Gitmo Inmate Describes Years of Abuse at CIA Sites

'I thought I was going to die,' Majid Khan says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 29, 2021 2:51 AM CDT
Gitmo Inmate Describes Years of Abuse at CIA Sites
This photo provided by the Center for Constitutional Rights shows Majid Khan during his high school years in Baltimore in the late 1990s.   (Center for Constitutional Rights via AP)

A Guantanamo Bay prisoner who went through the brutal US government interrogation program after the 9/11 attacks described it openly for the first time Thursday, saying he was left terrified and hallucinating from techniques that the CIA long sought to keep secret. Majid Khan, a former resident of the Baltimore suburbs who became an al-Qaeda courier, told jurors considering his sentence for war crimes how he was subjected to days of painful abuse in the clandestine CIA facilities known as "black sites," as interrogators pressed him for information. "I thought I was going to die," he said.

Khan, 41, spoke of being suspended naked from a ceiling beam for long periods, doused repeatedly with ice water to keep him awake for days, the AP reports. He described having his head held under water to the point of near drowning, only to have water poured into his nose and mouth when the interrogators let him up. He said he was beaten, given forced enemas, sexually assaulted, and starved in overseas prisons whose locations were not disclosed. “I would beg them to stop and swear to them that I didn’t know anything," he said. "If I had intelligence to give I would have given it already but I didn’t have anything to give." He spent about three years in CIA black sites before he was taken to Guantanamo in September 2006.

Khan spoke on the first day in what is expected to be a two-day sentencing hearing at the US base in Cuba. A panel of military officers selected by a Pentagon legal official can sentence Khan to between 25 and 40 years in prison, but he will serve far less because of his extensive cooperation with US authorities. Under a plea deal, which the jurors were not told about, Khan's sentence by the jury will be reduced to no more than 11 years by the convening authority, and he will get credit for his time in custody since his February 2012 guilty plea. That means he should be released early next year, resettled in a third, as yet unknown country because he can't return to Pakistan, where he has citizenship. Khan apologized for his actions and said he takes full responsibility. He said he has forgiven his captors, and his torturers.

(More Majid Khan stories.)

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