NEW YORK – In July of 2002, Ethiopian native Binyam Mohamed was taken from Pakistan to Morocco on a Gulfstream V aircraft registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as N379P. Flight and logistical support services for this aircraft were provided by Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. In Morocco, Mohamed was handed over to agents of Moroccan intelligence who detained and tortured him for the next 18 months. In 2004, Mohamed was rendered to a secret U.S. detention facility in Afghanistan. Flight and logistical support services for this aircraft, a Boeing 737 business jet, were also provided by Jeppesen. In Afghanistan Mohamed was tortured and inhumanely treated by United States officials. Later that same year Mohamed was rendered a third time by U.S. officials, this time to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba where he is presently.
In 1994, 28-year-old Binyam Mohamed fled Ethiopia for the United Kingdom to seek political asylum. While his asylum application was pending, Mohamed, an Ethiopian citizen, was granted permission to stay in the country and remained there without incident for seven years.
In the summer of 2001, Mohamed traveled to Afghanistan to get away from a social life in London that revolved around drugs. After several months, he left Afghanistan for Pakistan on his way back to the U.K. He was detained in Karachi and held in Pakistani custody until July 2002, when he was taken to what appeared to him to be a military airport near Islamabad. There he was handed over to the exclusive custody and control of United States officials. Dressed in black and wearing masks and work boots, these men stripped Mohamed of all his clothes, dressed him in a tracksuit, shackled him, blindfolded him and forced earphones over his head.
Early on the morning of July 22, 2002, a Gulfstream V aircraft, then registered with the FAA as N379P, flew Mohamed to Rabat, Morocco where he was interrogated and tortured for 18 months. In Morocco his interrogators routinely beat him, sometimes to the point of losing consciousness, and he suffered multiple broken bones. During one incident, Mohamed was cut 20 to 30 times on his genitals. On another occasion, a hot stinging liquid was poured into open wounds on his penis as he was being cut. He was frequently threatened with rape, electrocution and death. He was forced to listen to loud music day and night, placed in a room with open sewage for a month at a time and drugged repeatedly.
Under this torture, Mohamed was interrogated about Al Qaeda and suspected Al Qaeda members. He was told that the U.S. wanted him to testify against individuals then in U.S. custody, including Jose Padilla, Khalid Sheik Mohamed, Abu Zubaydah and Ibn Shiekh Al Libi. Mohamed was told to repeat what he was told: that he was a top Al Qaeda official; that he had met with Osama Bin Laden and 25 other Al Qaeda leaders on multiple occasions; and that he had told Bin Laden about places that should be attacked.
On January 21, 2004, approximately 18 months after he was unlawfully rendered to Morocco, Mohamed was again handcuffed, blindfolded, placed in a van and driven to an airfield. He was stripped, photographed extensively and told the photos were “to show Washington” that his wounds were healing.
Flight records show that on January 22, 2004, a Boeing-737 aircraft, registered with the FAA as N313P, left Rabat, Morocco at 2:05 a.m. and arrived in Kabul, Afghanistan at 9:58 a.m. that same day. The Council of Europe has concluded, based on these documents and other corroborating evidence, that this same aircraft was used by the CIA in the transportation and rendition of German citizen Khaled El Masri, from Skopje, Macedonia to Kabul, Afghanistan only two days later. That report is available here: assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?
After the aircraft landed in Kabul, Mohamed was taken to a U.S.-run prison, commonly known as the “Dark Prison.” Upon arrival at the “Dark Prison,” Mohamed’s captors repeatedly hit his head against the wall until he bled. He was thrown into a tiny cell measuring barely more than two meters in either direction and chained to the floor. Despite the extreme cold, he was given only shorts and a thin shirt to wear and a single blanket as thin as a sheet.
In U.S. custody, Mohamed was fed meals of raw rice, beans and bread sparingly and irregularly. He was kept in almost complete darkness for 23 hours a day and made to stay awake for days at a time by loud music and other frightening and irritating recordings, including the sounds of “ghost laughter,” thunder, aircraft taking off and the screams of women and children.
Interrogations took place on almost a daily basis. As part of the interrogation process he was shown pictures of Afghanis and Pakistanis and was interrogated about the story behind each picture. Although Mohamed knew none of the persons pictured, he would invent stories about them so as to avoid further torture. In May 2004, Mohamed was allowed outside for five minutes. It was the first time he had seen the sun in two years.
In late May 2004, Mohamed was blindfolded and taken to Bagram Air Base. At Bagram, Mohamed was told that he was going to be transferred to Guantánamo and would be tried immediately upon his arrival. He was forced to write a 20-page statement that detailed his relationship with Jose Padilla, how they went to Afghanistan together, and how they planned to go to the United States to detonate a dirty bomb.
Mohamed was held at Bagram until he was transferred in September 2004 to Guantánamo, where he was charged under President Bush’s Military Order. These charges were subsequently dropped after the military commission system was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Mohamed remains incarcerated at Guantánamo. His story is featured in Outlawed, a video produced by Witness and available online at: www.witness.org/index.php?option=com_rightsalert&Itemid=178&task=view&alert_id=49
For more information, go to www.aclu.org/rendition