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Rendition Circuit: 20-23 August 2004

 

Rendition of Mohammed al-Shoroeiya, Majid al-Maghrebi and Saleh Di'iki, Afghanistan to Libya

On 22 August 2004, three Libyan dissidents - Mohammed al-Shoroeiya, Majid al-Maghrebi and Saleh Di'iki - were returned by the CIA to the Gaddafi regime in Libya. They had all be held in secret detention in Afghanistan for several months (over a year in the case of al-Shoroeiya), first in the Dark Prison outside Kabul, and from April 2004 in a second CIA black site which was likely to have been in or nearby Afghanistan. Their rendition from Afghanistan was carried out onboard the Gulfstream IV jet with tail number N63MU, which had been contracted for the circuit by the CIA through its prime contract with DynCorp/Computer Sciences Corporation. The aircraft was operated by International Group LLC, and logistical services for the circuit were provided by Universal Weather and Aviation.

 

Analysis

 

N63MU left its home base of Elmira-Corning Regional Airport (KELM) in the early afternoon on 20 August 2004, flying to Washington Dulles International Airport (KIAD) where it stopped for two hours. Here, a catering invoice released by Reprieve shows that the crew ordered Mexican food for 12 people at a total cost of just under $1500, before flying onwards. Leaving Washington, N63MU then flew cross-Atlantic, and landed in Barcelona (LEBL) late in the evening. After about an hour on the ground for refuelling, Eurocontrol flight data tracks the aircraft flying to Dubai (OMDB) where it landed early in the morning of 21 August. An invoice from Universal Weather and Aviation to International Group LLC shows that the aircraft flew over Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia before landing in Dubai, and details the hotel reservations made for an overnight stop 21-22 August. From Dubai the aircraft disappears from Eurocontrol's area of responsibility. However, a flight log submitted by the aircraft's operator, International Group LLC, and released by Reprieve, documents the onward flight to Kabul, Afghanistan (OAKB), where it landed just before midday on 22 August.

Al-Shoroeiya, al-Maghrebi and Di'iki all separately testify that they were prepared for rendition on 22 August according to standard CIA rendition protocol, being stripped, examined, photographed and redressed in diaper and loose clothes, with ear plugs and headphones, eye patches and hood. They were then driven for a short distance and chained inside a shipping container inside what appeared to be an active military base (there were boxes of ammunition and other military equipment inside the container). Flight data suggests that this airport was in Kabul, and therefore that the black site that these detainees were held in was near to the city.

With the detainees onboard, N63MU flew direct to Tripoli (HLLM), flying through Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Turkey en route, and landing at 21:17 GMT. It stayed on the ground for just over an hour while the detainees were taken off for detention in Gaddafi's prison network, before flying to Palma de Mallorca (LEPA) and landing in the early hours of 23 August. It stayed on the island for the rest of the night and most of the following day, likely while the rendition crew got some 'rest and relaxation', before flying back to Washington via Gander International Airport, Canada (CYQX), and then back to Elmira-Corning, landing in the early hours of 24 August 2004.

The rendition circuit was contracted through the CIA's prime contract with DynCorp/CSC, which remains classified. However, CSC's subcontract with Sportsflight Air was modified at the end of August 2004, with an additional 'task order' added for the circuit. This was budgeted retrospectively at $254,967.05, which was the amount invoiced to CSC by Sportsflight several days earlier. This amount was made up of 37.1 hours of flying time, at the agreed rate of $5450 per hour (totalling just over $200,000), plus over $50,000 in associated costs, including the positioning of the aircraft at Washington, an additional crew member for four days, handling, landing and parking fees, and catering costs.

In turn, Sportsflight had contracted International Group LLC, operators of N63MU, to carry out the circuit, and they invoiced Sportsflight for just over $205,000 for all services, meaning that Sportsflight's margin for the contract was nearly $50,000. While International Group provided the aircraft and crew, it contracted the services of Universal Weather and Aviation, a 'trip planning company', to arrange landing and overflight rights, as well as to book hotel rooms in Dubai and Palma de Mallorca. Universal Weather invoiced International Group for $2420 for these services.

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