We don't need no damn human rightsposted by Ron Beasley at 1/14/2005 05:43:00 PM
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Kidnapping the Innocent in the War on Terror
Khaled el-Masri just wanted to go on a short holiday to Skopje, he says. He needed some time alone -- away from the clamor of his four young sons. A couple of days. But it turned out to be a longer trip than he had planned. And he didn't end up seeing much of the Macedonian capital, either. Rather, he spent months locked up in a dirty prison cell in Afghanistan.This should make you ashamed to be an American. When I read stories like this the only thing I can think is that al-Qaeda won. The US has become as bad as the horror stories we were told about the old Soviet Union. This is stuff that would make Stalin proud. Who knows, maybe reading Running Scared will be enough to flag you for a trip to Kabul before long.
El-Masri, a 41-year-old German citizen who lives in the western German city of Ulm, was kidnapped on the Macedonian border by secret service personnel -- he doesn't know what country they were from -- on Dec. 31, 2003. From there, he was brought to a hotel in Skopje where he was not allowed to leave his room for three weeks. His captors began interrogating him there: "They offered me a deal," he told the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung. "I should sign a confession that I was a member of al-Qaida and then they would let me go."
He refused. A short time later, a hood was placed over his head, he was brought to an airfield and his clothes were cut off of him with scissors. Then he was photographed naked, given a jump suit to wear and flown to Kabul. Interrogations -- three months of questioning from agents he claims were American -- followed. They wanted to know about the mosque where he worshipped in Ulm. They asked about fellow worshippers and about suspected extremists.
Apart from the bent of the questions, el-Masri had no indication, for the first three weeks in Afghanistan, why he was being held. And he was desperate to get out. He began a hunger strike and held out for 34 days before giving it up. In the meantime, he was told that he would be let free. The prison warden told him, says el-Masri, "From the very beginning I had the impression that you don't belong here." But the release took a long time.
While he was away, his wife and children didn't hear a word from him. He was not allowed to write, call or communicate with the outside world in any way. In desperation, she gave up and moved the family back to her home in Jordan. He was released in the early summer of 2004 and now he and his family are back in Germany. His captors -- which he continues to insist were American -- obviously realized they had the wrong man.