Rendered to Egypt for torture, Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni is released from Guantánamo

4.9.08

Mohammed Saad Iqbal MadniNews that three more prisoners have been released from Guantánamo is cause for celebration, as all three men should never have been held in the first place. In a report to follow, I’ll look at the stories of the two Afghans released — one a simple farmer, the other a juvenile at the time he was seized — but for now I’m going to focus on the extraordinary story of the prisoner released to Pakistan, Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni, whose grotesque mistreatment involves “extraordinary rendition” and torture spanning several continents.

A Pakistani-Egyptian national and the son of an Islamic scholar, Madni was 24 years old when he was arrested in Jakarta by the Indonesian authorities on January 9, 2002, after a request from the CIA. He was then rendered to Egypt, apparently at the urging of the Egyptian authorities, working in cooperation with the CIA. In Egypt, he was tortured for three months, and was flown back to Afghanistan on April 12, 2002 with Mamdouh Habib, an Australian prisoner, seized in Pakistan, who was released in January 2005, and who has spoken at length about his torture in Egypt. Eleven months later, Madni was transferred to Guantánamo.

Although Madni did not speak about his treatment during any of his military reviews at Guantánamo, several prisoners confirmed that he was tortured by the Egyptians. Rustam Akhmyarov, a Russian prisoner released in 2004, said that Madni told him of his time “in an underground cell in Egypt, where he never saw the sun and where he was tortured until he confessed to working with Osama bin Laden,” and added that he “recalled how he was interrogated by both Egyptian and US agents in Egypt and that he was blindfolded, tortured with electric shocks, beaten and hung from the ceiling.”

Akhmyarov also said that Madni was in a particularly bad mental and physical state in Guantánamo, where he “was passing blood in his faeces,” and recalled that he overheard US officials telling him, “we will let you go if you tell the world everything was fine here.” Mamdouh Habib confirmed Akhmyarov’s analysis, recalling how Madni had “pleaded for human interaction.” He said that he overheard him saying, ”Talk to me, please talk to me … I feel depressed … I want to talk to somebody … Nobody trusts me.” On the 191st day of his incarceration, according to Madni’s own account, he attempted to commit suicide.

The Tipton Three — Rhuhel Ahmed, Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul, British citizens released in 2004 — also recalled Madni in Guantánamo (PDF). They said that “he had had electrodes put on his knees: and that “something had happened to his bladder and he had problems going to the toilet,” but explained that he had been told by interrogators that he would not receive treatment unless he cooperated with them, in which case he would be “first in line for medical treatment.”

Quite what Madni was supposed to have done to justify this torture and abuse was never adequately explained at Guantánamo. The US authorities urged the Indonesians to arrest him after they claimed to have discovered documents that linked him to Richard Reid, the inept and mentally troubled British “shoe bomber,” who was arrested, and later received a life sentence, for attempting to blow up an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami in December 2001, but Madni persistently denied the connections. In his Combatant Status Review Tribunal — in which he pointed out that he is from a wealthy and influential family, is fluent in nine languages and is a renowned Islamic scholar — he maintained that he was betrayed by one of four radical Islamists whom he met by accident on a trip to Indonesia in November 2001 to sort out family business after his father’s death.

This account was backed up during an investigation by the Washington Post, who concluded that he rented a house in Jakarta, and did nothing more sinister than visiting the local mosque, handing out business cards “identifying him as a Koran reader for an Islamic radio station,” and spending “hours on end watching television at a friend’s house.” Succinctly summing up what happened to him, he told his tribunal, “After I went to Indonesia, I got introduced to some people who were not good. They were bad people. Maybe I can say they were terrorists. When someone gets introduced to someone, it is not written on their foreheads that they are bad or good.”

According to Ray Bonner of the New York Times, the entire basis for Madni’s capture, rendition and torture was that Madni, described by an uncle in Lahore as a young man who “had a childish habit of trying to portray himself as important,” had made the mistake of telling the men he had met — members of the Islamic Defender Front, an organization that espoused anti-Americanism, but had not been involved in any terrorist attacks — that bombs could be hidden in shoes.

The comment was picked up by Indonesian intelligence agents, who were monitoring the men, and was relayed to the CIA, who decided to pick him up after Richard Reid’s failed shoe bomb attack a few weeks later. Although a US intelligence official confirmed Madni’s uncle’s account, calling Madni a “blowhard,” who “wanted us to believe he was more important than he was,” and another thought that he would be held for a few days, “then booted out of jail,” more senior officials clearly had other plans. Madni’s six and a half year ordeal, therefore, was based on a single ill-advised comment.

