Aletho News


Palestinian Human Rights Defender Sentenced to Nine Years Imprisonment

By Tania Kepler | Alternative Information Center | 30 January 2011

Palestinian human rights defender and activist Ameer Makhoul was sentenced to nine years in jail on Sunday, 30 January on charges of spying and contact with a foreign agent.


Makhoul, who serves as General Director of Ittijah – The Union of Arab Community-Based Associations and Chairman of the Public Committee for the Protection of Political Freedoms, was arrested on 6 May 2010, by the Israeli General Security Service and police. His original charge also included aiding the enemy (Hezbollah) in time of war, which in Israel includes a penalty of life in prison.

Makhoul signed a plea bargain with the Israeli authorities on 27 October 2010, according to which he would be given a reduced sentence on reduced charges.

“My husband is being punished severely today for supporting social and political justice. He has been wronged and by his sentencing they are trying to scare the Arabic population in Israel,” said Makhoul’s wife Janan in court Sunday.

His brother, former Knesset Member Issam Makhoul, told Israel’s Ynet News: “This is not about harming State security. They are trying to hurt his freedom of expression. This is political persecution against a man who has contributed so much and didn’t try to harm the State. He acted according to the law.”

When Israeli General Security Service and police raided Ameer Makhoul’s home in Haifa at 6am on 6 May, and arrested him, he was taken to an Israeli security facility and kept from meeting with a lawyer or speaking with his family for nearly two weeks. During this time he confessed to the accusations. It is strongly believed that the confession was coerced.

Dr. Hatem Kanaane, chairperson of the Popular Committee in Defense and Solidarity with Ameer Makhoul said “A difficult decision was reached by Ameer, his family, attorneys and the solidarity committee to accept the reality of this place and conclude a plea bargain for Ameer.”

Dr. Kananne further added that, “After 16 hours of sleep deprivation and being tied to a chair in a manner that constitutes torture, Ameer told them he would sign whatever false charges they want. He was broken.”

Although the Israeli authorities confiscated numerous computers and documents belonging to Ameer, the Ittijah organization and Ameer’s family, in addition to listening to over 30,000 conversations of Ameer in the previous two years, the Israeli authorities found no evidence against Ameer apart from his own statement.

Orna Kohn from Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and one of Makhoul’s lawyers, said that “Israeli law defines very broadly the so-called security offenses, which criminalizes behavior or action that no one would expect to see included in a clause of the Criminal Code. The result is that it is very easy for the general attorney to convince a court that a person is guilty. ”

When a Palestinian is accused of endangering the state of Israel it is next to impossible to escape any time of prison time, even if there is little to no evidence to support the claim. Ameer now joins the thousands of other Palestinian prisoners, currently serving sentences in Israeli prisons from crimes they never committed. His family, friends and the community he served so faithfully will be anxiously waiting for his release.

Prior to his sentencing Makhoul spoke out saying: “Any sentence will be considered in my eyes to be cruel and vindictive against the Arab population and its legitimate battle here and across the world. The court must prove whether they are a courthouse or the Shin Bet, a place of justice or the backyard of the Shin Bet. I’ve admitted to the charges as part of a forced reality, and I intend to continue my legitimate work for the Palestinian population in Israel.”

January 30, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | 4 Comments

US ammunition tells its own story in Egypt

By Yvonne Ridley | Redress | 31 January 2011

As people across Egypt continued resisting and rising against the brutal dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak it is quite clear they will not stop until he goes.

Quite clear to everyone, that is, apart from the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who is so out of touch with what is happening on the ground you have to wonder who on earth is advising her.

She appears to have no idea of the burning resentment and hatred held towards America among the ordinary men and women of Egypt. More than 100 have paid the blood price, so far, for standing up to the US-backed tyrant Mubarak and two thousand others are injured.

It has been lost on no one that the empty shell casings from live ammunition and gas cannisters, which litter Tahrir Square and other streets across Egypt, were provided by the United States of America.

