September 6, 2012

V. The Case ofIbn al-Sheikh al-Libi

Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, whose real name is Ali Mohamed al-Fakheri, was a Libyan taken into custody in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area in late 2001. He was held in secret CIA detention for years and subjected to abusive interrogations on numerous occasions in different locations. During a coercive interrogation by US personnel in Egypt, al-Libi provided false information about Iraq having agreed to provide two al Qaeda operatives with chemical or biological weapons training. Then-US Secretary of State Colin Powell cited this as a key piece of evidence during his historic speech to the United Nations on February 5, 2003, when trying to rally international support for an invasion of Iraq. Al-Libi later recanted these facts, and the CIA itself later deemed them unreliable. After years in secret CIA custody, al- Libi was subsequently sent back to Libya. He died in a prison cell in Libya on May 9, 2009. Libyan authorities claimed he committed suicide.

Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi was born in Ajdabiya, Libya in 1963. He left Libya in 1986, in his early 20s. According to his family, he left mostly because he wanted to study classical Arabic and travel, not necessarily because he opposed the Gaddafi government.[367] “At that time, all Libyans were dissatisfied with the regime,” his brother, Abdul Aziz al-Fakheri, told Human Rights Watch. “But in al-Libi’s case opposition to Gaddafi was not the main reason he left Libya.… He just wanted to see the world, to be a tourist.”[368] He first went to Mauritania, where there were a number of highly trained and respected sheikhs specializing in classical Arabic, as well as Islamic studies and Islamic history.[369]

In Mauritania, while at the Libyan embassy, the consular officials confiscated his passport.[370] His family said al-Libi told them the Libyans did this because they assumed that since he was living abroad, he was opposed to Gaddafi.[371] Without his passport, travelling became difficult. From Mauritania, for the next four years, he traveled on foot, according to his brother, to many different countries in the region including Ghana, Senegal, Morocco, and Algeria.[372]

Eventually he went to Saudi Arabia, where he joined jihadists fighting the Soviet-installed government in Afghanistan.[373] He also may have spent some time in Syria studying engineering.[374] Eventually he became the head of the Khalden training camp in Afghanistan, which pre-dated al Qaeda and was not known to be aligned with any particular group.[375] Various Islamist armed groups trained there, not just al Qaeda. While al-Libi has been labeled both a senior LIFG member and a senior al Qaeda operative, the evidence suggests that he was not a member of either armed group.[376] Some sources said that he strongly disagreed with al Qaeda’s philosophy and did not like Bin Laden.[377] “For [al-Libi], his time in Afghanistan was more about a man making his way in the world, making a living,” said al-Libi’s brother el-Fakhri. “It wasn’t because he agreed with al Qaeda or their ideological thoughts … absolutely not.”[378]

In late 2001, Pakistani authorities apprehended al-Libi and turned him over to US custody, which transferred him to the US-run detention and interrogation facility at Bagram.[379] At Bagram he was interrogated by FBI agents, who reportedly developed a rapport with him to the point where he was asking for asylum in the US and agreeing to testify in other cases.[380] After this, however, the CIA, believing they could obtain even more information from him with harsher interrogation techniques, took control of the interrogation over FBI objections.[381] Afterwards, the CIA sent al-Libi to Egypt, where he was subjected to ill-treatment by Egyptian authorities,[382] which produced false information linking Saddam Hussein with al Qaeda.[383] 

Specifically, the interrogators questioned al-Libi about al Qaeda’s connections to Iraq, a subject about which al-Libi said he knew nothing and had difficulty even coming up with a story.[384] His interrogators reportedly did not like his response. Al-Libi said he was then put in small box, approximately 50 x 50 centimeters (20 by 20 inches—the depth of the box was not provided), for about 17 hours, “knocked over with a thrust across the chest,” and then “punched for 15 minutes.”[385] After this, he came up with a story about Iraq having agreed to provide two al Qaeda operatives with chemical or biological weapons training.[386]

