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Ibn Sheikh al-LibiBookmark and Share


Nationality: Libyan
Date of birth: unknown
Place of birth: unknown
Aliases: Ali Muhammed Abdul Aziz al-Fakhiri

Capture: Pakistan, 11 November 2001
SSCI prisoner number: 42

Entered CIA custody: 9 February 2003
Period of CIA custody: 1160 days
Left CIA custody: 14 April 2006

Detained: Pakistan; Afghanistan (DoD); Egypt; Afghanistan (COBALT/GRAY); Guantánamo Bay (INDIGO/MAROON); Morocco; Afghanistan; Libya

Current status: deceased, as of 9 May 2009


Ibn Sheikh al-Libi was a Libyan national who was captured in Pakistan on 11 November 2001, and transferred to US military custody in Afghanistan, where he was declared to the International Committee of the Red Cross. CIA cables cited by a 2006 SSCI report on intelligence on Iraq’s WMD programme reveal that al-Libi told CIA debriefers in January 2004 that he was detained by the US in early 2002, who threatened him with rendition to a foreign country. Whilst detained in US custody, and also after his rendition to a foreign government, which was almost certainly Egypt, al-Libi later said that he repeatedly lied about his connections to al-Qaeda in order to secure better treatment. According to al-Libi, cited in CIA cables and recounted in the 2006 SSCI report, the Egyptians “explained to him that a ‘long list of methods could be used against him which were extreme’ and that ‘he would confess because three thousand individuals had been in the chair before him and that each had confessed.’ He was asked about al-Qaeda’s connections to Iraq, and when the interrogators didn’t like his answers they ‘placed him in a small box approximately 50 cm x 50 cm’ for about 17 hours and then punched him for 15 minutes. He then says that he concocted a story about al-Qaeda’s connections with Iraq and their interest in nuclear weapons. CIA records cited by the 2014 SSCI report noted that he also claimed that “Iraq was supporting al-Qa’ida and providing assistance with chemical and biological weapons.” These claims were recanted after his transfer into CIA custody, but were cited by the Secretary of State Colin Powell in his February 2003 speech to the United Nations designed to build support for the invasion of Iraq. Al-Libi told the CIA that “he had been tortured by the [redacted], and only told them what he assessed they wanted to hear.”

Flight data analysis demonstrates that al-Libi was rendered from Egypt to Afghanistan on 9 February 2003, on board the CIA aircraft N379P, which had just transferred another prisoner, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, from Morocco to Poland. Click here for our analysis of flight data and documentation associated with the rendition of Ibn Sheikh al-Libi from Egypt to Afghanistan. Once in Afghanistan, al-Libi was held for at least some of the time at  the CIA-run DETENTION SITE COBALT.

His treatment during his time in CIA detention is unknown, although CIA records cited by the SSCI report reveal that he was one of five detainees held at DETENTION SITE MAROON and DETENTION SITE INDIGO at Guantánamo Bay between September 2003 and April 2004. Whilst the Department of Justice recommended that the other four detainees were moved out of Guantánamo Bay pending the US Supreme Court ruling in Rasul v Bush, which may have given habeas corpus rights to CIA prisoners on the island, it concluded that al-Libi did not need to be moved given that he had been detained initially under US military authority and declared to the ICRC. Nonetheless, CIA records document that all five CIA prisoners had been moved back off the island by [redacted] April 2004, and taken “to other CIA detention facilities.” Flight data analysis has identified two rendition circuits by aircraft N85VM from Guantánamo Bay in March and April 2004, both of which flew to Morocco.

Once in Morocco, CIA debriefers interrogated him whilst al-Libi claimed that he could hear cries of pain from other prisoners. The “sobbing and yelling” reminded him of his experience in Egypt. By February 2005, all CIA prisoners had been moved out of Morocco and to other locations. The fate and whereabouts of al-Libi at this stage is unknown. However, flight data analysis has identified a flight from Afghanistan to Libya on 14 April 2006, which matches with his known destination after CIA custody, and which closely correlates with analysis by The Rendition Project and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism which demonstrates that al-Libi was transferred out of CIA at some point between 14-23 April 2006. Click here for our analysis of flight data and documentation associated with the rendition of Ibn Sheikh al-Libi from Afghanistan to Libya.

On arrival in Libya, al-Libi was held at the Abu Salim prison, where he was sentenced to life imprisonment. He died on 9 May 2009, two weeks after an aborted interview with researchers from Human Rights Watch, in what the Libyan authorities claimed was a suicide.



Amnesty International, “Off the Record: U.S. Responsibility for Enforced Disappearances in the ‘War on Terror’,” 7 June 2007

Cora Currier and Margot Williams, “The Mysterious Case of Prisoner 212,” Intercept, 26 December 2014

Human Rights Watch, “Libya/U.S.: Investigate Death of Former CIA Prisoner,” 12 May 2009

Gary Leupp, “Paul Wolfowitz and the Senate Torture Report,” Counterpunch, 17 December 2014

Jane Mayer, “Outsourcing Torture: The Secret History of America’s ‘Extraordinary Rendition’ Program,” New Yorker, 14 February 2005

SSCI, Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program, 9 December 2014

SSCI, Committee Study of the Postwar findings about Iraq’s WMD Programs and Links to Terrorism, 8 September 2006


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