The “Made in the USA” empty shell casings tell their own story not just of the innocents they have killed, but of their origins and of America’s deadly legacy of unwelcome foreign interference in the region.

The Egyptian people have been fed propaganda for 30 years, their evening news on state TV is sanitized and censored and many have been afraid to speak out freely under the US-backed dictatorship of Mubarak.

But do not for one minute think the Egyptian people are stupid – sadly the US has once again completely misread and underestimated an entire population.

These demonstrations are as much a protest against US meddling in their affairs as they are against the Mubarak regime.

Despite all of this Clinton showed not one ounce of compassion or humility when she made her latest blundering speech.

With the sensitivity of a bull in a china shop, she called for an orderly transition but only after heaping praise on the Mubarak government which has “made and kept peace with Israel, avoiding violence, turmoil and death in the region”.

She told ABC News:”Democracy, human rights and economic reform are in the best interests of the Egyptian people.” These are the same people her own government ignored as they continued to fund and back Mubarak with billions of US taxpayers’ dollars over the decades.

The BBC’s North America editor Mark Mardell says Clinton’s comments are a sign that the Obama administration is edging towards accepting, if not openly endorsing, an end to Mubarak’s rule. The truth is, Mark, the Egyptian people do not want any more US interference – they do not want any more American weapons being used against them. America has no interest in the people of Egypt. Its only concern is for the man-made-pariah state next door – Israel.

Clinton has been so out of step since this whole turmoil began to erupt. Both she and Obama remained completely silent for four whole weeks as scores of Tunisians died in that uprising and it was only when their man, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali took flight that they condemned his brutality.

When Egypt threatened to kick off, Clinton said assuredly that the country was “stable”. That was a week ago and as she is beginning to learn, a week is a long time in politics. She says she wants democracy – but what sort of democracy Hillary? The sort that sees another tyrant take power? Or are you really going to let the people decide?

And by the way, the people are beginning to rise and resist right across the Maghreb, throughout the Middle East and Asia. US foreign policy has turned America into the most hated country in the world and if Washington really told Americans the truth, I know the millions upon millions of decent US citizens would be horrified by what is being done in their name.

But the truth is the American people are kept well away from the truth and are among the least informed people in the world today.

Few Americans have any idea that this and the previous Bush administrations do not want democracy in the region. In fact, they have collectively punished the people of Gaza for exercising their democratic right by voting for a Hamas-dominated government.

This has not been lost on the Egyptian people Hillary who, by the way, have a great love for Palestine, a place in their heart, for Gaza, and an even deeper hatred and mistrust for the brutal Zionist state, which really does threaten peace and stability in the region.

As I write this F16 fighter jets and attack helicopters, made in America, are flying overhead in Cairo to try to intimidate the Egyptian people. Too late – there isn’t an army in the world that can beat this peoples’ army. Their fear has gone.

Your ill-informed advisers won’t tell you this, Hillary, but I hate to see an empowered female make such a prat of herself, so here’s a piece of advice. The time has come when you really must step back and take a vow of silence. Every time you open your mouth you are looking and sounding even more stupid than the female presenter on Egyptian state TV who assures us all is at peace with the world and the streets of Egypt are empty and calm.

January 30, 2011 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | 4 Comments

No ‘Berlin Moment’ in Egypt

By Virginia Tilley | Mondoweiss | January 30, 2011

It’s been thrilling to watch Egyptian mass demonstrations roll back the ossified Mubarak regime, especially as events in Tunisia suggest a knock-on effect that has rattled the Arab world. But this drama can’t be read as the Arab world’s “Berlin moment,” as some have enthused. Yes, serious reforms are in the offing, especially regarding more genuine elections. But limited prospects for reforms are just as clearly indicated.

