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WikiLeaks Cable: Iraqi Tortured by Guards Who Insisted He Confess to Killing 25 People

The Iraq War Logs, released by WikiLeaks in October of last year, revealed, “US soldiers witnessed, or were told of, more than 1,300 cases of detainee abuse by Iraqi authorities. But following the Abu Ghraib scandal of 2004, they were given explicit orders not to investigate unless coalition personnel were involved.” It should come as no surprise that there are multiple incidents of torture at the hands of Iraq authorities detailed or mentioned in the cables that have been released.

A November 2006 cable marked “CONFIDENTIAL” details what happened to Ahmed Mohammed Sami. Sami describes to Baghdad embassy officials how he was abused and tortured at a “Khamese” Ministry of Defense facility in Baqubah on September 30 without a warrant:

Sami indicated that he and the other detainees were subjected to nightly beatings and electric shocks administered between 10pm and 2am by a Iraqi Army Lt. Ali, Iraqi Army Cpt Niam (Intel officer) and his staff. In addition, Sami said that he was regularly blindfolded and taken to a separate room in the facility to be interrogated. During these interrogation sessions, Sami said that the treatment was so severe that he lost consciousness on seven separate occasions. In some cases he was hung upside down and beaten extensively across his body and head with blunt objects until he could no longer feel his body. In other instances, he says that his arms were twisted and handcuffed in unnatural positions while the MoD detention facility guards administered electric shocks across his body.

Guards insisted he confess to killing 25 people during each of his interrogations.

Detainees in the prison were locked inside a “special” room after beatings and denied access to medical treatment. Sami faced about twenty days of abuse and torture and never confessed to the killings. He was brought to “the Governor’s officer” and released after “physical signs of abuse had diminished.”

Sami told the Embassy officials, while what he suffered was terrible, others in the prison suffered far worse treatment. In fact, one older detainee died right on the cell floor in front of hundreds of inmates:

Although Sami acknowledged the possibility that the detainee died after not having access to his heart medication for two weeks, he said all the 250 inmates watched helplessly as Abdid was returned from an interrogation session, vomited blood, and died several hours later on the cell room floor on or around October 20. Sami, who was released October 30, later found out that the remains had been transferred to the local hospital and that MoD had informed the family that the victim had died in the hospital.

A 14-year-old juvenile detainee named Omar Jebar Mahmoud, was tortured, Sami reported. He also was threatened with sexual assault.

The information Sami shared with embassy officials suggested Muqtada al-Sadr’s militia Jaysh-al-Mahdi had members that had infiltrated the prison and were partly in charge of operations. A number of the guards were reportedly wearing “medallions by their belts, which bore the likeness” of al-Sadr.

Sami described to embassy officials the conduct of BG Shakir Ka’abi, said to be a “charismatic” man with “extensive military experience, international training and fluency in English.” Ka’abi’s presence in the prison played a key role in the way inmates were abused and tortured:

…even if some of the guards did not directly administer the beatings, all knew about the torture. There were noises that accompanied the beatings, the obvious injuries of inmates, and the open nature with which guards talked about the abuse. Sami also alleged that the head of the facility, BG Shakir Ka’abi, knew about the torture. On various occasions, BG Shakir had the guards bring out all the detainees. During these outings, Sami reported that BG Shakir made several ominous comments. For example, he told the guards (in front of the 250 detainees) that “even if you capture an angel, you must force him confess”. In other occasions, BG Shakir belittled the detainees, in one case beating the hands of one detainee with a stick (as if to imitate an adult punishing a child).

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."