Then-US President George W. Bush used this information in an October 2002 speech about Iraq.[387] And Secretary of State Colin Powell used it as a key piece of evidence during his historic speech to the United Nations on February 5, 2003, when he tried to rally international support for an invasion of Iraq.[388] But over a year earlier, the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) had already discredited the information. A February 22, 2002, DIA cable stated,

This is the first report from Ibn al-Shaykh [al-Libi] in which he claims Iraq assisted al-Qa’ida’s CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear] efforts.… It is possible he does not know any further details; it is more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers. Ibn al-Shaykh has been undergoing debriefs for several weeks and may be describing scenarios to the debriefers he knows will retain their interest. Saddam’s regime is intensely secular and is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements. Moreover Bagdad is unlikely to provide assistance to a group it cannot control.[389]

Powell later indicated he regretted using the information during his UN speech.[390] Although senior Bush administration officials would likely have been aware that the information was not credible, they did not share this with Powell before his speech.[391] Indeed, in January 2004, al-Libi recanted the information, saying he “lied to the [foreign government service] about future operations to avoid torture.”[392] No other credible evidence was ever produced confirming Iraq had trained al Qaeda in the use of chemical or biological weapons.[393]

For years after US forces initially detained him, al-Libi was forcibly disappeared. Human Rights Watch and numerous other nongovernmental organizations called upon the US government to disclose al-Libi’s location, as well as the location of many other “disappeared” prisoners in the “global war on terror.”[394] When President Bush finally admitted the existence of a secret CIA detention program and transferred 14 formerly secret detainees held by the CIA to Guantanamo on September 6, 2006, al-Libi was noticeably missing from the list.

 

In late 2006 and early 2007, Human Rights Watch and several journalists received reports from Libyans in exile that al-Libi and several other Libyans who had been in US custody had been rendered to Libya. The exact date of al-Libi’s transfer is not clear. During a research trip to Libya in 2009, Human Rights Watch was able to confirm that al-Libi had indeed been transferred and was being detained at Abu Salim prison in Tripoli.[395] Human Rights Watch saw al-Libi for a few minutes and tried to interview him. He appeared agitated and angry but he sat down with researchers and listened to a short introduction about Human Rights Watch. However, before he could be interviewed, al-Libi got up and said before walking away, “Where were you when I was being tortured in American jails?”[396] Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations had strongly condemned the secret CIA detention program and had been trying for years to get access to forcibly disappeared prisoners as well as those at Guantanamo, but without success. Two weeks after Human Rights Watch saw al-Libi at Abu Salim, Libyan authorities reported that he committed suicide in his cell, a claim that merits a thorough investigation.[397]

There is limited information available about the US detention of al-Libi. While researching this report, Human Rights Watch tried to develop a clearer picture with information from family members and prisoners with whom he was held. He apparently was taken into custody near the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan at the end of 2001, though different dates have been reported.[398] Adusalam Abdulhadi Omar as-Safrani, another Libyan interviewed for this report (see above) who was apprehended in the same area around the same time, said he saw al-Libi in detention in Kohat, Pakistan, in December 2001. He had been taken there a day or two after the Pakistani army detained him just inside the Pakistan border. He was not sure of the exact date, but by the time he had arrived in Kohat, al-Libi was already there.[399] About 300 other prisoners were also being held in the same facility. Al-Libi had been initially detained by tribes in the area, who then turned him over to Pakistani authorities.[400] 

After Safrani was there for about two weeks, “the Americans” came. They were in civilian clothes, not military uniforms, and Safrani believes they were CIA. They interrogated him and later moved him, al-Libi, and the rest of a big group from Kohat to Kandahar. In Kandahar, al-Libi was identified as a commander and split from the rest of the group.[401] That was the last time Safrani saw al-Libi. Safrani was then taken to Guantanamo, where he was held until December 2006, when the United States forcibly transferred him back to Libya (see above).[402]

