Wednesday, 25 February 2009

BINYAM MOHAMED

Food writer's online guide to building an H-bomb...the 'evidence' that put this man in Guantanamo

By Jason Lewis
Published 08th February 2009

A British ‘resident’ held at Guantanamo Bay was identified as a terrorist after confessing he had visited a ‘joke’ website on how to build a nuclear weapon, it was revealed last night.

Binyam Mohamed, a former UK asylum seeker, admitted to having read the ‘instructions’ after allegedly being beaten, hung up by his wrists for a week and having a gun held to his head in a Pakistani jail.

It was this confession that apparently convinced the CIA that they were holding a top
Al Qaeda terrorist.

TORTURE CLAIMS: Binyam Mohamed, the man held at Guantanamo after reading a satirical website, which 'teaches' its readers how to build a bomb

TORTURE CLAIMS: Binyam Mohamed, the man held at Guantanamo after reading a satirical website, which 'teaches' its readers how to build a bomb


But The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the offending article – called How To Build An H-Bomb – was first published in a US satirical magazine and later placed on a series of websites.

Written by Barbara Ehrenreich, the publication’s food editor, Rolling Stone journalist Peter Biskind and scientist Michio Kaku, it claims that a nuclear weapon can be made ‘using a bicycle pump’ and with liquid uranium ‘poured into a bucket and swung round’.

Despite its clear satirical bent, the story led the CIA to accuse 30-year-old Mohamed, a caretaker, of plotting a dirty bomb attack, before subjecting him to its ‘extraordinary rendition programme’.

During his eight-year imprisonment, Mohamed has allegedly been flown to secret torture centres in Pakistan, Morocco, an American-run jail known as the Dark Prison near Kabul in Afghanistan and, finally, to Guantanamo Bay.

The Foreign Secretary is refusing to release classified documents relating to Mohamed’s detention.

Last week, the High Court ruled that the 42 intelligence papers must remain secret.
However, the judges insisted they had no choice because the Government had informed them of a ‘threat’ by the US to withdraw all intelligence co-operation with Britain if the papers were published by the court.

Mr Miliband was then forced to defend the claim in the House of Commons, insisting that the US needed ‘confidence that its secrets are safe with us’.

However, details of what Mohamed told his interrogators, unearthed by this newspaper, are likely to cast further doubt on Mr Miliband’s stance.

We can reveal that the story which apparently led to Mohamed’s ordeal could not possibly have been used by a terrorist to build a nuclear weapon. The satirical article, published in Seven Days magazine, says its authors were given ‘three days to cook up a workable H-bomb. They did and we have decided to share their culinary secrets with you’.

It adds: ‘Not that Seven Days supports nuclear terrorism. We don’t. We would prefer to die from familiar poisons like low-level radiation, microwaves, DDT or food dyes, rather than unexpectedly, say as hostage to a Latvian nationalists brandishing a home-made bomb.’

GUANTANAMO: The U.S. prison where Mohamed was held after being identified as a terrorist by the CIA

GUANTANAMO: The U.S. prison where Mohamed was held after being identified as a terrorist by the CIA

The recipe is highly detailed and plainly ridiculous. The prospective bomb maker is instructed to transform uranium gas into liquid by ‘subjecting it to pressure’, adding: ‘You can use a bicycle pump for this.’

The instructions continue: ‘Then make a simple home centrifuge. Fill a standard-size bucket one-quarter full of liquid uranium hexafluoride.

‘Attach a 6ft rope to the bucket handle. Now swing the rope (and attached bucket) around your head as fast as possible. Keep this up for about 45 minutes.

‘Slow down gradually, and very gently put the bucket on the floor. The U-235 – a uranium isotope which can be used to cause an explosive chain reaction – will have risen to the top, where it can be skimmed off like cream. Repeat this step until you have the required 10lb of uranium.’

Last night, Mohamed’s lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, confirmed that the article was central to claims that his client was planning a dirty bomb attack.

