Rendition, torture & secret prisons: Puntland the CIA’s latest Bagram?
By Harar24’s Editorial
In 2011 Djibouti entered Somalia to contribute to the AMISOM. But behind Djibouti’s glorious peacekeeping mission looms a darker side, one that many don’t know about or don’t want to hear about, one that speaks of secret prisons and torture in this tiny coastal state.
The case of Mahdi Hashi is a classic example. Mahdi, who was stripped of his British citizenship, was secretly held, interrogated & tortured by Djibouti interrogators. He claims a variety of torture methods were used on him. He was then handed over to the CIA, needless to say, after ruthless torture Mahdi was ready to sign any concession the CIA demanded of him.
Along with the Puntland Intelligence Agency (PIA, or more commonly known in Somalia as the PIS), Djibouti’s government has been responsible for secretly imprisoning Somalis and other nationals for very long periods. No trials, no lawyers and no human rights. Very few are those who are lucky enough to see the outside world, others are not so fortunate, all this and more were at the behest of the United States.
The PIA has built itself a reputation in Somalia for its merciless treatments, including torturing. Earlier this year thirteen young Somalis including a woman were executed by the autonomous state of Puntland. According to family members a lot of these young men never got a fair trial in court, they were arrested, charged and after a while executed. Some close relatives claim that they were tortured and admitted to the charges under duress.
A while ago Al-Furqaan Radio & Media network, which is often accused of being affiliated with Al-Shabaab, released a video featuring a young man from the accused thirteen. His name is Ahmed Mohamed Ali and he stood accused of killing an influential Muslim cleric named Dr. Ahmed Haji Abdirahman. The video purportedly shows exclusive footage obtained by Al-Furqaan where Ahmed is being questioned while hooded after having been tortured, he denies having killed Dr. Abdirahman or having participated in his killing. According to the video footage, the PIA entice Ahmed to work for them, an offer rejected by Ahmed. However, Ahmed is later seen in an official video confessing to having taken part in the killing of Dr. Abdirahman. Many believe that Ahmed underwent severe torture until he confessed.
Al-Furqan had released a follow up film of the previous video which featured the young Ahmed. This new video features a man by the name Adan Hasan Cali, who according to the video was a member of the PIA before abandoning them. The video allegedly highlights the crimes and the atrocities committed by the PIA, such as the illegal detention of Somali citizens, torturing and handing them over to be illegally taken to other countries.
What’s interesting is that Adan claims in the video that the PIA have many offices all over Somalia, which can be confirmed by many other sources. The PIA headquarter according to him is in Bosaso, however even the headquarters receive their orders from the CIA Adan claimed.
Another interesting point that was brought up was the issue of counterfeit money. Adan claimed that the PIA in Bosaso were creating counterfeit dollars with the blessings of the United States. The counterfeit dollars were paid to low ranking PIA members as part of their salary. The counterfeit production was then moved to Djibouti, although after a while it stopped according to the video.
Finally the video lambasts the former Islamist Al-Itihad movement (now commonly known as Al-Itisam) for cooperating with the PIA by means of suggesting to the PIA to arrest certain individuals whom they claim are extremists. However many a times these people are falsely accused for other gains and goals (usually for money & position).
Whether everything in the video is true or not, the PIA has a well recorded history in kidnapping, extortion, rendition and torture. And the former Islamist group, who now claim they are moderate, Al-Itisam isn’t so innocent either. They on the other hand have a history in falsely accusing people and inciting the PIA to arrest those who dare to show the slightest signs of challenge to their “religious authority”. Some claim that Al-Itisam are now siding with the PIA & Puntland for their own interest & to fight Al-Shabaab who they see as usurping their “authority”, tomorrow they could just about return to their militant roots. Thus, the Al-Itisam “weeds” out “extremists” (who are mostly innocent Somalis) and the PIA arrests them (knowing their innocent), tortures them, keeps them in secret prison and maybe even expose them to rendition.
Somalia has a record of some of the worst violations of human rights, it’s complex and different administrations are just about willing to hand over anyone to any foreign intelligence if needed.