Reading anodyne language from the US and Europe warning the power elite in Egypt not to use too much force against demonstrators while not mentioning Mubarak at all, we must assume that ousting Mubarak is “viewed with favour” by the West. This should be signal. The US, UK and the rest of Europe are not so much steering events as surfing a wave of popular mobilisation, which they have encouraged for some time, as the only way finally to dislodge Mubarak and his crony core. The happy (naive) interpretation is a confluence of Western and Egyptian interests and values regarding democracy and good governance, coupled with disgust in old dictators clinging to kleptocratic power. But since when has US foreign policy encouraged democracy for the benefit of ordinary people? In fact, this Western imprimatur signals some hard realist western interests—and some ominous undercurrents.

Western motives in ousting Mubarak are obvious. The old man has outworn his usefulness to the US in being unable to contain burning social dissatisfaction in Egypt, raising risks that Egypt might escape the grip of US foreign policy through the ascent of the Muslim Brotherhood. The US and Israel don’t want Egypt—in older days the leader of the Arab world and now a vital Israeli ally—going the way of Lebanon, where genuine democracy has allowed Hizbullah to control a parliamentary majority. It would be a disaster for Israeli if two of its borders fell into political hands less sanguine about starving the population of Gaza, ensuring the continuing division of Palestinian politics, training the security forces of the Palestinian Authority to repress Hamas, confining the ‘peace process’ to empty formulas, and demonising Iran.

Hard if fragmented evidence of Western involvement is obvious, too. Many close observers are recalling a Wikileaks record that the US Embassy has been in contact with Egyptian activists for some years about getting rid of Mubarak, granting one key activist top-level access with US government authorities, technical advice regarding mass communication and other encouragement, and helping protect his anonymity. We can also recall Hillary Clinton’s recent tour of the Arab world, in which she made a series of speeches bizarrely endorsing the dramatic reform of US-allied Arab governments. Clinton sees the entire Middle East through an Israeli lens: if she calls for change, her concern is that Egypt and other Arab states be enabled to do their bit to sustain Israel’s ‘security’ more effectively. So US diplomatic graffiti is clear: the US wants to secure its withering power base in the Middle East against rising political dissent and therefore wants rotten old stick Mubarak out of the way to restore Egypt’s old leadership role. The same US graffiti is designed to be read by other wobbling Arab allies, like Yemen: toe the line or face the same.

It takes little imagination to fill in the rest. In coming years, we’ll likely get a Wikileaks glimpse into the backroom conversation, held in the second or third day of the Egyptian insurrection, in which European, US and Israeli allies read Mubarak a literal riot act (pointing out the window) instructing him against all his druthers to appoint securocrat Omar Suleiman as deputy president. Suleiman is the ideal successor for US interests and has clearly been hand-picked now to take the reins. He’s immaculately polite (recall the Western appeal of Karzai) and ‘comfortable in the halls of power’, as al-Jazeera has noted. He’s a core high operator in Israeli/US foreign policy, including the ‘war on terror’ (supervising US-requested renditions, etc.), and a good personal buddy of former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, with whom he once male-bonded in surviving a shared assassination attempt. He’s a proven ally in the deceitful manipulation of the Palestinian Authority: e.g., leading the phoney “unity” talks while supervising Egyptian assistance to the US in training PA armed forces to repress Hamas in the West Bank and ensuring the brutal sealing of Gaza.

Best of all, Suleiman is an intelligence chief, welded firmly within the US-Israeli intelligence nexus that props up the Fatah-led PA, assists with the mess in Afghanistan, tortures or assassinates the more dangerous opponents to US and Israeli interests, and orchestrates the subversion of Syria and Iran. Such a figure, Washington must hope, can recreate an effective US-Israeli-Egyptian power bloc in a Middle East now drifting away from US moorings as Turkey, Lebanon and even Iraq progressively defect from Western-preferred policies.

So, yes, the old fossil Mubarak has been cut loose and a ‘new Egypt’ (as presidential candidate Mohamed el-Baradei calls it) will soon be announced. The orange or purple or green or lavender or puce revolution will be applauded, the people will rejoice and more meaningful elections will be held. But Suleiman and his technocratic allies are already pre-positioned to ensure that the new Egypt precludes any access to real political influence by factions that, in the US view, are ominously closer to Hizbullah in their regional outlook. The whole point of the current drama is indeed to defuse the legitimate mass popular discontent that feeds the appeal of the Muslim Brotherhood—just as Hamas appealed to the disenchanted Palestinian electorate and Hizbullah has appealed to the disenchanted Lebanese electorate, the majority of whom otherwise don’t favour Islamic parties but were driven to support them through terminal political frustration.

This new Egypt will definitely improve some conditions for some Egyptians over coming years: especially by creating jobs for the masses of educated unemployed men, who are now driving the street demonstrations. But reforms in Egypt will focus on technocratic economic solutions: emphasizing standard liberal capitalist measures regarding government and financial transparency, reduced corruption to encourage business growth, an end to routine police torture practices, etc., etc. The security state will otherwise stay in place—and the conditions for a highly unequal society will not fundamentally change. Egypt will stay firmly in the fold of US/Israeli security interests and global economic norms. It will just play that role more adeptly than before.

Alas, the truly mass democratic character of this revolution actually favours this outcome. The demonstrators are calling, in principled fashion, not for any specific leadership but for genuine elections. It’s not impossible that more robust democracy will ultimately escape US control, as they did in Lebanon. But the hundreds of thousands now demonstrating in Egyptian cities lack the top-level access to prevent Suleiman’s security/technocrat network, with its foreign imprimatur, from ensuring that the ‘democratic’ transition generates simply a more efficient and stable version of the client-state role that Egypt has been playing for decades. Such a state cannot really alter the conditions that now impoverish and marginalise whole segments of Egyptian society. Some of the street activists recognise this, of course. Whether they can meaningfully alter the grand Western design for which their principled passion is now being co-opted is entirely unclear.

Virginia Tilley is a professor of political science living in Cape Town, South Africa, hailing from

January 30, 2011 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | 2 Comments

“Shoot Demonstrators!” Israeli Media and the Egyptian Revolution

30 January 2011 | Alternative Information Center

Fuad Ben Eliezer (Labour) does not understand what happened, and on all the radio stations he lays out his embarrassment: What happened to his friend Hosni Mubarak? Why didn’t he order the military to shoot the masses and thus end the “riots”, in his words?

In light of his acquaintance/friendship with the Egyptian dictator, in recent days Ben Eliezer has become a senior analyst on Egyptian affairs, only that this time he admits, in uncharacteristic modesty, that he simply does not understand: a few hundred more dead and everything would return back to normal.

The truth is that not only Ben Eliezer didn’t predict anything and understands nothing: all of the Israeli “analysts for Arab affairs” and “Middle East experts” – all of them graduates of Israel’s military intelligence or the Mosad – are forced to admit their ignorance. Yet again we were surprised, just like every time we are surprised: surprised by the crossing of Suez Canal in 1973, surprised by the Palestinian-Lebanese resistance in 1982, by the steadfastness of the Hizbullah in 2006, from the Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections and so on.

In his words, Ben Eliezer reflects the Israeli media, which immediately chose a side: together with the forces of order, against the popular movement, even if, as in Tunisia, it involves the entire people. The Arab masses are always the enemy and the regimes – partners. The fact that these are authoritarian regimes, murderous and corrupted is perceived not as a downside, but as testimony to their welcome ability to control their populations. In simple words: while the Arab masses are a horde, a flock of inflamed savages, their leaders are guarantors of order, even if at times Israel is forced to go to war against them.

Another surprise, and this time for the political and intellectual elites of the entire world, and not only for Ben Eliezer and “our commentators”: popular masses, from Morocco to Iraq, from France to Bolivia, did not read Fukuyama’s End of History and if they did, they refused to get off the stage of history: when they are stepped on, pushed to starvation or humiliated – sooner or later they rise up and remove the corrupt and arrogant dictators. Although it may be delayed, the revolution will eventually break out. To break out, not necessarily win, and it’s not inconceivable that Mubarak will listen to the advice of the Israeli press and of General Ben Eliezer and order the military to suppress the uprising with blood.

