Alleged 'FBI torturer' invited to UK parliament

Alleged 'FBI torturer' invited to UK parliament
A Britain-based advocacy group has slammed an invitation extended to an alleged FBI torturer to speak in the House of Lords.
4 min read
08 June, 2018
Ali al-Marri has filed a report to the Met Police [TNA]
A former FBI interrogator who has been accused of being complicit in torture has been invited to visit the British parliament.

Ali Soufan, who was alleged by a UK counter-extremism group to have been involved in the detention of a Qatari citizen in the United States, is due to speak at a parliament event named "Anatomy of Terror: From the Death of bin Laden to the Rise of the Islamic State".

The former agent was invited by event organisers The Henry Jackson Society, a neoconservative think tank which critics say has fuelled Islamophobia in Britain.

CAGE, a London-based advocacy organisation, said Soufan should be arrested when he arrives in Britain, and filed a complaint with the Director of Public Prosecutions, presenting more than 35,000 pages of evidence alleging he "was not only present during the torture of Qatari businessman Ali al-Marri on US soil, but may have even overseen it".

Al-Marri was arrested in 2001 and subsequently reportedly tortured, imprisoned and held in solitary confinement without charge in the Charleston Naval Brig in South Carolina, allegedly under the watchful eye of FBI agents including Soufan.

"I was initially accused of poisoning a whole lake and sabotaging the American financial system, but the final charge became like that of any other person accused of terrorism; that I support al-Qaeda," al-Marri told Katia Youssef, a journalist at The New Arab's Arabic sister site.

He alleged that during his detention he faced solitary confinement, threatened with the torture of his children, threatened with the rape of his wife, sleep deprivation, intense sound, coldness and dry-boarding - having a sock stuffed into his mouth and his jaw taped shut to mimic suffocation.  

Soufan, who now runs a successful intelligence analysis and security training consultancy, has frequently denied any involvement in torture, or "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" as practiced by the CIA. "I am against it because it is inneffective," he told The Telegraph in 2011.

"Do you really need to torture the detainee to get that information from him? You know a lot of times we torture people to get information that we already knew. I don't call that success," he said.

Ali al-Marri asserts that his extended conditions of confinement under Soufan left him with little choice other than to plead guilty, in order to have any prospect of one day returning home to his family.

"Torture is a crime under international law," Muhammad Rabbani, the international director at CAGE, told The New Arab. Rabbani said lawyers had a complaint with the Metropolitan Police SO15 War Crimes unit on 26 April 2018.

"It is not the role of a small NGO like CAGE to pursue alleged torturers. We are merely fulfilling our duty by advocating for justice. It is the duty of all nations that are signatory to the Convention Against Torture and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to ensure that torturers are brought to account."  

Asim Qureshi, CAGE research director, tweeted: "This is extremely concerning. For someone who has been reported to crimes of torture to Met Police UK to be speaking in the House of Lords makes a mockery of the UK's tradition of due process and Rule of Law."

Al-Marri reacted in similar fashion to news of Soufan's invitation, posting on Twitter: "I need you all to stand up and demand the arrest of Ali Soufan who will be speaking tomorrow at the House of Lords."

Al-Marri further urged everyone to "call the Police War Crimes Investigation Unit" and "demand they arrest him".

Moazzam Begg, outreach director at CAGE, stated: "The Henry Jackson Society have invited Soufan despite allegations of his complicity in torture, which speaks volumes given that they are a known right-wing think tank responsible for advocating a deeply hostile approach to Muslims. The HJS boasts supporters and members who are known torture apologists, such as Douglas Murray.

"Soufan has marketed himself as an anti-torture advocate, but official logs recently released suggest otherwise. Any hesitancy to apprehend Soufan in line with the rule of law, will illustrate dire weaknesses and hypocrisy within the British justice system."