After five years in U.S. custody, several rendition flights and his time “in the tropics” at Guantanamo Bay, a British citizen was released from the infamous terrorist holding facility. Bisher al-Rawi’s freedom came from the urging of the British government as he’d previously been an informant for MI5.
Now free, the ex-prisoner alleges he’d been tortured in U.S. captivity. His brother claimed CIA agents threatened him with rape and torture.
After reading both U.S. and British news on the story, I noted several glaring differences.
1. The British account mentions the torture allegations, the U.S. does not. It does refer to his stay as “profoundly difficult”.
2. The UK version clearly states the MI5 cooperation happened prior to his imprisonment while the U.S. version glosses over past cooperation, making it sound like a condition of release.
3. The British account mentions his Iraqi citizenship and his residence in country for 19 years. This gets no mention in the American story.
4. The Guardian story clearly relates the conditions of his capture in Gambia while trying to set up a peanut processing factory with his brother. The AP version only mentions arrest in Gambia for having suspicious electronic equipment, later proven to be a battery charger.
5. The UK version notes his being taken to Bagram Air base in Afghanistan and then to Guantanamo Bay. The US says he went through Cairo to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan, then on to Guantanamo.
The U.S. story states the reason they held the prisoner was his association with his association with an al-Qaeda linked radical cleric, Abu Qatada. It was this association MI5 mined through Mr. al-Rawi. So the very work he did helping British intelligence landed him in Guantanamo Bay!
If anyone tells you the heavy hand of Western might lands only on the deserving, think again. I bet another condition of his release is waiving any rights to sue for wrongful imprisonment or torture.
As the world reaches out in compassion for the 15 British soldiers who understandably lie after less than two weeks in Iranian custody, let’s consider the impact on years of confinement in U.S. facilities under conditions specifically designed to break the human mind/spirit. Might they also lie or say exaggerated things like those British Navy soldiers? I’ll close with a statement by the now freed prisoner.
"The hopelessness you feel in Guantanamo can hardly be described. You are asked the same questions hundreds of times, Allegations are made against you that are laughably untrue, but you have no chance to prove them wrong. There is no trial, no fair legal process."