Feroz Abbasi


Feroz Abbasi

Feroz Abbasi was one of nine British men who were held in extrajudicial detention in the United States Guantanamo Bay detainment camps, in Cuba. He was released from detention on 25 January 2005 along with Moazzam Begg, Martin Mubanga and Richard Belmar, the other five having previously been released.Abbasi's Guantanamo captive ID number is 24.The Department of Defense reports that he was born on October 29 1979 in Entebbe, Uganda.

Identity

Captive 24's name was spelled inconsistently different official DoD documents:
*His name was spelled Feroz Ali Abassi on the official list dossier's individually released under the Freedom of Information Act.cite web
url=http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/csrt_arb/index_publicly_filed_CSRT_records.pdf
title=Index for CSRT Records Publicly Files in Guantanamo Detainee Cases
author=OARDEC
publisher=United States Department of Defense
date=August 8 2007
accessdate=2007-09-29
]
*His name was spelled Feroz Ali Abbasi on the official lists of captives released on April 20 2006, May 15 2006. [http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/detainee_list.pdf list of prisoners (.pdf)] , "US Department of Defense", April 20 2006] [http://www.dod.mil/news/May2006/d20060515%20List.pdf list of prisoners (.pdf)] , "US Department of Defense", May 15 2006]

Background

Abbasi moved to Britain with his mother, nurse Zumrati Juma, and family when he was eight. They lived in Croydon, South London and Abbasi attended Edenham High School in Shirley, Croydon, gaining good GCSE grades. He is said to have been a well behaved and conscientious school pupil, interested in roller blading and Michael Jackson. He took his A-levels at John Ruskin College (1996-1998) and enrolled in a two-year computing course at Nescot College in Epsom, which he apparently did not finish to go travelling.

Abbasi was brought up a Muslim but had stopped attending his local mosque when he was twelve. His interest in Islam was apparently rekindled after he was mugged at 19 on his first trip abroad to Geneva and then met a Kashmiri refugee there. He began to frequent the moderate local mosque in Croydon. He then became more fervent, becoming involved with and in spring 2000 moving into the radical Finsbury Park mosque, where he helped set up a website for a militant Islamic group. Because his half-brother and half-sister had a Christian father, he stopped talking to the family and eventually disappeared altogether. The family last saw him in 2000, as he was preparing to leave for Afghanistan. Nothing more was known until Abbasi was reportedly detained in December 2001, in Kunduz in the north of the country.

Allegations and internment

. The captive sat on a plastic garden chair, with his hands and feet shackled to a bolt in the floor. Three chairs were reserved for members of the press, but only 37 of the 574 Tribunals were observed.cite web
url=http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=3902
title=Annual Administrative Review Boards for Enemy Combatants Held at Guantanamo Attributable to Senior Defense Officials
publisher=United States Department of Defense
date=March 6 2007
accessdate=2007-09-22
] ]

It is alleged that Abbasi attended four separate al-Qaeda training courses from January to August 2001 at the Al Farouq training camp, near Kandahar, and also at nearby camp, Ubaida. He was taught urban warfare, assassination techniques, intelligence collection and surveillance. They allege that he volunteered to participate in suicide operations and met Osama bin Laden three times. It is said that he fought alongside al-Qaeda and the Taliban against US and coalition forces in Afghanistan. When he was captured by the Afghan Northern Alliance, they claim he had hand grenades strapped to his legs and was carrying a military radio. He was handed over to US forces, who referred to him as "the SAS guy" in reference to his extensive trainingBegg, Moazzam. "Enemy Combatant", 2006] , then taken to Guantanamo Bay.

His mother and his lawyers argue that Abbasi is one of a small group of idealistic young Muslim men who found themselves caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. She has said she is worried for his mental welfare and, by his release, had not heard from him since late-2003. British officials last saw him in April 2003, although he kept silent for an hour.

In November 2002 the British Court of Appeal said it found his detention in Cuba "legally objectionable", but stopped short of forcing the government to intervene on his behalf. The US Government announced that Abbasi would be one of the prisoners facing a military tribunal, although it was announced that he would not face the death penalty if convicted. [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/07/24/attack/main564921.shtml No Execution For Brit Suspects] , "CBS News", July 23 2003] It was reported in mid-November 2004 that the Britons in Guantanamo Bay "expect to face charges within six weeks". [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/11/14/nguan14.xml Guantanamo Britons are still a threat, says Blair] , "The Telegraph", November 14 2004] However no charges appeared to have been laid.

