Monday, February 20, 2006

"The CIA's dustbin": US funding prisons in Morocco

I missed this one--but I don't think it even cracked the "teevee" news all week: "Revealed: the terror prison US is helping build in Morocco" [The Sunday Times, February 12, 2006, Tom Walker Rabat and Sarah Baxter]
THE United States is helping Morocco to build a new interrogation and detention facility for Al-Qaeda suspects near its capital, Rabat, according to western intelligence sources.
The sources confirmed last week that building was under way at Ain Aouda, above a wooded gorge south of Rabat’s diplomatic district. Locals said they had often seen American vehicles with diplomatic plates in the area.
The construction of the new compound, run by the Direction de la Securité du Territoire (DST), the Moroccan secret police, adds to a substantial body of evidence that Morocco is one of America’s principal partners in the secret “rendition” programme in which the CIA flies prisoners to third countries for interrogation.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other groups critical of the policy have compiled dossiers detailing the detention and apparent torture of radical Islamists at the DST’s current headquarters, at Temara, near Rabat.
A recent inquiry into rendition by the Council of Europe, led by Dick Marty, the Swiss MP, highlighted a pattern of flights between Washington, Guantanamo Bay and Rabat’s military airport at Sale.
French intelligence and diplomatic sources said the most recent such flight was in the first week in December, when four suspects were seen being led blindfolded and handcuffed from a Boeing 737 at Sale and transferred into a fleet of American vehicles.
[...] While much of the media is said to have been infiltrated by the DST, a few publications that dare to question official policy have accused the government of allowing Morocco to become “the CIA’s dustbin”.
[...] The presence of minders made asking questions around Ain Aouda almost impossible, but at a restaurant adjoining a newly built mosque nearby, elderly men supping mint tea while they watched the African Nations Cup were clearly angry about the project.
“We’ve seen nothing but Americans for five months,” complained one wizened figure before being told by his friends to be quiet.
[...] Temara itself already has a fearsome reputation among former inmates. Binyam Mohammed, an Ethiopian-born Briton later sent to Guantanamo Bay, told Amnesty International that interrogators there cut his chest and penis when he refused to answer questions.
Mohammed said he was held at Temara for 18 months before being flown to another “black prison” in Afghanistan in January 2004, and then on to Guantanamo Bay.
It is not clear how many suspects are being questioned in Morocco. The French intelligence source said the four brought to the country in December were all believed to be “high profile” but gave no further details.
This is the slow creep underground, folks. How is this not bigger news?! I can just hear the collective eye-roll over at Canwest, CNN, NBC etc. "Yeah, yeah, we're torturing terrorists again, blah, blah, blah...yada, yada, yada." Speaking for myself--who tries to make an active effort to keep up with the news--I probably wouldn't have even heard of this if I hadn't been alerted by one of Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now" headlines.

Moroccans want no part of this entanglement with Rumsfeld's "long war": Demonstrators were on-hand to protest Rumsfeld's presence there, last week. From The Morocco Times:
The protest, which was organized by the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH), brought together Moroccan intellectuals and lawyers. The demonstrators held slogans denouncing Rumsfeld's visit, the US led-war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Morocco's security and military cooperation with the United States.
The banners read: "No to a war criminal's visit to Morocco", "No to Morocco's integration in America's security and military imperialism", "Guantanamo: a crime against humanity" and "Down with American imperialism." They also chanted slogans denouncing "the presence of secret detention camps across the world" as well as "the State's terror practised by the US."
"We (AMDH) have organised this sit-in to protest against Donald's Rumsfield's visit to Morocco because we can't tolerate the integration of the Kingdom of Morocco into the security and military plans of the USA", said Abdelhamid amine, the AMDH president.

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