Nanjing Night Net

CIA ‘guides’ torture of Hamas activists in West Bank

RAMALLAH, West Bank: Palestinian security agents who have been detaining and allegedly torturing supporters of the Islamist organisation Hamas in the West Bank have been working closely with the Central Intelligence Agency, new evidence suggests.Less than a year after the US President, Barack Obama, signed an executive order that prohibited torture and provided for the lawful interrogation of detainees in US custody, evidence is emerging the CIA is co-operating with security agents whose continuing use of torture has been widely documented by human rights groups.There is a close relationship between the CIA and the two Palestinian agencies involved, the Preventive Security Organisation and General Intelligence Service – so close, say some Western diplomats and other officials in the region, that the American agency appears to be supervising the Palestinians’ work.A senior Western official said: ”The [CIA] consider them as their property, those two Palestinian services.” A diplomatic source added that US influence over the agencies was so great they could be considered ”an advanced arm of the war on terror”.The CIA and the Palestinian Authority deny the former controls its Palestinian counterparts but neither denies that they work closely in the West Bank. Details of that co-operation are emerging as some human rights organisations are beginning to question whether US intelligence agencies may be turning a blind eye to abusive interrogations conducted by other countries’ intelligence agencies with which they work.According to the Palestinian watchdog al-Haq, human rights in the West Bank and Gaza have ”gravely deteriorated due to the spreading violations committed by Palestinian actors” this year.Most of those held without trial and allegedly tortured in the West Bank have been supporters of Hamas. In the Gaza Strip, where Hamas has been in control for more than two years, there have been reports of its forces detaining and torturing Fatah sympathisers in the same way.Among the human rights organisations that have documented or complained about the mistreatment of detainees held by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank are Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, al-Haq and the Israeli watchdog, B’Tselem. Even the Palestinian Authority’s human rights commission has expressed ”deep concern” over the mistreatment of detainees.The most common complaint is that detainees are severely beaten and subjected to a torture known as shabeh, during which they are shackled and forced to assume painful positions for long periods. There have been reports of sleep deprivation and of large numbers of detainees being crammed into small cells to prevent rest.Almost all the detainees enter a system of military justice under which they need not be brought before a court for six months.The Palestinian security organisations hold between 400 and 500 Hamas sympathisers, according to Palestinian Authority officials.Some mistreatment has been so severe that at least three detainees have died in custody this year. The most recent was Haitham Amr, a 33-year-old nurse and Hamas supporter from Hebron who died four days after he was detained by General Intelligence Service officials in June. Extensive bruising around his kidneys suggested he had been beaten to death.There is no evidence the CIA has been commissioning such mistreatment but human rights activists say it would end promptly if US pressure was brought to bear on the Palestinian authorities.Sa’id Abu-Ali, the Palestinian Authority’s Interior Minister, accepted detainees had been tortured and some had died but said such abuses had not been official policy and steps were being taken to prevent them. He said such abuses ”happen in every country in the world”.Mr Abu-Ali sought initially to deny the CIA was ”deeply involved” with the two Palestinian intelligence agencies, then conceded there were such links.”There is a connection, but there is no supervision by the Americans,” he said. ”It is solely a Palestinian affair. But the Americans help us.”The CIA does not deny working with the security agencies in the West Bank, although it will not say what use it has made of intelligence extracted during the interrogation of Hamas supporters. But it denies turning what one official described as ”a Nelson’s eye to abuse”.The CIA’s spokesman, Paul Gimigliano, denied it played a supervisory role. ”The notion that this agency somehow runs other intelligence services … is simply wrong,” he said. ”The CIA … only supports, and is interested in, lawful methods that produce sound intelligence.”Guardian News & Media
Nanjing Night Net