Day and night lost meaning shortly after Muwafaq Sami Abbas, a lawyer by training, arrived at Baghdad International Airport for an unexpected stay. In March, he was seized from his bed by U.S. troops in the middle of the night, he said, along with the rest of the men in his house, and taken to a prison on the airport grounds.
The black sack the troops placed over his head was removed only briefly during the next nine days of interrogation, conducted by U.S. officials in civilian and military clothes, he said. He was forced to do knee bends until he collapsed, he recalled, and black marks still ring his wrists from the pinch of plastic handcuffs. Rest was made impossible by loudspeakers blaring, over and over, the Beastie Boys’ rap anthem, “No Sleep Till Brooklyn.”
The forced exercise was even harder for his 57-year-old father, a former army general who held a signed certificate from the U.S. occupation authority vouching for his “high level of cooperation and assistance” in the days after the war.
Father and son are now free — and angry about what they endured in a suddenly notorious U.S.-run prison system in Iraq. But months later, Abbas’s three brothers are still inside Abu Ghraib prison, he said. He is their only legal advocate, trying to refute written charges that they are members of the Iraqi insurgency.
“The savagery the Americans have practiced against the Iraqis, well, now we have seen it, touched it and felt it,” Abbas said. “These types of actions will grow more hostile forces against the coalition, and this is the reason for the resistance.”
The photographs of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib — images that reached Iraqi newspapers on Sunday, following a three-day holiday — have reinforced the long-held view here that the U.S. occupation is intent on humiliating the Iraqi people. The system has been rife with complaints for months, but now the testimony of former Iraqi prisoners claiming abuse at the hands of U.S. jailers has gained new credibility while further damaging the reputation of the U.S. occupation authority…