According to al-Libi’s family, after Kandahar, the United States took him to Kabul (more likely Bagram Air Base)[403] and then transferred him to Egypt.[404] Al-Libi’s family said he was in Egypt for 13 months.[405] He told his family and other detainees with whom he was detained that he was sent to Egypt “in a coffin.”[406] During his time in Egypt, he told others that his Egyptian captors beat and abused him constantly. He showed one fellow prisoner marks he said were from a drill that was used on him in Egypt and burns on his body that he received there.[407] He told another fellow prisoner at the time that he was cut with blades on his skin while there and that he was hung out an open window with no clothes on.[408] His Egyptian captors also had him lie on his stomach and forced his legs back towards his shoulder blades.[409]

After Egypt, al-Libi was apparently brought back to US custody, possibly to a CIA prison at Bagram.[410] This is where it seems he recanted the information he had provided earlier on links between Iraq and al Qaeda. On February 4 and 5, 2004, CIA officers sent cables to headquarters acknowledging that al-Libi’s account from 2002 was not reliable.[411]

Reports vary as to where al-Libi was detained after his return to US custody following his time in Egypt. His brother and nephew in Libya said they mapped out his trajectory using a combination of information they got from him during family visits they had with him while he was detained in Libya as well as information from others with whom he was detained.  They believe al-Libi was subsequently taken to a prison in the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul from June 2003 to October 2003, then Kabul again, Morocco for about a year, Guantanamo for three to five months, Alaska,[412] a US air base in Sweden,[413] and finally to Libya. Prisoners who were held with al-Libi told Human Rights Watch that he told them he was detained at each of these locations,[414] except some do not include Guantanamo or Sweden[415] and others add additional places, like Syria,[416] a warship,[417] and Poland or a European country for which they could not remember the name.[418] The amounts of time they say al-Libi spent in these locations vary, and they are less certain about this information. Human Rights Watch could not independently confirm this information.

It is not clear when Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi was returned to Libya, but the first time his family was informed that he was there was in December 2007.[419] He was first detained in Tajoura prison and was then moved to Abu Salim, where he remained until he died.[420] At some point after being transferred, al-Libi had been sentenced to life in prison.[421] The last time his brother saw him was in March 2009, 40 days before he died.[422] It was the fourth time he had been able to visit him in prison. Several other family members had been able to visit as well.[423]

In his final weeks at Abu Salim, al-Libi was held in a separate wing of the facility. Some said he was placed there by the prison administration and others said he had requested the isolation.[424] The section had about 20 cells in one corridor, with 10 cells on each side.  The corridor began with an open entrance from a courtyard and ended with a big metal door. Al-Libi was in one of the first two cells near the entrance by the courtyard.

All of the cells were empty except Libi’s. Two prisoners, Hazem al-Ajdal and Mohammed al-Kaib, were the prisoners closest to him physically. They were being detained on the other side of the big metal door, which they said was always closed. Occasionally, though, they would see al-Libi in a place known as “the Area,” where prisoners were sometimes taken for exposure to the sun.[425] Al-Ajdal said he was being detained in this section of the prison because he had an operation on the cornea of his eye and needed to share a cell with someone who could help him. His cellmate, al-Kaib, had hepatitis, as reportedly did al-Libi.[426] Both got extra exposure to the sun because of this. Whenever they saw al-Libi they said he was always alone; the only person near him was a guard.[427]

Wing of Abu Salim prison where Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi was detained, photographed on March 28, 2012. Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi’s cell was the first one on the left. A large metal door at the end of the hall separated al-Libi from all other prisoners at Abu Salim.

Wing of Abu Salim prison where Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi was detained, photographed on March 28, 2012. Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi’s cell was the first one on the left. A large metal door at the end of the hall separated al-Libi from all other prisoners at Abu Salim. Right: The entrance to the cell of Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi at Abu Salim prison.

