Torture, deportation and imprisonment without trial - tactics used in the 'war against terror'

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Indy Politics

NEW DEFINITIONS OF TORTURE

Abu Zubaida is said to be the most important terrorist in detention. Al-Qa'ida's head of external operations was shot in the groin during his capture in a joint FBI and Pakistan security forces operation in Faisalabad in March 2002. US security officials suggested that Zubaida's painkillers were used selectively in the beginning of his captivity. "His wound wasn't life-threatening," a military police officer said with a shrug. "He survived."

The admission gives some idea of the range of "stress and duress" activities which one former US intelligence officer has described as "torture-lite". The techniques are more psychologically tormenting than physically brutal but they include being tied in painful positions, subjected to deafening sounds and blinded by bright lights.

USE OF HOLDING CHARGES

Lotfi Raissi was arrested in London the week after the September 11 attack. The US authorities sought his extradition claiming he was a flight instructor of some of the hijackers. Their evidence reportedly included video footage. The extradition warrant, however, was based on "holding charges" claiming Mr Raissi had failed to disclose, on an application for a US pilot's licence, a minor theft conviction. He was detained in prison for five months before a British judge threw the extradition application out, saying there was no evidence of any terrorist activity.

Amnesty says the US sought Mr Raissi's extradition because of his profile: a Muslim, an Algerian, a pilot and a flight instructor.

ACQUITTED BUT STILL DEPORTED

Adnan Abdelah claimed political asylum on his arrival in the UK in April 2001. He was arrested after bragging about the September 11 attacks and knowledge of bombs. At his trial in May 2002 at Newcastle Crown Court, Abdelah denied charges of membership of a proscribed organisation (Hamas iz as-din-al-quezzem) and one charge of witness intimidation. On 23 May, the judge ruled there was no case to answer and directed the jury to clear Abdelah. He remained in immigration detention pending an asylum appeal, after which, on 19 December, he was deported to Morocco. The Attorney General has now referred the decision to acquit Abdelah to the Court of Appeal.

CIVIL JUSTICE

Some terrorists, after being held under immigration laws, are dealt with through normal processes in criminal courts. Two Algerian asylum-seekers living in Leicester, Baghdad Meziane, 37, and Brahim Benmerzouga, 30, (left) were held by immigration officials for four months but were then charged under the Terrorism Act 2000 with criminal offences in connection with a plan to bomb the US Embassy in Paris. The men were subsequently jailed for 11 years for financing Islamic terrorism. An appeal is pending for both cases.

Civil rights groups want all detainees to be subjected to full legal process, like this, or released.

MILITARY JUSTICE

José Padilla, who also used the name Abdullah al-Mujahir, is a US citizen arrested at Chicago's international airport in May 2002 in connection with an alleged conspiracy to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" on a US city. But he was transferred to military custody at a naval base on the basis of an order by President Bush designating him an "enemy combatant".

A US district court has upheld the President's authority to do this, but ruled Mr Padilla was entitled to access to a lawyer. The government has appealed, arguing that this would hinder its ongoing interrogation of him. Mr Padilla has no access to his attorney pending the appeal."Padilla's case is troubling," says Amnesty, "as he was arrested on suspicion of a crime which would place him within the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system."

UNREASONABLY HARSH TREATMENT?

Mahmoud Abu Rideh came to the UK in 1995 and was granted refugee status in 1997. The Home Office accepted that he had been the victim of torture while imprisoned in Israel. He was arrested as a terrorist suspect in December 2001 and was detained at Belmarsh high security unit. Like the other terrorist suspects he was locked in his cell for 22 hours a day.He became suicidal and carried out acts of self-harm. Belmarsh authorities branded him a troublemaker; Amnesty said the conditions of his detention amounted to cruelty.

It was planned to transfer him to Broadmoor. Psychiatrists opposed this but were over-ruled and he was transferred to the top security mental hospital. In January 2003, Mahmoud was sent back to Belmarsh. He is now on a hunger strike.

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