January 13, 2011
Aggressive FBI Interrogation of US Teen in Kuwait Raises Concerns
Last week I wrote about an American teenager who says he was detained, beaten and sleep-deprived in Kuwait after he was placed on a U.S. no-fly list based on his travels to Yemen. Today, Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times, who first reported the story, provides chapter two. It turns out that the Somali-American 19-year-old, Gulet Mohamed, yesterday was aggressively interrogated by FBI agents at the Kuwaiti prison, according to Mazzetti. The interrogation became so hostile, Mazzetti reports, that Kuwaiti officials felt compelled to intervene to stop the interrogation. Nick Baumann at Mother Jones heard and reported on the same story yesterday from Mohamed's U.S.-based lawyer, Gadeir Abbas. Abbas says that the FBI agents insisted on continuing the interrogation even though they'd handed Mohamed a sheet of paper listing his Miranda rights and Mohamed said that he did not want to speak without his lawyer. I observed last week that the Somali-American 19-year-old, Gulet Mohamed, appears to be yet another victim of a US policy of proxy detention abroad in countries infamous for disregarding human rights. Increasingly, it seems that Americans who've traveled to Yemen at some point have been placed on U.S. no-fly lists and then detained abroad, where they're subjected not only to aggressive questioning by U.S. officials but also to brutality by the U.S. allies detaining them. As far as we know, these prisoners are not being sent to third countries for interrogation, as they were during the Bush administration's policy of "extraordinary rendition," which sometimes involved CIA kidnappings. Yet similar forms of torture, indefinite detention and gross violations of human rights appears also to be integral to this new "extraordinary rendition-lite." The case of Sharif Mobley in Yemen is another illustrative example. Glenn Greenwald last week pointed out that it's implausible that the Kuwaiti government would have detained and tortured an American citizen without the knowledge of the U.S. government, and that it's no coincidence that the questions both Kuwaiti and American interrogators asked focused on his knowledge of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American cleric in Yemen who's also on the Obama administration's hit list. Despite his U.S. citizenship, Mohamed told Greenwald, neither U.S. embassy officials nor the FBI agents who interrogated Mohamed expressed any interest in his claims of abuse by his Kuwaiti captors. Mazzetti reports that the U.S. State Department last week confirmed that it was aware of Mohamed's detention but denied that it was at the behest of the United States. "We are ensuring his well-being," said Philip Crowley, a State Department spokesman. That seems inconsistent with today's report that Kuwaiti prison guards had to intervene to protect the American citizen prisoner from the hostility of FBI agents.