On 28 January 2005, after Abbasi's release, the US authorities released to the BBC further details of their allegations and a statement allegedly written by Abbasi in the form of a handwritten autobiography whilst in detention. He describes his anguish and low self-esteem before he left England. He outlines how a jihad group works and describes his training and use of weapons. However, Abbasi's lawyer has confirmed that he claims to have been tortured and it is generally felt that the statement could not be used in a British court as evidence.

Release

Abbasi's detention had given rise to a campaign by his mother, his Member of Parliament (MP) Geraint Davies and human rights lawyers and organisations against the internment and military tribunal process. They also called on the British government to put greater pressure on their US counterparts to improve the tribunal process, detention conditions and access for the family and lawyers. It appears that the British government did use their influence, reportedly leading to a slight rift between the two countries.

On Monday 11 January 2005, the British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw announced that the four Britons in Guantanamo Bay: Moazzam Begg, Martin Mubanga, Richard Belmar and Feroz Abbasi, will be returned to Britain "within weeks" after "intensive and complex discussions" with the US government. Although they are still regarded as "enemy combatants" by the US government, no specific charges have been brought against any of them.

On Tuesday 25 January 2005, Abbasi, along with the three other British citizens, was flown back to the United Kingdom by an RAF aircraft. On arrival they were arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police and taken to Paddington Green Police Station for questioning under the Terrorism Act 2000. By 9pm on Wednesday 26 January, all four had been released without charge.

The BBC learned, on 15 February 2005, that Abbasi and Martin Mubanga had received letters from the British Government telling them that they would not be allowed passports. Using the Royal Prerogative for the first time since 1976, the government withdrew the passports for the time being in the light of evidence gathered against them by the US, allegedly suggesting they were likely to take part in action against UK or allied targets if they left Britain. It was unclear whether the evidence was gathered in Guantanamo, where their lawyer has alleged Abbasi and Mubanga suffered torture, or whether this measure was part of the conditions agreed with the US government for their release.

Transcripts from hearing

On 4 March 2006, following a Freedom of Information Act request from the Associated Press, 5000 pages of information were released containing the names and home countries of many detainees in Guantanamo Bay. Amongst this documentation is a transcript of the hearing at which Feroz Abbasi was present. Mr. Abbasi's session, begins on page one of [http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/csrt/Set_5_0465-0672_Revised.pdf this PDF file] .

Feroz Abbasi asked: "May I have my legal representative present please?" The tribunal president, a USAF colonel (whose name has been blacked out in the document) replied: "No you may not. This is not a legal proceeding. It is a military tribunal."

Feroz Abbasi continued: "On the basis that the tribunal can actually hold me here in incarceration or release me, I would consider this a criminal proceeding."

Feroz Abbasi (reading): "AKA Malcolm X. I am not anti-American and I did not come here to condemn America. I want to make that very clear. I came here to tell the truth and if the truth condemns America, then she stands condemned...(inaudible) The sun rising is splendour. A notice. It is my duty as a Muslim to warn all who are involved in this matter that they are personally responsible for their actions at all times before Allah. Allah says in this uncreated word that is the Koran. Is the man who believes no better than the man who is rebellious and wicked? Not equal are they. For those who believe and do righteous deeds are gardeners as hospitable homes for their good deeds. As to those who are rebellious or wicked their abode will be the fire. Every time they wish to get away from there they will be forced there into and it will be said to them, Take ye the penalty of the fire which ye will want to reject as false. And indeed we will make them taste of the penalty of this life prior to the supreme penalty in order that they may repent and return. And who does more wrong than one to whom are recited the signs of his lord and who turns away there from. Vary from those who transgress we will exact due retribution. Chapter 32 Al Sajdah, verses 18-22."

Abbasi continues quoting from the Koran.

The president says he: "appreciates your concern for our souls".

Following Abbasi's concerns about his classification from the point of Islamic law the tribunal president states: "This is not Islamic law. It has no authority here"

Abbasi then repeatedly brings up his status under International law. The tribunal president states:

"International law does not apply. Geneva Conventions do not apply. You have been designated an enemy combatant. This Tribunal will fairly listen to your explanation of your actions."

