March 8, 2009
Binyam Mohamed arrived in London from his native Ethiopia in 1994 aged 16 and was given leave to remain. After falling into drug use, he turned to religion. In 2000, someone at a mosque suggested he see the 'pure' form of Islam practised in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Yesterday, he told his story in an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday.
His odyssey begins
Mohamed, who claims British authorities colluded with Americans, arrives back in Britain two weeks ago
Mohamed at first flew to Pakistan's capital Islamabad in May 2001, borrowing a friend's British passport and substituting his own photo.
Once in Afghanistan, he claimed, he decided he wanted to be an aid worker helping civilians caught in Russia's war against Chechnya, where thousands of Muslims had been killed.
He said: 'I was told that the Russians don't separate between aid workers and those doing the fighting, and that if I wanted to go to Chechnya, I needed basic training. I was so young, I didn't question it. I didn't expect to fire a gun except in training, let alone kill someone.'
He attended a 'boot camp', but said: 'I would never have taken up arms against British or American soldiers.'
Captured in Pakistan
He fled Afghanistan after the U.S. invasion in 2001. On April 9, 2002, he was detained in Karachi, Pakistan, for using a false passport.
The U.S. was obsessed with finding out if Al Qaeda had acquired material to build nuclear weapons.
In Pakistan's Landi prison, he spoke to an FBI agent called 'Chuck' who told him: 'Either you're going to answer me the easy way or I get the information I need another way.'
His interrogation turned nasty after he mentioned seeing a website with spoof instructions for building a nuclear device.
'It was obviously a joke,' he said. 'But he started getting all excited. He began telling me about this A-bomb I was supposed to be building, and he started on about Osama Bin Laden and his top lieutenants, showing me pictures and making out I must have known them.
'He started asking me about operations and what type I had been trained for.'
The mock execution
Mohamed said: 'Sometimes the Pakistanis chained me from the top of the gate to the cell by my wrists from the end of one interrogation to the start of the next for about 22 hours. If I shouted, sometimes I would be allowed to use a toilet. Other times, they wouldn't let me go.
'They also carried out a mock execution. A guard put a gun to my head and said he was going to pull the trigger. They were saying, "This is what the Americans want us to do".'
'John', the MI5 agent
He said: 'John was a white male, 30, with short black hair and a goatee. He was about 5ft 10in and stocky. There was another guy, about the same size with a full, dark beard. I don't know if he was British or American.
'The Americans had already been threatening to send me somewhere where I would be tortured far worse, like Jordan or Egypt.'
He added: 'John told me that if I cooperated he'd tell the Americans to be more lenient with my treatment.'
Flown to Morocco
Having said that he lived in an area of London known as Little Morocco, on July 21, 2002, he was sent to Morocco - apparently the Americans believed the authorities there could make him talk.
For the flight he was trussed, gagged, blindfolded and made to wear a giant nappy.
One Moroccan interrogator at the prison in Rabat told him: 'Do you know who sent you here? The British sent you here.'
Mohamed said: 'They cut off my clothes with some kind of doctor's scalpel. I was totally naked. I was afraid to ask [the interrogator] Marwan what would happen because it would show fear.
'They took the scalpel... One of them took my penis in his hand and began to make cuts. He did it once, and they stood still for maybe a minute, watching my reaction.
'I was in agony, crying, trying desperately to suppress myself, but I was screaming. They must have done this 20 to 30 times in maybe two hours.'
One inmate told Binyam his experience in Guantanamo would be 'not one twentieth as bad' as jail in Kabul
Telegrams obtained by his lawyers from the U.S. courts show MI5 officers supplied questions to the U.S. to ask the captive.
He says: 'They [the interrogators] started bringing British files to the interrogations - thick binders, some of them containing sheaves of photos of people who lived in London and places there like mosques.
'The British were feeding them questions about people in London. When I realised that the British were co-operating with the people torturing me, I felt completely naked.
'It was when they started asking the questions supplied by the British that my situation worsened. They sold me out.'
Under torture, he confessed to his part in a bomb plot concocted by 9/11 planner Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
He said: 'They had fed me enough through their questions for me to make up what they wanted to hear. I confessed to it all. There was the plot to build a dirty nuclear bomb, and another to blow up apartments in New York with their gas pipes.
'I said he had given me a false passport and that I had met Osama Bin Laden 30 times. None of it was true.'
The 'dark prison'
In January 2004 he was sent to a 'dark prison' in Kabul, Afghanistan, and held for 18 months in total darkness.
'There were loudspeakers in the cell, pumping out a deafening volume, non-stop, 24 hours a day. They played the same CD for a month, The Eminem Show.
'When it was finished it went back to the beginning and started again. I couldn't sleep. I had no idea whether it was day or night.
'You got a shower once a week, with your arms chained above you, stripped naked, in the dark, with someone else washing you. It wasn't a shower for washing: It was for humiliation.'
He arrived at the detention centre in Cuba in September 2004. He said: 'They had just opened Oscar Block, a new punishment wing. I was worried - I wanted to know what it was like. A fellow inmate told me, "Binyam, it's not even a twentieth as bad as Kabul".
'In Kabul I lost my head. It felt like it was never going to end and that I had ceased to exist. That was when I came close to insanity. It seems like a miracle my brain is still intact.'