Inside the cell of Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi at Abu Salim prison, photographed on March 28, 2012. He died in this cell on May 9, 2009. Libyan authorities claim he committed suicide by hanging himself with a sheet, tied into a loop and hooked onto the corner of the edge of the wall in the middle of his cell.   © 2012 Human Rights Watch

Those with whom Human Rights Watch spoke who knew al-Libi said he was very religious and cited this as the main reason why they were surprised by—and disbelieved—the government’s claim that he had committed suicide. Suicide is strictly prohibited in Islam.[428] Shoroeiya told Human Rights Watch,

Nobody believed it was suicide. First of all, [al-Libi] was a very religious man and it is forbidden in our religion to commit suicide, and second of all, it makes no sense that after all that he had faced he would then commit suicide. As bad as it was in Libya, it was better than any place he had been.[429]

Mostafa al-Mehdi (see above) saw al-Libi two weeks before he died. During Human Rights Watch’s 2009 visit, the Libyan authorities had gathered all the prisoners that we had requested to see together at the clinic inside the prison. Mehdi said Abu Salim prison authorities had fixed the clinic up: “They cleaned it up and put doctors inside and an ambulance out front.” The authorities suggested to the prisoners during this meeting that they all tell Human Rights Watch that they did not want to cooperate with us.[430] Mehdi said during this meeting, al-Libi “did not seem himself” and “had completely changed.… He was in very bad condition—both mentally and physically.… It was so obviously clear.… He couldn’t talk clearly and was so thin. You could recognize he was not well because, I knew this guy. His character was so friendly—he used to welcome everybody and make them laugh. We had known each other for years, since our time in Peshawar together, but he acted like we never met or knew each other.”[431]

At the time of al-Libi’s death, human rights groups called on the Gaddafi government to open a full investigation. [432] Since the fall of Gaddafi, al-Libi’s brother and uncle have renewed this request with the new government. [433] Al-Libi’s family showed Human Rights Watch pictures taken of al-Libi date-stamped the morning of his death. They said they got the pictures from the prosecutor’s office conducting the inquiry. [434] The photos depict al-Libi in the position in which guards allegedly found him in his cell on the morning of his death.

In the first picture, al-Libi’s back is up against a gray brick wall that separated his cell in two sections. The wall was about seven and a half feet high and about six inches thick. His back is up against the six inch edge of the wall. A sheet with ends tied together is looped around the top part of the thin section of the wall and his head rests in the loop created. His feet are firmly on the ground and his legs slightly bent at the knee. 

The next picture is taken from above him. He is lying on the ground, his arms are at his side. On the inside of his left arm is a large bruise that takes up a large portion of his arm. It is dark, black and blue. His feet are very red and look swollen.

Another picture shows him lying on his stomach, so his back is visible. He is shirtless. There are two long light scratches that go at an angle across his back from the middle of his shoulder blades to the middle of his lower back. There is also a spot, about a centimeter in diameter,that looks like a small bruise on the top of his back near his shoulder blades. At the time of this writing, the family was looking into having the photos analyzed by a forensic specialist. The family informed us that an autopsy was done at the time of his death and the report is with the prosecutor.

[367] Human Rights Watch interview with Abdul Aziz el-Fakhri, brother of Sheikh al-Libi, Ajdabiya, Libya, March 22, 2012; and Faraj el-Fakhri, nephew of Sheikh al-Libi, Benghazi, Libya, March 21, 2012.

[368] Human Rights Watch interview with Abdul Aziz el-Fakhri, March 22, 2012.

[369] Human Rights Watch Interview with Faraj el-Fakhri, March 21, 2012.

[370] Human Rights Watch interview with Abdul Aziz el-Fakhri, March 22, 2012.

[371] Ibid. Abdul Aziz el-Fakhiri also said this was partially because the Libyans had tried to get al-Libi to spy for them during this time but he refused.  

[372] Human Rights Watch interview with Abdul Aziz el-Fakhri, March 22, 2012.

[373] Human Rights Watch interview with Abdul Aziz el-Fakhri, March 22, 2012.

[374] Michael Isikoff and David Corn, Hubris, (New York: Crown, 2006), p. 119.

[375] Soufan, The Black Banners, p. 132 (“Khaldan predated al-Qaeda, having been established during the Afghan jihad against the Soviets.… Khaldan was known to be an independent camp.”). See also Omar Nashiri (pseudonym), Inside the Jihad: My Life with Al Qaeda (New York: Basic Books, 2006), p. 102-242.

