The CIA used the music of an Irish boyband called Westlife to torture Suleiman Abdullah in Afghanistan.
His interrogators would intersperse a syrupy song called "My Love" with heavy metal, played on repeat at ear-splitting volume. They told Suleiman, a newly wed fisherman from Tanzania, that they were playing the love song especially for him. Suleiman had married his wife Magida only two weeks before the CIA and Kenyan agents abducted him in Somalia, where he had settled while fishing and trading around the Swahili Coast. He would never see Magida again.
The music pounded constantly as part of a scheme to assault prisoners’ senses. It stopped only when a CD skipped or needed changing. When that happened, prisoners would call to one another in a desperate attempt to find out who was being held alongside them. A putrid smell that reminded Suleiman of rotting seaweed permeated the prison. His cell was pitch black; he couldn’t see a thing. The U.S. government refers to the prison as “COBALT.” Suleiman calls it “The Darkness.”