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Middle East
US Iraq jail an 'al-Qaeda school'
Former inmates of Camp Bucca say military prison was training ground for extremism.
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2009 09:04 GMT

Extremists held in a US-run detention centre in Iraq were allowed to teach fellow detainees how to use explosives and become suicide bombers, a former inmate has told Al Jazeera.

Adel Jasim Mohammed, a former detainee of Camp Bucca near Umm Qasr, said that US officials did nothing to stop radicals from indoctrinating young detainees at the camp.

"Extremists had freedom to educate the young detainees. I saw them giving courses using classroom boards on how to use explosives, weapons and how to become suicide bombers," Mohammed said.

"For the Americans we felt it was normal. They did not stop them [the radicals]."

Adel, who was held for four years without charge at Camp Bucca, said that extremists were allowed to speak freely to fellow inmates.

"In 2005, an extremist was sent to our camp. At first, Sunnis and Shias rejected his teachings. But we were told that he was imposed by the prison authority," he said.

"He stayed for a week and recruited 25 of the 34 detainees - they became extremists like him."

Bomb suspects

A senior Iraqi interior ministry official said in November that former inmates of Camp Bucca were suspected of involvement in two recent deadly bomb attacks in Baghdad.

"The two suicide bombers and the majority of suspects detained after the twin bombings of August 19 against the foreign affairs and finance departments … were released shortly before from Camp Bucca," the official told AFP news agency.

The US military denied that moderates were radicalised in the camp
 
"We reached the same conclusion for the double attack of October 25, which left 153 dead," the official said of the bombings of the justice and public works ministries, after which 73 people were arrested.

Imad Manhal Sultan, a man held by US troops for three months in 2007, told Al Jazeera that he was brutally attacked by inmates of Camp Bucca during a 24-hour stay at the facility.

He lost his eyes and part of his tongue after a four-minute long assault that he says only occurred because of the US military’s failure to monitor the camp's detainees.

"The Americans send those they want dead to extremist camps," he said.

“They passed information that I was a lawyer working for the court in Baghdad. That would make me their enemy since the court issues unjust verdicts against detainees."

The US military denies that moderates were radicalised in the camp, which has held thousands of Iraqis since it was opened in 2003 and shut down in September.

"When we came up with a model of detainee housing in which we separated individuals by tens – and they had no other access to anybody else – they became tremendously frustrated," said General David Quantock, the deputy commanding general of detainee operations  for the Multi-National Force in Iraq.

US military statistics say that four percent of the 100,000 people held in different prisons over the years returned to violence.

While the percentage is relatively low, it is unclear how many of those held at the camp were involved in violence to begin with.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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