[376] “Neither [Khaldan’s] external emir, Abu Zubaydah, nor its internal emir, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Liby was a member of al-Qaeda and these emirs prized their independence.”  Soufan, The Black Banners, p. 132. At one point during his interrogation al-Libi said he was a member of al Qaeda but later in 2004, he said he only said that so that his treatment by the Americans would improve, which it did. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), “Postwar Findings about Iraq’s WMD Programs and Links to Terrorism and How They Compare with Prewar Assessments,” September 8, 2006, (“SSCI – Sept. 8, 2006 Report”) p. 80.http://intelligence.senate.gov/phaseiiaccuracy.pdf (accessed June 2, 2012).

[377] “Al-Libi was not a member of our group,” Shoroeiya, a senior LIFG member, said during a Human Rights Watch interview in Tripoli, Libya, on March 18, 2012;

“[Al-Libi] told me specifically that he thought al Qaeda was bad for Islam, that he did not agree with their philosophy, and that he especially did not agree with the attack on the US.” Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Mohammed Bousidra, who was detained with al-Libi in the Foreign Intelligence Building (Bousidra in cell three and al-Libi in cell seven), April 2, 2012; see also Human Rights Watch interview with Abdul Aziz el-Fakhri, March 22, 2012;

When members of an FBI team were interrogating al-Libi, before the CIA stepped in and before enhanced interrogation methods were used, “it emerged that [al-Libi] hadn’t actually liked bin Laden, who had tried to force him to train only al-Qaeda fighters, not all Muslims, which was his preference.” Jane Mayer, The Dark Side (New York: Anchor Books, 2009) p. 105.

[378] Human Rights Watch interview with Abdul Aziz el-Fakhri, March 22, 2012;

“Al-Libi had very good relationships with all the groups. He was learning, teaching, and fighting and his mantra was to be loyal to whoever he was working for, to the place where he was. For him it was a job.” Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Bousidra, April 2, 2012.

[379] Mayer, The Dark Side, p. 104; Isikoff and Corn, Hubris, p. 120.

[380] Some of the intelligence gathered during these sessions was information about 1) an al Qaeda plot to blow up the US Embassy in Aden, Yemen; 2) Richard Reid, the so-called “shoe bomber,” who attempted to detonate plastic explosives during a flight from Paris to Miami on December 20, 2001; and 3) co-conspirator in the September 11 attacks Zacarias Moussaoui. Mayer, The Dark Side, p. 104-06; Isikoff and Corn, Hubris, p. 120-24.

[381] According to FBI sources who described the incident to some journalists, while FBI officer Russell Fincher, who had established a bond with al-Libi, was questioning him, a CIA officer named “Albert” stormed in and started shouting at al-Libi. “You’re going to Egypt!” he yelled. While there, he said to al-Libi: “I’m going to find your mother and f--- her.” Isikoff and Corn, Hubris, p. 120-21. (The accounts of Isikoff and Mayer differ only slightly).

[382] “We believed that al-Libi was withholding critical threat information at the time, so we transferred him to a third country for further debriefing.” George Tenet and Bill Harlow, At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA (New York: Harper Collins, 2007), p. 353. Earlier in his book, Tenet says that al-Libi provided information to the Egyptians about a nuclear threat that he later recanted—indicating that the “third country” in question was indeed Egypt. Tenet, At the Center of the Storm, p. 269.

[383] US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, “Postwar Findings about Iraq’s WMD Programs and Links to Terrorism and How They Compare with Prewar Assessments,” September 8, 2006, (“SSCI Sept. 8, 2006 report”), http://intelligence.senate.gov/phaseiiaccuracy.pdf (accessed June 2, 2012), p. 82.

[384] SSCI Sept. 8, 2006 Report, p. 82. See also Isikoff and Corn, Hubris, p. 424.

[385] SSCI Sept. 8, 2006 Report, p. 81. Ibid.

[386] SSCI Sept. 8, 2006 Report, p. 80-81; Isikoff and Corn, Hubris, p. 424.

[387] “President Bush Outlines Iraqi Threat: Remarks by the President on Iraq,” speech by President George W. Bush,  Cincinnati Union Terminal, Cincinnati, Ohio, October 7, 2002, transcript available at http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2002/10/20021007-8.html (accessed August 29, 2012).

