Death in RAF helicopter and secret prison camp in Iraq desert raises questions about legality of British and US operations.
On the evening of 11 April 2003, a pair of RAF CH47 Chinook helicopters swept over Iraq's western desert towards a remote rendezvous point beside Route 10, the highway that begins life on the outskirts of Baghdad before running for mile after mile towards the border with Jordan.
As they approached their destination, the crews assumed they were on an operation that would be uneventful. Two days earlier Saddam Hussein's statue had been toppled after American tanks rolled into the Iraqi capital; three weeks later George Bush would stand in front of a banner saying "mission accomplished".
The helicopter crews had been told that a number of detainees were under armed guard at the side of the highway. They were to pick them up after dark and take them to a prison camp. What followed was far from routine: before the night was out, one man had died on board one of the helicopters, allegedly beaten to death by RAF personnel.
The incident was immediately shrouded in secrecy. When the Guardian heard about it and began to ask questions, the Ministry of Defence responded with an extraordinary degree of obstruction and obfuscation, evading questions not just for days but for weeks and months. The RAF's own police examined the death in an investigation codenamed Operation Raker, but this ended with some of the most salient facts remaining deeply buried. The alleged culprits faced no charges.
Asked where the men were being taken, the MoD had initially indicated that they were en route to a prisoner of war camp, one inspected regularly by the Red Cross.
Later it became clear that this was not correct: they were being transported to an altogether more secret location. The truth about the mission raises some searching questions about the legality of some of the British forces' operations carried out in close co-operation with US allies.
One of the first hints that something untoward had happened aboard one of the RAF Chinooks came six years later when Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Mercer was giving evidence at the public inquiry into the death of Baha Mousa, the hotel receptionist tortured to death by British troops in September that year.
Mercer, who had been the British army's most senior lawyer in Iraq, told the inquiry that by the time of Mousa's death, several other people had died in UK military custody.
Asked about these mysterious deaths, the Ministry of Defence named one of the deceased as Tanik Mahmud, and said he had "sustained a fatal injury" while travelling aboard an RAF Chinook. Perplexingly, the ministry added that the cause of his death remained unknown.
'Unlawful killing'Asked how they could be sure he had suffered a fatal injury when the cause of his death was not known, the MoD took five weeks to answer.
Eventually, officials admitted that the RAF had received a complaint – anonymously, they said – that "three RAF Regiment personnel on board the helicopter had kicked, punched or otherwise assaulted Mr Mahmud leading to unlawful killing".
This raised many other questions, which the MoD appeared sometimes reluctant to answer.
One of the few that it answered promptly – within hours – concerned the location to which the prisoners were being taken. They were going to Umm Qasr, the MoD said: this was the town on the Kuwaiti border where British and American forces had constructed a large prisoner-of-war camp, a place that came under the supervision of military lawyers and was inspected regularly by the Red Cross.
More information about the incident was to be found in a number of documents released in Australia under that country's freedom of information laws.
The deceased had been one of 64 men detained at a roadblock set up by a soldiers of the Australian SAS. Working alongside a solitary member of a US airforce unit, the 20 Australians were attempting to capture so-called "high-value targets", former high-ranking members of the deposed regime attempting to flee the country.
Seven days earlier, Saddam had appeared suddenly in the middle of a crowd of cheering supporters, an event that was filmed and broadcast on Iraqi TV, along with a speech he was said to have made in which he exhorted his countrymen to "fight them brothers, hit them day and night". The coalition forces were determined to find him.
Three of the prisoners at the side of the highway were suspected of being officials of Saddam's ruling Ba'ath party. Four were held because they were Iranians and in possession of an enormous sum of cash – more than $600,000 – and a letter offering a bounty for each American killed.
The remainder of the prisoners appear to have fallen under suspicion because they were travelling together on a coach. Some were Iraqis and others were Syrian, and all were to be interrogated about Saddam.
None of the 64 were armed, however, and none were in uniform. A number were middle-aged and at least one was severely disabled. Despite this, the men were to be detained as EPWs, enemy prisoners of war. They were to be loaded into the Chinooks in groups of eight and ferried to the prison camp.
As a result of what might be described as a legal sleight of hand, the men were never recorded as prisoners of the 20 Australians. On paper, at least, the lone American was said to have captured them. This meant that the Australian government could consider itself not to be bound by a Geneva convention clause that obliged it to demand the return of any prisoner it transferred to the US if it became apparent that US forces were not treating them in accordance with the convention.
At this point in the Guardian's inquiries, a report written by the squadron leader commanding the 2nd squadron of the RAF Regiment was leaked.
This document, prepared as part of a brief US field inquiry into the incident, showed that the Australians had bound the prisoners' thumbs together before handing them over.
The RAF Regiment gunners then placed hessian bags over the prisoners' heads as they were being led aboard the Chinooks, despite a ban on hooding imposed on the UK's armed forces more than four decades earlier.
Knelt uponEach prisoner was forced to lie face down on the floor of the aircraft, and those who "refused to adopt the required position" were forced to the floor and knelt upon.
One man who slipped out of his thumb restraint and flailed his arms around was said to have been "lowered" to the floor and "subdued".
By the time the helicopters had reached their destination, two of the prisoners "were found to be unresponsive", according to the squadron leader, while "there was some commotion at the front of the aircraft" because a third prisoner, a disabled man, had somehow parted company with both his prosthetic legs.
It was a windy night, the sand was being whipped up by the Chinooks' rotor blades, and visibility was down to 1.5 metres. The American troops who received the prisoners say the British appeared to be rushing, anxious to transport them all before dawn.
