EXCLUSIVE: Former Iraqi Detainees Allege Torture by U.S. Troops

After a night in jail at the Republican Palace, Khalid says he was taken to the prison at the Baghdad airport where the torture continued.

"They put us in individual cells," he said. "And before entering those cells, they formed two teams of American soldiers -- one to the right, one to the left -- about 10 to 15 each American soldiers. And they were holding wooden sticks. It was like a hallway, like a passage. And they made us go that hallway while shouting at us as we were walking through and hitting us with the wooden sticks. They were beating us severely."

Khalid says U.S. soldiers deprived him of food, water, and sleep. He claims he began to suffer from stomach ulcers, but was denied medical care.

All the while, Khalid says, soldiers routinely asked for information about Saddam's whereabouts: "I said to him, 'How would I know where Saddam is?' And I thought that he was kidding me. And that's why I laughed. And he beat me again."

Khalid refuses to talk about one other allegation. In his legal complaint, he holds U.S. soldiers responsible for "Sexually assaulting and humiliating [him] ... by grabbing his buttocks and simulating anal rape by pressing a water bottle against the seat of his pants; putting a hand inside [his] ... pants and grabbing his buttocks during a severe beating ... (and) brandishing a long wooden pole and threatening to sodomize him on the spot and every night of his detention."

According to Sabbar, U.S. soldiers used Taser guns and rubber bullets to control detainees.

"They had another kind of torture using electrical shocks, pointing a hand gun towards you that shocks you and causes you to lose consciousness for a while," he said. "That was one of the methods at the airport [jail]. Or use rubber bullets that end up hurting or burning the area where it hits you, and very painful ones."

Mistreatment at Abu Ghraib

Sabbar ended up at Abu Ghraib, the detention center where the abuse of detainees was captured in the now-infamous photographs that shocked the world. However, he was not held inside one of the cell blocks, but rather outside in a courtyard.

"We entered Abu Ghraib and there the behavior of the soldiers was different -- a different type of torture. They put us in different groups. The lack of food -- we could not eat as much as we did before. And if they gave us food, it certainly is spoiled most of the time, so either you die from not eating, or you have to be taken to the emergency [room]."

Sabbar also alleges troops mistreated the Koran, an egregious affront to Islam.

"They would give us Korans as well as the holy Bible, and they would come on purpose to walk or step on the holy Koran, and we opposed or -- protested that. Or they would take it ... and throw it away in front of everybody, the holy Koran. And this was painful to us."

Khalid -- who says he still suffers severe back pain -- was released in September 2003; Sabbar in January 2004. As is the case with many detainees, no charges were filed against them.

As for the torture allegations, both men know it is basically their word against the U.S. military.

"What I am telling you is not from imagination," said Sabbar. "This is my reality, and my pain that I suffered."

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...