The Man Behind the Hood
The following text is the testimony given by Professor Ali Shalal, who was tortured at Abu Ghraib Prison. He is known to the World as the "man behind the hood".
Ali Shalal is a professor of theology. It is important to understand that what Ali Shalal experienced is part of a routine process of torture, applied systematically to those arrested. Many of his companions in Abu Ghraib died as a result of torture or were executed upon their release so that they would not reveal the gruesome horrors and atrocities committed under orders by the Bush Administration.
His name should be a household name, yet he remains virtually anonymous as the mainstream media refuses to humanise the victims of US torture and human rights abuses. It is important that you read his testimony and familiarise yourself with the abuses and suffering being perpetrated in your name. It may also shed some light as to why Iraqi resistance to US occupation is so fierce and bloody.
Ali Abbas (alias Ali Shalal) of full age and an Iraqi citizen do hereby solemnly and sincerely declare as follows:
- I am 45 years old
- I now live in Amman, Jordan.
- I was an Islamic education lecturer in the city of Al-Alamiya, Iraq
- The purpose of making this statutory declaration is to put on record my torture experience in the Abu Ghraib prison.
- On the 13th October, 2003 while I was going to prayer in the mosque in Al-Amraya, the American troops arrested me. They tied my hands to the back of my body and put a bag over my head. They took me to a small prison in a U.S. military camp in Al-Amraya.
- The Commander of this military camp, one Captain Philips told me that he had received an order from his superior to arrest him and he did not know the reasons for my arrest. I was left alone in the prison.
- After two days, they transferred me to the Abu Ghraib prison. The first thing they did to me was to make a physical examination of my body and abused me. Together with other detainees, we were made to sit on the floor and were dragged to the interrogation room. This so called room is in fact a toilet (approximately 2m by 2m) and was flooded with water and human waste up to my ankle level. I was asked to sit in the filthy water while the American interrogator stood outside the door, with the translator.
- After the interrogation, I would be removed from the toilet, and before the next detainee is put into the toilet, the guards would urinate into the filthy water in front of the other detainees.
- The first question they asked me was, "Are you a Sunni or Shiia?" I answered that this is the first time I have been asked this question in my life. I was surprised by this question, as in Iraq there is no such distinction or difference. The American interrogator replied that I must answer directly the questions and not to reply outside the question. He then said that in Iraq there are Sunnis, Shiias and Kurds.
- The interrogators wore civilian clothes and the translator, an Afro-American wore American army uniform.
- When I answered that I am an Iraqi Muslim, the interrogator refused to accept my answer and charged me for the following offences:
(a) That I am anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic.
(b) I supported the resistance
(c) I instigated the people to oppose the occupation
(d) That I knew the location of Osama bin Ladin
I protested and said that Muslims and Jews descended from the same historical family. I said that I could not be in the resistance because I am a disabled person and have an injured hand.
- The interrogator accused me that I had injured my hand while attacking the American soldiers.
- The interrogator informed me that they knew that I was an important person in the community and therefore could help them. As an inducement for my cooperation, the interrogator offered medical help for my injured hand.
- When I did not cooperate, the interrogator asked me whether I considered the American army as "liberator" or "occupier." When I replied that they were occupiers, he lost his temper and threatened me. He told me that I would be sent to Guantanamo Bay where even animals would not be able to survive.
- They took me to another room and took record of my thumb print, a photo of my eye and a sample of my saliva for DNA analysis. After this procedure, they tagged me by putting a band round my wrist with the following particulars: my name, a number, my religious status and whether I had previous arrest.
- They then beat me repeatedly and put me in a truck to transfer me to another part of the Abu Ghraib prison.
- This part of the prison, was in an open space and consisted of five sectors, surrounded by walls and barb wires and was called "Fiji Land." Each sector had five tents and surrounded by barb wires. When I was removed from the truck, the soldiers marked my forehead with the words "Big Fish" in red. All the detainees in this camp are considered "Big Fish." I was located in camp "B."
- The living conditions in the camp were very bad. Each tent would have 45 to 50 detainees and the space for each detainee measured only 30cm by 30cm. We had to wait for 2 to 3 hours just to go to the toilets. There was very little water. Each tent was given only 60 litres of water daily to be shared by the detainees. This water was used for drinking and washing and cleaning the wounds after the torture sessions. They would also make us to stand for long hours.
- Sometimes, as a punishment, no food is given to us. When food is given, breakfast is at 5.00 am, lunch is at 8.00 am and dinner at 1.00 pm. During Ramadhan, they bring food twice daily, first at 12.00 midnight and the second is given during fasting time to make the detainees break the religious duty of fasting.
- During my captivity in the camp, I was interrogated and tortured twice. Each time I was threatened that I would be sent to Guantanamo Bay prison. During this period, I heard from my fellow detainees that they were tortured by cigarette burns, injected with hallucinating chemicals, and had their rectum inserted with various types of instruments, such as wooden sticks and pipes. They would return to the camp, bleeding profusely. Some had their bones broken.
