Navigation menu

Bookmark and Share  

Mohammed al-Shoroeiya and Khalid al-Sharif

Photo: Human Rights Watch

 

Mohammed al-Shoroeiya

Full name: Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed al-Shoroeiya
Nationality: Libyan
Date of Birth: 22 March 1969
Aliases: Hassen Rabi’I; Hassan Rabii; Hassan Riba’i

Capture: 3 April 2003, Peshawar, Pakistan
Detentions: Peshawar, Pakistan; Islamabad Pakistan; two different detention facilities, Afghanistan; various prisons in Libya
Current Status: Released, 16 February 2011

Photo: Human Rights Watch

 

 

Khalid al-Sharif

Full name: Khalid al-Sharif
Nationality: Libyan
Date of Birth: 1965
Aliases: Abu Hazem, Mohammed Daoud, Amer

Capture: 3 April 2003, Peshawar, Pakistan
Detentions: Peshawar, Pakistan; Islamabad Pakistan; two different detention facilities, Afghanistan; various prisons in Libya
Current Status: Released, sometime in 2011, actual date unknown

Timeline of Key Events

3-13 April 2003
Capture and detention, Peshawar, Pakistan

13 April 2003
Transfer, Peshawar-Islamabad, Pakistan

13-18 April 2003
Detention, Islamabad, Pakistan

18 April 2003
Rendition, Pakistan-Afghanistan

18 April 2003 - 25 April 2004
Detention, Dark Prison, Afghanistan

25 April 2004
Transfer, Dark Prison - CIA black site, unknown location (likely in or nearby Afghanistan)

25 April - 22 August 2004 (al-Shoroeiya) / 20 April 2005 (al-Sharif)
Detention, CIA black site, unknown location (likely in or nearby Afghanistan)

22 August 2004
Rendition (al-Shoroeiya), Afghanistan-Libya

22 August 2004 - 16 February 2011
Detention (al-Shoroeiya), various prisons (incl. Abu Salim), Libya

20 April 2005
Rendition (al-Sharif), Afghanistan-Libya

20 April 2005 - 23 March 2010
Detention (al-Sharif), various prisons, Libya

23 March 2010
Release (al-Sharif)

16 February 2011
Release (al-Shoroeiya)

28 April 2011
Re-arrest and detention (al-Sharif)

Sometime in Summer 2011
Release (al-Sharif)

 

 

 

 

Analysis

The analysis of the cases described in these pages is drawn largely from the Human Rights Watch investigation, Delivered into Enemy Hands: US-Led Abuse and Rendition of Opponents to Gaddafi’s Libya. We are grateful to Human Rights Watch for granting permission for us to use this information here.

Mohammed al-Shoroeiya and Khalid al-Sharif were both members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). They had left Libya in 1991 (al-Shoroeiya) and 1988 (al-Sharif) because of the threat they felt the Gaddafi regime posed to Muslims. They had both gone on to live in various countries, where they continued their struggle with the LIFG, and after the 9/11 attacks they ended up in Pakistan.

On 3 April 2003, both men were arrested by Pakistani police. Al-Sharif had been staying in al-Shoroeiya’s house in Peshawar. During the arrest, al-Shoroeiya broke his leg, and al-Sharif broke his foot. Al-Shoroeiya was detained for about 10 days in a building he called the ‘Khyber’. Al-Sharif said he was held for 7 days in a building he called the ‘army stadium’ somewhere in Peshawar. It is not clear if these were the same locations. While in Peshawar, al-Sharif described being kicked in the groin and beaten so hard on his head with a whip that he nearly fainted. Pakistani personnel also deliberately stood on his broken foot to cause pain. He describes an American interrogator sitting on a chair in front of him while the Pakistani officer beat him. Al-Shoroeiya stated that on some occasions, the Americans ordered their Pakistani colleagues to beat him, although they would leave the room while this took place.

They were then both transferred to a detention facility in Islamabad, and were held in cells next door to each other. They were both interrogated by Pakistani and US personnel, and subjected to beatings during some of the interrogations. Then, on 18 April 2003, after about a week in the Islamabad detention facility, al-Shoroeiya and al-Sharif were rendered to Afghanistan. They were prepared for rendition according to standard CIA preparation procedures: they were stripped, blindfolded, handcuffed and had their legs shackled, had ear plugs put in their ears and hoods placed over their heads. Both detainees were transferred onboard an aircraft on a flight lasting about 30 minutes, and then moved to a detention facility where they would spend the next year.

