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‘Several prisoners died under torture’

Published Jan 5, 2006 10:01 PM

Excerpts from an interview with Abdel Jabbar al-Kubaysi, secretary general of the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance, who had been in exile but returned to Iraq just before the U.S. invasion. The interview was conducted by Kulu al-Arab and published on al-Basra.net.

I was imprisoned for 16 months in Camp Cropper jail, located in Baghdad International Airport, the largest U.S. base in the country. In the first six months of my imprisonment they put me in a small [wooden] cell. But the first 11 days I spent in a [wooden] box in which my body barely fit.

After these six first months they transferred me to where the political prisoners were. During my time of imprisonment I was able to speak with all the prisoners except Tariq Aziz and Taha Yasin Rama dan, whom I saw only at a distance. There were a total of 103 prisoners in this jail.

What essentially characterizes this center [of imprisonment] is that it is totally isolated. The prisoner sees only American soldiers—although later they allowed me to contact my family for 10 minutes every 40 days, and they did the same with the other prisoners.

The interrogations and their procedures were exhausting. The sessions lasted more than 20 hours, time that we always spent with our hands and feet tied and our eyes bandaged. The interrogators were formed by groups of four Americans from the CIA or from other agencies, and were changing constantly.

One of the interrogators presented some of my writings to me as proof that I was a political theoretician of the resistance, texts in which I had raised some points to create the conditions of the expulsion of the occupiers. I do not deny that I support the resistance until the expulsion of the last American and Iranian soldier from my country, but on the other hand I do not know who makes up the resistance.

I had written in some article that four conditions were necessary to be able to end the occupation: first, to extend the geography of the armed activity of the resistance and to let it grow so that it becomes a national resistance without religious denominations; second, to foment the qualitative actions to inflict greater damage to the U.S. forces at the human and material level; third, that Iraq avoid isolation from its surroundings and that therefore everything that occurs in Iraq have effect in the entire zone, which would lead the governments in the Middle East loyal to the U.S. to explain [to the Bush administration] the risk it would undergo by continuing to occupy Iraq and the consequences of strengthening the Iraqi resistance, in such a way that the U.S. will realize that the Zionist entity in Palestine [Israel], which it has protected by waging the war on her behalf, will be in danger; and fourth, that the U.S. has lost its credibility. This will push U.S. society to reject the occupation and the war in Iraq.

Tortures and starvation

I have personally not seen people tortured, except for four people: Taha Yasín Ramadan, [former] vice president of the republic, whose body I saw covered with blood and him trying to heal himself with water and salt; Jamis Sarhan, member of the leadership of the Ba’ath Party and resident of Falluja; Dr. Hazem Achaij Arrawi, a scientist of the biological program; and Mohamad Al-Saghir, official of the secret services.

I am not talking about the usual practice of blindfolding the eyes and tying the hands behind the back of the prisoners and then to the feet over a period of days, and putting them in a wooden cell within another small and dark hole.

There are several people who died under torture, among them Adel Al-Duri, who was more than 60 years old and who was a member of the leadership of the Ba’ath Party; Hamza Zubaidi, ex- prime minister, who was over 70 years of age; and Waddah Achaij, a secret service officer, who was about 58 years old.

The prisoners undergo an unimaginable hunger. They serve us a spoon of rice for each prisoner and between 20 and 30 grains of corn, in addition to a piece of meat. When they changed the menu they gave us three spoonfuls of macaroni. It has been one of the preoccupations of the prisoners, which is reflected in their letters directed to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Translated from Spanish and excerpted by John Catalinotto.