Sunday, December 11, 2005

" Wrongly Held, Never Tried, Fighting Back"

In The Nation

In the fall of 2001, in the midst of the US war in Afghanistan, Rhuhel Ahmed, Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul traveled from their native Tipton, England, to attend a wedding in Pakistan. Once in the region they decided to extend their trip, eager to learn more about their Muslim roots and to offer help in the humanitarian crisis across the border in Afghanistan. On November 28, 2001, the men--who would come to be known internationally as the Tipton Three--were picked up by bounty hunters of the Afghan warlord Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum.

With some 200 other suspected terrorists, the men were packed in shipping containers in the presence of US forces, according to a report issued by the Center for Constitutional Rights. They were shipped to Sherbegan prison, a former Taliban fortress, before being placed formally in US custody. Near suffocation, Iqbal passed out and awoke gasping for air at the small holes Dostum's guards had created by firing machine guns at the containers. One of the bullets had hit Iqbal in the arm, giving him a wound that soon became infected for lack of medical care. Ahmed says that all three men suffered "cold, dehydration, hunger...uncertainty," as well as dysentery and other injuries. During the brutal eighteen-hour transport, only twenty of the 200 captives survived.

The story of the Tipton Three--their detention, transport, torture and release--is no more or less outstanding than that of any others who have been swept up in the "war on terror," disappearing into what Vice President Dick Cheney has referred to as the "dark side" of the intelligence world. What is remarkable about these men is that we know their story, and it is one of the clearest failures of the Administration's use of extra-legal methods to detain and prosecute suspected terrorists: They were wrongly held and never tried.more


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