- In my camp, I saw detainees brought over from a secret prison which I came to know later as being housed in the "Arabian Oil Institute" building, situated in the north of Baghdad. These detainees were badly injured.
- After one month and just before sunset my number was called and they put a bag over my head and my hands were tied behind my back. My legs were also tied. They then transferred me to a cell.
- When I was brought to the cell, they asked me in Arabic to strip but when I refused, they tore my clothes and tied me up again. They then dragged me up a flight of stairs and when I could not move, they beat me repeatedly. When I reached the top of the stairs, they tied me to some steel bars. They then threw at me human waste and urinated on me.
- Next, they put a gun to my head and said that they would execute me there. Another soldier would use a megaphone to shout at me using abusive words and to humiliate me. During this time, I could hear the screams of other detainees being tortured. This went on till the next morning.
- In the morning, an Israeli stood in front of me and took the bag from my head and told me in Arabic that he was an Israeli had interrogated and tortured detainees in Palestine. He told me that when detainees would not cooperate, they would be killed. He asked me repeatedly for names of resistance fighters. I told him that I do not know any resistance fighters but he would not believe me, and continued to beat me.
- This Israeli dressed in civilian clothes tortured me by inserting in turn first with a jagged wooden stick into my rectum and then with the barrel of a rifle. I was cut inside and bled profusely. During this time, when any guard walked past me, they would beat me. I had no food for 36 hours.
- The next morning, the Israeli interrogator came to my cell and tied me to the grill of the cell and he then played the pop song "By the Rivers of Babylon" by Pop Group Boney M, continuously until the next morning. The effect on me was that I lost my hearing, and I lost my mind. It was very painful and I lost consciousness. I only woke up when the Israeli guard poured water on my head and face. When I regain consciousness, he started beating me again and demanded that I tell him of the names of resistance fighters and what activities that I did against the American soldiers. When I told him that I did not know any resistance fighters, he kicked me many times.
- I was kept in the cell without clothes for two weeks. During this time, an American guard by the name of "Grainer" accompanied by a Moroccan Jew called Idel Palm (also known as Abu Hamid) came to my cell and asked me about my bandaged hand which was injured before I was arrested. I told him that I had an operation. He then pulled the bandage which stained with blood from my hand and in doing so, tore the skin and flesh from my hands. I was in great pain and when I asked him for some pain killers, he stepped on my hands and said "this is American pain killer" and laughed at me.
- On the 15th day of detention, I was given a blanket. I was relieved that some comfort was given to me. As I had no clothes, I made a hole in the centre of the blanket by rubbing the blanket against the wall, and I was able to cover my body. This is how all the prisoners cover their bodies when they were given a blanket.
- One day, a prisoner walked past my cell and told me that the interrogators want to speed up their investigation and would use more brutal methods of torture to get answers that they want from the prisoners. I was brought to the investigation room, after they put a bag over my head. When I entered the investigation room, they remove the bag from my head to let me see the electrical wires which was attached to an electrical wall socket.
- Present in the room was the Moroccan Jew, Idel Palm, the Israeli interrogator, two Americans one known as "Davies" and the other "Federick" and two others. They all wore civilian clothes, except the Americans who wore army uniforms. Idel Palm told me in Arabic that unless I cooperated, this would be my last chance to stay alive. I told him that I do not know anything about the resistance. The bag was then placed over my head again, and left alone for a long time. During this time, I heard several screams and cries from detainees who were being tortured.
- The interrogators returned and forcefully placed me on top of a carton box containing can food. They then connected the wires to my fingers and ordered me to stretch my hand out horizontally, and switched on the electric power. As the electric current entered my whole body, I felt as if my eyes were being forced out and sparks flying out. My teeth were clattering violently and my legs shaking violently as well. My whole body was shaking all over.
- I was electrocuted on three separate sessions. On the first two sessions, I was electrocuted twice, each time lasting few minutes. On the last session, as I was being electrocuted, I accidentally bit my tongue and was bleeding from the mouth. They stop the electrocution and a doctor was called to attend to me. I was lying down on the floor. The doctor poured some water into my mouth and used his feet to force open my mouth. He then remarked, "There is nothing serious, continue!" Then he left the room. However, the guard stopped the electrocution as I was bleeding profusely from my mouth and blood was all over my blanket and body. But they continued to beat me. After some time, they stopped beating me and took me back to my cell.
- Throughout the time of my torture, the interrogators would take photographs.
- I was then left alone in my cell for 49 days. During this period of detention, they stopped torturing me. At the end of the 49th day, I was transferred back to the camp, in tent C and remained there for another 45 days. I was informed by a prisoner that he overheard some guards saying that I was wrongly arrested and that I would be released.
- I was released in the beginning of March 2004. I was put into a truck and taken to a highway and then thrown out. A passing car stopped and took me home.
- As a result of this experience, I decided to establish an association to assist all torture victims, with the help of twelve other tortured victims.
- I feel very sad that I have to remember and relive this horrible experience again and again, and I hope that the Malaysian people will answer our call for help. God willing.
I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true and by virtue of the provisions of the Statutory Declarations Act 1960.