[388]Isikoff and Corn, Hubris, p. 187. See also Michael Hirsh, John Barry, and Daniel Klaidman, “A Tortured Debate,” Newsweek, June 21, 2004. Al-Libi was a principal source for Bush administration claims that al Qaeda collaborated with Saddam Hussein, particularly the assertion by Secretary of State Colin Powell to the United Nations that Iraq had provided training in “poisons and gases” for al Qaeda. See also “A Policy of Evasion and Deception: Speech to the United Nations on Iraq,” speech by Colin Powell, the United Nations, February 5, 2003, transcript available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/transcripts/powelltext_020503.html (accessed June 3, 2012).

[389] SSCI Sept. 8, 2006 Report, p. 77.

[390] Steven R. Weisman, “Powell Calls His U.N. Speech a Lasting Blot on His Record,” Washington Post, September 9, 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/09/politics/09powell.html (accessed June 2, 2012) (quoting Powell in an interview saying it was “devastating” to learn that some intelligence agents knew the information he had was unreliable but did not speak up).

[391] A “well-informed Republican source familiar with the details,” told Jane Mayer that “top CIA officials had to have known about the warnings. ‘The entire intelligence community would have had access to the DIA analysis. If you were on Intel-Link’—the classified government computer system—‘anyone reading about that case would see it,’ [the Republican source familiar with the details] said.” Mayer, The Dark Side, p. 137.

See also SSCI Sept. 8, 2006 Report, p. 76-78; and Letter from to John D. Rockefeller IV, vice chairman, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, to Vice Admiral Lowell E. Jacoby, director, Defense Intelligence Agency, October 18, 2005, http://www.fas.org/irp/news/2005/11/DIAletter.102605.pdf (accessed June 2, 2012) (declassifying a Defense Intelligence report from February 2002 which indicates that the information al-Libi was supplying was not reliable); and Larry Siems, The Torture Report (New York and London: OR Books, 2011), p. 337-338. 

[392] SSCI Sept. 8, 2006 Report, p. 80.

[393] Ibid., p. 82.

[394] Human Rights Watch, The United States’ “Disappeared”: The CIA’s Long-Term “Ghost Detainees,” October 12, 2004 http://www.hrw.org/reports/2004/10/12/united-states-disappeared-cias-long-term-ghost-detainees (first on the list of 11 known prisoners missing at the time was Ibn Shiekh al Libi); Human Rights Watch, List of ‘Ghost Prisoners’ Possibly in CIA Custody, November 30, 2005, http://www.hrw.org/reports/2005/11/30/list-ghost-prisoners-possibly-cia-custody (first on the list of 26 known prisoners missing at the time was Ibn Sheikh al-Libi); Human Rights Watch, Ghost Prisoner: Two years in Secret CIA Detention, Vol. 19, No. 1(G), February 27, 2007,  http://www.hrw.org/reports/2007/02/26/ghost-prisoner (first on the list of 38 of known prisoners missing at the time was Ibn Sheikh al Libi); and Human Rights Watch, “Letter to Bush Requesting Information on Missing Detainees,” February 27, 2007, http://www.hrw.org/news/2007/02/26/letter-bush-requesting-information-missing-detainees.

[395] “Libya/US: Investigate Death of Former CIA Prisoner,” Human Rights Watch news release, May 11, 2009, http://www.hrw.org/news/2009/05/11/libyaus-investigate-death-former-cia-prisoner.

[396] Ibid. Human Rights Watch interviewed other prisoners during this visit who had been in CIA custody, several of whom are interviewed for this report, including Belhadj, Shoroeiya, Maghrebi, and Mehdi (see above). Some of these interviews were included in Human Rights Watch, Libya –Truth and Justice Can’t Wait: Human Rights Developments in Libya Amid Institutional Obstacles, December 12, 2009, http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/libya1209web.pdf, p. 63-65.

[397] “Libya/US: Investigate Death of Former CIA Prisoner,” Human Rights Watch news release, May 11, 2009.