By piecing together the testimony of several detainees known to have been held in the same facility at the same time, it appears likely that this site was near to Kabul, and was the facility referred to by some as the 'Dark Prison'. Floorplans of the prison have been provided by two detainees, Khaled al-Maqtari and Mohamed Bashmilah, which depict twenty cells in one large space, in two rows of ten, and then a separate set of interrogation rooms. Drawing on this information, and additional testimony from those held at the site, it is possible to identify at least some of the detainees in the Dark Prison between April 2003 and May 2004.

Detainees in the Dark Prison, 2003-2004 (aliases by which they were known while at the site in brackets):

  • Mohammed al-Shoroeiya (Hassan Riba’i), held April 2003-April 2004
  • Khalid al-Sharif (Hazim al-Libi), held April 2003-April 2004
  • Mohamed Bashmilah (Shumilla), held October 2003-April 2004
  • Salah Qaru (Marwan al-Adenni), held October 2003-April 2004
  • Majid al-Maghrebi (Adnan al-Libi), held December 2003-April 2004
  • Khaled al-Maqtari, held January-April 2004
  • Saleh Di’iki (Sheikh Saleh al-Libi), held January-April 2004
  • Mohammed al-Asad, held January-April 2004
  • Hassan bin Attash (Umayr bin Attash), held January-May 2004
  • Ali al-Hajj al-Sharqawi (Riyadh al-Sharqawi), held January-May 2004
  • Binyam Mohamed, held January-May 2004
  • Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi (Mohamed al-Fakheri)
  • Sanaad al-Kazimi (Abu Malik al-Qasemi)
  • Majid Khan
  • Yasser al-Jaz’iri
  • Nassem al-Tunisi
  • Mu’ath al-Suri (Abu Abdullah)
  • Ahmed the Malaysian
  • Abu Abdullah al-Saudi
  • Unknown Somali man

Al-Shoroeiya and al-Sharif were held in almost total darkness throughout their time in the Dark Prison. They were both subjected to having very bright lights shone in their eyes and extremely loud music, blaring constantly. They were denied clothing throughout their first few months. Al-Shoroeiya described having a small mat and bucket for a toilet in the cell, and describes a terrible stench from the excrement and cleaning chemicals combined. Al-Sharif described the size of his cell, as being about 4x3 metres, while al-Shoroeiya’s was a little bigger. Both had steel doors with a barred window at the top. They were chained throughout the first 3-4 months to two iron rings attached to the wall, about one metre high. They were sometimes chained by one arm, sometimes by both arms, and sometimes by both arms and both legs. After four months they were allowed to remain in their cells without being shackled. They were not allowed to wash, cut their nails or hair in the first few months.

During the first four months, both men were subjected to intense interrogation and abuse. Al-Sharif describes being sent to a small cell where his hands were suspended above his head for long periods, on one occasion for three days. He was barely fed:

They only gave me water once, at night. They gave me a milkshake and a small cup of milk with cocoa. That was all I had for three days. They banned me from going to the restroom for those three days. I had to pass urine and go to the bathroom standing up. I wasn’t wearing clothes. At night, they gave me some water to drink but poured the rest of it over my body. I was trying to move to create some warmth in my body. Because of the lack of sleep for three days, I went hysterical. I thought I was going crazy. Everything was spinning around me and it was totally dark.

Al-Shoroeiya describes similar treatment shortly after arriving at the facility. He described being placed in a box of about half a metre wide, just high enough to stand, with his hands cuffed to a bar above his head. Loud music was blasted and it was dark with what looked like blood stains on the walls. He was left there for a day and half, naked, with no food. Al-Shoroeiya also described being locked in a wooden box, about 1 metre by 1 metre with small holes in the sides, through which interrogators would prod him with long, thin objects. He was also taken to a room with wooden walls against which he was beaten. Al-Shoroeiya described the facility to Human Rights Watch as comprising several different types of rooms used for interrogation and torture:

One was a group of rooms where he was interrogated. Another set of rooms were freezing cold and were used to submerge the prisoners in icy water while lying on plastic sheeting on the ground. A third set of rooms he called the “torture rooms,” where they used specific instruments. One of these instruments was a wood plank that they used to abuse him with water.

In this facility, al-Shoroeiya and al-Sharif were subjected to waterboarding. Al-Shoroeiya said that after being strapped to the board, held with his head lower than his feet, and hooded, they would pour buckets of very cold water over his nose and mouth to the point that he felt he would suffocate. Icy cold water was also poured over his body. He said it happened over and over again. Both men reported that doctors were present throughout. The doctors would monitor their body temperatures and they would have warm water poured over him if they got too cold. Al-Sharif had the plaster cast for his broken leg removed before the waterboarding.

