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Rendition Circuit: 20-29 January 2004

 

Rendition of Khaled al-Maqtari and others, Iraq to Afghanistan

 

On 22 January 2004, Khaled al-Maqtari was rendered from Iraq, where he had been tortured for over a week by US forces in Abu Ghraib prison, to Afghanistan, where he was held for several months in the 'Dark Prison', before being moved again to another CIA black site. The rendition operation was conducted using the CIA-owned Gulfstream V jet with tail number N379P (which by that time had been re-registered with tail number N8068V), and al-Maqtari has testified that there was at least one other detainee moved alongside him.

 

 

Analysis

N379P (now registered as N8068V) left Washington Dulles International Airport (KIAD) in the afternoon of 20 January 2004, having just completed a round trip from the US to Frankfurt, Germany. This time, the aircraft flew to Shannon, Ireland (EINN), landing in the evening and refuelling for just over an hour before flying to Larnaca, Cyprus (LCLK). The next day, N379P flew from Larnaca to Baghdad (ORBI), where it picked up Khaled al-Maqtari and at least one other detainee.

According to al-Maqtari, he was prepared for rendition by a three- or four-person team dressed all in black, wearing black gloves and facemask. They covered his eyes and ears with cotton wool, taped onto his face, then dressed him in a diaper, loose clothes, hood and ear defenders. 'After six or four hours, the ninjas came for me. They do not talk, not even a word, the same as the ninjas in the secret prisons. It is clear that they have a lot of experience. They know what they are doing, and each of them has a specific role. I mean if I wanted to get dressed myself, I wouldn't be able to do it so fast. Whenever they put on or take off chains, they grab you harshly, so that we do not escape. They were strong, everything was horrifying, they even closed the doors violently to terrify us. I was not able to see anything, everything was black. They did not want you to be comfortable; they wanted us to be in an atmosphere of terror all the way there.' Al-Maqtari was taken to the airport in the back of a jeep or truck, alongside at least one or two other detainees. He was led the five or six steps up into the aircraft, and collapsed onto the soft carpeted floor (such as found in a Gulfstream V executive jet).

Flight data shows that N379P took off from Baghdad in the early hours of 22 January, flying direct to Kabul, Afghanistan (OAKB), where al-Maqtari and any other detainees would have been offloaded and taken for further secret detention in the CIA prison network. The aircraft stayed on the ground for a short time, leaving at 08:00 GMT on 22 January and returning to Europe, flying to Prague (LKPR) and landing in the afternoon. Interestingly, its movements from this point do not reflect the standard 'footprint' of a rendition circuit, which would have the aircraft return to the US almost directly after the rendition operation (possibly with a 24 stopover en route for some 'rest and relaxation'). Instead, N379P appears to have stayed in Prague for three days, before flying to Geneva (LSGG) in the morning of 25 January for a four-day stopover. In the morning of 29 January, US flight data tracks the aircraft flying from Geneva to Washington, and then back to its home base of Johnston County Airport (KJNX), landing in the evening of 29 January 2004.

 

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