LONDON (Reuters) - A former British inmate of Guantanamo Bay said CIA “torture” of terrorism suspects, detailed in a U.S. Senate report on Tuesday, had fueled violence and the rise of Islamic State and that cataloguing it wouldn’t help.
Moazzam Begg also said the release of the report, which included graphic details of “enhanced interrogation” techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency, would do nothing to assuage anger about such actions across the Muslim world.
“I don’t think it will be teaching us anything we didn’t already know,” Begg told Reuters. “It doesn’t make anything better.”
He said examples cited in the report of brutality by CIA interrogators at secret prisons around the world “can only produce one result -- false evidence, more hatred”.
The Senate report said the CIA used sexual threats, waterboarding and other harsh methods to interrogate terrorism suspects in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. It concluded the methods were ineffective.
U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Saxby Chambliss, the ranking member of the intelligence panel, said in a joint statement they believed the methods used helped capture what they called important terrorists.
Begg was seized in Pakistan in 2002 by Pakistani police and CIA agents and held at Bagram detention center in Afghanistan.
During his detention there, he said he was subjected to the sound of a woman screaming in a next door cell whom he believed to be his wife under torture. Begg said he was told he’d be sent to Syria if he didn’t cooperate, and that he saw two people being punched and kicked to death by U.S. soldiers.
Begg was then held for nearly three years at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where he said psychological tortures included execution threats and light deprivation. Begg was in solitary confinement for almost two years, he said.
Released without charge in 2005, Begg was among former Guantanamo detainees who received a pay-out from the British government five years later in an out-of-court settlement over claims British spies had been complicit in degrading treatment they received.
On Tuesday, he said all that harsh interrogations had done was inflame tensions and make torture, abuse and arbitrary killings “the norm” around the world.
Begg said the repercussions ranged from the murder of a British soldier on a London street by two Muslim converts in May last year to recent beheadings by Islamic State (IS) militants.
”The legacy of this torture has been that for the past 13 years we’ve seen people being dressed in orange suits and executed, whether it’s Iraqi groups during the first occupation by America or whether it’s Iraqi groups now under IS.
“Those who have committed crimes have to be held accountable regardless of who they are.”
Begg, who founded a human rights organization that lobbies on behalf of people detained during counter-terrorism operations, was arrested earlier this year and accused of attending a terrorism training camp in Syria. He was released in October after prosecutors dropped the charges.
Editing by Catherine Evans and Ralph Boulton