Al-Qaeda-Linked Guantánamo Detainee to Testify Ahead of Alleged 9/11 Masterminds Trial

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EDWIN MORA

A Guantánamo prisoner, Abu Zubaydah, is expected to testify for the first time about allegedly being subjected to prolonged torture at CIA black sites.

“The Palestinian was subjected to prolonged torture, including 83 bouts of waterboarding in one month, being kept naked and being placed in a box the size of a coffin,” reports the Guardian. “The US government claims he played a key role through the 1990s in connecting al-Qaida operatives around the world, though the CIA’s initial assumption that he had been the third-most senior al-Qaida leader turned out to be a gross exaggeration”:

Zubaydah has been called to testify at the military commission war court in Guantánamo over the treatment of a fellow captive, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, one of five detainees charged with committing the 9/11 attacks. Al-Shibh has long complained that he is subjected to psychological torture at Camp 7, including the beaming of sounds and vibrations into his cell to disturb his sleep.

The United States has convened his upcoming pre-trial hearing under the military commission system.

The Guardian reports:

The hearing, originally scheduled for Wednesday but then postponed, is the precursor to a long-delayed military trial at which five Guantánamo prisoners on war crimes charges related to the 9/11 attacks face the death penalty.

Zubaydah, whose full name is Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, is set to give testimony in an ongoing dispute over conditions at Camp 7, the highest-security facility at Guantánamo, where the so-called “high-value detainees,” including those accused of organizing the 9/11 attacks, are held. If he does appear, it will be only the second time that he has been seen in public since his arrest in Pakistan 15 years ago.

Last summer, the detainee at the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo, Cuba, also known as Gitmo, was supposed to testify, but his appearance was postponed.

The 46-year-old Zubaydah then appeared at one of the parole-style Periodic Review Board (PRB) last August with an eye patch after he lost his left eye in a disputed incident while under CIA custody in Thailand.

Details in James Mitchell’s book Enhanced Interrogation support Zubaydah’s claim of torture, which the military denies.

Gitmo still houses 41 prisoners.

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