If Madni’s family are sufficiently well connected, it may well be that we haven’t heard the last of this particular story of the gruesome impact of torture arrangements between the United States and Egypt, based on inadequate intelligence, and the quiescent role of the Indonesian authorities. On the other hand, Madni, if released in Pakistan, may just want to rebuild his life in seclusion. This would be understandable, of course, but his abominable treatment deserves to be more than a mere footnote in the history of the Bush administration’s vile and unprincipled policies of “extraordinary rendition” and torture.

This article draws extensively on passages in my book The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed, and see here for my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009.

Note: For an update, see Revealed: Identity Of Guantánamo Torture Victim Rendered Through Diego Garcia (June 2009).

As published on Antiwar.com, CounterPunch, the Huffington Post, American Torture and ZNet.

Note: Madni’s prisoner number was ISN 743.

See the following for articles about the 142 prisoners released from Guantánamo from June 2007 to January 2009, and the eleven prisoners released from February to June 2009, whose stories are covered in more detail than is available anywhere else –- either in print or on the Internet –- although many of them, of course, are also covered in The Guantánamo Files: June 2007 –- 2 Tunisians, 4 Yemenis (here, here and here); July 2007 –- 16 Saudis; August 2007 –- 1 Bahraini, 5 Afghans; September 2007 –- 16 Saudis; September 2007 –- 1 Mauritanian; September 2007 –- 1 Libyan, 1 Yemeni, 6 Afghans; November 2007 –- 3 Jordanians, 8 Afghans; November 2007 –- 14 Saudis; December 2007 –- 2 Sudanese; December 2007 –- 13 Afghans (here and here); December 2007 –- 3 British residents; December 2007 –- 10 Saudis; May 2008 –- 3 Sudanese, 1 Moroccan, 5 Afghans (here, here and here); July 2008 –- 2 Algerians; July 2008 –- 1 Qatari, 1 United Arab Emirati, 1 Afghan; August 2008 –- 2 Algerians; September 2008 –- 1 Sudanese, 1 Algerian; November 2008 –- 1 Kazakh, 1 Somali, 1 Tajik; November 2008 –- 2 Algerians; November 2008 –- 1 Yemeni (Salim Hamdan) repatriated to serve out the last month of his sentence; December 2008 –- 3 Bosnian Algerians; January 2009 –- 1 Afghan, 1 Algerian, 4 Iraqis; February 2009 — 1 British resident (Binyam Mohamed); May 2009 — 1 Bosnian Algerian (Lakhdar Boumediene); June 2009 — 1 Chadian (Mohammed El-Gharani), 4 Uighurs, 1 Iraqi, 3 Saudis (here and here).

For a sequence of articles dealing with the use of torture by the CIA, on “high-value detainees,” and in the secret prisons, see: Guantánamo’s tangled web: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Majid Khan, dubious US convictions, and a dying man (July 2007), Jane Mayer on the CIA’s “black sites,” condemnation by the Red Cross, and Guantánamo’s “high-value” detainees (including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) (August 2007), Waterboarding: two questions for Michael Hayden about three “high-value” detainees now in Guantánamo (February 2008), Six in Guantánamo Charged with 9/11 Murders: Why Now? And What About the Torture? (February 2008), The Insignificance and Insanity of Abu Zubaydah: Ex-Guantánamo Prisoner Confirms FBI’s Doubts (April 2008), Guantánamo Trials: Another Torture Victim Charged (Abdul Rahim al-Nashiri, July 2008), Secret Prison on Diego Garcia Confirmed: Six “High-Value” Guantánamo Prisoners Held, Plus “Ghost Prisoner” Mustafa Setmariam Nasar (August 2008), Will the Bush administration be held accountable for war crimes? (December 2008), The Ten Lies of Dick Cheney (Part One) and The Ten Lies of Dick Cheney (Part Two) (December 2008), Prosecuting the Bush Administration’s Torturers (March 2009), Abu Zubaydah: The Futility Of Torture and A Trail of Broken Lives (March 2009), Ten Terrible Truths About The CIA Torture Memos (Part One), Ten Terrible Truths About The CIA Torture Memos (Part Two), 9/11 Commission Director Philip Zelikow Condemns Bush Torture Program, Who Authorized The Torture of Abu Zubaydah?, CIA Torture Began In Afghanistan 8 Months before DoJ Approval, Even In Cheney’s Bleak World, The Al-Qaeda-Iraq Torture Story Is A New Low (all April 2009), Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi Has Died In A Libyan Prison, Dick Cheney And The Death Of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, The “Suicide” Of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi: Why The Media Silence?, Two Experts Cast Doubt On Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi’s “Suicide”, Lawrence Wilkerson Nails Cheney On Use Of Torture To Invade Iraq, In the Guardian: Death in Libya, betrayal by the West (in the Guardian here) (all May 2009), Lawrence Wilkerson Nails Cheney’s Iraq Lies Again (And Rumsfeld And The CIA), and WORLD EXCLUSIVE: New Revelations About The Torture Of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi (June 2009). Also see the extensive archive of articles about the Military Commissions.

