Mohamedou Slahi, a former prisoner at Guantanamo Bay described his ordeal living through the enhanced interrogation program used by the U.S. which has since been outlawed.
In his first televised interview since his release, Slahi, who spent 14 years at the infamous prison, details the special interrogation program which was used on him in 2003, which he claims then-Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld personally approved.
Slahi trained as a Mujahideen warrior under Osama bin Laden and traveled to Afghanistan to join the battle against the then-Soviet Union’s invasion. However, he says that he left al Qaeda after he witnessed a civil war starting in Afghanistan, having never fired a single shot in battle. He returned to his home to continue his studies.
He now denies any role in terrorism activity, but did admit to ’60 Minutes’ that some of his friends and family are still connected to al Qaeda.
Captured just a couple of months after the 9/11 attack, in November 2001, Slahi was transferred from prisons in Jordan and Afghanistan until he was ultimately brought to Guantanamo in August 2002.
It is important to note that his version of the interrogation program has been independently corroborated by other reports and investigations by Congress, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Justice, according to CBS.
The former al Qaeda operative says that he was held for 70 days in a “very small holding cell,” which he refers to as the “fridge” because it stayed cold and was devoid of light. While there, he was subjected to “continuous interrogation,” where three people took turns in consecutive shifts in order to keep him awake for 22 hours a day.
“Then they brought another Marine guy. He wore a Marine [uniform]; it does not mean that he’s a Marine. I’m just saying this for the record. And then he kept pouring this water on me. Then I kept really shaking,” Slahi said. “And then he said, ‘Answer me.’ But I couldn’t talk because– because my mouth couldn’t move because I was very cold.”
One interrogator showed him a fake letter which said that his mother had also been captured and may be transferred to Cuba. On another occasion, he was dragged onto a boat and forced to drink salt water.
“They opened my mouth and pouring salt water until I– start choking,” Slahi said. “So they start to– fill me with ice cube. Ice cube—inside [my] uniform. Ice cube, full. My body was full. And then I was like shaking uncontrollably like this. They start hitting me everywhere, hitting.”
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) March 12, 2017
Slahi says that he was ultimately unable to endure the treatment, causing him to falsely confess to a slew of crimes. “they broke me … Every single crime, I falsely confessed to,” he said.
Among his false confessions were an admission that he was an al Qaeda recruiter and that he was one of the participants in a plot to set off a bomb in Toronto — a terrorist plot which never existed. There was a reward for his false confessions, however. He was treated better.
“If working is giving false confessions, yes. If’works’ — is giving good intelligence, no,” he said referring to the use of torture in order to solicit information.
The officer who was selected to prosecute him resigned in 2004 claiming that he was “convinced that Slahi had been the victim of torture,” not from what Slahi had told him, but from what he had read in U.S. government documents. Also, a judge in 2010 called for the government to release Slahi, writing that there was “ample evidence … that Slahi was subjected to extensive and severe mistreatment at Guantanamo.”
Despite his deplorable treatment at the prison, he remains a fan of the United States. Referring to a decision by the U.S. Government to publish heavily redacted versions of his letters to his American lawyers, Slahi says “That shows the greatness of American people. Not — my greatness because American people believe in justice. And they decided to give me a forum, to give me a voice.”
Watch the entire clip here.