[398] Reporting on the exact arrest date varies. Some accounts say he was arrested on November 11, 2001. See Dana Priest, “Al Qaeda-Iraq Link Recanted: Captured Libyan Reverses Previous Statement to CIA, Officials Say,” Washington Post, August 1, 2004, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A30909-2004Jul31.html (accessed May 30, 2012); Others indicate it was “toward the end of November 2001.” Soufan, The Black Banners, p.450; Others say he was captured on December 19, 2001 by Pakistani security. Mayer, The Dark Side, p. 103-04 and Isikoff and Corn, Hubris, p. 119. 

[399] Human Rights Watch interview with Safrani, Bengazi, Libya, March 20, 2012.

[400] Ibid.

[401] Ibid.

[402] Ibid.

[403] Mayer, The Dark Side, p. 104; Isikoff and Corn, Hubris, p. 120.

[404] Some prisoners held with al-Libi said that al-Libi told them he was actually given a choice of either Egypt or Israel and that he chose Egypt, a choice he said was a bad one. Human Rights Watch interview with Shoroeiya, Tripoli, March 18, 2012; Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Bousidra, April 2, 2012. Bousidra was detained with al-Libi in the foreign intelligence building in Libya, Bousidra in cell three and al-Libi in cell seven; other prisoners described something similar. Sheikh Othman Salah said al-Libi told him that they said “if you don’t talk in 24-48 hours and tell us your plan, you will be transferred to one of two countries that will have no mercy on you—Egypt or Israel.” Human Rights Watch interview with Sheikh Othman Salah, Tripoli, Libya, Janurary 12, 2012. Al-Libi told Abdullah Mohammed Omar al-Tawaty when they were detained together in a place called Asouk (he in cell three and Tawaty in cell 14) that when he was in the “dark prison” in Afghanistan, someone representing himself from the White House came into his cell and said that if he did not tell him in the next 20 minutes the operations that al Qaeda was planning against the US he would be taken to either Egypt or Israel. Human Rights Watch interview with Abdulla Mohammed Omar al-Tawaty, Benghazi, Libya, March 21, 2012.

[405] Human Rights Watch interview with Faraj el-Fakhri, March 21, 2012.

[406] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Bousidra, April 2, 2012; Human Rights Watch interviews with Sheikh Othman Salah, January 12, 2012; Tawaty, March 21, 2012; Faraj el-Fakhri, March 21, 2012; Abdul Aziz el-Fakhri, March 22, 2012; and Shoroeiya, March 18, 2012.

[407] Human Rights Watch interview with Shoroeiya, March 18, 2012. Shoroeiya said al-Libi showed him these marks when they were detained in Abu Salim prison in Tripoli. All prisoners detained there said at some point during their detention in Abu Salim, Libyan authorities allowed prisoners to leave their cells for limited periods of time and mix with other prisoners in certain sections of the prison, though they still had to be confined to certain locations.

[408] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Bousidra, March 29, 2012.

[409] Ibid.

[410] Both Shoroieya and Sharif report talking to him during their time in US detention in Afghanistan, although when is not clear, from around April 18, 2003 to between April 20 and 25, 2004. This was likely the same place where al-Libi described being detained to al-Tawaty while they were in prison together in Asouk in Libya. Al-Libi told Tawaty that he was taken to the “darkness prison” in Kabul, then Egypt, then to Bagram. He described the “darkness prison” as being so dark he could not see anything. He had only a bucket to use as a toilet and there was loud music playing all the time. These conditions are very similar to what Shoroeiya and Sharif describe (see above) and both reported talking to Sheikh al-Libi during their time in detention at this location. Human Rights Watch interview with Abdullah Mohammed Omar al-Tawaty, March 21, 2012. 

[411] SSCI Sept. 8, 2006 Report, p 79-83; See also Mayer, The Dark Side, p. 138; and Michael Isikoff, “The Missing Terrorist,” The Daily Beast, May 27, 2007, http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2007/05/27/the-missing-terrorist.html (accessed May 25, 2012).

