The Iraq War was Born and Raised in Torture (extract)
Asim Qureshi, Arnaud Mafille, Moazzam Begg, Middle East Eye, Jul 6 2016
What was the basis for Powell’s source of this nexus between AQ and Saddam Hussein’s regime? Ultimately, its roots lay in the invasion of Afghanistan two years earlier, and the rendition, detention and interrogation (RDI) programme that was used by the US to garner intelligence from those in their custody. Their main evidence was a confession extracted from Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi in Egypt, after he had been severely tortured and waterboarded into asserting that AQ had a link to Saddam in order to facilitate a CBW attack against the West. The testimony of al-Libi has since been widely discredited after it became clear that it was extracted under duress. Al-Libi later said:
They were killing me.
Pindo Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) later confirmed that the information the CIA had used was completely incorrect. A 2006 US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report establishes that the Egyptians “explained to him that a ‘long list of methods could be used against him which were extreme’ and that ‘he would confess because 3,000 individuals had been in the chair before him and that each had confessed.’” He was asked about AQ’s connections to Iraq, and when the interrogators didn’t like his answers they “placed him in a small box approximately 50 cm x 50 cm” for about 17 hours and then punched him for 15 minutes. He then says that he concocted a story about al-Qaeda’s connections with Iraq and their interest in nuclear weapons. A 2014 SSCI report also confirms:
He had been tortured by the [redacted], and only told them what he assessed they wanted to hear.
By then the war had begun and finished, and acknowledgement of this failed evidence would do nothing for the people of Iraq. As the diagram below shows, Pindostan had crafted a case for an international plot, but who were all these actors, and what was the value of their intelligence? The alleged ricin plot was not solely based on the false testimony extracted al-Libi; other false tortured testimonies made their way to Powell’s presentation at the UNSC. In Jordan, the detention of Abu Attiyya (Adnan Muhammad Sadiq Abu Najila), resulted in false statements to the Jordanian General Intelligence Department (GID), as they asked him questions about Europeans and potential plots. When HRW finally gained access to Abu Attiyya in Aug 2007, he told them:
They asked me about people who came from Europe. Those people wanted to go Chechnya but couldn’t. I didn’t have much to do with them. The injections made me nervous and shaky, so I couldn’t concentrate. The pills were very small, they made me nervous and jumpy.
Ultimately, the torture of Abu Attiyya led him to sign a confession he never saw. He was eventually released without charge. In Syria, the detention of a man named Said Arif was used to back the notion that the ricin plot was making its way to France as well. Arif described inhuman conditions, isolation, beatings, and torture with a television cable and a tire. He told French officials:
I was forced to admit facts I didn’t know, ignoring, up until the last day of my detention that there was an international inquiry commission and without the assistance of a lawyer.
During his detention, the French terrorism judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere travelled to Syria with a list of questions accompanied by “answers” in parenthesis. Bruguiere was to write about this incident in his autobiography where he would call the UNSC presentation by Colin Powell “a manipulation,” since in his view there was never a link between AQ and Saddam. He wrote:
Powell must have been misled/abused, on orders, by the Pindosi intelligence services who knew the truth… In any case, the Bush administration did not shy away from any manipulation or lie to achieve its goals.
The final role of this false presentation of a ricin plot was played between Britain and Algeria. In Jan 2003, Scotland Yard received intelligence reports from the Algerian intelligence agencies. They claimed that a man in their custody, Mohammed Meguerba, had confessed to a ricin plot after his detention in late 2002. Due to the confessions, the UK authorities made a number of arrests of Algerian men in the UK and attempted to try them on the basis of the flawed intelligence. The case went before the House of Lords on appeal, where Dame Eliza Mannigham-Buller, the then director-general of MI5, attempted to justify the need to use information that may have been extracted under torture. She claimed that due to the threat of international terrorism, there was, “the need for enhanced international cooperation.” She further went on to say:
The Meguerba case provides an example of full co-operation with our Algerian partners.
It was precisely this information, well documented to have been gleaned through a false confession, that was sent to Pindostan to buff up their case for the Iraq war.