Mohammed al-Qahtani

Report: Military used harsh methods on 9/11 terror suspect

Report: Military used harsh methods on 9-11 terror suspect
Posted on Tuesday, May 20, 2008 12:29 PM PT

By Jim Popkin, NBC News Senior Investigative Producer

A new report by the Justice Department Inspector General details many of the harsh and intentionally humiliating techniques that the U.S. military used against Mohammed Al-Qahtani, a Saudi detainee at the Guantanamo Bay military prison who many US officials believe was meant to be the 20th hijacker on September 11, 2001.

The 438-page IG report focuses on the FBI's involvement in detainee interrogations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But it also provides a window into the methods used by the Defense Department and the CIA on uncooperative detainees such as Al-Qahtani.

Quoting military records and reports, the Justice Department Inspector General said that a "special projects team" of the U.S. military interrogated Al-Qahtani between November 2002 and January 2003.

Their methods included:

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Mohammed al-Qahtani, detainee No. 063, was forced to wear a bra. He had a thong placed on his head. He was massaged by a female interrogator who straddled him like a lap dancer. He was told that his mother and sisters were whores. He was told that other detainees knew he was gay. He was forced to dance with a male interrogator. He was strip-searched in front of women. He was led on a leash and forced to perform dog tricks. He was doused with water. He was prevented from praying. He was forced to watch as an interrogator squatted over his Koran.

That much is known. These details were among the findings of the U.S. Army’s investigation of al-Qahtani's aggressive interrogation at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

But only now is a picture emerging of how the interrogation policy developed, and the battle that law enforcement agents waged, inside Guantanamo and in the offices of the Pentagon, against harsh treatment of al-Qahtani and other detainees by military intelligence interrogators.

In interviews with — the first time they have spoken publicly — former senior law enforcement agents described their attempts to stop the abusive interrogations. The agents of the Pentagon's Criminal Investigation Task Force, working to build legal cases against suspected terrorists, said they objected to coercive tactics used by a separate team of intelligence interrogators soon after Guantanamo's prison camp opened in early 2002. They ultimately carried their battle up to the office of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, who approved the more aggressive techniques to be used on al-Qahtani and others.