It is already possible to guess the headline of the next stage of the press and expert commentators’ propaganda campaign: Al Qaeda. The dictatorship of Ben Ali and Mubarak is justified as they stop militant Islam and behind the popular demonstrations stands no less than Bin Laden. Zvi Barel (Haaretz, 30 January) is one of the few commentators who refutes the contention concerning the centrality of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Egyptian uprising. He emphasizes that its slogan isn’t Allah Akhbar but “down with the dictator, down with corruption”. Also in Tunisia the Islamic Al Nahda party didn’t play a role in the uprising, if only because it has yet to recover from the cruel oppression of Ben Ali and his gangs.

Neither Al Qaeda nor the Muslim Brotherhood are behind the angry mass in Cairo, Rafah and Suez, but thirty years of authoritarian rule, oppression, poverty. As long as the Israeli commentators and politicians fail to understand this, they will continue to be surprised every time the masses (an “archaic” word long ago erased from their lexicons) take destiny in their own hands.

Translated to English by the Alternative Information Center (AIC).

January 30, 2011 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | 4 Comments

‘Within 24 hours of the assemblyman’s phone call, I was fired’ –Brooklyn College adjunct professor

By Zoe Zenowich | Mondoweiss | January 30, 2011

The controversy over the firing of a Brooklyn College adjunct professor allegedly for his solidarity with the Palestinian cause continues.  The college’s assertion that the teaching appointment of Kristofer Petersen-Overton, a doctoral student entering his fourth semester of studies at the CUNY Graduate Center, was canceled a week before classes start because of his “lack of qualifications” doesn’t add up.

The dispute over Petersen-Overton’s course began after the class syllabus was circulated to prospective students. On January 12, a student worried about Petersen-Overton’s political affiliations emailed the department with the accusation that Petersen-Overton is an “active partisan of Palestinian in Gaza.” Bruce Kesler, who appears to have taken up the hobby of monitoring Brooklyn College’s assigned reading material and now teaching appointments, was quick to follow with a blog post condemning the hiring.

When the department requested that complaints be deferred until after the class had started, and after students could point to actual evidence of Petersen-Overton’s supposed “bias,” the unidentified student—who was interviewed on WPIX New York with her face blurred—contacted Assemblyman Dov Hikind, Hikind is a supporter of illegal settlements in the West Bank and an advocate for the ethnic profiling of Arabs and Muslims.  Hikind also played an influential role in the smear campaign that led to the removal of Debbie Almontaser from her position as the founding principal of Khalil Gibran International Academy, New York City’s first Arab-English dual language school—a decision which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission later deemed unfair discrimination.

Hikind called CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein, and wrote a letter to Brooklyn College President Karen Gould in which he claims that Petersen-Overton’s “personal biases should not be allowed to pollute the academic realm,” citing a paper Petersen-Overton is in the process of completing, Inventing the Martyr: Martyrdom as a Palestinian National Signifier.  In his letter, Hikind takes quotes out of context to back up his assertion that the paper “endeavors to justify and condone Palestinian suicide bombings as means of ‘struggle’ and ‘sacrifice.’”  Hikind either deliberately misconstrues the essay, has not read it, or does not understand it. Like most academic essays, Petersen-Overton’s cites research, not personal opinion, and is about how Palestinian national identity manifests politically— clearly not a “romanticization” of suicide bombers.

In a phone interview, Petersen-Overton recounted that, “within 24 hours of Hikind’s statement, I was fired,” adding that Hisseine Faradj, an adjunct professor who taught the same course before, is also a doctoral student.

Hikind said in a phone interview that he is “thrilled” that Brooklyn College decided to cancel Petersen-Overton’s appointment.  “Matthew Goldstein said to me on Tuesday that he was calling a meeting and they were going to look at everything this guy has ever written,” the assemblyman said. “The reading material on the syllabus “are written by Palestinian historians or Israeli revisionist historians, and basically blame Israel for everything.”

But according to Brooklyn College’s Media Relations Manager, Ernesto Mora, “Mr. Petersen-Overton was not fired because he had not been hired. This was an internal matter and the CUNY Chancellor had nothing to do with the provost’s decision, regardless of what Hikind’s releases argue.” However, Petersen-Overton says that he signed a contract with Brooklyn College on Monday. Mora also claims Hikind’s statements to the New York  Daily News contains factual errors, and that no meeting occurred between the Provost William A. Tra­mon­tano and the Chancellor, adding that Hikind announced the decision that Petersen-Overton’s appointment had been canceled before the college did.

The administration’s and Hikind’s narrative contradict both each other, Petersen-Overton’s own account, other faculty members, and that of Janet Elise Johnston, an Associate Professor in the Political Science department and a member of the Appointments Committee. Johnston says she was not present during the meetings on Petersen-Overton’s position, but claims that “the argument that it’s about qualifications doesn’t stand up to the evidence; we have other adjunct professors who teach for the Masters Program, but don’t have PhDs … he was not officially appointed by he had been asked to teach. He is qualified.” While Johnston cannot comment on the accusations that political motives propelled the decision to dismiss Petersen-Overton from his position, she maintains that “in reality CUNY and Brooklyn College are under funded, and under resourced, and have been so for decades,” which further explains the frequent appointments of doctoral students from CUNY programs.

Currently, opposition to Peterson-Overton’s politically motivated termination is mounting. The Political Science department released a statement denouncing the decision: “His decision [the Provost’s] to reject our appointment undermines academic freedom and departmental governance.”  The watchdog group Foundation for Individual Rights in Education sent a letter to the President Karen Gould calling for the reinstatement of Petersen-Overton as adjunct professor. “As you know, BC is a public institution and thus is both legally and morally bound by the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of expression and Academic freedom, ” the letter reads.

Dr. Barbara Bowen, President of the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY, a union representing CUNY faculty and profession staff, released a statement condemning the decision as a politically motivated violation of academic freedom.  And in an email circulated on a CUNY Hunter list serve, John Wallach, a Professor of Political Science at Hunter College and The CUNY Graduate Center, writes, “All of us who have taught him [Petersen-Overton] at the Graduate Center have written letters to the Provost, yesterday if not today, in addition to signing the petition. Uniformly, we find this action an abominable assault on academic freedom that must be reversed—immediately and without qualification.” The CUNY Graduate Center student newspaper, The Advocate, is also circulating a petition that has already received over 1,300 signatures, in addition to hosting a live blog which follows the case’s developments. Brooklyn College’s Political Science department will also be holding an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the current situation.

Despite the circumstances, Petersen-Overton remains surprisingly level. “To complain about Hikind and others is a waste of time. I am mainly concerned that the college administration caved so easily. I tried to amend my syllabus as recommended, but they never gave me the opportunity.”

Zoe Zenowich is a Senior in the Scholars Program at Brooklyn College, where she is the managing editor of the Excelsior, a student newspaper.

January 30, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on ‘Within 24 hours of the assemblyman’s phone call, I was fired’ –Brooklyn College adjunct professor

The Torture Career of Egypt’s New Vice President: Omar Suleiman and the Rendition to Torture Program

By Stephen Soldz | January 29, 2011

In response to the mass protests of recent days, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has appointed his first Vice President in his over 30 years rule, intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.

When Suleiman was first announced, Aljazeera commentators were describing him as a “distinguished” and “respected ” man. It turns out, however, that he is distinguished for, among other things, his central role in Egyptian torture and in the US rendition to torture program. Further, he is “respected” by US officials for his cooperation with their torture plans, among other initiatives.

Katherine Hawkins, an expert on the US’s rendition to torture program, in an email, has sent some critical texts where Suleiman pops up. Thus, Jane Mayer, in The Dark Side, pointed to Suleiman’s role in the rendition program:

Each rendition was authorized at the very top levels of both governments….The long-serving chief of the Egyptian central intelligence agency, Omar Suleiman,     negotiated directly with top Agency officials.  [Former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt] Walker described the Egyptian counterpart, Suleiman, as “very bright, very realistic,” adding that he was cognizant that there was a downside to “some of the negative things that the Egyptians engaged in, of torture and so on. But he was not squeamish, by the way” (pp. 113).