For other stories discussing the use of torture in secret prisons, see: An unreported story from Guantánamo: the tale of Sanad al-Kazimi (August 2007), A History of Music Torture in the “War on Terror” (December 2008), Seven Years of Torture: Binyam Mohamed Tells His Story (March 2009), and also see the extensive Binyam Mohamed archive. And for other stories discussing torture at Guantánamo and/or in “conventional” US prisons in Afghanistan, see: The testimony of Guantánamo detainee Omar Deghayes: includes allegations of previously unreported murders in the US prison at Bagram airbase (August 2007), Guantánamo Transcripts: “Ghost” Prisoners Speak After Five And A Half Years, And “9/11 hijacker” Recants His Tortured Confession (September 2007), The Trials of Omar Khadr, Guantánamo’s “child soldier” (November 2007), Former US interrogator Damien Corsetti recalls the torture of prisoners in Bagram and Abu Ghraib (December 2007), Guantánamo’s shambolic trials (February 2008), Torture allegations dog Guantánamo trials (March 2008), Sami al-Haj: the banned torture pictures of a journalist in Guantánamo (April 2008), Former Guantánamo Prosecutor Condemns “Chaotic” Trials in Case of Teenage Torture Victim (Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld on Mohamed Jawad, January 2009), Judge Orders Release of Guantánamo’s Forgotten Child (Mohammed El-Gharani, January 2009), Bush Era Ends With Guantánamo Trial Chief’s Torture Confession (Susan Crawford on Mohammed al-Qahtani, January 2009), Forgotten in Guantánamo: British Resident Shaker Aamer (March 2009), and the extensive archive of articles about the Military Commissions.

10 Responses

  1. On The View From Egypt, Part Two, Or, If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Lock ‘Em  Up   « advice from a fake consultant says...

    [...] country that is hardly an enemy…that is, in fact, such an ally that they have been willing to torture for [...]

  2. the Shackle Report » Blog Archive » tortured policy says...

    [...] prisons, see: An unreported story from Guantánamo: the tale of Sanad al-Kazimi (August 2007), Rendered to Egypt for torture, Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni is released from Guantánamo (September 2008), A History of Music Torture in the “War on Terror” (December 2008), Seven [...]

  3. Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni: Innocent Victim of US/UK Torture | America at War says...

    [...] I reported after Madni’s release, his case “deserves to be more than a mere footnote in the history of the Bush administration’s [...]

  4. Revealed: Identity Of Guantánamo Torture Victim Rendered Through Diego Garcia by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] I reported after Madni’s release, his case “deserves to be more than a mere footnote in the history of the Bush administration’s [...]

  5. US Torture Under Scrutiny In British Courts by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] also revisited it last September, after his release from Guantánamo, in an article entitled, “Rendered to Egypt for torture, Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni is released from Guantánamo.” In addition, I was also the only journalist to cover Madni’s case in detail two months ago, [...]

  6. The Story of Oybek Jabbarov, An Innocent Man Freed From Guantánamo « freedetainees.org says...

    [...] Arab Emirati, 1 Afghan; August 2008 –- 2 Algerians; September 2008 –- 1 Pakistani, 2 Afghans (here and here); September 2008 –- 1 Sudanese, 1 Algerian; November 2008 –- 1 Kazakh, 1 Somali, 1 [...]

  7. Italian Judge Rules “Extraordinary Rendition” Illegal, Sentences CIA Agents by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] but one other enlightening example (of a man who was also rendered to Egypt) is the case of Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni, who was subjected to “extraordinary rendition” and torture in January 2002 based on little [...]

  8. Four Men Leave Guantánamo; Two Face Ill-Defined Trials In Italy « freedetainees.org says...

    [...] Arab Emirati, 1 Afghan; August 2008 –- 2 Algerians; September 2008 –- 1 Pakistani, 2 Afghans (here and here); September 2008 –- 1 Sudanese, 1 Algerian; November 2008 –- 1 Kazakh, 1 Somali, 1 [...]

  9. Innocent Guantánamo Torture Victim Fouad al-Rabiah Is Released In Kuwait « freedetainees.org says...

    [...] Arab Emirati, 1 Afghan; August 2008 –- 2 Algerians; September 2008 –- 1 Pakistani, 2 Afghans (here and here); September 2008 –- 1 Sudanese, 1 Algerian; November 2008 –- 1 Kazakh, 1 Somali, 1 [...]

  10. The Stories Of The Two Somalis Freed From Guantánamo « freedetainees.org says...

    [...] Arab Emirati, 1 Afghan; August 2008 –- 2 Algerians; September 2008 –- 1 Pakistani, 2 Afghans (here and here); September 2008 –- 1 Sudanese, 1 Algerian; November 2008 –- 1 Kazakh, 1 Somali, 1 [...]

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