CIA used Westlife song for torture

The Central Intelligence Agency in the US used the music of Irish boy band Westlife to torture a prisoner it was interrogating in Afghanistan, according to a civil liberties group that filed a lawsuit against the men who designed and implemented the CIA torture programme.

On Tuesday, three former CIA prisoners represented by the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against psychologists James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen. One of the former prisoners, Gul Rahman, died as a result of the torture suffered.

The ACLU described some of the methods deployed by the CIA as “barbaric”. It filed an 82-page complaint against Mitchell and Jessen in a federal court in Washington.

The court documents outline how Tanzanian citizen Suleiman Abdullah Salim, one of the plantiffs, was captured in Somalia where he was working as a fisherman and trader, and rendered him to Kenya. From there he was brought to a CIA prison in Afghanistan, where he would spend five weeks.

He arrived at the facility “shackled, handcuffed, blindfolded, and in headphones”.

“After his headphones, hood, and earplugs were removed, he was overwhelmed by ear-splitting noise: Loud western pop-music sometimes interrupted by a mixture of cacophonous sounds like yowling and the clanging of bells,” the complaint read.

The ACLU revealed on its website:

“The CIA used the music of an Irish boyband called Westlife to torture Suleiman Abdullah in Afghanistan.

“His interrogators would intersperse a syrupy song called ‘My Love’ with heavy metal, played on repeat at ear-splitting volume.”

He was later handed over to the US military which released him in 2008, over five years after his abduction.

Salim was issued with a letter acknowledging that he poses no threat to the US. He now lives in Zanzibar with his wife and three-year-old daughter.

“The terrible torture I suffered at the hands of the CIA still haunts me. I still have flashbacks, but I’ve learned to deal with them with a psychologist who tries to help people, not hurt them,” said Salim.


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