A U.S. detention facility in Baghdad, shrouded in secrecy during the Iraq war, has been disparaged by British military officers speaking out about the human rights abuses they witnessed.
British army personnel from two RAF squadrons, and one Army Air Corps squadron, were given guard and transport duties at the secret prison during the Iraq war, UK newspaper the Guardian reported on Tuesday.
The paper quoted one British serviceman, who served at Nama, recalling the rights abuses he witnessed.
“I saw one man having his prosthetic leg being pulled off him, and being beaten about the head with it before he was thrown on to the truck,” the unnamed serviceman said.
The report highlighted that the joint U.S.-UK special forces unit, Codenamed Task Force 121 (TF 121), had initially been deployed to detain individuals thought to have information about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.
But when information on WMDs dried out, the unit was “re-tasked with tracking down people who might know where the deposed dictator and his loyalists might be, and then with catching al-Qaeda leaders who sprang up in the country after the regime collapsed,” the Guardian reported.
Brutal interrogation methods
Last month marked the 10th anniversary of the U.S-led war on Iraq, the occasion prompted a number of former members of the TF 121 unit to describe the human rights abuses they witnessed, the newspaper said.
Brutal interrogation methods were documented at Camp Nama, based at Baghdad International airport. These included Iraqi prisoners being subjected to electric shocks, routinely hooded and being held for lengthy periods in “cells the size of large dog kennels,” the newspaper found.
“The methods used were so brutal that they drew condemnation not only from a U.S. human rights body but from a special investigator reporting to the Pentagon,” the report stated.
British defense secretary at the time, Geoff Hoon, insisted he had “never heard” of the secret prison, Britain’s Ministry of Defense also “repeatedly failed to address questions about ministerial approval of British operations at Camp Nama,” the Guardian stated.
Defending the decision
In March, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair defended Britain’s role in the Iraq war.
“If we hadn’t removed Saddam from power just think, for example, what would be happening if these Arab revolutions were continuing now and Saddam, who’s probably 20 times as bad as Assad in Syria, was trying to suppress an uprising in Iraq. Think of the consequences of leaving that regime in power,” he told the BBC’s Newsnight.
The war resulted in the death of around 162,000 people, almost 80 percent of them civilian, from the start of the U.S.-led invasion until the withdrawal of U.S. forces in December 2011, according to British NGO Iraq Body Count.