In April 2004, likely to have been either 24 or 25 April, both men were transferred alongside several other detainees to a second CIA black site, where they would continue to be held in secret detention for four months (in the case of al-Shoroeiya) and one year (for al-Sharif). Again, through piecing together the testimonies of several detainees moved from the Dark Prison at the same time, it is possible to build a picture of this transfer, including the identities of at least some of those likely to have been moved, and the possible location of the second black site.

April 2004 transfer of detainees, from the Dark Prison to a second CIA black site

Through cross-checking multiple accounts from detainees held in the Dark Prison in early 2004, it is possible to say with some degree of certainty that the following nine detainees were transferred together from the CIA prison outside Kabul to a second CIA prison in an unknown location.

These nine detainees were held in the black site for anywhere from four months to nearly two-and-a-half years, and were later joined by others (either transferred from other facilities, or newly-captured). There is no evidence of anyone being detained at this site before April 2004, suggesting that these detainees may have been among the first to be held there.

According to detainees involved in the transfer, they began to be prepared around midday on or about 24 April: they were individually taken to one of the interrogation rooms in the Dark Prison, stripped, and subjected to a medical examination, with injuries marked on a sheet (al-Maqtari counted nine separate sheets on the doctor's desk). After examination, the detainees were taken to a separate room, where a transfer team (masked and wearing black) cut their clothes off, examined their eyes, ears and mouth, photographed them and then placed them in a diaper, loose clothes, blindfold, hood and headphones. This process took 20-30 minutes for each detainee, after which they were taken to a holding area in the courtyard of the facility. The first detainees were kept there for several hours as others were prepared, and then they were moved as a group and loaded into jeeps or trucks. Multiple accounts are clear that detainees were moved as a group, with individuals speaking of being squashed up against up to a dozen others.

From the Dark Prison, the detainees were driven for a short period (some say up to 30 minutes, although others say it was a shorter journey). Once at the airport, which is likely to have been in Kabul, they were again made to wait as detainees were loaded onto the aircraft. By this time it was around sunset, which at that time of year would have been at about 18:30 local time. The aircraft was a cargo-type plane, larger than the Gulfstream jets which some had been rendered onboard previously, with benches along each side rather than rows of seats facing forwards.

Several detainees involved in the transfer testify that they were flown for 3-4 hours, and then transferred to a fleet of helicopters which flew for between one-and-a-half and three hours. Accounts also agree that from the helicopters the detainees were moved into vehicles which drove from the helicopter landing site to the prison. The duration of this stage of the journey is disputed, and given anywhere between 5-30 mintues. However, later accounts of transfers out of the site suggest that it was only a 5-10 minute drive from a military airbase, which is likely (although not certain) to have been where the helicopters landed. Indeed, some of the detainees testify to hearing aircraft from their cells, although the airport was apparently quiet, with 2-3 movements per day at the most, and some days with none (Wednesdays was noted as a particularly busy day).

The location of this prison has been the subject of much speculation. The first accounts to emerge from those detained there - from Bashmilah, Qaru and al-Asad - led their lawyers to believe that the prison was in Europe. This was apparently confirmed by the flight duration, and various other circumstantial evidence, such as the cold winter nights and 'European' food served to detainees. However, later accounts have contested this conclusion. Al-Shoroeiya and al-Sharif were both sure that the site was still in Afghanistan, and that the long transfer time was designed deliberately to deceive the detainees (with the aircraft in fact flying in circles): We lived in Afghanistan for a long time. We know the atmosphere and the climate there. When you look at the buildings, you can tell from the structure and the materials they are made out of that it is Afghanistan. A location in Afghanistan or nearby also fits with two separate accounts (from Mustafa al-Mehdi and Marwan Jabour) of being transferred to the facility in June 2004 from Islamabad - a flight which took between 30 minutes and two hours, suggesting a destination in Afghanistan or nearby. Others have spoken of Afghan guards, and regional food, while cold winter nights also fit into this profile.

Perhaps the clearest indication that the black site was in Afghanistan comes from flight data and documentation held by The Rendition Project relating to the rendition of several detaines out of the prison in 2004 and 2005. Specifically, the August 2004 rendition of al-Shoroeiya, al-Maghrebi and Di'iki to Libya points to Afghanistan as the prison location, somewhere close to a military airbase. Although flight data gives this transfer as coming from Kabul, the use by the CIA of 'dummy' flight plans to disguise the location of their sensitive sites means that this data cannot be trusted 100%, and a nearby location is also possible.

