Pakistani Majid Khan was one of those terrorists that the United States wiped off the map after the 9/11 attacks. The CIA held him for three years (from 2003 to 2006) in secret prisons set up by the intelligence agency to obtain information on Al Qaeda operations. On Thursday night Khan, 41, became the first former inmate in what is known as black holes to publicly narrate the brutal interrogation methods he was subjected to. “The more I cooperated, the more they tortured me,” he told a military jury at Guantánamo. This sentenced him to 26 years in prison. But seven of the eight judges asked the Pentagon for clemency for the abuses committed by the agents: “It is a stain on the moral fiber of the United States,” says the letter obtained this Sunday by The New York Times.
Khan came to the United States with his family when he was 16 years old. He graduated from a high school in Baltimore and was working for a telecommunications company when the attacks on the Twin Towers occurred. In 2002 he traveled to Pakistan, where he met several members of his family with ties to Al Qaeda. They invited him to join the terrorist organization. His mother had recently died and he felt “lost and vulnerable,” he told the jury. “I was stupid, incredibly stupid. But they promised to ease my pain and purify my sins. They promised to redeem me and I believed them, ”he added.
Thereafter, he participated in various Al Qaeda attack plans. In 2003, he gave $ 50,000 to an affiliate of the terrorist group, money was used in an attack that left 11 dead and dozens injured at a Marriott hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, in August of that year, five months after his capture by of the CIA. By then, the US Army and the intelligence agency were already using “enhanced interrogation techniques” in secret facilities to obtain confessions to aid them in the war on terror launched by the Administration of President George W. Bush.
When Khan refused to drink water, CIA agents placed a hose on his rectum. “They connected one end to the tap, put the other in my rectum and turned on the water,” he told the jury, which caused him to lose control of his intestines and, to this day, he has hemorrhoids. When he refused to eat, they put puree in him instead of water. Feeding tubes were also inserted through her nose and throat. He was beaten while naked and chained, sometimes to a wall and sometimes to a beam with his arms raised. They treated him “like a dog”, and kept him for long periods in absolute darkness. When they flew him from one prison to another, they put diapers and tape over his eyes. According to his account, he confessed everything he knew, but the agents always wanted more and began to invent information.
“This abuse had no practical value in terms of intelligence, or any other tangible benefit to the interests of the United States,” says the letter from the members of the military jury. “The treatment of Mr. Khan at the hands of US personnel should be a source of embarrassment to the US Government,” they added. The violent interrogation program to kill prisoner morale ended in 2009, during the Barack Obama Administration, but the dark stain on the CIA’s reputation remains.
In 2006 Khan was transferred to Guantanamo prison, where he was finally able to access a lawyer. For nine years he was held without charge. In 2012 he pleaded guilty to four terrorist offenses. Not having US citizenship, he was treated as a “belligerent foreign unprivileged enemy,” which is why he has been tried by a military commission, and “technically not granted the rights of US citizens,” as described by the seven jurors of the letter, in which they emphasized that for having pleaded guilty and showing remorse for the pain caused to the victims and their families, it deserved a pardon.
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But both the sentence and the request for the letter were symbolic. Behind the jury’s back, Colonel Jeffrey D. Wood, a senior Pentagon official, had already reached an agreement with Khan’s legal team. His days in prison may end in February next year, or at the latest in 2025, because the defendant has become a collaborator with the US government since he pleaded guilty.
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