accepted that individuals would be at risk of torture when she asked the Bangladeshi authorities to investigate them. Johnson refused to answer any questions about the matter.
Miliband failed to answer a series of questions about dual nationals investigated in Bangladesh, and about any role he played in granting permission for MI6 to be involved in their cases. A spokeswoman issued a statement on his behalf which said that there were no Foreign Office papers showing that ministers were asked to sanction the arrest of Faisal Mostafa or Gulam Mustafa. She added: “David would never ever sanction torture and it is completely wrong to suggest, imply, or leave a shadow of a doubt otherwise. The UK has detailed procedures that uphold the moral and legal conduct of the intelligence agencies and those responsible for them. When David was Foreign Secretary he followed them scrupulously.”
The Foreign Office said both Mostafa and Mustafa had been offered consular assistance, and reiterated the government’s position on torture. “The government have made absolutely clear in the Coalition’s Programme for Government that we will never condone the use of torture,” a spokesman said. “We take all allegations of torture and mistreatment very seriously, and – where we have permission to do so from the individual concerned – raise them with the relevant authorities. Our security cooperation with other countries is consistent with our laws and values.”
British man at centre of torture claims returns from Bangladesh
Foreign Office repatriates Faisal Mostafa but second ‘tortured’ Briton remains in detention
Ian Cobain, and Fariha Karim in Dhaka
guardian.co.uk, Monday 14 June 2010 17.01 BST
A British man who was allegedly tortured in?Bangladesh while being questioned about his associates and activities in Britain has been flown back to the UK with the assistance of the Foreign Office.
Faisal Mostafa, whose detention?raised further concerns about British complicity in torture, was repatriated after negotiations with the UK government.
A second British national at the centre of?torture allegations remains in custody in Bangladesh. Gulam Mustafa, a 48-year-old businessman from Birmingham,?is also said to have suffered severe torture while being interrogated about mosques in his home city, associates and fundraising activities in the UK.
His alleged mistreatment is said to have ended four days before the British general election, when he was transferred from an interrogation centre in Dhaka to a prison hospital for treatment of injuries suffered during questioning.
Mostafa, 46, a chemist from Stockport, was detained in Bangladesh in March last year on terrorism-related firearms charges. He was accused of running a bomb factory at a madrassa funded by his British-based charity, Green Crescent Bangladesh UK.
He was released on bail in February for treatment for renal failure. His repatriation last week came a few days after the British authorities learned that the Guardian was planning to report on his case.
Mostafa’s lawyers say his ill health is partly a result of torture. They say he was suspended from his wrists for days at a time, hung upside down, subjected to electric shocks, beaten on the soles of his feet, deprived of food and exposed to bright lights for long periods. He is said by close friends to have suffered a number of wounds in his arms and other parts of his body that he says were inflicted by an electric drill.
Throughout the period he was being tortured, his lawyers said, he was questioned largely about his associates and activities in the UK, including his work for the Muslim parliament in London.
Bangladeshi officials have refused to comment on his repatriation but say the terrorism-related charges have not been dropped. He could be tried in his absence if he did not return to the country, they said.
The Foreign Office declined to answer questions about its role in Mostafa’s repatriation or say whether it had made any representations about his allegations of mistreatment.
A spokesperson said: “We take all allegations of torture and mistreatment very seriously and raise them as appropriate with the relevant authorities. We will never condone the use of torture.”
The UK high commission in Dhaka said it had “made the Bangladeshi authorities aware of a number of issues” concerning Mostafa’s case, and pressed them to treat him according to international standards. But it would not say whether it had made any complaints.
Mostafa came to the attention of British police and MI5 in the mid-90s, having been tried and acquitted on charges of conspiring to cause explosions in 1996. He was sentenced to four years for illegal possession of a pistol with intent to endanger life.
Four years later he was arrested after police and MI5 officers discovered chemicals that could be used to produce the high explosive HMTD at a house in Birmingham. Traces of the explosive were also found on the pinstripe jacket he was wearing at the time of his arrest.
Mostafa was acquitted although his co-defendant was convicted and jailed for 20 years. In 2006 John Reid, the then home secretary, cited this case when he said al-Qaida’s plots against the UK preceded British involvement in the invasion of Iraq or the war in Afghanistan.