The two "unresponsive" men were loaded into the back of a Humvee vehicle, face down and on top of each other, while the man with no legs was placed in the front passenger seat.
All three were driven to a "holding facility", where one was declared dead. The bag had been taped so securely over his head that it needed to be cut off.
The US inquiry concluded that "appropriate" methods had been used to subdue the man who died. The RAF made no attempt to contact next of kin to inform them of his death, however. Were it not for the anonymous complaint, this would have been the end of the matter.
The complaint is understood to have been made by a member of the Chinook's crew, unhappy at what he saw happening in the helicopter's cabin as they were flying to the camp. After receiving the complaint, the RAF police moved slowly.
According to the MoD, they waited more than a year after the death before asking an RAF pathologist whether the body should be exhumed and examined. Asked to explain the delay, the MoD said the investigators "did not know Mr Mahmud's place of burial".
Once the location was disclosed by the US military, officials explained, "discussions took place on the feasibility of accessing Mr Mahmud's remains, taking into account serious security concerns and obtaining permission from the local imam". At this point, according to the MoD, the RAF pathologist "indicated that given the climate and the degree of decomposition since the death, it would be extremely difficult to establish cause of death". As a result, no postmortem examination was ever carried out.
This advice surprises one eminent civilian pathologist, who says that only exhumation could reveal the state of decomposition.
Derrick Pounder, professor of forensic medicine at the University of Dundee, who has experience of exhumations and postmortem examinations in the Middle East – including cases of deaths in custody – said: "That advice would be contrary to the advice that any UK forensic scientist would offer to any police in the UK who were investigating an allegation of assault leading to death."
He says an examination of the hard tissue may have revealed evidence of an assault before the prisoner died: ribs, for example, sometimes fracture in a distinctive manner when kicked. Asked whether a copy of the pathologist's advice would be made available, the MoD said no copy could be found in its files. After this advice was received the case was passed to RAF's prosecutors, who advised that there was insufficient evidence to bring any charges. They also concluded that any further investigation was pointless.
Asked why the men had been taken as EPWs, when none were armed and all were wearing civilian clothes, the MoD appeared to be stumped.
"UK forces did not detain these individuals, they transported them," the ministry said. "This is not a question we can answer. This question should be directed to the detaining country."
Eventually, the Guardianobtained a copy of the passport that had been in the dead man's pocket, and the death certificate that had been issued by the US military authorities. The passport showed the dead man was a Baghdad odd-job man aged 36. It also showed that his name was not Tanik Mahmud, but Tariq Sabri al-Fahdawi. The RAF police investigation appeared to have been so superficial that it had failed to establish the dead man's identity.
Unknown cause of deathThe certificate recorded Sabri's cause of death as unknown. It also showed that the whereabouts of his grave, far from being uncertain, could be pinpointed precisely. The American officer who completed the certificate had gone to considerable lengths to ensure it could be found, beyond the airfield perimeter: "700m out front gate to first culvert, 191 degrees for 50m, next to grave with stacked stones in same location ..."
But of greater significance was what the death certificate revealed about the location of the airfield. It showed that the 64 prisoners had not been flown to the prison camp at Umm Qasr at all. They had been taken an airfield codenamed H1, described on the certificate as the forward operating base of a US special forces unit known as Task Force-20. H1 was an airfield built next to an oil pipeline pumping station.
It was 350 miles north-west of Umm Qasr, in the middle of Iraq's western desert, a vast and desolate expanse of sand and scree. The nearest settlement was many miles away: it is difficult to see how there could have been a "local imam" whose permission needed to be sought before exhumation, or how anyone in the vicinity who could pose "serious security concerns".
The holding facility at H1 was not inspected by the Red Cross. Moreover, its existence was not disclosed to Lieutenant Colonel Mercer, the UK's most senior army lawyer in Iraq at the time. Mercer says he was "extremely surprised" to learn of its existence.
He said: "This matter potentially raises very serious questions. Strenuous efforts were made at all times to ensure that all prisoners were accorded the full protection of the Geneva conventions and vigorous objections would have been raised if there was the slightest possibility of a breach of the conventions. It appears from the information disclosed that some prisoner operations were being conducted, deliberately or otherwise, outside of the chain of command."
The holding facility appears effectively to have been a secret prison – a so-called black site. It is entirely possible, according to international law experts, that taking prisoners to H1 could amount to "unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement", and that the prisoners were subjected to "enforced disappearances", both of which are war crimes under the Rome statute of the international criminal court.
One former RAF Regiment trooper who was based at H1 for several months has described being involved in a number of similar missions in which prisoners were collected from coalition special forces. This always happened "under total darkness", he says. On arrival at H1, the prisoners were handed on to people whom he describes as "other authorities".
Could this explain why the police investigation into the alleged killing of Tariq Sabri ended with some of the most basic facts – such as his name and the the cause of his death – remaining unknown?
According one well-placed source with knowledge of Operation Raker, the RAF police investigation into the death, there were some at the MoD who were concerned about the possible consequences of a more thorough inquiry: people who were filled with dread at the thought that it could lead to accusations that British forces and others had been involved in crimes against humanity.
When the MoD realised that the location to which the prisoners were flown was known to the Guardian, it quickly apologised for previously stating that they had been flown to Umm Qasr. This had been an innocent mistake, one that a spokesman said could be attributed to "admin/human error".
At this point the MoD also released a copy of the US field inquiry report, which had been withheld from the Guardian for more than a year.
