Israel’s Role In The Abu Ghraib Scandal

Israel’s role in the Abu Ghraib scandal highlights its influence on U.S. interrogation techniques, with Israeli methods of torture and humiliation being implemented in Iraq, exacerbating regional instability and human rights abuses.

Israel's Role In The Abu Ghraib Scandal 1

Three Palestinian males were taken into custody by Israeli soldiers and settlers in the occupied West Bank hamlet of Wadi al-Seeq, barely five days after the Gaza War began. After being stripped to their undergarments, they endured severe physical abuse with an iron pipe, were blinded, humiliated in photos, and endured the ultimate humiliation of being urinated on.

One victim, Mohammad Matar, compared the cruelty to the infamous Abu Ghraib affair in Iraq when he described the experience to the Israeli daily Haaretz. He said, “It’s exactly like what happened there.” “Abu Ghraib and the Israeli army together.”

Two weeks later, Israel invaded Gaza on foot, and the sexual abuse and humiliation of Palestinians persisted and intensified. Large groups of Palestinian men and women were soon being detained, humiliated, and sexually abused by Israeli soldiers in a variety of prison centers.

The ninth Palestinian inmate to pass away in Israeli custody since October 7 was Khaled al-Shawish on February 21, most likely as a result of torture.

Nonetheless, it is not surprising that the torture inflicted on Palestinians now is comparable to that inflicted on Iraqis twenty years ago. A significant and largely unnoticed part was played in the 2004 Abu Ghraib prison disaster by Israel and the torture methods its intelligence agencies invented over decades of occupation, most notably the use of rape and sexual humiliation.

Civilian contractors

Having no prior expertise in prison administration, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski found herself in charge of Abu Ghraib and other detention facilities—15 in total—in southern and central Iraq during the chaotic aftermath of the unlawful US invasion of the country in 2003. Despite their lack of training for questioning, Major General Geoffrey Miller—famous for his time at Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay—supported the use of military police (MPs) under her leadership.

According to Karpinski, a significant influx of civilian contractors arrived at Abu Ghraib to conduct interrogations following Miller’s visit. The low-level reservist MPs who carried out the torture documented in the infamous torture images that were subsequently disclosed to the media were instructed to do so by these civilian contractors.

She goes on to say that the MPs who were deployed to Abu Ghraib right before the initial photos were taken were the ones who were shown abusing and degrading Iraqis in the released images. This indicates that as soon as they arrived at the prison, they started torturing Iraqi inmates in highly sophisticated ways:

They replaced the national guard unit serving there because they had been deployed for a year. Soldiers don’t just decide one morning, ‘hey, let’s go to abuse some prisoners’ … The date-stamp on some of the photographs is late October, November. So what happened?

Private security company CACI workers were among the contractors questioning inmates. In 2004, Eric Fair, one of the interrogators, was stationed in the volatile city of Fallujah as well as the Abu Ghraib jail. He said that during a joint training exercise, Israeli military personnel trained interrogators in Iraq on how to utilize a torture apparatus known as the “Palestinian chair.”

That year, Jack London, the head of CACI, joined a high-level delegation of US Congressmen, defense contractors, and pro-Israel lobbyists that visited Israel in January.

At a gala luncheon held during the visit, London was awarded an honor for “achievements in the field of defense and national security” by the then-Israeli Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz.

One stop on the tour was Beit Horon, which is located in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and is described as “the central training camp for the anti-terrorist forces of the Israeli police and the border police.”

Additionally, Israeli interrogators are present in Iraq, according to Brigadier General Karpinski. “I saw an individual there that I hadn’t had the opportunity to meet before, and I asked him what did he do there,” the woman said, referring to an intelligence center in Baghdad. He answered, “Well, I do some of the interrogations here. I speak Arabic, but I’m not an Arab; I’m from Israel.”

Who is Stephen Cambone?

US Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the top commander in Iraq, signed an order in November, around the time the first images of torture at Abu Ghraib were taken, to hand over control of the facility from Colonel Karpinski to Colonel Thomas Pappas, the commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade.

Stephen Cambone, the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence at the time, was in charge of US military intelligence. The post was made specifically for him in March 2003, right before the invasion of Iraq.

According to a story by journalist Jason Vest for The Nation, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld initially intended for Cambone’s position to be a “centralizing measure,” giving him “one dog to kick” as opposed to a “whole kennel” of distinct civilian and uniformed personnel.

Despite Cambone’s lack of intelligence experience, Rumsfeld saw him as a partisan and a protégé. Cambone advanced from his role as chief deputy to Under Secretary Doug Feith, another architect of the Iraq invasion, thanks to Rumsfeld’s support.

Vest further stated that Cambone’s direct supervisor, Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, had given Cambone the power to supervise and direct policies for intelligence operations across all US Department of Defense agencies.

Put another way, by November 2003, when the first pictures of torture were taken, Cambone controlled US military intelligence, which in turn controlled Abu Ghraib.

Cambone, like Feith, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz, was a pro-Israel neoconservative who had previously worked for the US think tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC), which hosted Republican neocons throughout the Clinton administration in the 1990s.

Famously, the PNAC called for the US to adopt a more assertive foreign policy in 1998, even if it meant overthrowing Saddam Hussein first and only after “some catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor.”

Striking similarities

Under Cambone, Israeli and US military intelligence had a tight relationship, as reported in a Los Angeles Times investigation from November 2003.

He was cited as saying, “Those who have to deal with like problems tend to share information as best they can.” Additionally, a top US Army official told the newspaper:

[The Israelis] certainly have a wealth of experience from a military standpoint in dealing with domestic terror, urban terror, military operations in urban terrain, and there is a great deal of intelligence and knowledge sharing going on right now, all of which makes sense … We are certainly tapping into their knowledge base to find out what you do in these kinds of situations.