Stephen Grey, in Ghost Plane, his investigative work on the rendition program also points to Suleiman as central in the rendition program:

To negotiate these assurances [that the Egyptians wouldn’t “torture” the prisoner delivered for torture] the CIA dealt principally in Egypt through Omar Suleiman, the chief of the Egyptian general intelligence service (EGIS) since 1993. It was he who arranged the meetings with the Egyptian interior ministry…. Suleiman, who understood English well, was an urbane and sophisticated man. Others told me that for years Suleiman was America’s chief interlocutor with the Egyptian regime — the main channel to President Hosni Mubarak himself, even on matters far removed from intelligence and security.

Suleiman wasn’t just the go-to bureaucrat for when the Americans wanted to arrange a little torture. This “urbane and sophisticated man” apparently enjoyed a little rough stuff himself.

Shortly after 9/11, Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib was captured by Pakistani security forces and, under US pressure, tortured by Pakistanis. He was then rendered (with an Australian diplomats watching) by CIA operatives to Egypt, a not uncommon practice. In Egypt, Habib merited Suleiman’s personal attention. As related by Richard Neville, based on Habib’s memoir:

Habib was interrogated by the country’s Intelligence Director, General Omar Suleiman…. Suleiman took a personal interest in anyone suspected of links with Al Qaeda. As Habib had visited Afghanistan shortly before  9/11, he was under suspicion. Habib was repeatedly zapped with high-voltage electricity, immersed in water up to his nostrils, beaten, his fingers were broken and he was hung from metal hooks.

That treatment wasn’t enough for Suleiman, so:

To loosen Habib’s tongue, Suleiman ordered a guard to murder a gruesomely shackled Turkistan prisoner in front of Habib -” and he did, with a vicious karate kick.

After Suleiman’s men extracted Habib’s confession, he was transferred back to US custody, where he eventually was imprisoned at Guantanamo. His “confession” was then used as evidence in his Guantanamo trial.

The Washington Post‘s intelligence correspondent Jeff Stein reported some additional details regarding Suleiman and his important role in the old Egypt the demonstrators are trying to leave behind:

“Suleiman is seen by some analysts as a possible successor to the president,” the Voice of American said Friday. “He earned international respect for his role as a mediator in Middle East affairs and for curbing Islamic extremism.”

An editorialist at Pakistan’s “International News” predicted Thursday that “Suleiman will probably scupper his boss’s plans [to install his son], even if the aspiring intelligence guru himself is as young as 75.”

Suleiman graduated from Egypt’s prestigious Military Academy but also received training in the Soviet Union. Under his guidance, Egyptian intelligence has worked hand-in-glove with the CIA’s counterterrorism programs, most notably in the 2003 rendition from Italy of an al-Qaeda suspect known as Abu Omar.

In 2009, Foreign Policy magazine ranked Suleiman as the Middle East’s most powerful intelligence chief, ahead of Mossad chief Meir Dagan.

In an observation that may turn out to be ironic, the magazine wrote, “More than from any other single factor, Suleiman’s influence stems from his unswerving loyalty to Mubarak.”

If Suleiman succeeds Mubarak and retains power, we will likely be treated to plaudits for his distinguished credentials from government officials and US pundits.  We should remember that what they really mean is his ability to brutalize and torture. As Stephen Grey puts it:

But in secret, men like Omar Suleiman, the country’s most powerful spy and secret politician, did our work, the sort of work that Western countries have no appetite to do ourselves.

If Suleiman receives praise in the US, it will be because our leaders know that he’s the sort of leader who can be counted on to do what it takes to restore order and ensure that Egypt remains friendly to US interests. [Is Soldz afraid to name Israel?]

Stephen Soldz is psychoanalyst, psychologist, public health researcher, and faculty member at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He is co-founder of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology.

January 30, 2011 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | 1 Comment