The 21st Century Phenomenon


Two Yemeni men claimed, in 08/2005, they were held in secret, underground USA jails for more than 18 months without being charged, Amnesty International said.

The USA has not responded to the claims, but the head of the CIA said the agency does not use torture. Porter Goss, the head of CIA, said in testimony to the US Senate torture was neither professional nor productive.

In the new report, published in 11/2005, Amnesty said two Yemeni men, Muhammad Faraj Ahmed Bashmilah and Salah Nasser Salim Ali, were arrested separately but reported almost identical experiences to Amnesty.


* Muhammad Faraj Bashmilah said he was arrested on 10/21/2003 in Jordan when he returned from Indonesia with his wife after telling Jordanian officials that in 2000 he had been to Afghanistan. Five days later Muhammad Faraj Bashmilah was handed over to USA authority and transferred to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

In late 04/2004, Muhammad Faraj Bashmilah was examined by a doctor, moved with other prisoners to an airport, and flown to an unknown location, where he received another medical examination and was placed naked in a new cell, where he suffered constant noise. Roughly around 09/2004 the CIA decided that Muhammad Faraj Bashmilah was not a member of Al Qaeda and he was given better living conditions, including a new cell, weekly shower, and books to read. His interrogations stopped and he spoke with psychiatrist. Muhammad Faraj Bashmilah was handed over to Yemen in 05/2005 and released from jail on 03/27/2006 without any charges 3 years after his initial arrest.


* Salah Nasser Salim Ali, born in 1978, said he was detained in Indonesia, where he lived with his Indonesian wife, in 08/2003, and later was flown to Jordan. After 4 days in Jordan he was handed over to USA and flown to an unknown location. There, for between six and eight months, Salah Nasser Ali was held in solitary confinement in what he describes as an old-style underground facility with high walls.

Again, Salah Nasser Ali was shackled and blindfolded and put on a small military aircraft, then a helicopter, before arriving at the next, unknown place of detention. Salah Nasser Ali describes it as a modern purpose-built detention facility run by USA officials, probably underground. He was handed over to Yemen in 05/2005. 

Both claim they were interrogated every day by US guards about their activities in Indonesia and Afghanistan. They say a period in a second underground prison followed, where loud Western music was piped into the cell 24 hours a day and questioning by USA officials continued.


* Michael Ratner, of the US campaign group Center for Constitutional Rights, said the report was the first to touch on the “netherworld of secret detention facilities that the CIA is running”. The USA has also faced questions over its use of “Extraordinary Rendition”.


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