Sunday, February 22, 2009

UK agents 'colluded with torture in Pakistan'.

A shocking new report from the civil liberties group, Human Rights Watch, has alleged that there has been "widespread complicity" between the Pakistan intelligence services, ISI, and the British intelligence services, MI5, which has resulted in British citizens being tortured.

This report comes hot on the heels of the recent attempts from David Miliband to prevent a British court from releasing evidence which the court have strongly implied proves that Binyam Mohamed was tortured whilst being held by US authorities. When it turned out that Miliband was actually asking the US government to threaten the British with a loss of intelligence sharing should this evidence ever be released by a court, I began to suspect that the British might be more closely involved in this torture than we had previously suspected. And that is exactly the allegation which is surfacing here.

The documents are believed to contain evidence about the torture of Mohamed and British complicity in his maltreatment. Mohamed will return to Britain this week. Doctors who examined him in Guantánamo found evidence of prolonged physical and mental mistreatment.

Ali Dayan Hasan, who led the Pakistan-based inquiry, said sources within the country's Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), the Intelligence Bureau and the military security services had provided "confirmation and information" relating to British collusion in the interrogation of terrorism suspects.

Hasan said the Human Rights Watch (HRW) evidence collated from Pakistan intelligence officials indicated a "systemic" modus operandi among British security services, involving a significant number of UK agents from MI5 rather than maverick elements. Different agents were deployed to interview different suspects, many of whom alleged that prior to interrogation by British officials they were tortured by Pakistani agents.

Among the 10 identified cases of British citizens and residents mentioned in the report is Rangzieb Ahmed, 33, from Rochdale, who claims he was tortured by Pakistani intelligence agents before being questioned by two MI5 officers. Ahmed was convicted of being a member of al-Qaida at Manchester crown court, yet the jury was not told that three of the fingernails of his left hand had been removed.

How can any conviction obtained in this way be considered remotely safe? And, if the government considered such a person a real and serious threat, then how could they allow him to be tortured when they must surely know that any appeal court who learns of such treatment will immediately order his release and condemn his conviction as unsafe?

But the most troubling aspect of the report is it's claim that this British complicity in torture is "systemic". Until now I have thought that have been watching Britain turning a blind eye to American zealousness, that the little brother was too weak to ever tell the big brother to stop.

But here we appear to have Britain hand in hand with Pakistan playing a game of "see no evil, hear no evil".

Hasan said: "What the research suggests is that these are not incidents involving one particular rogue officer or two, but rather an array of individuals involved over a period of several years.

"The issue is not just British complicity in the torture of British citizens, it is the issue of British complicity in the torture period. We know of at least 10 cases, but the complicity probably runs much deeper because it involves a series of terrorism suspects who are Pakistani. This is the heart of the matter.

"They are not the same individuals [MI5 officers] all the time. I know that the people who have gone to see Siddiqui in Peshawar are not the same people who have seen Ahmed in Rawalpindi."

The Foreign Office are saying that the British do not condone or encourage torture, but that is rather missing the point. In several instances quoted the British walk in the door shortly after the torture has taken place, obviously playing the good cop to the Pakistani bad cop. They are, at the very least, deciding to ignore torture.

Hasan said that evidence indicated a considerable number of UK officers were involved in interviewing terrorism suspects after they were allegedly tortured. He told the Observer: "We don't know who the individuals [British intelligence officers] were, but when you have different personnel coming in and behaving in a similar fashion it implies some level of systemic approach to the situation, rather than one eager beaver deciding it is absolutely fine for someone to be beaten or hung upside down."

He accused British intelligence officers of turning a blind eye as UK citizens endured torture at the hands of Pakistan's intelligence agencies.

"They [the British] have met the suspect ... and have conspicuously failed to notice that someone is in a state of high physical distress, showing signs of injury. If you are a secret service agent and fail to notice that their fingernails are missing, you ought to be fired."

It's easy to say that, if there is any truth in all this, that Miliband would have to go. However, this is a Labour government. It's own members won't stand for it having taken part in such activities. If this is true, then the entire government should fall as far as I am concerned. We were shocked that such behaviour was condoned by a practically insane bunch of neo-con zealots in the US, but if it's being condoned by Gordon Brown and the British Labour party then I will honestly feel as if I have lost all faith in politicians full stop.

Click title for full article.

1 comment:

Cecilieaux said...

"Intelligence" folk are pretty much the same the world over. One of the truly irritating things about the Cold War was that on both sides the governments had these secret hyperthyroidal self-perpetuating bureaucracies devoted to lying, cheating, torturing and inventing all manner of horrors to assure their continued funding. Now it's "the war on terror," another neverending shadowboxing conflict.