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Senate Report on CIA Torture

Iyman Faris Capture

Iyman Faris was a truck driver from Ohio whom Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) tasked with finding tools and devices to use in attacks on suspension bridges and railroads in the United States. In a July 2003 CIA briefing for White House officials, the CIA claimed that identification and capture of Faris was a result of the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, stating that the information came from KSM. The May 2004 CIA Inspector General Special Review on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program also states that “[KSM]’s information also led to the investigation and prosecution of Iyman Faris.” 

However, CIA records reveal that the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques played no role in the identification and capture of Iyman Faris.” Faris was “known to the U.S. Intelligence Community prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001,” as the FBI had opened an investigation on him in March 2001, which it closed in November 2001. The majority of the information on Faris came from detainee Majid Khan, who was arrested by Pakistani authorities on March 5, 2003. In response to “rapport-building techniques” employed by Pakistani interrogators, Khan identified Faris as a “35-year-old truck driver of Pakistani origin … ‘an Islamic extremist ... a mujahadden during the Afghan/Soviet period’ and as a close associate of his uncle Maqsood Khan … a known al-Qa’ida associate.” The FBI had “officially reopened its international terrorism investigation of Iyman Faris” by March 6, 2003.

While in CIA custody in March 2003, KSM did provide some information on Faris. However, he did not identify Faris, even when shown a photograph of him. On March 10, 2003, when asked if there was a plan to attack U.S. suspension bridges, KSM called such plans “theoretical.” He repeated this claim on March 16, 2003. On March 17, 2003, when shown a photograph of Iyman Faris, KSM “identified the photograph of Iyman Faris as a ‘truck driver’ and…claimed that he could not remember the truck driver’s name.” On March 18, 2003, KSM said that he had “tasked the ‘truck driver’ to procure specialized machine tools that would be useful to al-Qa’ida to loosen the nuts and bolts of suspension bridges in the United States.” 

While the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques could not elicit Faris’ name from KSM, the FBI was able to make substantial progress with their investigation. On March 20, 2003, “the FBI informed the CIA that ‘Ohio police had been following Faris for ‘some time,’ and had stopped him and questioned him.” Faris “talked voluntarily” to the FBI about his connection to KSM and KSM’s “plan ‘to cut suspension cables on the Brooklyn Bridge to cause its collapse using gas cutters.’” Faris continued to cooperate with the FBI, providing information to “assist in the capture of Maqsood Khan … additional details on his activities related to the Khan family, KSM, his meeting with UBL (Usama bin Laden),” and other plots. Faris eventually pled guilty to material support for terrorism charges and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.