‘Unclassified evidence corroborates Binyam’s claims that he was threatened – at the time the White House was obsessed by the idea terrorists had access to nuclear materials,’ he added. ‘Binyam said that he told them about a website he had once seen on the internet called How To Build An H-Bomb. He said that this was a joke but they thought it might be serious.

‘I am speculating but I think this news was sent up the line to the White House, which is when the paranoia kicked in. They authorised the “enhanced interrogation techniques” against Binyam, including the rendition. This is how they made their
huge mistake, thinking he was a major terrorist as opposed to a London janitor.

‘It explains why they took a nobody and subjected him to the worst torture of any US prisoner in the past seven years.’


David Miliband urged America to send Binyam Mohamed torture letter, says Bush aide

By Jason Lewis
Published 14th February 2009

Row: A former aide to George Bush says David Miliband was involved in a torture cover-up

Row: A former aide to George Bush says David Miliband was involved in a torture cover-up

Foreign Secretary David Miliband is at the centre of damaging new claims that he colluded with the US to cover up the alleged torture of a British resident in Guantanamo Bay.

A senior member of George Bush’s administration has disclosed Foreign Office officials asked them to draft the letter which warned intelligence sharing could be damaged if documents about Binyam Mohamed’s treatment were published.

The letter played a key role in the decision by two High Court judges to suppress the reports following a challenge by Mohamed’s lawyers.

In their judgment they said they wanted the details of his alleged torture to be published – but that by doing so the US government could ‘inflict on the citizens of the UK a very considerable increase in the dangers they face at a time when a serious terrorist threat still pertains’.

Mr Miliband had earlier issued a Public Immunity Certificate banning the release of the 42 documents that allegedly confirmed Mohamed’s claims he was maltreated after being seized in Pakistan and accused of terrorism.

The letter – from John Bellinger, the State Department’s chief legal adviser – said: ‘We want to affirm the public disclosure of these documents is likely to result in serious damage to US national security and could harm existing intelligence information-sharing arrangements between our two Governments.’

A source close to Mr Bellinger revealed his letter had been sent only after a specific request from the Foreign Office. He said the State Department had earlier been asked by Mr Miliband’s officials for its position on releasing the intelligence material.

The State Department checked with the CIA, which said it did not want the evidence published.

The source said: ‘Mr Miliband then found himself in a fight he did not want. He has political aspirations and he was in a position he did not want to be in. Of being forced to personally defend the US position.

‘So what they [the Foreign Office] said is please give us your position in writing so that we can produce it in court.

‘The letter, allegedly bullying and threatening, was really just a formal statement of the US government’s position solicited by the Foreign Office.

‘The letter was solicited so that the Foreign Office and Mr Miliband didn’t have to be in the middle of this.’

Captive: Binyam Mohamed

Captive: Binyam Mohamed

During his eight-year imprisonment, Mohamed has allegedly been flown to secret torture centres in Pakistan, Morocco, an American-run jail known as the Dark Prison near Kabul in Afghanistan and, finally, to Guantanamo Bay.

He claims that he was beaten, chained, deprived of sleep and had his genitals cut with a razor.

The secret CIA documents are alleged to detail his initial detention in Pakistan, when he was interviewed by MI5.

An unnamed MI5 officer who interviewed him allegedly told his superiors that Mohamed looked thin but did not ask if he had been maltreated.

However, it is unclear when MI5 was first given access to the secret material.

Last night David Davis, former Shadow Home Secretary, said: ‘The Foreign Office have colluded with the Americans to produce a document to protect David Miliband.’

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: ‘We did ask the Americans to make their position [on this matter] clear in writing to inform both us and the court.

‘This is a perfectly sensible thing to do.’

British officials were travelling to Guantanamo Bay yesterday to visit detainee Binyam Mohamed to get ready for his expected release.

The team includes a doctor, who will assess the condition of the 30-year-old after the hunger strike he has maintained for more than a month.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘A team of British officials left Miami Airport to visit Mr Mohamed.

