Today it was announced that Police Scotland are to request that the CIA hand over all information about aircraft involved in extraordinary rendition and which used Scotland as a stopover. In particular, Police Scotland have asked to see the unredacted version of the CIA report into rendition and torture (published last December). Much of the rendition flight evidence, however, is already available – this is provided below.
Police Scotland began its investigation in 2013 after research by the University of Kent and the University of Kingston, in collaboration with Reprieve, claimed Scottish airports, including Aberdeen, Inverness and Wick had been used to transfer suspects to “secret prison and torture destinations”. The use of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Prestwick airports had also, previously, been identified.
According to a document produced by the Rendition Project, up to 37 flights involved in rendition were identified as using Prestwick Airport alone. These flights specifically involved an aircraft designated variously as N3793, N8068V and N44982.
A 2007 ISC (Intelligence & Security Committee) report admitted to only 4 flights involving extraordinary rendition and which re-fueled at Scottish airports. These were:
- 4 October 2001 – N379P refuelled at Prestwick airport, returning from the rendition of Jamil Qasim Saeed Mohammed from Pakistan to Jordan on 23 October.
- 20 December 2001 – N379P refuelled at Prestwick airport, returning from the transfer of Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed al-Zery from Sweden to Egypt on 18 December.
- 15 January 2002 – N379P refuelled at Prestwick airport, returning from the rendition of Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni from Indonesia to Egypt on 11 January.
- 24 July 2003 – N379P refuelled at Prestwick airport, returning from the rendition of Saifulla Paracha from Thailand to Afghanistan on 22 July.
Also, flights of N379P through RAF Northolt and Scotland were confirmed by the Ministry of Defence as follows:
- Arrived from Islamabad, 15:50, Oct 18, 2002. Departed to Washington, 09:00, Oct 20.
- Arrived from Amman, 12:50, Jan 16, 2003. Departed to Shannon, 10:00, Jan 18 03.
- Arrived from Washington, 20.05, Feb 24. Departed to Glasgow, 09:00, Feb 26.
- Arrived from Dohaa, 12:49, Feb 28. Departed to Glasgow, 09:00, Mar 1.
A report by Reprieve provided further details…
1. Jamil Qasim Saeed Mohammed:
Jamil Qasim Saeed Mohammed, a 27 year-old Yemeni national, arrived in Pakistan in 1993, as a student in the microbiology department of Karachi University. On 23 October 2001, witnesses saw Jamil Qasim Saeed Mohammed being bundled on board a Gulfstream V, registration N379P, by a group of masked men in Karachi airport, Pakistan. The plane flew Jamil Qasim Saeed Mohammed, shackled and blindfolded, to Jordan. The following day, flight logs indicate the Gulfstream flew from Jordan to Frankfurt and then to Glasgow Prestwick to refuel, before returning to Dulles International near Washington DC. Flight logs from Eurocontrol and other sources confirm the centrality of Prestwick to Mohammed’s rendition circuit. The N379P into which he was strapped originated in Washington, flying on the 15th September, 2001 to Prestwick for refuelling, before moving to destinations, such as Lisbon, Frankfurt, Tblisi and finally Amman.
2. Ahmed Agiza and Mohamed Al Zeri:
Ahmed Agiza and Mohamed Al Zeri are two Egyptian nationals who were seeking asylum in Sweden when they were ‘handed over’ to American agents in December 2001 and rendered to Egypt. In Egypt they were tortured, in spite of diplomatic assurances given to Sweden. Ahmed Agiza remains in prison in Egypt. Mohammed El Zari was released from prison in Cairo in October 2003 without ever having been charged with a crime. The case led to Sweden being condemned by the United Nations Committee against Torture (UN-CAT). Flight logs indicate the Gulf Stream V on which the men were rendered, leaving Washington on the 18th December 2001 and flying to Cairo, where we believe that it picked up two Egyptian security agents. The plane then left Cairo and flew to Stockholm, containing a crew and security team of seven or eight, among them a doctor and two Egyptian officials. Having been subjected to ‘security checks’ by the American renditions team, their clothes being cut off, and muscle relaxants inserted in their anuses, Agiza and Al Zeri were strapped inside the aircraft and flown back to Cairo. The two men went on to suffer horrific torture and mistreatment in Egyptian jails, where Agiza still remains. Mohammed Zara i, former director of the Cairo-based Human Rights Centre for the Assistance of Prisoners, told the Guardian that ‘Agiza was repeatedly electrocuted, hung upside down, whipped with an electrical flex and hospitalised after being made to lick his cell floor clean.’ On December 20th, 2001 the N379P aircraft flew to Prestwick, where it stopped to refuel before returning, with its US agents on board who are implicated in these crimes, back to Washington. Again, it is imperative to recognise that though it is not alleged the two men were on board the N379P plane when it landed in Scotland, this refuelling stop was an integral component of the rendition circuit, enabling their later mistreatment. Such complicity in crimes cannot be permitted.
3. Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni:
On another mission, in January 2002, a Gulfstream was seen at Jakarta airport to deport Muhammad Saad Iqbal, 24, an Al-Qaeda suspect who was said by US officials to be an acquaintance of Richard Reid, the British “shoe-bomber” jailed in America for trying to blow up a flight from Paris to Miami. An Indonesian official told an American newspaper that Iqbal was “hustled aboard an unmarked, US-registered Gulfstream . . . and flown to Egypt”, where almost nothing has been heard of him since. Analysis of flight logs again reveals Scotland’s role in facilitating the rendition circuit which resulted in Muhammad Iqbal’s torture. The CIA Gulfstream’s flight logs show it flew from Washington to Cairo, where it picked up Egyptian security agents, before apparently going on to Jakarta to take Iqbal to Egypt. The Gulfstream N379P on which Iqbal was rendered, left Cairo on January 15 and headed for Scotland. After a brief refuelling stopover at Prestwick, it departed again for Washington.
Saifullah Paracha, a Pakistan national, a businessman and a client of Reprieve, was scheduled to fly to Thailand for a business meeting on 5 July 2003. He rang his daughter from Karachi airport just before boarding his flight but he never arrived at the meeting. For the next month his family had no idea of his whereabouts. Saifullah was rendered to Bagram a US air base north of Kabul, Afghanistan and then Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. As Saifullah Paracha states in declassified notes obtained through one of his attorneys: ‘On July 6, 2003, I was attacked and illegally seized at the airport at Bangkok, Thailand. A few days later I was taken against my will to the United States Air Force base at Bagram, Afganistan. There I was held by the United States in inhuman conditions for over a year. In September 2004 I was moved, by force and against my will, to the United States prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. At no point did I receive any legal process or any review by any judicial official, nor did I waive my rights, nor was I allowed to talk to any lawyer. All my captivity, including my move from Bagram to Guantanamo, was in violation of international law and many provisions of the laws of several nations.’
Other rendition flights via Scotland (and UK airspace) are suspected.