On 21 December 2012, a FBI press release revealed that US authorities had knowledge of and/or supervised the kidnapping, illegal detention and interrogation, and possible torture of the missing Mahdi Hashi, a UK ex-patriot of Somali decent.
The Hashi family received a bizarre notification from the Home Office in June of this year, that the government had rescinded Mahdi’s UK citizenship for ties to “extremism,” a charge the 23 year-old was never allowed to defend himself against.
The revocation was controversial and quite possibly illegal as it violated international law by leaving Mahdi stateless.
Shortly thereafter, the family became alarmed when he disappeared from his home on the outskirts of Mogadishu and began to hear eye-witness reports of his kidnapping and illegal detention in Djibouti.
The reports carried by former detainees described the maltreatment of Mahdi Hashi and his illegal interrogation by US authorities.
Mahdi’s resurfacing in New York last week confirmed suspicions that he became the victim of a collaborative rendition.
The tiny East African country of Djibouti plays host to the United States’ military base known as Camp Lemonier, which functions as a short-term detention facility for terror suspects before they are unlawfully rendered to indefinite detention in third-party countries or to the US for prosecution.
Lemonier has notoriously figured in a number of torture suits since 2004 including the widely cited cases of Mohammed Al-Assad, Mohammed Ali Issa, and Abdulmalik Mohammed. Describing his detention in Djibouti, Mohammed al-Asad recounted that he “was placed in a small cell, and not given a change of clothes for the two weeks he was there.” He added that “A woman who identified herself as an American interrogated him.”
It is also possible that Hashi was previously kept briefly in the recently constructed CIA prison bordering the Mogadishu airport as previously reported by Jeremy Scahill. What is more certain, however, is that the UK knowingly collaborated with the US to deprive Mahdi Hashi of the right to appeal for legal assistance from any country.
His British lawyer, Saghir Hussain, expressed concern over the extent of the British government’s involvement: “I am calling on the British Government to give us answers as to what they knew and what their role was. Can they offer assurances they were not complicit in the secret detention and rendition?”
An FBI indictment claims that Hashi was detained in August 2012, ensuring that he would not have any claims to contact the British Consul (having been stripped of citizenship in June); a clear indication that intelligence had been shared and orchestrated to kidnap and render Mahdi as a stateless and legally unprotected suspect.
Research Director for CagePrisoners, Asim Qureshi, warned of the precedent that Mahdi’s situation represented for UK Muslims the government may find “undesirable:”
“Mahdi Hashi has been the subject of all manner of unlawful behaviour. We believe that since the problems the UK government has had with deportations and extraditions, it has been easier for them to remove the citizenship of individuals, thus allowing them to be victims of drone strikes or rendition by third party countries. Mahdi is the latest example of how the UK government has disingenuously used the citizenship removal, to permit others forms of illegality to take place.”
Similarly, human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC concurred: “There must be a suspicion that in depriving this man of his citizenship it was to enable him to be transferred to American custody without going through extradition.”
Although UK officials categorically deny any participation in the rendition and won’t “comment on operational security,” it was recently revealed that the British government paid £2.2m in a settlement with a Libyan dissident, Sami al-Saadi, whom MI6 rendered to be tortured by Muammar Gaddafi.
Hashi appeared at a federal court in Brooklyn, New York last Friday along with two Swedish suspects, Ali Yasin Ahmed, 27, and Mohamed Yusuf, 29, all of whom are facing life in prison with charges they had trained to be suicide bombers with the al-Shabaab group. According to the New York Times, court documents show no connection between the alleged crimes and the United States.
In a similar case, a Somali national Ahmed Abdulkadir Wasame was captured by the US military in April of 2011 and was held in international waters on the USS Boxer for more than two months before being handed to law enforcement.
You can find more information about Mahdi Hashi’s case at: