Saturday, June 27 2009 - In the Media
Continuing Questions, Call for Inquiry into London 7/7 Bombings
'If I didn't confess to 7/7 bombings MI5 officers would rape my wife,' claims torture victim
By Matthew Hickley
A British man spoke publicly for the first time yesterday to accuse MI5 officers of forcing him to confess to masterminding the July 7 bombings.
Jamil Rahman claims UK security officers were behind his arrest in 2005 in Bangladesh.
He says he was beaten repeatedly by local officials who also threatened to rape him and his wife.
Mr Rahman, who is suing the Home Office, said a pair of MI5 officers who attended his torture and interrogation would leave the room while he was beaten.
He claims when he told the pair he had been tortured they merely answered: 'They haven't done a very good job on you.'
Mr Rahman told the BBC: 'They were questioning me on the July 7 bombings, showing me pictures of the bombers.
'They showed me maps, terrains ... they asked me to draw things out and write names next to pictures.
'They threatened my family. They go to me, "In the UK, gas leaks happen, if your family house had a gas leak and everyone got burnt, there's no problems, we can do that easily".'
He says he eventually made a false confession of involvement in the July 7
Allegations: Jamil Rahman claims security officers in Bangladesh, under the direction of MI5, made threats to rape his wife if he did not confess to the London bombings
The extraordinary allegations will add to pressure on UK ministers to come clean over the way Britain's intelligence agencies have been allowed to gather evidence around the world in the eight years since the September 11 attacks.
Jamil Rahman, a former civil servant from south Wales, is a British citizen who moved to Bangladesh in 2005 and married a woman he met there. He returned to the UK last year.
He said: 'It was all to do with the British. Even the Bengali intelligence officer told me that they didn't know anything about me, that they were only doing this for the British.'
Mr Rahman, 31, says he was released after three weeks but re-arrested and mistreated repeatedly over the next two years.
He described how two men he believes were British agents would leave the room for 'a break' while he was beaten.
They often asked: 'We're not torturing you, are we?' and recorded his confirmations
that they were not, he alleges.
Guantanamo inmate: Binyam Mohamed also claims MI5 colluded in his torture
'The first time they tried to be friendly, they came in trying to show they were my friends, calm and relaxed, nothing wrong.
'I tried to demonstrate my innocence. I thought this is wrong, because they were British I might get some justice.'
He added: 'They showed me hundreds of pictures. Black, white, Chinese, bearded non-bearded, woman, man, young and old. Every time, they came for a new session, same pictures with new ones.
'The main thing they wanted me to be is a witness against another British man in Bangladesh. They pressured me so much to be a witness against this guy in court.
Mr Rahman denies being a terrorist, although he admits attending meetings in Britain of the radical Islamist group al-Muhajiroun - claiming he later rejected their extremist ideology.
A Home Office spokesman said: 'We firmly reject any suggestion that we torture people or ask others to do so on our behalf.
'Mr Rahman has made a lot of unsubstantiated allegations. They have not been evidenced in any court of law.'
Jamil Rahman is one of a number of former detainees who accuse the British Government colluded in their torture abroad.
His account echoes that of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed, who said he was tortured in Pakistan and Morocco with MI5's knowledge.
The 30-year-old Ethiopian says he was beaten and deprived of sleep to try to make him confess to an Al Qaeda 'dirty bomb' plot, and his treatment is now the subject of an unprecedented police investigation into MI5's conduct.
Call for public inquiry into 7/7 from former head of counter-terrorism
An independent public inquiry should be held into how suicide terrorists were able to carry out the July 7 bombings, Scotland Yard's former head of counter-terrorism says.
Andy Hayman, who was Assistant Commissioner for Special Operations at the time of the bombings in 2005, is the first figure from the security establishment to break ranks and call for an open inquiry.
Almost four years after Mohammad Sidique Khan and his Leeds-based cell carried out the bombings, Mr Hayman says that he is "uncomfortable" with the official position that an inquiry would divert resources from the fight against terrorism. In his book, The Terrorist Hunters, extracts from which are published in The Times today, Mr Hayman says: "Incidents of less gravity have attracted the status of a public inquiry -- train crashes, a death in custody, and even other terrorist attacks. How can there not be a full, independent public inquiry into the deaths of 52 commuters on London's transport system?
"There has been no overview, no pulling together of each strand of review, no one can be sure if key issues have been missed."
Survivors of the July 7 bombings and families of the victims are taking High Court action over the refusal to grant them an independent inquiry.
The key issue for any inquiry would be why Khan, 30, who had been photographed, followed and bugged by surveillance officers because of his links with known terrorists, was left free to carry out the attacks.
A report last month by the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) said that MI5's decision not to make Khan a priority target was "understandable and reasonable". But that report, prepared by a committee that was appointed by the Prime Minister and took evidence in secret, has been heavily criticised.
It reveals that one MI5 team had begun an operation to identify a suspect known as "Ibrahim", who was later revealed to be Khan. At the same time, others in MI5 knew where Khan lived but had decided that he was not a key suspect. Critics say that the ISC does not appear to have inquired how the mismatch happened.
In his book, Mr Hayman paints a vivid picture from inside Scotland Yard of the day the bombers struck and admits that the attacks were "a bolt from nowhere".
He was called to a meeting of Cobra, the Government's emergency meeting, within an hour of the first explosions, and had to admit that he did not know what was happening.
Mr Hayman writes: "Imagine what it's like to tell the Commissioner or the Secretary of State, as I would have to, 'I don't know what's going on'."
Rachel North, a survivor of the Piccadilly Line bomb at King's Cross, welcomed his support for an inquiry. "It is not to blame or have a witch-hunt but. . . to learn the lessons of how 7/7 happened and whether it could have been prevented."
Sir Ian Blair, who as commissioner of the Metropolitan Police was in charge at the time of the London bombings, has received a substantial payoff. He was paid £580,000 during his final eight months in office, more than doubling his annual salary, and stands to benefit from a pension pot of £3.5 million.
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