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Al Qaeda suspect waterboarded 83 times by CIA won’t testify

Updated May 20, 2017 07:55am

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Abu Zubaydah
Abu Zubaydah

FORT MEADE: The first CIA captive, who was arrested in Pakistan 15 years ago and subjected to harsh interrogation, did not testify on Friday about conditions inside the Guanta­namo Bay detention centre after a late-night discussion with his lawyers, who did not want him to take the stand.

Explore: The suffering of Abu Zubaydah

It would have been the first time terror suspect Zayne Abu Zubaydah had spoken publicly since he was captured in 2002. He has never been charged. In August 2003, he was subjected to 83 rounds of waterboarding, an interrogation practice that simulates drowning.

Earlier: No apologies for Guantanamo torture, says Cheney

Zubaydah had expressed a desire to be a witness at a court hearing for fellow detainee Ramzi Binalshibh — also picked up from Pakistan on the first anniversary of 9/11 attacks — who is one of five Guantanamo prisoners facing trial by a military commission for their alleged roles in planning and providing logistical support for the Sept 11 attacks.

Binalshibh has accused guards of causing noises and vibrations intended to disrupt his sleep and making it difficult for him to participate in his legal case, and his lawyer wanted Zubaydah to testify about how detainees have been treated.

“His attorneys have advised him not to testify,” James Harrington, a civilian lawyer appointed to represent Binalshibh, told Army Col James Pohl, the judge presiding over the hearing. “The decision last night ... was not made until the last minute.”

Zubaydah, 46, was captured in Faisalabad in March 2002. When he was captured, authorities suspected he was a high-ranking member of Al Qaeda, though they have more recently described him in official documents as only a “facilitator” for the terror network. He has been held at Guantanamo since September 2006.

Earlier this month, Zubaydah’s lawyer, Mark Denbeaux, said his client would take the stand “unafraid of the truth that will emerge, confident that the world will come to know that he has committed no crimes”.

But in a statement on Friday, he said that government prosecutors made it impossible for his client to testify because what he said could be used against him if he is ever tried.

“The government sought not truth, but stacked the deck in a way that made it impossible for my client to be presented fairly and accurately,” Denbeaux’s law firm said in a statement. “For those reasons, we have respectfully abstained from taking part in this dog and pony show.”

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2017

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Comments (11) Closed



Daanish May 20, 2017 09:13am

Crime against humanity and world is watching without shame.

Khanm May 20, 2017 10:24am

Man cannot be freed by the same injustice that enslaved it. Totally absurd but one has to chose the lessar evil..Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities that how it goes

Waseem May 20, 2017 11:33am

@Daanish And your govt is free from it???? grow up

Ali Asghar May 20, 2017 12:26pm

@Waseem yes and our govt comes under criticism all the time and at least we don't claim to be the flag bearer of human rights. Now what is so childish in criticising this hypocrisy of the West? I think it's you who needs to be more mature in your comments.

Alba May 20, 2017 01:00pm

"Mark P. Denbeaux (born July 30, 1943 in Gainesville, Florida) is a law professor at Seton Hall University School of Law in New Jersey and the Director of its Center for Policy and Research. He is notable for directing numerous studies on the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and its operations, published by the Center for Policy and Research and based on data from the United States Department of Defense." Wikipedia

Houlbelat May 20, 2017 03:38pm

Waterboarding 83 times and still the captive did not succumb to the demands of captors? It proves, either waterboarding was not as effective, or the captive was actually innocent and failed to connect the dots given.

Houlbelat May 20, 2017 03:40pm

@Waseem we are talking about 'waterboarding' of which you appear to know nothing about.

NAmr May 20, 2017 04:16pm

@Waseem I think your real name is Waman, isn't it? Sitting across the border you Indians only criticise Pakistan and supporter of wrong-doers. In this case, worst atrocities were committed by those who think they invented the words human rights. That deserves criticism.

Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad May 20, 2017 04:17pm

What a silly joke?

Ahsan gul May 20, 2017 08:06pm

These captives are realizing that this whole Umma building and Islamic actions were useless. They did not have the big picture. All these guys were used in a stealthy way. And Osama was so wrong. Imagine the last 15 years of destruction and human loss. Bottom line, leave the law and orders to military and don't be a hero.

ace May 21, 2017 08:07am

Human rights of international criminals are more sacred than common human life.