The report showed that a British special forces unit known as Task Force 14, and an Australian unit known as Task Force 64 were an integral part of operations at H1. Both units were under US tactical control.
The ministry also volunteered an admission that the investigation into Sabri's death was not conducted quickly enough. But it said that this could not happen today as its procedures had changed, and added that Operation Raker was now the subject of a review by a team of military police and former civilian detectives known as IHAT – the Iraq historic allegations team.
Asked whether there was any truth in the suggestion that officials had interfered with the investigation into Sabri's death in order to suppress information about the UK's involvement with H1, the MoD replied that IHAT was "giving consideration to any involvement with the investigation of MoD officials who were external to it", and that it would be "inappropriate to comment" while that review was continuing.
Geneva conventionThe MoD was also asked whether it was satisfied that UK forces serving at H1 had never been in breach of the Geneva convention, or any other international humanitarian law. It replied by stating only that IHAT would consider the actions of those who came into contact with Sabri.
Nor would the MoD comment on another claim made by the source with knowledge of Operation Raker: that both CIA and MI6 officers were involved in the interrogation of prisoners flown secretly to H1, and that these were the "other authorities" whom RAF Regiment troopers were told would be taking possession of their prisoners. The ministry's only response to questions about non-military interrogators at H1 was a terse: "No further information."
The involvement of the CIA in Task Force 20 is no secret in the US, where it has been disclosed in Pentagon statements and congressional testimony. According to Human Rights Watch, the inter-agency unit was responsible for "some of the most serious allegations of detainee abuse" following the invasion.
Before the end of that year, the unit merged with a similar unit previously based in Afghanistan and changed its name to Task Force 121. By then, however, some at the Pentagon were sufficiently concerned about its methods to send a special investigator to Iraq. Stuart Herrington, a retired military intelligence colonel, discovered that the unit was holding undeclared "ghost" detainees and operating a secret interrogation centre to conceal its activities. Some of its prisoners showed signs of having been beaten.
This was several months before the abuses at Abu Ghraib became known, and Herrington's top-secret report shocked some in Washington. Eventually, somebody leaked it.
Over the years that followed, the unit changed its name again, to Task Force 6-26, and later to Task Force 145, possibly in an attempt to confuse adversaries. Its precise size and the names of its commanders have never been disclosed. But its methods appear to have remained the same. The American Civil Liberties Union obtained a series of US defence documents that showed that the unit's personnel had been investigated repeatedly over their alleged involvement in a catalogue of abuses. In one case, taskforce interrogators were said to have forced a 73-year-old woman to crawl around a room while a man sat on her back, before forcing a broom handle into her anus. Two of her fingers were broken. The woman, a retired teacher, said her interrogators demanded to know the whereabouts of her son and husband, both of whom she said were dead.
In 2006, an investigation by the New York Timesfound that some taskforce prisoners had been water-boarded, and others were beaten or shot with paintball guns. While a number of interrogators had been prosecuted, posters around one of their bases proclaimed "no blood, no foul": they would be safe as long as none of their subjects bled. The ultimate destination for some of the prisoners who passed though this base was said to be Abu Ghraib. The newspaper's investigation did not uncover the continuing UK involvement with the taskforce, however.
But this became clear when one British member spoke out after quitting the army in disgust. Ben Griffin, a young SAS trooper, said the unit was capturing hundreds of people who were being rendered to prisons where they faced torture, and that he had witnessed dozens of illegal acts by US troops. "My commanding officer at the time expressed his concern to the whole squadron that we were becoming the secret police of Baghdad," Griffin said. The MoD responded by obtaining a court injunction to silence Griffin, and warned he faced jail if he said any more.
The review of Operation Raker being conducted by IHAT is nearing completion, and a report is expected to be handed to the head of the RAF police at the end of this month. The MoD says it is not going to be published.
A few months ago I had an email exchange with the former Deputy Director General of The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Bruno Pellaud.
I had intended to weave this interview with the Swiss physicist into a larger report, but that didn't materialise. With IAEA inspectors recently concluding a trip to Iran and western powers still seemingly convinced that Iran is developing a bomb (watching the Republican Presidential Debates in the US you'd be forgiven for thinking they already have a nuclear arsenal and war is imminent); and with the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists plus fears that Iran may cut off the Straits of Hormuz in response to economic blockade - anxiety and tensions are escalating from multiple directions. This is why I felt this interview was too good to waste, because understanding some of the nuclear aspects of this standoff may be helpful, however overwhelmed they may be by the politics.
I began by highlighting to Mr Pellaud that, because the burden of proof was on the accusers and not the accused, Iran's accusers had reminded me of Bertrand Russell's teapot theory. Russell wrote:
'' If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense.''
So why should Iran have to prove that it doesn't want a nuclear weapon? Why isn't it up to its accusers to prove their claim? And are we seeing a situation that could be resolved peacefully if there was the appetite for it from all parties, be it not for a global game of chicken, of poker-faces and hurt feelings?
Here's an excerpt of the exchange:
IG: Is it actually possible for a nation to categorically prove that a nuclear programme is peaceful?
BP: Not in absolute terms. For sure, Bertrand Russell's teapot theory applies here also - on the impossibility of the accused party proving a negative, and the shifting of the burden of proof from the accuser to the accused. Or of demonstrating the absence of a needle in a stack of hay. Nonetheless, circumstantial evidence provided in full transparency will help the State to come pretty close to a solid proof. Firstly, through the absence of suspicious activities which do not belong by nature to a peaceful programme (e.g. working on uranium in metallic form). Secondly, by being outright forthcoming, by offering more information and access than requested by inspectors.
