A former al Qaeda courier who was detained by the US in the wake of the Sept 11, 2001 attacks and imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay has told a court about the brutal torture he endured at the hands of the CIA, according to a recently published report.
Majid Khan was addressing jurors as they weighed his sentence for war crimes. He said during his sentencing hearing, which is expected to conclude on Friday, he was subjected to “days of painful abuse” at CIA black sites, the Associated Press reported on Thursday.
Khan’s case marks the first time a high-profile Guantanamo detainee testified in court about his experience in enduring the US intelligence community’s “enhanced interrogation” techniques, a programme that has been a black stain on the CIA and been widely condemned as torture.
“I thought I was going to die,” Khan said, according to the AP.
“I would beg them to stop and swear to them that I didn’t know anything,” he added. “If I had intelligence to give I would have given it already but I didn’t have anything to give.”
Khan reportedly told the court that he was forced to remain awake for days on end, and was doused with ice water to prevent him from sleeping.
Khan, a Pakistani national, moved to the US along with his family in the 1990s and was granted asylum.
He pleaded guilty in 2012 to a host of crimes, including murder and attempted murder, according to the AP. A military judge ruled in June that a jury could grant the former al Qaeda operative a more lenient sentence due to the torture he sustained, National Public Radio reported at the time.
Khan apologised during Thursday’s hearing, taking full responsibility for his actions while saying he forgives the individuals who tortured him.
“I have also tried to make up for the bad things I have done,” he said, according to the AP. “That’s why I pleaded guilty and cooperated with the USA government.”
Thirty-nine people remain imprisoned at the military facility at Guantanamo Bay, including five men charged with orchestrating the Sept 11 attacks.