POW Says Torture Led to Confessions
NY Times
Published: March 31, 2007

A prisoner held by the American military at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, said he had confessed to several terrorist attacks and plots only because he had been tortured, according to a transcript of a hearing held on March 14 and released yesterday by the Pentagon.

The prisoner, Abd al-Rahim al Nashiri, is accused of planning the attack on the destroyer Cole off Yemen in 2000 and playing a role in the bombings of two American embassies in Africa in 1998.

In the transcript, Mr. Nashiri admitted to taking money from Osama bin Laden and providing what he said was incidental and inadvertent aid to the men who executed the attack on the Cole. But Mr. Nashiri denied responsibility for the attack. He said he had nothing to do with the embassy bombings.

Speaking before a combatant status review tribunal charged with determining whether he had been properly designated an enemy combatant, Mr. Nashiri said he had confessed to many terrorist activities under torture.

"From the time I was arrested five years ago, they have been torturing me," Mr. Nashiri said through a translator, according to the transcript. "It happened during interviews. One time they tortured me one way, and another time they tortured me in a different way."

The president of the tribunal, a Navy captain whose name was not disclosed, said, "Please describe the methods."

The four-paragraph passage that followed in the transcript was redacted in six places, and the 36-page transcript, of a two-hour hearing, was redacted in many other places.

"They do so many things," Mr. Nashiri said in one passage made public. "So many things."

A suggestive statement followed one redaction. "They used to call me ‘commander of the sea,' " Mr. Nashiri said, apparently referring to his interrogators. "They used to call me the ‘commander of the Gulf.' " That could be a reference to the Cole bombing, to captivity on a prison ship or to waterboarding, an interrogation technique in which subjects are made to feel they are drowning.

About a statement made to his interrogators that he had planned to lease a plane and "explode it into ship," Mr. Nashiri said, according to the transcript: "They didn't even know that I was lying. They were very happy."

Mr. Nashiri, a Saudi citizen of Yemeni descent, was sentenced to death in absentia in Yemen in 2004 for his role in the Cole attack. He had been arrested in the United Arab Emirates and transferred into American hands in 2002. He was held by the Central Intelligence Agency in undisclosed locations until he was transferred to Guantánamo last year.

He was asked whether he considered himself an enemy combatant.

"If you think that anybody who wants Americans to get out of the Gulf as your enemy, then you will catch about 10 million peoples in Saudi Arabia," Mr. Nashiri said. "I have no idea how you classify us as enemy combatants. I don't understand that. I do not think of myself as an enemy to anybody."

Margot Williams contributed reporting.

Original Text