Somalia, Africa: CIA Using Secret Torture Facility & Prison For Counterterrorism Operations: Report

13 Jul

Militants belonging to Somalia?s Al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab Islamists ride vehicles and display weapons and flags in 2010. The US Central Intelligence Agency is using a secret facility in Somalia for counterterrorism purposes as well as a secret prison in the Somali capital, the magazine The Nation reported Tuesday

Militants belonging to Somalia?s Al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab Islamists ride vehicles …

The US Central Intelligence Agency is using a secret facility in Somalia for counterterrorism purposes as well as a secret prison in the Somali capital, the magazine The Nation reported.

The report said the CIA has “a sprawling walled compound” in a corner of the Mogadishu airport on the coast of the Indian Ocean that looks like a small gated community, with more than a dozen buildings behind large protective walls.

According to the magazine, the site is guarded by Somali soldiers, but the Americans control access.

A US official familiar with intelligence matters denied the report.

“The CIA does not run or maintain or have any prison detention facilities in Somalia,” nor does it “interrogate detainees there,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

She also said that only “in very rare instances” does the spy agency participate in debriefings led by Somali agents in the country.

The Nation said the effort is part of a focus on the Shebab, the Al Qaeda-linked group in the region blamed for a number of plots against the United States.

It said the CIA seeks to build “an indigenous strike force capable of snatch operations and targeted ‘combat’ operations” against the Shebab.

The report said the CIA also uses a secret prison buried in the basement of Somalia’s National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters, where prisoners suspected of being Shebab members or of having links to the group are held.

Some prisoners have been captured in Kenya or other locations, according to the magazine, which said the prison is officially run by the Somali NSA, but that US intelligence personnel pay the salaries and interrogate detainees.

The Nation reported that in an interview in Mogadishu, Somali minister of state for the presidency Abdulkadir Moallin Noor confirmed that US agents “are working with our intelligence” and “giving them training.”

With regard to US counterterrorism efforts, Noor said “we need more; otherwise, the terrorists will take over the country.”

The unnamed US official acknowledged the substantial counterterrorism challenge in the Horn of Africa nation, but stressed that “the CIA does not interrogate detainees there.”

“The US has a counterterrorism relationship with the Somali government, as the US has with a number of different countries,” she added.

US officials have voiced concern about deepening ties between the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Shebab, and that the Somali Islamist insurgency may broaden its focus to try to strike at Western targets outside of Somalia.

In April in the first known case of the secret detention of a terror suspect by President Barack Obama’s administration, Somali national Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame was captured in the Gulf and kept at sea aboard a US Navy ship, where he was interrogated for two months.

Earlier this month the White House insisted Warsame’s detention was lawful, and he now faces terror charges in a New York court.

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