The basement of the Mission of Iraq to the United Nations building, located in New York City’s wealthy Upper East Side block, was reportedly secretly used as detention center that employed “Gestapo-like” torture “tactics” several decades ago, The New York Post has reported.
Some members of the Mukhabarat, the brutally violent henchmen of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, were trusted by the dictator to use the basement to torture U.S.-based Iraqis and keep them captive for up to 15 days at a time, using them as leverage to coerce their relatives to return to their homeland to surrender and cooperate with the tyrannical and homicidal government led by Saddam, the officials told The Post.
The newspaper claims:
To keep their operation strictly covert, the Mukhabarat out a skylight in the roof of the five-story townhouse so the US Air Force and satellites couldn’t peer in. They also kept a watchful eye on American spies conducting wiretap surveillance from a car across the street, the officials said…
Once they kidnapped their “target,” the goons then called the captive’s family to inform them that they would detain them until the prisoner surrendered to the Saddam regime, said the official.
Saddam deployed several of his most trusted Mukhabarat to the mission’s five-story building in the often noisy city, where they set up their operations in three separate rooms in the basement: an office, a communications center, and the jail that was secured by metal doors with heavy steel bars.
“It was a dark room. The doors were reinforced in a way that nobody could break in or out. You didn’t need to soundproof it,” one official declared, referring to the basement, while another official added, “You’re not going to hear someone screaming down there.”
Among the Gestapo-like torture tactics employed by the Mukhabarat were “the use of copper wire, rubber hoses and wooden planks. They would also pull out prisoners’ nails and beat them to a pulp,” revealed one official.
Although it is uncertain specifically how many torturers were on the premises at one time, the Iraqi officials said each henchmen carried a 9mm semi-automatic pistol and they all had several Kalashnikov rifles in in their arsenal.
Iraqi officials told The Post, on condition of anonymity:
When he [Hussein] rose to power in 1979, the despot had the terrifying ‘detention room’ installed inside the five-story building at 14 E. 79th St. — right across from billionaire former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s home, according to two Iraqi officials speaking on the condition of anonymity…
Saddam’s cabinet used dossiers they kept on all of their citizens to root out suspected enemies of his regime, contacting the Mukhabarat in New York to do some of his dirty work.
When the American government officials raided the Iraqi mission following the fall is Saddam in 2003, they took possession of “all the evidence of such maltreatment,” involving the extrajudicial imprisonments and torture that took place on U.S. soil, the Iraqi sources told The Post.
The Post acknowledges:
The [NYC] prison chamber was similar to detention rooms in Iraqi embassies around the world, including Eastern Europe and Arab countries, where evidence of torture was uncovered, the officials said.
Saddam, who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, was captured by the United States while hiding in hole on December 13, 2003, nine months after the U.S. invaded Iraq.
Hussein was handed over to the Iraqi government, which sentenced him to death by hanging. He was executed on August 30, 2006, nearly nine months after he was captured.