Counter-terrorism officers in Dhaka said they had investigated about a dozen British nationals in recent years at the request of UK intelligence officials. One senior Bangladeshi officer told the Guardian that this was done in a manner that would have been unlawful in the UK “because of the question of?human rights“, but declined to elaborate.
British security and intelligence officials warned three years ago that significant numbers of Britons were travelling to Bangladesh to train in terrorist techniques.
The country remains a concern to UK officials.
Known or suspected plots with links to Pakistan have reduced slightly in number, while Somalia, Yemen and Bangladesh are said to pose potential problems. It is thought that one British-Bangladeshi man has killed himself in a suicide bomb attack, possibly in Afghanistan.
Mustafa, 48, a businessman from Birmingham, whose UK assets were frozen three years ago under counter-terrorism powers, was detained in April and held in a detention centre known as the Taskforce for Interrogation Cell, where the use of torture is alleged to be common.
When he appeared in court 11 days after police announced his arrest, a journalist working for the Guardian could see that he was unable to stand throughout the proceedings. At one point he sank to his knees.
His family’s solicitor, Gareth Peirce, complained to the then foreign secretary, David Miliband, in a letter that stated: “It is already well known that MI5 has been co-operating with the Bangladeshi authorities and providing and exchanging information with them about Mr Mustafa.” Miliband’s reply did not address the allegations of MI5 complicity. Last week the Foreign Office declined to say whether it had made any representations to the Bangladeshi government about his alleged mistreatment.
Mustafa was transferred to the hospital wing of a Dhaka prison on 2 May and is understood to have been receiving treatment to injuries to his knees and spine.
His Bangladeshi lawyer, Syez Mohsin Ahmed, said: “Gulam Mustafa was physically assaulted and tortured. Medicine, or chemicals, were put on his face and in his mouth to break him down so he would answer their questions. He was blindfolded, and his hands and feet were tied. Now he is receiving treatment for torture.
“He was told that if he admits the allegations against him, he would be released and sent back to London because he is a British national. He was threatened that if he doesn’t admit what was claimed against him, he would be killed in ‘crossfire‘ and so would his family.
“His family members told me that when he was detained, the police told them to tell him that if he didn’t admit the allegations, they would all be killed in crossfire. They also said that if he speaks to the media, they would harm him.”
According to Bangladeshi media reports, the UK high commission has been negotiating the release of Mustafa and another man, Mohiuddin Ahmed, a senior organiser of the Bangladeshi branch of the Islamist movement Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Rahman?s case is one of the latest in a growing number of cases ? 29, at last count ? in which British intelligence services have been accused of colluding in the torture of British nationals and residents: Rangzieb Ahmed, Salahuddin Amin, Zeeshan Siddiqui, Rashid Rauf by the ISI, Binyam Mohamed in Morocco, Alam Ghafoor in Dubai, and Azhar Khan in Egypt. Rahman?s case provides the clearest indication so far, of torture outsourced
The Loving Face of British Imperialism
…the [Nigerian] nationalist leader Nnamdi Azikiwe urged Africans and other colonized peoples to prepare their own blueprint of rights themselves instead of relying on those who are too busy preparing their own.
— Bonny Ibhawoh, Imperialism and Human Rights, p. 155.
Forced marriage, says a British High Commission press release, is a crime (British High Commission, ?The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Forced Marriage Unit Launches National Publicity Campaign on Forced Marriage,? Dhaka, 28 March 2006. The link, for unknown reasons, has gone dead). As opposed to arranged marriages, forced marriages — by dint of not being based on consent — are a form of domestic violence and human rights abuse.
To increase awareness, both in Britain and abroad, the British home ministry (HO), and the foreign ministry (FCO), jointly formed a Forced Marriage Unit in January 2005. The unit was tasked with launching a publicity campaign: radio and press adverts, TV fillers and poster campaigns, and providing information. To those at risk, those affected, and those who are survivors.
The British government, said the state minister for home, Baroness Scotland QC, is determined to protect young people’s “right to choose” their spouses. A determination backed by the state minister for foreign office Lord Triesman’s assurance that “help is available” for its victims. Continue reading “On Forced Marriage, and Insourced Torture”