Two months later, in January 2004, the abuse of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib was made public when Joseph Darby, an MP there, gave the military’s Criminal Investigations Division (CID) a CD containing images of the torture.

An email that went across the Defense Department enumerated the methods used to torture the detainees. According to the email, ten soldiers were seen performing various acts, such as:

Having male detainees pose nude while female guards pointed at their genitals; having female detainees exposing themselves to the guards; having detainees perform indecent acts with each other; and guards physically assaulting detainees by beating and dragging them with choker chains.

Army Major General Antonio Taguba, who was tasked with looking into what happened at Abu Ghraib, went into further detail about these strategies.

Taguba was called to a conference in May 2004 with officials from the Defense Department, including Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cambone, and others, all of whom claimed not to know about the events at Abu Ghraib.

“That’s not abuse,” Taguba remarked, describing a naked detainee who was shackled and lying on a wet floor while an interrogator shoved objects up his rectum. That is excruciating. Silence prevailed.

Taguba claimed to have seen “photographs of Arab men wearing women’s panties” in addition to “a video of a male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee.” As he puts it:

From what I knew, troops just don’t take it upon themselves to initiate what they did without any form of knowledge of the higher-ups.

However, Taguba was limited to looking into the military police. He was not permitted to look into the military intelligence brigade that took over the prison after November, Cambone, or other high-ranking Defense Department officials with close ties to Israel, such as Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz.

These MP troops were not that creative … Somebody was giving them guidance, but I was legally prevented from further investigation into higher authority. I was limited to a box.

Saad, an Iraqi guy, was seen in the most notorious of the torture images standing on a box with electric wires connected to his hands, feet, and penis. He was also wearing a black blanket and hood.

Facility 1391

However, there is a known source for the “creative” torture methods that emphasize rape and sexual humiliation.

Israeli interrogators were imparting torture techniques that Israel has long employed against Palestinians and other Arabs to US contractors and MPs.

While Cambone was praising Israel for its support in Iraq in November 2003, The Guardian released an exposé describing the abuses Israel inflicted on detainees in a covert facility code-named “Facility 1391.”

Gaza school bus driver Sameer Jadala says, “I was barefoot in my pajamas when they arrested me, and it was really cold.” “When I got to that place, they told me to strip and gave me a blue uniform. Then they gave me a black sack,” for his head.

Other ex-offenders at Facility 1391 have related how they were chained, blindfolded, threatened with rape, and stripped naked for questioning.

The facility tortured people for decades, according to an article published in The Guardian. The facility’s first inmates were Lebanese nationals abducted by Israeli soldiers in 1982, during the latter’s 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon.

The Lebanese rebel organization Hezbollah’s spiritual leader, Sheikh Abd al-Karim Obeid, was kidnapped in 1989 and brought to Facility 1391. Obeid had participated in guerilla warfare aimed at driving out Israeli forces that were occupying the nation. He was abducted by Israeli commandos who arrived by helicopter from his house in the southern Lebanon village of Jibchit.

Israeli forces also abducted Hashem Fahaf, a young guy who was visiting the sheikh to get religious advice, during the raid to capture Obeid. Fahaf spent the following 11 years in Israeli jails, including Facility 1391, despite never having been charged with a crime.

After Israeli airman Ron Arad’s plane crashed in Lebanon while bombing PLO targets, Israel held Fahaf and eighteen other Lebanese as hostages, or bargaining chips, to secure Arad’s return.

According to Haaretz, one of the facility’s interrogators “stripped a suspect naked and forced him to drink tea or coffee from an ashtray full of cigarette ashes and then forced shaving cream or toothpaste into the suspect’s mouth,” according to a reserve army colonel from Unit 504, often known as “Het.”

Het related another incident in which “a baton was inserted into a suspect’s rectum and he was asked to sit on it unless the suspect was willing to speak,” according to the interrogator, “Major George.”

Israeli authorities filed a criminal prosecution against Het for disclosing the torture occurring at Facility 1391, as opposed to bringing charges against Major George.

Dividing Iraq for Israel’s interests 

Most people believe that the Iraqi insurgency that aims to drive out US soldiers was fueled by the rage caused by the Abu Ghraib revelations. The same pro-Israel conservatives in the Bush administration made the crucial choice to dissolve the Iraqi army, which set off the insurgency itself.

Thousands of skilled military soldiers were unemployed as a result of this error, and many of them later joined the insurgency. These ex-soldiers proved to be strong opponents in the fight against US occupation forces because of their in-depth familiarity with the weapons and tactics of the Iraqi army.

The violence quickly got out of hand and turned into a sectarian civil war that split the populations of Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds in Iraq. Iraq was on the verge of being destroyed, with hundreds of thousands of people dying.

Years later, Wired reported that although there was eventually agreement within the US defense establishment that “the initial plan to stabilize the country was even worse and that the choice to invade Iraq was ill-considered,” Stephen Cambone held a different opinion.

“One of the great strategic decisions of the first half of the 21st century, if it proves not to be the greatest,” according to the former head of intelligence under Donald Rumsfeld, was the Iraq war and the turmoil it caused.

The Zionist neocons believed that human lives and suffering had to be sacrificed to fulfill their long-standing goals in West Asia. The war’s planners, Cambone, Rumsfeld, Feith, and Wolfowitz, saw the destruction they caused as a method of achieving their goal of eliminating any prospective threats to Israel.

However, it’s evident from the Islamic Resistance’s actions in Iraq that their lofty goals have finally failed.

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Recently, GreatGameIndia reported that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, initially depicted as a terrorist leader, may have been instrumentalized by American interests to justify the Iraq invasion and sow internal discord, shaping the region’s volatile dynamics.

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