Exclusive testimony of ‘Abu Assad‘ from the CagePrisoners Saudi Torture Project.
In the name of God, the Most Beneficient, the Most Merciful. All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, with no enemies except those who commit oppression, and peace on the one guided with good news, Muhammad ibn Abdillah, his family, his companions and the generations after them.
My name is Abu Assad. I loved the city I was born in where I completed my secondary education and memorised the Qur’an, praise be to God. It was at the end of the third year at secondary school that my father (may Allah have mercy on him) passed away when I was 17 years old.
I was forced to leave school to provide a living for my family due to being the oldest child. As my family is large and constituted a number of small children, the loss of my father left them orphaned. I began working in my father’s workplace in trading but expanded my work in the country of the two holy sanctuaries near the habitation of the hujaaj (those who perform Hajj) by buying and selling properties as well as other things.
Whoever saw me would know that I was practicing my religion but stayed away from ghulu (excessiveness) and tashaddad (strong opinions).
After I reached adolescence, around 20 years old, I was detained by the Saudi security section in 2005, without any issue. According to my memory, the group which arrested me were composed of a number of individuals. I remembered some names from the group which are:
· Mishal al-Sahli – later the director of the security prison in Madinah al-Munawwarah (city of Madinah)
· Yusuf al-Barakati
· Ghazi Al-Hussainy al-‘Awfi al-Harby
I was imprisoned for seven years without being found guilty as I was a law abiding citizen and did not have any offence relating to work, residency, state crimes or anything related to terrorism. I got to know the names of my interrogators.
The first, captain Ghazi al-Hussainy al-‘Awfi al-Harby and the other, who is in the photo and superior is lieutenant Yusuf al-Barakati. They wanted me to admit to being a member of those who subscribe to jihadi or tafkiri (those who pronounce others unbelievers) thinking. I honestly didn’t know at the time of the existence of this type of thought.
They started to torture me psychologically and physically – they left me handcuffed for more than two months in a small cell with no bed and I would sleep on the floor – they would forbid me from showering also and they would stand over me for more than an hour long. They would pay soldiers to wake me up whenever I tried to sleep and I was subjected to sleep deprivation until I was suffering from severe exhaustion and was completely discombobulated. I would say anything in order for me to rest and so they would allow me to sleep.
They forbid my family from visiting me for more than three months. They were in need of me at that time as they did not have anyone but me and I had to stop working which caused serious loss and material damage.
They would take me to the interrogation building at any time they wanted night or day. It was this which would cause psychological trauma to the point where no one detained knows when they will be investigated or when they will return, they remain tense until they are in their cell. This building is known as a place of torture…there are chains hanging in the interrogation room and electric sticks that are used on the skin and even electric and plumbing tools…which I have no idea what they do with and how they use them for torture.
When I was taken to this building, those who I named above, placed electric wires over my skin, the same way you lay lights in houses. This skin technique was done in the first three months for varying lengths of time ranging from an hour to three hours – without mercy until blood would seep from my back and I would be screaming, seeking help, asking their humanity to stop from their disgusting activity…but unfortunately they do not have a soul.
They threatened that they would kill me more than once, and also threatened to imprison my sisters or exile them from the city. They threatened me with this because they knew that this was my weak point. They know that whoever does not hold Saudi citizenship and does not have dual nationality with another country then the Saudi authorities force them to migrate to any other country except ours. All this torture and these threats pressured me to agree that I subscribed to the jihadi ideology.
They tried to use different methods to increase the pressure I was under. Sometimes they would torture me and sometimes they would try to persuade me and say, “Write that you believe in your takfiri ideology and that you followed this type of thought. If you do this we will release you from prison.”
Complicity of Judicial Authority
Months after my arrest the judge called the interrogators on my behalf. He explained that he could show them I was innocent and he would let me go, however, on condition that I work for them as a spy. My reply to them which I will never forget, “I don’t like this activity and I don’t want to work with you because you treat people unjustly and also because this type of work is…” They replied to me angrily: “You will not leave prison unless it is through death”. I put my trust in Allah and I was ready to taste the bitterness of my decision as I did not want to be the reason that might result in the hurt of other. When they saw my standpoint, they started mocking me that I will be a monument for the Muslims.
After a while the interrogators Yusuf and Ghazi came with a lot of degrading and unbelievable insults with no purpose other than to provoke me. I don’t want to remember them because of how low these insults were.
Not only after all this did I spend a year and a half in this prison, they told me “We give you glad tidings oh Abdullah, we received an order from Mohammed bin Nayef to release you and compensate you for the losses you incurred because of your time spent in this prison”. I thanked Allah for this and I didn’t know that their goal was to destroy me and deceive me. I was left waiting, yearning to be released, but after some time passed, I knew that they were lying and just intended to damage my well being. With regards to them, Allah is sufficient.
Before that wound healed, and not even two months pass since their last attempt, they thought of something else to do. They noticed during the interrogations that I have another weak spot which is my siblings as I was their guardian after my father passed away (Allah have mercy on him). In his will he said that I should look after my mother and my sisters, something the interrogators knew. They ordered the arrest of my brothers in order to exile them to a foreign country, where they do not speak the language of the place they’ve been thrown in.
They invented so many sophisticated ways to torture me which haven’t even entered the mind of the devil and they repeatedly made false promises of my release. They destroyed my well being and they dispersed my family. After this, they moved me to a number of prisons around the Kingdom and they continued to impose restrictions upon my family. I was transferred…after I spent seven years in the prison without a fair trial.
When I saw the picture above, I knew who it was. I assure you that the person in this picture is the investigator Yusuf al-Barakaty.
Those people know that I have been oppressed. I do not have any suspicious links to groups and the actions of these two interrogators are heinous crimes. They destroyed my life and caused my siblings to disperse to foreign countries. I have spent a third of my life in prison even, when I pass 30. This is without any crime and I ask from all those who received certificates for human rights and lawyers and all those who want to help me, to help me regain my dignity and claim back every day I spent in prison, the losses incurred by it and to bring to justice these two interrogators and all those who were involved in my abuse until they taste the bitterness which they did to me.
I ask Allah, the Highest, the Lord of the holy throne to rescue those in the other prisons in the county of the two sanctuaries, It is possible for Allah to do anything and in Him we put our trust. I ask everyone who is reading this to make dua’a (pray) for me. My greetings to all of you.