'The visit will make preparations for his return, should the ongoing US review into detainees confirm a decision to release him.’

Mohamed’s lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, said he was ‘very hopeful’ that his client would be back in the UK by the middle of the week.


MI5 knew we were torturing British terror suspects, claim Pakistan agents

By Jason Lewis

Published 22nd February 2009

binyam mohamed

Freedom: Binyam Mohamed is on the verge of release from Guantanamo Bay and is expected to fly home to Britain

Pakistani secret service agents say they routinely tortured British terror suspects in their custody with the full knowledge of MI5 and MI6.

The damning testimony is set to increase the pressure on Foreign Secretary David Miliband after he blocked the release of secret US evidence allegedly confirming torture took place.

The claim comes as former British asylum seeker Binyam Mohamed is expected to fly back to the UK tomorrow after being released from US custody at Guantanamo Bay.

In the past eight years, he claims he was flown to secret torture centres in Pakistan, Morocco and a US-run ‘Dark Prison’ near Kabul, Afghanistan.

He says he was beaten, chained, deprived of sleep and had his genitals cut with a razor.

Now, witness statements from Pakistani intelligence officials appear to confirm that British intelligence knew suspects were being maltreated, sometimes within hours of being interviewed by MI5 and MI6 officers.

The new evidence also suggests British officials were feeding Pakistani colleagues key questions to use when interrogating suspects under duress.

One Pakistani agent is quoted as saying: ‘Of course they [the British] knew that we were beating them up, hanging them upside down and whipping them. That’s what we do.’

The interviews with the Pakistani officials were conducted by officials from Human Rights Watch, the respected international non-government organisation.

Next month it is due to publish a full report on alleged UK complicity in torture after an investigation into treatment of ten British terror suspects held in Pakistan. The report includes the statements from unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials.

Last night Human Rights Watch, which has previously given evidence to the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, said it was convinced Britain was ‘outsourcing torture’.

A senior official with HRW said: ‘Our new report will provide greater detail of what amounts to torture and British awareness and effective complicity in the torture of suspects.’ Asked who was involved on the British side, the official said: ‘British security agents.’

He said British agents were not direct participants in torture sessions but added: ‘The suspects go through these torture sessions by the Pakistani agencies, then the British interview the suspects. The suspects then go back into custody. They are then beaten and tortured and then more questions are asked by the British agents.

‘The British questions form part of the violent process. They are aware the suspects are injured, they fail to take notice of this. They put forward questions as part of this process. ‘At no time are the British agencies seen torturing directly. But we believe it amounts to the outsourcing of torture.’

The official said HRW had interviewed several former British detainees about their treatment and crucially, for the first time, they had been able to check their accounts with Pakistani officials.

‘The evidence comes not just from victims of torture but also from perpetrators of torture. They said, “Yes, it happened and as far as we are aware the British were aware it happened”.

‘British security agencies were aware the suspects were being tortured yet they turned a blind eye. That complicity makes them criminally liable.’

HRW said the Pakistanis have given graphic accounts of methods they used to try to get British suspects to talk. These included pulling out suspects’ fingernails, injecting drugs into them, beatings, hanging upside down and whipping.

‘Torture sessions lasted several hours at a time,’ the HRW official added.

Human Rights Watch says it has alerted the British Government to the contents of its report.

The new revelations follow the row over the decision to block the disclosure of secret US intelligence papers allegedly describing the treatment of Binyam Mohamed, 30.

Judges agreed to Mr Miliband’s request after the Foreign Office gave them a letter from the US which they interpreted as a threat to withdraw intelligence co-operation if the secret papers were released.

Last week, The Mail on Sunday revealed that State Department chief legal adviser John Bellinger sent the letter only after a Foreign Office request.

A Foreign Office spokesman said last night: ‘The UK unreservedly condemns torture.

‘The Attorney General has been asked to examine whether any crimes were committed in Mr Mohamed’s treatment. This is the proper democratic and legal process and we cannot comment further until the Attorney General finishes her investigation.’