The accumulation of circumstantial evidence over the scope of activities, over the full extent of the country and over time put gradually the State in a position to prove the point categorically.
IG: What do you make of President Obama's claim that Iran is the only member of the NPT who has not been able to demonstrate that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes?
BP: Be it only for Russell’s teapot theory, this formulation is patently wrong. Some other countries have recently been named rightly or wrongly in this connection: Myanmar and Venezuela in particular. Some countries have in the past engaged in non-peaceful activities – e.g. South Africa, Argentina and Brazil. Did those countries provide an iron-clad demonstration that they have renounced? I think so, but others may still believe differently - in the name of the “absolute truth” and of a more categorical proof.
President Obama should have said “that Iran is the only member of the NPT who denies to the IAEA the information and the access to facilities that would enable the IAEA to verify that its nuclear programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes”. Take note: “…the IAEA to verify”, not to ascertain, not to prove categorically. The obligation for the accused is to allow the accuser to do an appropriate verification job.In Iran, the refusals to respond to IAEA’s requests and the systematic attempts to conceal information have marked the relationship with the IAEA since the early nineties. Accepted by the highest officials of the Islamic Republic in 2003, the obligation to provide early information to the IAEA about new facilities has been contested by Iran since 2007 with fallacious legal arguments (an obligation that has been accepted by all other States). Furthermore, Iran refuses to join the more than 100 countries that open the doors to any relevant facility that the IAEA may wish to inspect. Hiding activities and facilities goes counter to proving categorically that the programme is peaceful.And one counter example. In late 1993, South Africa “demonstrated” that its nuclear programme had been dismantled by granting the IAEA full access to all corners of the former programme. Comparing that with a huge tree, the IAEA verified a large number of branched activities (not all) – walking up the trunk, the branches, the twigs and then to the leaves, with the complete help of all the South Africans met by inspectors. On this account, the IAEA Director General Hans Blix concluded - with a very high degree of confidence - that South Africa had fulfilled its commitment. In early 2003, Hans Blix concluded that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction left, after conducting a vast verification campaign during which the Iraqis tried systematically to deny access, to refuse information, to hide people and facilities, to lie about minor things and to mislead the inspectors - AS IF they had much to hide. Among other things, this behaviour led the Americans to believe wrongly that Hans Blix was wrong…
National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski visited Afghanistan in 1979:
This is what he said to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.
"We know of their deep belief in God, and we are confident their struggle will succeed. That land over there is yours, you’ll go back to it one day because your fight will prevail, and you’ll have your homes and your mosques back again. Because your cause is right and God is on your side"
Former British Foreign secretary, Robin Cook said:
"Bin Laden was, though, a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.'
Hilary Clinton admits that the American government created, supported and supplied the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 70's, these Mujahideen became Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the Brotherhood of Islam. The very terrorists that they now fight in their "War on Terror".
Yes Mrs Clinton They created them and we pay the price.
Mr. Obama, President of the United States of America welcomes the mass murderer Noori Al-Maliki to the Whitehouse and says without shame that Iraq is a safe, independent, sovereign state in which Al-Maliki is a Democratically elected leader.
Yes Mr. Obama, in Al-Maliki's democratic Iraq there are 138,000 in prison and an unknown amount in secret prisons, seven of which have been discovered recently. During the dictator Saddam Hussein's reign we had 14,800 prisoners -this information was found after the 2003 invasion-
Half of the number of prisoners held under Al-Maliki's democratic government have not been afforded legal aid, a court hearing or visitation by family members, in fact once they are handcuffed and removed from the family home or wherever they are arrested ,no other news is ever passed on the family of their whereabouts or legal standing. Under this "Democratic Government" that America supports, Iraq has no electricity, no clean water, no infrastructure, no justice and no human rights. Presently there are 3 million Iraqi refugees inside Iraq -mostly since the civil war from 2006 until now- something that is not reported in the western media as it would be evidence of Americas failure. 5 million Iraqi refugees outside of Iraq and over 1.5 million killed. There are 1 million widows.
A special thanks also to you Mr. President, for your presentation of Iraq as a gift to Iran on a golden plate.
The irony of the situation is that when America chooses to go to war with another country it uses "Human Rights violations" as it's first tool in the propaganda machine. Where are the Human rights in Iraq now?
A special thanks from me to your CIA, well done and thank you for having me put on the "terrorist watch list" in Ireland, it only goes to back-up my belief that if you are honest, speak out for your people and country, have a manner or dignity, you are a terrorist in the eyes of American foreign policy. We all know that Ireland -the state not the people- will always believe what you tell it to, it is a state of America not Europe, and even if it were to try some independent thought you would keep it in line by threatening to send all the Irish illegal immigrants home, just like your predecessor Mr. Bush did when the Irish government didn't want to open Shannon airport to the US Military or rendition flights. If having dignity and manner, speaking out for my country, it's people, justice and human rights around the world makes me a "terrorist" in your eyes, well then sir, I will wear that title proudly.
_A look at how a former beacon of booming development and social prosperity has been plunged into economic desperation.
_Ireland has been one of the largest casualties in the global financial crisis, which began during the banking collapse of 2008 and has continued to impact markets and destabilise the developed world ever since. Following a government guarantee to underwrite the country’s six major banks shortly after the crisis broke, Ireland’s population of 4.5 million was shouldered with an enormous debt of €400bn ($515bn), proportionately the highest per capita commitment in the world.
