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Torture claims in Al-Qaeda playbook

[PoliticsWatch posted 4:30 p.m. June 12, 2006]

OTTAWA  — Some of the Toronto terror suspects being held in detention are claiming through their lawyers that they are being tortured. 
 
One of the suspect's lawyers told reporters after a bail hearing in Brampton on Monday that the hearing heard claim after claim of torture during proceedings. 

"They heard counsel after counsel after counsel stand up this morning and complain of the torture these individuals are receiving in detention," said Rocco Galati, who represents Ahmad Mustafa Ghany. 

The suspects are being held at the Maplehurst Correctional Complex in Milton.

Reports of torture within Canadian correctional facilities are rare, but making claims of torture are standard procedure for captured jihadists, according to a document considered to be Al-Qaeda's training manual.

Although the men arrested are all Canadian citizens, police described their alleged plot to obtain explosives and blow up Canadian landmarks as an Al-Qaeda inspired operation.  

The Al-Qaeda training manual was discovered by the police in Manchester, England, during a search of an Al Qaeda member's home and was used as evidence in the trial of the four men convicted in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

An English translation of the manual is widely available on the Internet. 

Lesson 18 of the document entitled "Prisons and detention centres" advises captured jihadists that when criminal proceedings begin "brothers must insist on proving that torture was inflicted on them by State Security [investigators] before the judge."

It also tells terrorists to "complain [to the court] of mistreatment while in prison" and "know the names of the state security officers, who participated in his torture and mention their names to the judge."

David Kolinsky, who represents Zakara Amara, told reporters in Brampton Monday that his client was roughed up by a prison guard at Maplehurst.

"My client advised that as he was being searched the guard touched his ribs," he explained. "He's ticklish. He giggled a bit. Then he was pinned down on the ground. The guard drilled his finger and knuckle into his cheek quite hard and said, 'Is this funny?'"

He then went on to describe the conditions his client is being held under. 

"My client is being held in custody. He's in a locked room. Three concrete walls, approximately 11 feet by six feet. He's with a concrete door. There's no window in the room. There's a small slit that is opened when meals are placed in his room. The light is on 24 hours a day."

Kolinsky said 30 years ago the federal court said this type of treatment is "cruel and unusual" punishment.

In addition to Galati and Kolinsky's comments, CTV News reported that two of the accused are also claiming they were tortured while in custody, including 
one who said he was threatened with gang rape. 

Martin Collacott, a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute and a former federal foreign affairs official who was responsible for the coordination of counter-terrorism policy, said making claims of torture is "fairly standard" and the Al-Qaeda manual is something people should "take into account" when terror suspects make claims.

"I'm not overly surprised that they're charging torture," he said.

Collacott would not comment on the specific allegations made by the suspects' lawyers, but said, "I would really find it hard to believe that Canadian authorities, especially since this is such a sensitive case, that they're going to do anything of a really serious nature or do it systematically."

"What we would normally describe as torture, I would be amazed to find out if authorities engaged in something that most people describe as torture."

In other developments at the courthouse in Brampton, the presiding judge has imposed a publication ban on details of the case.  

That move angered Galati, who accused the police of leaking details of the allegations against his client to select media. 

Galati called the publication ban "preposterous" and said he wants a live feed of the court proceedings to be used for broadcast. 

: Related Links

> Terror suspect's lawyer says client accused of wanting to behead PM

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