After repeated references to International law by Abbasi the tribunal president states:

"I don't care about international law. I don't want to hear the word International Law again." [http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/csrt/Set_5_0465-0672_Revised.pdf#1 Summarized transcripts (.pdf)] , from Feroz Abbasi's "Combatant Status Review Tribunal" - pages 1-9]

Abbasi also asked to be treated as a prisoner of war and declared he would be humbled to be regarded as a combatant, stating:

"Do not be fooled into thinking I am in any way perturbed by you classifying me as a (nonsensical) 'enemy combatant'. In fact quite to the contrary I am humbled that Allah would honour me so."

Abbasi also admitted attending an Al Qaeda training camp visited by Osama Bin Laden:

"Yes, I was present at the very speech when with his own mouth and tongue he told Basic Training that he had received a fax from the Americans!". [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4774566.stm Guantanamo: Anatomy of a hearing] , "BBC", March 4 2006]

Press reports

On July 12 2006 the magazine "Mother Jones" provided excerpts from the transcripts of a selection of the Guantanamo detainees. [http://motherjones.com/news/feature/2006/07/detainee_sidebar.html "Why Am I in Cuba?"] , "Mother Jones (magazine)", July 12 2006] Abbasi was one of the detainees profiled.According to the article his transcript contained the following exchange::"Abbasi: So, you are telling me I am an enemy combatant. I am telling you by special Geneva Conventions, I am a non-combatant….:"Tribunal president: Once again, international law does not matter here. Geneva Convention does not matter here. What matters here and I am concerned about and what I really want to get to is your status as enemy combatant based upon the evidence that has been provided and your actions while you were in Afghanistan. If you deviate from that one more time you will be removed from this tribunal and we will continue to hear evidence without you being present….:"Abbasi: I know, but I have the right to speak….:"Tribunal president: No, you don’t.:"Abbasi: And the personal representative told me I can say whatever I like.:"Tribunal president: He was mistaken if he told you that….: [Abbasi continues to speak at length.] :"Tribunal president: Once again…international law…. [Abbasi interrupts.] Mr. Abbasi, your conduct is unacceptable and this is your absolute final warning. I don't care about international law. I don’t want to hear the words “international law” again. We are not concerned with international law.

The conference speech of Ali Abbasi

The following speech is that pronounced by Ali Abbasi for Amnesty International on November 15, 2005.Fact|date=June 2007

quotation
"Right from the outset the abuse began. Upon getting their hands on me they proceeded to strip me naked only holding themselves back from doing that until they had me safely in the confines of Kandahar Airport, where they had set-up their detention centre. Naked, I was forcibly bent over and violated in the anus. I was then marched through successive lines of soldiers who prodded, groped, and eyed my body up. A full-length pornographic picture was taken of me. I know it was full length and showed everything in graphic detail because years later a detainee at Guantanamo Bay confided in me that it had been shown to him. After this rough and humiliating treatment, without much a do I was plonked naked into an interrogation cabin. I was afforded some decency, clothes. I say some, because the trousers did not fit. And I spent the next few days being shuttled back and forth from a hanger they dubbed maliciously “the Barn” and interrogation. Every time the soldiers lifted me up from lying face down on the dusty ground after being cuffed, my trousers (they had not provided a belt) would fall down, exposing me once more for their lustful eyes to see.

"I was segregated from the rest of the detainees there, placed in a 2 metre by 2 metre cage of 3 metre high razor wire. I spent the nights pretending to sleep, listening to the screams and shrieks of my fellow detainees being so forcibly marched that the leg shackles, which I could hear were shuffling too fast, cut deep and drew blood from their ankles. I heard, on several occasions, detainees being smashed into the metal entrance of the Barn. I also listened to the guard tower guards in hysterics because the detainees being treated like this were defecating themselves out of fear. One detainee was so thirsty he begged for water, the guards directed him to the urine bucket which he drank from.

"I spent the days starving reconciled to drinking water that was thrown over the razor wire, like I was some infected animal, for the few extra calories I may gain from it (if any) as well as to keep my stomach from shrinking were plentiful times to come about. I was starved to the point that I could not stand for five minutes because of the pain and weakness my legs experienced.

"After three weeks of this treatment I was removed from “the Barn” and taken through processing where my anus was violated once more and the six hairs on my chin that served as my beard were whisked off. On the plane we were fed 2 small peanut-butter sandwiches and an apple, on what had to be a sixteen-hour flight to Guantanamo.