Yet with bank liabilities accounting for an eye watering 309 per cent of GDP, it quickly became apparent that Ireland would fail to find its own way out of the economic downturn. As a consequence, in 2010, the EU and IMF stepped in to offer Ireland a rescue package worth €85bn ($109bn) - then one of the largest bailouts in history.
How different it had been only a couple of years earlier. Then the country was riding high, revelling in its reputation as the ‘Celtic Tiger’.
With low interest rates, upwardly spiralling property values and seemingly inexhaustible lines of credit available from the banks, for a decade the Irish economy had seemed to be a pin-up for the new age of market deregulation. With money so easy to borrow and fantastic returns apparently offered by even the most speculative investments, property developers became the new heroes of the economy - lauded for their ability to magic profits out of thin air.
According to one of them, Simon Kelly: “We didn’t think we were borrowing it, we thought our businesses were borrowing it for the purposes of owning buildings or building hotels or doing commercial activities, which we all did.”
But it was not just the developers who were enjoying the boom; the country’s rapidly expanding middle classes felt richer too and enjoyed spending the money that seemed to flow so easily into their hands. With more consumers came more retail outlets, more hotels, more developments ....
Of course, like all bubbles, it had to burst eventually. And when it did the liabilities of Irish banks were so huge they threatened to take the whole economy with them - hence the government’s decision to prop them up.
The problem is that all this debt now has to be paid for, by higher taxes, reduced pensions and a shrinking public budget for things like social security, education, health and jobs.
The EU and IMF loans required the Irish government to hack public spending to the bone - by €12bn ($15bn) over the next three years. That may not sound like a huge sum of money in these days when international financial commentators talk blithely of trillions and quadrillions of dollars, but for a small country, with a population of only 4.5 million it is a huge sum.
And as the public sector has tightened its belt to meet these cuts, so the public sector has felt the pain too - businesses have closed, jobs have been lost and unemployment has soared. And inevitably the public mood has soured too.
In 2011, the Fianna Fail ruling party was comprehensively crushed in a general election dominated by angry recriminations over who was responsible for the crisis. But the problems facing Ireland have not gone away and as the years of austerity and cutback stretch out ahead, increasing numbers of young people are emigrating overseas, something that earlier generations of the Irish had been forced to do but which during the boom years had never seemed necessary.
Against this background, filmmaker Sinead O’Shea investigates how Ireland, once a beacon of booming development and social prosperity, could have reached such a point of economic desperation and asks whether the country can ever turn its fortunes around.
Latif Yahia answer The British Sunday Times & The Guardian , The "Freelance" journalists, Dirty Tricks.
_Mostly when I write my articles they come easily, except the ones like Pass me the spinach where I bare a little more of my soul than I would really like to, but find that it's just got to be done for clarity and maybe just a little closure. Some people can go through life happily with the usual milestones, birthdays, Christmases, engagement, marriage and of course children, but for whatever reason - I could get very philosophical here -that life just wasn't meant for me. I have a very different life to many people, it's not always been one of my choosing but it's what I have lived and unless someone invents a time machine in the very near future, there's no way that I can change what has already happened. But if they do invent a time machine and I can go back and avoid certain parts of my life in Iraq, believe me it will be the first thing I do. If however I am unable to change the facts of my life but just revisit as some sort of observer, I will do my utmost to get a signed, sworn statement from Uday Hussein and his father Saddam, attesting to the fact that I was Uday's fidai/body double, because after 20 years suddenly my story is at worst, fabricated and at best, highly exaggerated according to certain journalists. It really makes me smile! Of course I made it all up! Uday was a great guy! all the women loved him, he was such a looker that I had to pretend to be him to pick up chicks! NOT! He was an angel and anyone who ever sought refugee status outside of Iraq because he tortured them, raped them or murdered a member of their family is a liar! He was so innocent that the American soldiers who shot him, his brother and nephew to death at the villa in Mosul should all be court-martialed. I am of course being sarcastic, It's true I would have preferred to have seen Uday in court for his crimes and see him try to deny my story, but more on that at another time.
_You see, when I first left Iraq in 1992 and up until 2003 I was considered useful, whether I wanted to be or not, or whether I co-operated or not- which I didn't- my story backed up the American administrations desires to invade Iraq, unintentionally by writing my book in 1992 -the original Arabic manuscript- I gave them all the ammunition they needed to invade Iraq -except for W.M.D's I never had clearance for that kind of information- but they couldn't act on it then, they had to wait for the right time.
On September 11th 1991 George Bush Senior, then President of the United States of America gave his State of the Nation speech declaring his New World Order it took another ten years and a rigged election for his son George W. Bush to become President and the tragedy of the Twin towers for the dominoes to start falling.
What surprised everyone was that I was not a supporter of the war on Iraq, I was against the regime but I didn't want an invading force tearing my country apart, to this day I can't understand why people don't understand that.