Regardless of the prison's location, combining detainee testimony has made it possible to identify at least some of those held there from April 2004 onwards.

  • Mohammed al-Shoroeiya, held April-August 2004
  • Majid al-Maghrebi, held April-August 2004
  • Saleh Di’iki, held April-August 2004
  • Khalid al-Sharif, held April 2004-April 2005
  • Mohamed Bashmilah, held April 2004-May 2005
  • Salah Qaru, held April 2004-May 2005
  • Mohammed al-Asad, held April 2004-May 2005
  • Yasser al-Jaz’iri, held April 2004-July 2006 (at least)
  • Khaled al-Maqtari, held April 2004-September 2006
  • Mustafa al-Mehdi, held June 2004-April 2005
  • Marwan Jabour, held June 2004-July/Aug 2006
  • Majid Khan
  • Hudaifa
  • Abdul Basit
  • Ahmed Abdel Rashid / Abu Ahmed

In addition, it is possible that some of the High-Value Detainees (HVDs) were held in the prison at some point after their detentions in Eastern Europe. Click here for further analysis of the whereabouts of these detainees in 2005 and 2006, including a possible detention at this location.

 

While in this secret prison, al-Shoroeiya and al-Sharif say they were chained to the wall of their cell with a long chain that allowed them to walk around. They had a toilet, a basin and a mattress, and there were cameras, microphones and speakers everywhere. The whole facility was new, and was much more building-like than the Dark Prison (which had been more of a hanger). There was constant noise at the facility - both loud music and sounds through the loudspeakers, and also the sound of a turbine - and the cells had no ventilation. Both stated that the treatment was different here, more psychological than physical, and involved mainly noise, isolation, restraint and continuous interrogation. The guards were Afghans, wearing all black with facemasks, and the interrogators were American, unmasked and in civilian clothes.

Al-Shoroeiya was held for about four months at this second facility. On 22 August 2004, he was rendered with two other detainees, Majid al-Maghrebi and Saleh Di’iki, to Libya onboard the CIA-contracted Gulfstream IV aircraft with tail number N63MU. The three men were held in a shipping container before being loaded onto the aircraft and flown to Libya. The aircraft was operated by International Group LLC, and Universal Weather and Aviation provided logistical services for the rendition circuit. Click here for our analysis of the flight data and documentation associated with the rendition of al-Shoroeiya, al-Maghrebi and Di'iki from Afghanistan to Libya

Once in Libya, al-Shoroeiya was held in a number of prisons, including Tajoura, the al-Nasser bureau, Sikka, Ajn Zara, and finally the Abu Salim prison in 2006. At first he was not mistreated, and believes there was some kind of agreement with the US not to abuse those who the CIA had returned to Libya. However, after the first six months, the abuse began, with long periods in solitary confinement and beatings with whips, steel pipes, electrical cables and sticks. In September 2004 he was allowed to see his wife, and his child, Aisha, for the first time. He saw them again two months later, but then not again until April 2006. There were four further visits after that, but then nothing for two years. Following that, visits were permitted every 60 days. Al-Shoroeiya was taken to court and sentenced to life in prison after several years of detention without charge in Libya. He was finally released on 16 February 2011, as the uprising against Gaddafi was beginning.

It was many months after al-Shoroeiya was transferred that al-Sharif was also rendered to Libya. His rendition took place on 20 April 2005, alongside Mustafa al-Mehdi. Again, he was taken by car to a shipping container that appeared to be a form of military storage facility (with boxes of ammunition and other equipment), and then flown to Libya. Although he was held for prolonged periods in complete isolation while in Libya, he was not physically abused. He was held in just two prisons, Tajoura and Abu Salim. In January 2008 he was tried and convicted of attempting to overthrow the regime, and sentenced to death by firing squad. At one point he reports being interrogated by agents of the French intelligence service. He was finally released on 23 March 2010, along with two other Libyan rendition victims, Abdel Hakim Belhadj and Sami al-Saadi, having publically renounced their opposition to the regime. Al-Sharif was, however, re-arrested on 28 April 2011, a couple of months after the uprising had begun, and was tortured. It is not clear when he was finally released, but he went on to head the Libyan National Guard, following the fall of Gaddafi.

 

Further Reading

 

Human Rights Watch, September 2012, Delivered into Enemy Hands: US-Led Abuse and Rendition of Opponents to Gaddafi’s Libya

 

Rendition Research Team - © University of Kent
University of Kent Kingston University London E.S.R.C