[412] Some speculate that al-Libi was told he was in Alaska but that he was actually in a secret CIA site in Poland, another cold location. See Larry Siems, The Torture Report (New York and London: OR Books, 2011), p. 401.  Either way, he told a lot of other prisoners, including Bousidra, Tawaty, Othman, Shoroieya, and his family that he was in Alaska (he apparently told his mother that he was in a prison in North America that was an “icy desert”).

[413] There have been allegations of forced repatriations from Sweden at the request of the CIA; See Agiza v. Sweden, Communication No. 233/2003, U.N. Doc. CAT/C/34/D/233/2003 (2005), http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/cat/decisions/233-2003.html (accessed August 29, 2012). However, Human Rights Watch could not confirm any information about the US facility in Sweden to which a l-Libi’s relatives believe he was taken.

[414] Mohammed Bousidra, Abdullah Tawaty, Shoroeiya, and Othman Salah all said al-Libi told them he was detained in these locations.

[415] Neither Shoroeiya nor Abdullah Tawaty mention Guantanamo or Sweden. Othman Salah mentioned Guantanamo but did not mention Sweden. 

[416] Mohammed Bousidra also said al-Libi told him he was held in Syria but was not sure if it was before or after Egypt. He said al-Libi told him he was stripped naked there and handcuffed from behind and hung up by his hands from behind.

[417] Mohammed Bousidra said al-Libi told him he was held on a warship.

[418] Shoroeiya said al-Libi told him he was detained in Poland. Abdullah Tawaty and Bousidra both said al-Libi told them he was detained in a European country, but they did not remember which one.  

[419] Human Rights Watch interview with Abdul Aziz el-Fakhri, March 22, 2012.This also corresponds to the time that the Bush administration began closing down secret CIA detention sites and transferring detainees to either home or third countries.

[420] Human Rights Watch Interview with Faraj el-Fakhri, March 21, 2012.

[421] Ibid. See also “Libya/US: Investigate Death of Former CIA Prisoner,” Human Rights Watch news release, May 11, 2009. 

[422] Human Rights Watch interview with Abdul Aziz el-Fakhri, March 22, 2012.

[423] Ibid.

[424] The two who said he had asked to go there himself, Abdulla Mohammed Omar al-Tawaty and Hazem al-Ajdal, said he did so because he saw that he was attracting trouble to other prisoners who were seen with or talking to him, so he asked for the isolation to protect them. Human Rights Watch interview with Abdulla Mohammed Omar al-Tawaty, March 21, 2012; and Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Hazem al-Ajdal, March 27, 2012.

[425] “The Area” was a large walled space with a mesh roof that allowed sunlight in. Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Ajdal, Tripoli, Libya, March 27, 2012.

[426] Both Hazem al-Ajdal and Mohhamed Bousidra said Sheikh al-Libi had hepatitis.

[427] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Ajdal, March 27, 2012.

[428] Wright, The Looming Tower, p. 248. Some Islamist militants who believe in the use of suicide bombings do not believe it is suicide, but martyrdom, and thus permissible; Soufan, Black Banners, p. 92, 94, 187.

[429] Human Rights Watch interview with Shoroeiya, March 18, 2012.

[430] Human Rights Watch Interview with Mehdi, Tripoli, Libya, March 14, 2012.

[431] Human Rights Watch Interview with Mehdi, March 14, 2012.

[432] “Libya/US: Investigate Death of Former CIA Prisoner,” Human Rights Watch news release, May 11, 2009; See also “Document—Libya: Amnesty International Completes First Fact Finding Visit in Over Five years,” Amnesty International public statement, May 29, 2009, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE19/003/2009/en/d226b133-691d-41dc-aabf-ca89038618e7/mde190032009eng.html

[433] Human Rights Watch interviews with Faraj el-Fakhri, March 21, 2012; Abdul Aziz el-Fakhri, March 22, 2012; and other prisoners who were detained with al-Libi while in Libya and Afghanistan.

[434] Human Rights Watch interviews with Faraj el-Fakhri, March 21, 2012; and Abdul Aziz el-Fakhri, March 22, 2012.