I had always had a strained - we'll call it a- relationship with the CIA, they'd say " work for us", I'd say "NO", they'd say "we'll make your life hell!" I'd say "fuck you! do what you want!" and they have, I've been held in a covert prison, beaten and tortured, I have yet to attain citizenship from any country even though I lived in Europe for the past 20 years, Ireland for 15 of them, the last two of those I spent dying slowly while waiting on a hospital bed -I'm still waiting- so I could be fully diagnosed with whatever neurological disorder I have - it's "probable Multiple Sclerosis" but apart from the Brain lesions and the plaque on my spine ( which the Irish doctors tried to tell me and my wife "are within normal parameters") my neurologist here -here being my new home in Europe - is not finding things he thinks he should- still, at least I am getting treatment here, in Ireland it was left to my G.P. he did his best, but really all he could do for me without a diagnosis was just pain management. Strangely certain blood tests that he sent to the lab came back, destroyed/lost not once or twice or three times but four! Since leaving Ireland I have been diagnosed as a diabetic also, it seems that if I had stayed in Ireland much longer I may not have lasted much longer, maybe that was the idea?! Call me paranoid if you want, but when you have lived my life you know that there are no coincidences.
_So where am I going with this? Well how do you silence a person like me? I blog, I write books, I have my own website, I have my Youtube and Vimeo and now there's a movie based on my life story. These are all the ways people find me, with the birth of the internet the world opened up and you can find just about anyone, anywhere and because of this I have a loud voice in the world. What concerns the CIA is the support that people give me, they follow me on twitter, they are my facebook friends and they think about what I say, especially about the American administration, the CIA and Iraq, people ask me questions and are free to believe or not as the case may be. That's dangerous, they have spent the better part of the last decade trying to make sure that we only know what they want us to know and think what they want us to think on any given subject. So what are they going to do about me? They are going to try and discredit me, make me out to be some "Walter Mitty" figure -and that term has been used- they are going to try and convince you that I made it all up or that I have exaggerated my story -the truth of the matter is I haven't even told one tenth of my story- they want you to believe that I am telling you lies before I even open my mouth.
How do they do this? because there is no oversight in journalism anymore, people who call themselves journalists write articles, they don't really need any proof, they can use words like "source" "close aide to..." or "member of the Hussein inner circle" and try to make you believe that this person has "spilled the beans on me", ask yourself this, why now? Why after 20 years? More and more people are listening to me and less and less people are believing the shit that they are trying to feed us. They will try and imply that I have some sort of mental illness or syndrome, ironically, because let's face it how could I suffer from post-traumatic stress if I wasn't tortured?? If you need evidence of any of this just check out the (Wikipedia) page about me, I didn't set it up someone else did a few years ago, but just look at it... all you will find there is a brief history and then the allegations, backed up by the same two articles tagged repeatedly. Other editors have tried to remedy this by adding other articles by respected journalists like Marie Colvin Foreign Affairs Correspondent at Sunday Times, John Simpson BBC, Sir David Frost BBC and Ed Bradley of CBS (RIP) to name a few, only to have those revisions deleted. Wikipedia is supposed to be balanced, my page is not! I happen to like (Wikipedia), I find it useful but Wikipedia only works when the people who upload and edit the material are completely unbiased, this cannot be said about my Wiki page and if you go into talk you will see the "chat" between two editors, one talks more than the other, interestingly the one who chats the most says "I left the page up only for the sake of poor saps who may be pulled in by this nonsensical claimsmaking in the future." I don't have a problem with additions to my Wiki page if they are accurate and balanced, everyone is entitled to their opinion but Wikipedia is not a place for opinion, it's a place for fact. Not one person in this world is liked by everyone that is a fact, I don't expect everyone to believe me either, but if you want to try and disprove my story bring me more than pimps who used to work for Uday, an ex- surgeon who was fired because it was found that he was stitching girls Uday had has his way with and who I had refused to help with his book and an ex- who hates my guts. You see that's all that they have, even after the fall of Saddam no-one found one document disproving that I was the double of Uday Saddam Hussein.
_There are no photographs of Haytham Adjmaya or Dhafir Jabir the "sources" in Ed Caesar's article because these guys know what they did when they were with Uday and know what would happen to them by the hands of Iraqis inside or outside Iraq if they were recognised.
A third Iraqi quoted as being one of "Saddam's bodyguards for several years" has also said that Uday didn't have a double, well, this "bodyguard" is none other than the guy who gave Saddam up, he gave Saddam Hussein his President up to the Americans for the 25 Million dollar ransom, to this day he hasn't received a penny of it! You see nobody likes a snitch, the Americans kicked his ass to Jordan and from there he was taken to the UK and now lives under protection, but is dragged out every now and then to 'make statements' I can only presume that he goes along with it in the hopes that if he's a 'good boy' he'll eventually get his money. Betrayal runs in his family, his cousin Fetah Al-Sheikh was in command of the interrogation of the suspects of the assassination attempt against Saddam Hussein in 1984 and Al-Djeil he killed 28 people during his interrogations but after the invasion of Iraq and his cousins handing over of Saddam, the Americans made him an offer. They told him he had two choices, he could be tried for the murder of the 28 people OR he could make a statement saying that Saddam had ordered the execution of the 28 and he was offered the position of Interior Minister in the post Saddam government, Fetah chose to become a witness against Saddam Hussein. During the trial of Saddam it was found that Fetah had cancer, knowing he would never make it to the courtroom a video tape was made of his evidence from his hospital room, it was shown on a big screen at the trail, Fetah's oxygen and medical equipment there for all to see._
Anyone who wishes to believe that I made this story up to sell books or make a movie - that would mean the I've spent the last 20 years waiting to make money that I'm donating to charity - here's a piece of advice, don't buy the books, don't go to see the movie or buy the DVD, everything I do is free of charge, you can read it here and make your mind up, if you don't believe me at least you may be entertained!
