After 13 years in detention in the US, Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri returned home to his home country of Qatar. Despite having pled guilty to terrorism, al-Marri was greeted home with a hero’s welcome, with dignitaries at the highest level of government attending to him personally. As he settled back into a life of freedom, al-Marri came to know that the offices of Ali Soufan – one of his interrogators during the early years of detention and the man that Ali al-Marri accuses of being one of his torturers – were located in his city, Doha.
Despite his guilty plea, Ali al-Marri asserts that his extended conditions of confinement left him with little choice other than to take a plea, in order to have any prospect of returning home to his family. Considering the scaling down of the allegations by the Department of Justice, there is every reason to believe that al-Marri was the unfortunate victim of the excessive approach the US ‘justice system’ was taking to Muslims in a post 9/11 environment.
Since Ali al-Marri’s release in 2014, he has sought help in holding his torturers to account, and CAGE has been involved in helping to investigate this case further. By listening to Ali al-Marri’s story, conducting our own independent background investigations, and reviewing 35,000 pages of documentation, we were able to verify the identities and dates of those who were involved in various aspects of his torture.
Although no distinction should ever be made in terms of the jurisdiction in which torture has taken place, it is of note, that Ali al-Marri, Yaser Hamdi and Jose Padilla were tortured on US soil, not in a CIA black site or at Guantanamo Bay. In terms of those involved, from the Department of Defense, FBI and civilian contractors, this has implications on any role they might have played in abusing al-Marri.
Some will claim that certain individuals mentioned within these pages are prominent anti-torture advocates. While this may be true to some extent, at CAGE we believe that nothing sends a better message to those who carry out torture, or indeed intend to, than the assertion that: if you torture, you will be held to account.
Accountability may not take place in the courtroom, but it can and will still place in the court of public opinion. At the very least, Ali al-Marri deserves to speak his truth, and hold those who harmed him to account.