Bush Administration Kidnapped Gaddafi Opponents and Returned them to Libya to be Tortured

Thursday, September 13, 2012
Muammar al-Gaddafi (AP Photo: Ricardo De Luca)

In its pursuit of potential terrorist threats, the Bush administration captured political opponents of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, tortured them and then sent them back to Libya where they were subjected to more torture.


In a new report based on Libyan government documents and interviews with rendition survivors, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says the United States and some of its allies pursued Gaddafi’s critics.


The former strongman may have manipulated the Bush administration’s post-9/11 war-on-terror to get the Central Intelligence Agency to track down Gaddafi opponents living overseas.


“The report also sheds light on the failure of the George W. Bush administration, in the pursuit of suspects behind the September 11, 2001 attacks, to distinguish between Islamists who were in fact targeting the United States and those who may simply have been engaged in armed opposition against their own repressive regimes. This failure risked aligning the United States with brutal dictators and aided their efforts to dismiss all political opponents as terrorists,” HRW wrote in its report.


One example cited by HRW involved Mohammed al-Shoroeiya, former deputy head of the military council for the anti-Gaddafi Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. After being captured in Pakistan, Shoroeiya said he was held in Afghanistan, where U.S. forces tortured him.


Shoroeiya told the human rights organization he was “chained to walls naked—sometimes while diapered—in pitch black, windowless cells, for weeks or months at a time; being restrained in painful stress positions for long periods of time, being forced into cramped spaces; being beaten and slammed into walls; being kept inside for nearly five months without the ability to bathe; being denied food; being denied sleep by continuous, deafeningly loud Western music; and being subjected to different forms of water torture including…waterboarding.”


U.S. officials have insisted that only three CIA-held prisoners were ever waterboarded. Shoroeiya’s claim would mean he was the fourth to endure the abuse.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Delivered into Enemy Hands (Human Rights Watch) (pdf)

U.S. Used This Torture Box to Interrogate Gadhafi’s Enemies (by Spencer Ackerman, Wired)

Report On US Torture And Rendition To Libya Details New Waterboarding Claims (by Jeffrey Kaye, Public Record)

Newly-Discovered Documents Reveal CIA Helped Gaddafi against His Opponents (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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