_My body carries the scars and my mind carries the memories of the atrocities that I have witnessed and endured. In the past twenty years the only weapon that anyone has been able to wield against me has been the word of pimps and an ex, I especially liked the comment on Eoin Butler's - who wrote the article in The Guardian - website that accused me of being Bi-polar, something that my ex has been diagnosed with. Unlike Ed Caesar's article Eoin Butler's pieces are filled with his "opinions" and "gut feelings" he may not like me, that's his prerogative, but he really makes me laugh when he accuses other more respected and renowned journalists of not doing their jobs properly, his greatest coup was when my ex contacted him! His article in The Guardian is a prime example.
Ed Caesar wrote his article put it on his blog and left it at that, Eoin Butler on the other hand wrote an article about me in 2007 for a little known Irish magazine called Mongrel that was owned by an Irishman and a Palestinian, the Palestinian -who holds Irish citizenship- also worked supplying intelligence about other Arabs to the Irish Secret Service -there are only 11 people working in the Irish Secret Service, they need all the help they can get- Eoin then set about adding the article about me to his website, but he kept revising it, so what you read now is not the originally published article, he then continued writing articles about me, so far he has made me a weapons dealer, human trafficker, he has cast doubt on my education and generally called me a liar. Why have I not sued him? Well, you can't get something from nothing and really he's not worth any more of my time than what I am writing here. Eoin usually writes "fluff pieces" for whatever paper takes his work, the Irish Times and The Guardian being two, but his favourite subject is me and it's usually the stories about me that get him published, investigative journalist he's not, well maybe he is, he investigates pubs. Eoin's greatest achievements are going for Mayoman of the Year, trying his hand at stand-up comedy and sticking links to his articles especially The Guardian one everywhere so that hopefully someone will actually read them. Eoin thinks he's a journalist when really he is just another tool of the system.
No matter how many people are bought, I will never give up fighting for my rights in this world against corrupt governments, the Irish department of Injustice and the CIA.
(Advice To Journalist)
"If you didn't hear it with your own EARS or see it with your own EYES,
Don't invent it with your small mind and share it with your BIG MOUTH."
This is Eoin Butler doing his stand-up comedy, I'm sorry, I didn't have time to subtitle it in English.
_There have been a lot of people over the last twenty years of my life who have told me that I should say those words, others only hoped I would and more still believed that I never would.
But here I am with them writ large as the title, you see, they are just words and it will only become clear as you read through this exactly how I mean them.
Let me just say for clarification,( because I've had a few people recently tell me that I tar all Americans with the same brush, which I don't) that when I say America, I do not mean every man woman and child that lives on the continent of America, I mean the Administration (and whomever happens to be the picture in front, presently it's Obama) with special mention to it's foreign policy.
As the last troops pull out of Iraq to KUWAIT (so far away) but leave behind the biggest US Embassy in the world in Baghdad, you can't help but see that it's all just words. Recently when the Iraqis made comment about the 3,000 staff and 21,000 security that the American Administration were leaving in the Embassy in Baghdad they were told that if they didn't like the US Army as security for the Embassy they (the US) could replace them with civilian staff (mercenaries). Somehow, somewhere, someone misinterpreted the whole idea of "leaving". Leaving is everybody leaving, not 24,000 staying. But then, I have said it before, America never goes somewhere and leaves, look at Germany and Japan for instance it's 66 years since the end of the Second world war yet they still have a presence in those countries.
Sometimes I really do just sit and wonder, this isn't news, so why do we not care? Why is it okay for America to get on it's high horse about Human rights in other countries when compared to Europe for instance it doesn't really have any and the great irony is that America never signs into Human rights legislation. Why have we let America become the police of the world? Historically America has never attacked a country that it knew could really fight back, Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, it's military capabilities and population were severely weakened after 13 years of sanctions, Iraq was a soft target, but I am proud to say not as soft as the American's first thought. So after 8 years in Iraq they are "leaving" they have "installed a democracy" that's a misnomer in itself and after all their drum beating about Iran have left them in charge of Iraq! If you don't believe me, just the other week when Noori al-Maliki visited the graves of US soldiers, something I might add that he has never done for the soldiers of Iraq, instead of flying straight back to Baghdad he flew to Tehran to discuss what he did in the States and get the "Okay".
So Thank You America for getting rid of Saddam Hussein and replacing him with an Iranian government, and 300 members of Parliament who all want to be Saddam and act accordingly.
Thank You America for finding, training and supporting Saddam Hussein in Egypt in 1958 just so you could oust the socialist President of Iraq.
Thank You America, for being in Iraq for 8 years, leaving 24,000 soldiers and staff behind at your embassy and moving next door to Kuwait.
Thank You America for not rebuilding Iraq, leaving it to the new assholes in charge who haven't built a wall, let alone an infrastructure, Iraqis are very happy that they don't have water, electricity or proper sewerage.
Thank You America, because of the invasion of iraq in 2003 there are nearly 1.5 million Iraqi deaths, Saddam didn't manage that in 35 years. We have 5 million refugees around the world of which only a few thousand are actually in America because America only takes the Iraqis who worked for them in Iraq as refugees, Europe has taken the brunt. We have over 1 million widows and orphans, another 3 million refugees inside Iraq's borders because of the civil war that no-one acknowledges because it would "look bad" on America.
Thank You America, for bringing democracy in the shape of men who sat in the UK , US, Canada, Sweden, France, Germany, Ireland and other countries, lived on social welfare, swore allegiance to that country and upon their return to Iraq bought votes with blankets, generators and white goods.
Thank You America, for finding the weapons of mass destruction that were such a threat to your homeland that you needed to travel halfway around the world to defend yourself.
