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Rendition Circuit: 8-17 December 2002

 

Rendition of Bisher al-Rawi and Jamil el-Banna, The Gambia to Afghanistan (via Egypt)

 

On 8-9 December 2002, Bisher al-Rawi and Jamil el-Banna were rendered from The Gambia, where they had been held in a US-controlled 'safe house', to Afghanistan, where they were detained and further interrogated in a secret CIA site in Kabul known as the Dark Prison. For this rendition, they were flown in the CIA-owned aircraft with registration N379P, a Gulfstream V jet operated by the CIA shell company Premier Executive Transport Service. Flight plans for this rendition circuit were submitted to air traffic services by Jeppesen Dataplan (originator code: KSFOXLDI), a subsidiary of Boeing, Inc. which provided trip planning to multiple renditions flights.

After rendering the two men, the aircraft flew to Morocco and then back to Afghanistan again. Given that Morocco was host to another secret prison, this second stage of the circuit potentially involved another rendition.

 

 

Analysis

 

N379P left its home base of Johnston County Airport (KJNX) in the morning of 8 December 2002, flying to Washington Dulles International Airport (KIAD). It stopped over at Washington for just over 90 minutes, before flying cross-Atlantic to Banjul, The Gambia (GBYD), landing at 20:19 GMT.

Bisher al-Rawi and Jamil el-Banna had been arrested one month earlier, after MI5 had passed details of their travel from the UK to The Gambia onto the CIA, who in turn passed them onto Gambia officials. The two men were arrested on 8 December as their flight from the UK landed in Banjul. Al-Rawi has testified that they were detained and interrogated in multiple locations in Banjul, including the headquarters of the Gambian National Intelligence Agency (GNIA) and two 'safe houses'. US intelligence controlled the interrogations in the safe houses. After 29 days of detention, according to al-Rawi:

We were driven to the airport in Banjul. At the airport we were taken into a dark room where Americans placed hoods over our heads, cuffed our hands behind our backs, and shackled our feet. I was placed on a seat between two Gambian officials and I could hear the sound of jet engines as we neared the airport. The position I was placed in was very uncomfortable, because my hands were cuffed behind my back. I attempted to reposition myself to get more comfortable. As I did so, one of the Gambian officials next to me must have noticed my efforts, because he tried to assist me find a less painful way to sit. Then, without speaking, one of my escorts began to gently rub my feet. The kindness of the gesture took me by surprise and seemed to be almost apologetic in nature.

At this point I became convinced that something awful was about to happen. Moments later, my Gambian escorts stood me up and began to walk forward. They let go of me briefly, but I was immediately grabbed from behind by two other men and dragged into a small, dark room located somewhere on the airport perimeter. In this room there were several men and women present. All of them wore hoods. Using flashlights to guide them in the darkness and in complete silence, they quickly removed my handcuffs and shackles, cut off my clothes, and dressed me in what I later learned to be a diaper and a different set of clothing. They cuffed my hands and shackled my legs again and thereafter placed me in some sort of restraining harness. I then had something placed in and around my ears that impaired my hearing and both a blindfold and goggles were placed over my eyes.

I was then roughly manhandled onboard an awaiting aircraft and placed on a stretcher-like platform and restrained. For the entire flight I was unable to move. I was also denied access to food, water, or even a toilet. The aircraft landed once before reaching its final destination. I was restrained the whole time. In total, with the stopover, I believe, the flight took approximately nine hours.

Flight records show that N379P stayed on the ground in Banjul for nearly 90 minutes, taking off at 21:45 GMT and flying direct to Cairo, Egypt (HECA). After an hour in Cairo, the aircraft flew to Kabul, Afghanistan (OAKB), landing in the morning of 9 December.

Al-Rawi has testified that, after landing in Afghanistan, 'I was removed from the aircraft and thrown into the back of a van-like vehicle. Jamil was also in the vehicle, and we were driven along a bumpy road to the prison commonly known as the "Dark Prison" in Kabul'.

There are no records of N379P leaving Kabul. However, it was in Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UTTT) in the morning of 10 December, where flight records show it left for Frankfurt, Germany (EDDF), landing in the early afternoon. After more than 24 hours on the ground, potentially designed to give the crew a rest, the aircraft flew to Rabat, Morocco (GMME), leaving in the evening of 11 December and arriving in the early hours of 12 December. It then stayed in Rabat for two hours, potentially while further detainees were loaded onboard, before leaving at 03:56 GMT and flying back to Kabul, landing in the late morning.

After Afghanistan, N379P then disappears from the record. However, three days later it is on the ground at Don Mueang International Airport, Bangkok, Thailand (VTBD). This was the airport close to the CIA prison in Thailand which held Abu Zubaydah and Abd Rahim al-Nashiri, who were both moved out the week earlier as the prison was closed down. It is possible that N379P was picking up US officials and other materials and equipment from Thailand, as the detention operation there was closed.

N379P left Thailand in the early hours of 15 December, flying back to Washington via the Northern Mariana Islands (PGSN) and Honolulu, Hawaii (PHNL), where there was a stopover for 24 hours, likely for 'rest and relaxation'. The aircraft eventually returned to Johnston County, arriving early in the morning of 17 December 2002.

 

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