Monday, June 16, 2008

The Human Face of Torture: Ali Shah Mousavi

Photo credit: Tom Lasseter / MCT

His story:
After about three weeks, he was taken by helicopter to the detainment camp at Bagram Air Base.
He spent the first month there in isolation.
"For 15 days they did not let me sleep. They played very loud music the whole time. And a soldier at the gate commanded me to stand and then sit and then stand again. When I did not obey him quickly enough, he would tie my hands to the ceiling," Mousavi said. "Other times, four or five soldiers would come in and beat me, and then tie my hands to my feet and leave me like that on the ground."
After his month in isolation, he was put in a small cell, a cage made of concertina wire. Guards came for him once or twice a week and took him to interrogation. American men, who said they were with the CIA, accused him of having ties to al Qaida.
"I told them that Shiites are quite different than al Qaida," Mousavi said. "They showed a picture of me from the loya jirga and said your turban looks like al Qaida and your beard looks like al Qaida."
The Americans also said he was involved in a battle east of Gardez in March 2002 that the U.S. military dubbed Operation Anaconda, a battle with al Qaida militants that lasted about two weeks.
"I told them I wasn't even in Afghanistan when this fighting took place," Mousavi said with a shrug. "They kept talking about 'Anaconda.' I had no idea what they were talking about."
Ali Shah Mousavi would eventually be transferred to Guantánamo Bay, where he would be held until October, 2006. If you read the rest of the story, you'll learn that he was wrongly detained. Also, since he was Shiite, he had difficulty being held in a gulag populated primarily by Sunnis.

This is part of a series, The Human Face of Torture, that I have been publishing here since 2006.

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