Thank you America for showing me the true meaning of "Human rights" when the CIA had me imprisoned and tortured for ten and a half months in Vienna because I wouldn't co-operate.
Thank you America for making sure that I have remained stateless since my flight from Iraq in 1991. Just like you promised, you're certainly true to your word in this case.
Thank You America for letting Al-Qaeda into Iraq, we never had them before.
Thank You America for supporting and training Osama Bin Laden, he did a great job against those Russians in Afghanistan, it makes you wonder why he turned against you?
Thank you America for making Terrorism the disease of this century, you will have plenty of "terrorists" to fight as you have created laws that make people who speak out against "America" terrorists, what happened to the "freedom of speech and Democracy" that you go around liberating other countries in the name of?
Thank You America for getting the media so "on-side" that we only really see and hear what you want us to, the only Free speech is the speech you decide is Free.
Thank You America for dragging the rest of the world into economic chaos, you try to arrest the 99% and leave the 1% free to do as they please that's definitely democratic. More liberties are lost through the ballot boxes than they are by tanks!
Thank You America for creating all the Dictators of the last century and today, we know you've been having great fun going around liberating us.
Thank You America, you've really outdone yourself this time!
A special thanks to Mr. Obama the President of America, during his speech in the White House with Noori al-Maliki who was visiting, he said the following:
Are we finally now getting the message that the world goes to war not for Human rights or democracy, but to protect the wealth and investments of big business and big banks.
With all the speeches given by Obama, Sarkowzy and Cameron over the past weeks and months about Gaddafi and his brutal regime, can we not for the last time see beyond the political manoeuvrings and lies about protecting people and understand that the only thing that these world leaders are protecting is
_themselves. Saddam Hussein wanted to start trading his oil in Euros, Gaddafi wanted to create a new currency to rival the dollar and the euro and possibly shift the worlds power from the west to Africa and the Middle-east, how threatening is that to the powers that be in the west?! Very, is the answer.
_What is the worst thing that you can do for your country? Make it debt free! Be self sufficient, just like Syria. Syria at this moment in time owes nothing to no one. I guarantee that if Bashar Al Assad is toppled, within one year Syria as a nation will owe billions!
I do not support dictatorships unlike the US, UK and France in some cases, but none of these countries ever have a problem with
_the dictator that they support and install until he decides to do something that threatens their interest, even if it has the interest of the dictators own country at heart. And do not be fooled, just as they support one dictator they build and support his opposition too, that way they always have their fingers in the pie and the next guy always will take a small slice of the cake just to get the chair.
_The biggest example is Iraq, Saddam was built by the CIA it's a well known fact, he was their friend during the Iran/Iraq war and up until he invaded Kuwait, then they started crying Human rights etc, why? He had control of not only his oil fields but now Kuwaits also. He was allowed to remain in power because his petrol would be sold cheaply in the "oil for food program" and America would hold the money, Once he decided to go to euros instead of Dollars he signed his death warrant.
_What was Saddam finally replaced with? Americans, British, French, Europeans and Canadians, people who had sworn allegiance to another country and would therefore do as that country asked of them in order to retain the 'privileges' afforded to them by holding that nations passport. We had one Saddam Hussein now we have hundreds, none care for the country they govern or the people, except of course at election times when they go around with envelopes and make people promise to vote for them before handing it over. Some use blankets to buy votes, ask yourself this, how impoverished or ignorant of the power of your vote do you have to be in order to trade it for a blanket?
It is all very well sitting watching TV thinking to yourself, 'God that's terrible' but not doing or really even saying anything about it because well, you think it doesn't affect you. But eventually it will and does now just in ways that you don't notice or understand yet. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, how long do you think it will be until these people who are pushed, push back.
_Amnesty International has called for several African nations to arrest and detain former President George W. Bush for authorizing the use of waterboarding and other forms of torture. Mr. Bush is visiting Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia this week to raise awareness about cervical and breast cancer and HIV/AIDS.
The international human rights group's written statement recognizes the value those goals, but says it "cannot lessen the damage to the fight against torture caused by allowing someone who has admitted to authorizing waterboarding to travel without facing the consequences prescribed by law."
The organization called for the governments of Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia to arrest Mr. Bush and "to secure his presence during the investigation" of "his alleged involvement in and responsibility for torture."
It is not the first time human rights groups have called for Mr. Bush's arrest. Amnesty called for his arrest in October during a visit to Canada and the former president canceled a visit to Switzerland in February on fears that he may have faced legal action there.
Mr. Bush wrote in his memoir, "Decision Points," that he personally approved the use of waterboarding, an interrogation technique that simulates drowning, for alleged September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
New York Rep. Peter King called Amnesty's action misguided.
""If Amnesty International had any intellectual honesty, it would give President Bush a medal to honor him for liberating so many oppressed Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan and for assisting millions of AIDS victims in Africa," said the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
I have just been informed by the publisher that they have cleared all of the pre-orders! Thanks to all of my friends and family who have supported me. Thanks also to everyone who bought a copy of the Devil's Double I hope you enjoy reading it, if you did, why not
Best regards to all,
_Latif Yahia, who bore a remarkable resemblance to Saddam Hussein's oldest son, Uday, was pulled out of the front lines during the Iran-Iraq war and transformed into an exact likeness of Uday. From that vantage point he was privy to all the machinations and horrific excesses perpetrated on the Iraq people by the family and the government of Saddam Hussein.
Listen to the interview:
Latif Yahia Books The Devil's Double and The Black Hole