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FISK: Return to Afghanistan: Families of the disappeared demand answers

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  • Islamic News and Information Network
    Assalamu alaikum Return to Afghanistan: Families of the disappeared demand answers By Robert Fisk 08 August 2002
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 8, 2002

      Return to Afghanistan: Families of the disappeared demand answers

      By Robert Fisk

      08 August 2002


      They came for Hussain Abdul Qadir on 25 May. According to his wife, there
      were three American agents from the FBI and 25 men from the local
      Pakistani CID. The Palestinian family had lived in the Pakistani city of
      Peshawar for years and had even applied for naturalisation.

      But this was not a friendly visit to their home in Hayatabad Street. "They
      broke our main gate and came into the house without any respect," Mrs
      Abdul Qadir was to report later to the director of human rights at
      Pakistan's Ministry of Law and Justice in Islamabad.

      "They blindfolded my husband and tied his hands behind his back. They
      searched everything in the house they took our computer, mobile phone and
      even our land-line phone. They took video and audio cassettes. They took
      all our important documents our passports and other certificates and
      they took our money too," she said.

      Where, Mrs Abdul Qadir asked Ahsan Akhtar, the director of human rights,
      was her husband? The Independent has now learnt exactly where he is he is
      a prisoner in a cage on the huge American air base at Bagram in
      Afghanistan. He was kidnapped there appears to be no other word for it
      by the Americans and simply flown over the international frontier from
      Pakistan. His "crime" is unknown. He has no lawyers to defend him. In the
      vacuum of the US "war on terror", Mr Abdul Qadir has become a non-person.

      His wife has now received a single sheet of paper from the Red Cross which
      gives no geographical location for the prisoner but lists his nationality
      as "Palastainian" (sic) and the following message in poorly written
      Arabic: "To the family and children in Peshawar. I am well and need, first
      and foremost, God's mercy and then your prayers. Take care of your faith
      and be kind to the little ones. Could you send me my reading glasses? Your
      father: Hussain Abdul Qadir."

      The sheet of paper is dated 29 June and the Red Cross has confirmed that
      the prisoner ICRC number AB7 001486-01 was interviewed in Bagram.

      Needless to say, the Americans will give no information about their
      prisoners or the reasons for their detention. They will not say whether
      their interrogators are Afghan or American there are increasing rumours
      that Afghan interrogators are allowed to beat prisoners in the presence of
      CIA men or if, or when, they intend to release their captives. Indeed,
      the Americans will not even confirm that prisoners have been seized in
      Pakistan and taken across the Afghan border.

      Fatima Youssef has also complained to the Pakistani authorities that her
      Syrian husband, Manhal al-Hariri a school director working for the Saudi
      Red Crescent Society was seized on the same night as Mr Abdul Qadir from
      their home in Peshawar, again by three Americans and a group of Pakistani
      CID men.

      "I have the right to ask where my husband is and to know where they have
      taken him," she has written to the Pakistani authorities. "I have the
      right to ask for an appeal to release him now, after an interrogation, I
      have the right to ask for the return of the things which they took from my

      An Algerian doctor, Bositta Fathi, was also taken that same night by two
      Americans and Pakistani forces, according to his wife. "I don't have any
      support and I am not able to go anywhere without my husband," she has told
      Mr Akhtar in Islamabad. Both Mr Hariri and Dr Fathi are believed to be
      held at Bagram, which is now the main American interrogation centre in
      Afghanistan. "From there," one humanitarian worker told The Independent,
      "you either get released or packed off to Guantanamo. Who knows what the
      fate of these people is or what they are supposed to have done? It seems
      that it's all outside the law."

      Many Arabs moved to Peshawar during the war against the Russians in
      Afghanistan and remained there as doctors or aid workers. The Abdul
      Qadirs, for example, asked for naturalisation in January 1993 Mr Abdul
      Qadir holds a Jordanian passport long before Osama bin Laden returned to
      Afghanistan and founded his al-Qa'ida movement.

      "I don't know why all this happened to us because we are Muslims and
      Arabs," Mrs Abdul Qadir says. "I want to know about my husband. We will
      leave Pakistan if the government wants us to leave. We will do anything
      the government wants but in a human and civilised manner."

      * At least 15 people have been killed in a shoot-out between Afghan police
      and what witnesses said was a group of Arabs and Pakistanis south of Kabul
      yesterday. Omar Samad, a foreign ministry spokesman described the gang as
      "determined and suicidal".

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