This account is taken from CAGE’s 2011 report Fabricating Terrorism III: British Complicity In Renditions And Torture
It is being republished as the courts are currently hearing from Ahmed’s lawyers about alleged MI5 collusion into his torture in Pakistan.
After the earthquakes that affected Kashmir, Ahmed made the decision to travel to Pakistan from the UK in order to help in the relief effort.
Wishing to make his stay a productive one, he registered himself with Al Qasim, a humanitarian non-governmental organisation based in Islamabad.
He was given the task of helping to distribute corrugated iron sheets which would help to set up temporary shelters for those displaced from their homes.
On 20th August 2006, Ahmed became another victim of the War on Terror as he was taken in the town of Haripur on his way back to Islamabad. Having had all of his belongings taken away from him, the police cuffed and hooded Ahmed and took him to a secret location.
During his arrest he noticed the presence of a Caucasian woman in the lead car that was in charge of detaining him – he strongly believes it was a westerner who was conducting the operation.
Britain’s Involvement in Torture
After being put through an initial round of questioning, Ahmed was made to sit in front of two men who became more aggressive than their colleagues.
Immediately accusations began to be thrown at Ahmed who denied any involvement with international terrorism. The security officers repeated he was lying over and over again and began to beat him.
The other male rang the bell on the table and then someone came into the room and handed in a piece of wood with rubber wrapped around it.
He said to me that if I didn’t say everything including links with Al-Qaeda that they would beat me.
I told them repeatedly that I had no links with this organisation or any other Islamic organisations.
For the next two weeks he was kept in the same interrogation facility during which time he was beaten severely with wooden sticks on the soles of his feet, whipped with a rubber lash, and had three of his fingernails pulled out with pliers.
Both British and CIA agents had unfettered access to him throughout this period and were very much aware of the abuse he endured.
After this period of detention he was taken to another location where he was permitted to meet with British personnel.
These British officials however made it perfectly clear to Ahmed that they were not from the consulate but were there to question him. It was clear for the British men to see that he had been tortured.
At this location I received a visit from British officials, following which I was taken back to the interrogation centre.
These two males introduced themselves as being from Britain and that they worked for the British Government. They clarified that they were not from the Consulate but they did not say if they were intelligence officers. They did give their names but I cannot remember them.
They asked me questions which lasted approximately 40 minutes. During this period I was shackled and handcuffed (to the front) throughout. They saw my hood in the room.
I told them that I had been tortured. This was clearly visible due to sleep deprivation and my three fingers being bandaged on my left hand. They could see that I was uncomfortable and I was unable to sit due to the beatings I had received on my buttocks.
On his return to the UK, Rangzieb Ahmed was charged with being a member of Al Qaeda and directing a terrorist organisation and was later convicted in 2008.
The judge at his Manchester trial refused to throw out the case and rejected Ahmed’s claim that his fingernails were pulled before he had been interviewed by MI5.
Conservative front bencher, David Davis MP said regarding Ahmed‘s case that MI5 supplied the Pakistani interrogators with questions.
And when Ahmed later told visiting MI5 and MI6 officers he had been tortured, they did not return.
“A more obvious case of outsourcing of torture, a more obvious case of passive rendition, I cannot imagine,” Mr Davis told MPs. “…They knew that he would be tortured, and they arranged to construct a list of questions and supply it to the ISI. The authorities know full well that this story is an evidential showcase for the policy of complicity in torture.”
Ahmed has appealed his conviction and is pursuing legal action against the British Government in a civil case.
October 2020: Rangzieb Ahmed’s lawyer has told the British high court that MI5 colluded in Ahmed’s questioning uder torture in Pakistan during 2006-07, as part of an ongoing civil claim brought by Ahmed against the British government and MI5.
Image courtesy of Unsplash, @yejinghan
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)