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 - Americans Raping Iraqi Juveniles - Iraq

    Americans Raping Iraqi Juveniles

    The Washington Post reported that previously secret sworn statements by detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq describe in raw detail abuse that goes well beyond what has been made public, adding allegations of prisoners being ridden like animals, sexually fondled by female soldiers and forced to retrieve their food from toilets.

    The fresh allegations of prison abuse are contained in statements taken from 13 detainees shortly after a soldier reported the incidents to military investigators in mid-January. The detainees said they were savagely beaten and repeatedly humiliated sexually by American soldiers working on the night shift at Tier 1A in Abu Ghraib during the holy month of Ramadan, according to copies of the statements obtained by The Washington Post.


    The statements provide the most detailed picture yet of what took place on the cellblock. Some of the detainees described being abused as punishment or discipline after they were caught fighting or with a prohibited item. Some said they were pressed to denounce Islam or were force-fed pork and liquor. Many provided graphic details of how they were sexually humiliated and assaulted, threatened with rape, and forced to masturbate in front of female soldiers.


    Kasim Mehaddi Hilas, detainee No. 151108, told investigators that when he first arrived at Abu Ghraib last year, he was forced to strip, put on a hood and wear rose-colored panties with flowers on them. «Most of the days I was wearing nothing else», he said in his statement.


    Hilas also said he witnessed an Army translator having sex with a boy at the prison. He said the boy was between 15 and 18 years old. Someone hung sheets to block the view, but Hilas said he heard the boy's screams and climbed a door to get a better look. Hilas said he watched the assault and told investigators that it was documented by a female soldier taking pictures.


    «The kid was hurting very bad», Hilas said.


    Hilas, like other detainees interviewed by the military, said he could not identify some of the soldiers because they either covered their name patches or did not wear uniforms. But he and other detainees did know the names of three, including Graner and Sgt. Javal S. Davis, both of whom have been charged and now face courts-martial.


    «They forced us to walk like dogs on our hands and knees», said Hiadar Sabar Abed Miktub al-Aboodi, detainee No. 13077. «And we had to bark like a dog, and if we didn't do that they started hitting us hard on our face and chest with no mercy. After that, they took us to our cells, took the mattresses out and dropped water on the floor and they made us sleep on our stomachs on the floor with the bags on our head and they took pictures of everything».


    The prisoners also provided accounts of how some of the now-famous photographs were staged, including the pyramid of hooded, naked prisoners.


    Another publicized photograph -- that of a hooded detainee hooked up to wires and standing on a box -- is also described in the statements.


    «On the third day, after five o'clock, Mr. Graner came and took me to room Number 37, which is the shower room, and he started punishing me», said Abdou Hussain Saad Faleh, detainee No. 18170. «Then he brought a box of food and he made me stand on it with no clothing, except a blanket. Then a tall black soldier came and put electrical wires on my fingers and toes and on my penis, and I had a bag over my head».


    «They said we will make you wish to die and it will not happen», said Ameen Saeed Al-Sheik, detainee No. 151362. «They stripped me naked. One of them told me he would rape me. He drew a picture of a woman to my back and makes me stand in shameful position holding my buttocks».


    The sworn statements, taken in Baghdad between Jan. 16 and Jan. 21, span 65 pages. Each statement begins with a handwritten account in Arabic that is signed by the detainee, followed by a typewritten translation by U.S. military contractors. The shortest statement is a single paragraph; the longest exceeds two single-spaced typewritten pages.


    While military investigators interviewed the detainees separately, many of them recalled the same event or pattern of events and procedures in Tier 1A -- a block reserved for prisoners who were thought to possess intelligence that could help thwart the insurgency in Iraq, find Saddam Hussein or locate weapons of mass destruction. Military intelligence officers took over the cellblock last October and were using MPs to help 'set the conditions' for interrogations, according to an investigative report complied by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba. Several MPs have since said in statements and through their attorneys that they were roughing up detainees at the direction of U.S. military intelligence officers.


    Most of the detainees said in the statements that they were stripped upon their arrival to Tier 1A, forced to wear women's underwear, and repeatedly humiliated in front of one another and American soldiers. They also described beatings and threats of death and sexual assault if they did not cooperate with U.S. interrogators.


    Hilas told investigators that he asked Graner for the time one day because he wanted to pray. He said Graner cuffed him to the bars of a cell window and left him there for close to five hours, his feet dangling off the floor. Hilas also said he watched as Graner and others sodomized a detainee with a phosphoric light. «They tied him to the bed», Hilas said.


    Mustafa Jassim Mustafa, detainee No. 150542, told military investigators he also witnessed the phosphoric-light assault. He said it was around the time of Ramadan, the holiest period of the Muslim year, when he heard screams coming from a cell below. Mustafa said he looked down to see a group of soldiers holding the detainee down and sodomizing him with the light.


    Another detainee told military investigators that American soldiers sodomized and beat him. The detainee, whose name is being withheld by The Post because he is an alleged victim of a sexual assault, said he was kept naked for five days when he first arrived at Abu Ghraib and was forced to kneel for four hours with a hood over his head. He said he was beaten so badly one day that the hood flew off his head. «The police was telling me to crawl in Arabic, so I crawled on my stomach and the police were spitting on me when I was crawling, and hitting me on my back, my head and my feet», he said in his sworn statement.


    One day, the detainee said, American soldiers held him down and spread his legs as another soldier prepared to open his pants. 'I started screaming', he said. A soldier stepped on his head, he said, and someone broke a phosphoric light and spilled the chemicals on him.


    «I was glowing and they were laughing», he said.


    The detainee said the soldiers eventually brought him to a room and sodomized him with a nightstick. «They were taking pictures of me during all these instances», he told the investigators.


    Last Wednesday one of the servicemen charged with humiliation of inmates in Abu Ghraib, 24-year-old US military policeman (trained as a mechanic) Jeremy C. Sivitz of Hyndman, Pennsylvania (who took the picture of the now-infamous human pyramid of naked Iraqi detainees), pleaded guilty to abuse charges, and a military judge slapped the 24-year-old Army reservist with the maximum sentence: a year in prison, a demotion in rank and a bad-conduct discharge. Sivits had begged to be allowed to stay in the Army.


    Sivitz confessed his guilt, but he stated that along with his fellow servicemen he was fulfilling orders of military intelligence officers. According to him, they were the ones making soldiers beat, humiliate and torture the Iraqi detainees held in the prison with no trial or investigation.


    The court martial sentenced Sivitz to one year in jail. US army sergeant will be suspended and dismissed. This is the maximum punishment after Sivitz plea-bargained and confessed to what he did.

    Kavkaz-Center - 21 May, 2004


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