12/03/2004

British Guantanamo detainee accuses US of 'torture'

One of the five Britons recently returned to the UK from Guantanamo Bay has claimed that he was subjected to cruel and sadistic treatment by US authorities.

Jamal al Harith, from Manchester, told the Daily Mirror today that detainees of Camp X-Ray and Camp Delta had to face frequent beatings, prolonged periods of isolation and traumatic psychological torture.

The 37-year-old was held at Guantanamo Bay for just over two years after coalition forces brought about the fall of the Taleban regime in Afghanistan. The divorced father-of-three said that the behaviour of prison guards was a deliberate affront to Islam and exacted to offend and terrorise the detainees.

Jamal told the Daily Mirror: "The whole point of Guantanamo was to get to you psychologically. The beatings were not as nearly as bad as the psychological torture - bruises heal after a week - but the other stuff stays with you."

Mr al Harith said that religious practises were often disrupted or even banned in order to punish and antagonise prisoners.

The most extreme of these claims centres around how guards would bring prostitutes into the camp to pose naked in front of prisoners, who were used to veiled women, and counter to Islamic practice.

He said: "It was a profoundly disturbing experience for these men. They would refuse to speak about what had happened. It would take perhaps four weeks for them to tell a friend - and we would shout it out around the whole block."

Mr al Harith also claimed that prisoners were often not allowed to wash prior to prayers – as directed by the Koran.

Drinking water was foul and food was out-of-date and contained little nourishment, he claimed.

Jamal said that he had gone to Pakistan to "study Muslim culture" shortly after September 11 2001, according to the Daily Mirror. He accidentally entered Afghan territory where he was picked up and imprisoned by the Taleban. After the fall of Kandahar, he was detained by US forces, the newspaper reported.

(gmcg)

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