"Upon arriving at Guantanamo, the Marines made sure they worked us over good and proper. They stamped on our leg shackles, propped us up, and body searched us –again. We were then bundled off into seat-less buses to be pushed, kicked, and shoved blindfolded for not being able to maintain an impossible position. Half an hour later the real initiation was meted out upon us. We were made to sit on our heels, one foot over the other, supported by one foot’s toes alone, for hours. Some of us were old, weak, fatigued, and injured –they were the ones to drop first in the searing Caribbean heat. I could hear them scream and moan as they were shoved and hit, dropping one after the other to be dragged away. They had singled me out for special treatment. I remained hours in that painful position until fatigued, dehydrated, and numbed I grew still. My plimsoll was snatched from my foot. I was then marched away to be the last to be processed out of all 24 of the first to be brought to Cuba. My anus again was violated for the third time, twice in 24hrs. The American who did this made sure he took exceptional pleasure in the act, repeatedly moving his finger in and out, as I was the last of his victims for the day.

"In the three months at Camp X-ray, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, I saw Jumu`ah Dawsari a detainee beaten up. He had been lying on the floor on the advice of his neighbouring detainees when they saw he was about to be I.R.F-ed. The soldier at the front of the I.R.F. team, seeing that Jumu’ah was fully subdued and unthreatening, was spurned on by this sign of weakness and proceeded to take a running jump and knee drop Jumu’ah in between his shoulder blades. The rest of the approximately six-person team followed after him, as he then wrapped his arm around Jumu’ah’s neck and proceeded to throttle him. The others viciously kicked, punched, and hog tied Jumu’ah. After a prolonged beating orgy they carried Jumu’ah out of his 2 x 2 x 2.5 metre park fence animal-cage. I watched Jumu’ah do nothing but hang limp and unconscious in their arms –and bleed. I watched them washed the blood off Jumu’ah’s animal-cage floor, with a hose. Another detainee was earlier assaulted for wearing his towel around his waste while praying.

"The periodic beatings of individual detainees did not stop there, in Camp Delta a detainee was assaulted so severely by a 9/4 I.R.F. team that he was put in a coma and is now brain damaged. They had segregated him from the rest of us. I received word from a soldier that they had named him “Timmy” or “Timothy”. He has recovered from his coma but with a mental age of 12 yrs that he will never surpass. He did not know where he was or why he was there. The military think they have absolved themselves from responsibility by asserting that he tried to commit suicide, and that their 9/4 I.R.F.-team heroically sought to save him.

"In Block Mike a fellow detainee told me how the interrogators were trying to get him to confess to being an explosives expert. They would take him, and another Bosnian-Arab detainee they were trying to get to confess to some whimsical crime, for long periods in interrogation only bringing them back at meal times. The Bosnian would return, weak and gaunt, often his clothes were raffled as though he had been undressed and badly re-dressed before returning. The soldiers working the block would literally carry him and dump him in his cage for half an hour before returning him to interrogation. I watched his very feet being dragged along the ground, past my cage, as though he were some phantom ghost in orange, as he was too weak to walk under his own power. The other detainee graphically explained how they were buffing the floor, and sweeping the pebbles with him in his interrogations. This had been going on for about a month.

"It soon came to be my turn to be worked on, but in a less direct and more subtle way. I was taken to Camp Echo, solitary confinement, where I spent a year and seven months, alone, without anybody to talk to other than the occasional friendly soldier. Within weeks of being taken there, I was given injections under the common excuse of “immunisation shots”. Two weeks after the injections I noticed a growth emerge on my right and then left testicle, a month later I started having panic attacks in my lone cage set in a dreary corner of a large windowless room. After these repeated panic attacks were mentioned to the medical staff, they quickly gave me another set of injections and miraculously the panic attacks disappeared –but not the voice in my head that was not my own, nor the feelings that felt distant and detached from my person. It was months before what seemed like three sub-personalities inside me grew weaker until they vanished from my subjective conscious. I spent that time 23 hrs a day in a cage totally cut off from the outside world and direct sunlight. One hour a day in a larger cage outside. I went for months without being exposed to direct sunlight as they took us out for exercise at night, until the skin on my thumb began to lose its colour."

References

External links

*cite news
url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/guantanamo/story/0,13743,1388398,00.html
title=Health fears for 'torture victims'
author=Vikram Dodd, Tania Branigan
date=Wednesday January 12, 2005
publisher=The Guardian


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