WASHINGTON (CN) – A former Taliban prisoner and member of the so-called “Kandahar Five” says U.S. officials wrongfully classified him as a terrorist and sent him to Guantanamo Bay, where he was tortured for 7 years. The U.S. tortures came after the Taliban had tortured him for resisting their forced training in Afghanistan, Abdul Al Janko says in his federal complaint. He sued Defense Secretary Robert Gates and 13 other past and present officials for civil rights violations.
Janko says his nightmare began after he left the United Arab Emirates in 1999 because of a family dispute. He says he soon found himself being held against his will in Afghanistan, where he was forced into combat training in a Taliban camp near Kandahar.
When he tried to leave, Janko says, he was “immediately denounced as an American and Israeli spy and sentenced to 25 years in prison.”
“The torture that Mr. Janko endured for the next 18 months included severe beatings, starvation, electric shock with a magneto (a portable generator) with wires attached to toes and ears, near drowning, hanging from the ceiling, the Falaka or beatings of the feet, sleep deprivation, extinguishing cigarettes on his body, threats of death, loud noises, untreated sickness and generally filthy and unsafe detention conditions,” Janko says in his 44-page complaint. (Parentheses in complaint.)
Beaten down by the Taliban’s torture, Janko says, he was forced to confess on tape that he was a spy, that he engaged in sexually deviant behavior and that he was a drug addict. He says these coerced confessions were broadcast on television for his family and friends to see.
After the attacks of Sept, 11, 2001, U.S. forces took over Sarpusa prison where Janko was being held. It was then that journalists who visited the prison referred to Janko and four other men as the Kandahar Five.
Janko says he immediately offered his assistance to the United States, but says his taped “confession” to being an American spy was used “to conclude that plaintiff was jihadist.”
He says former Attorney General John Ashcroft publicly accused him of being a terrorist at a “highly publicized press conference on Jan. 17, 2002.”
Janko says he was detained by U.S. forces, tortured and ultimately transferred to Guantanamo Bay.
He says the torture he received at the hands of U.S. officials rivaled that of the Taliban. He says interrogation methods “included a combination of abusive techniques such as striking his forehead, threatening to remove his fingernails, sleep deprivation, exposure to very cold temperatures, exercise to exhaustion through sit-ups, push-ups, and running in chains, stress positions for hours at a time, use of police dogs, and rough treatment prior to interrogation sessions.”
Under these conditions, Janko says, he “falsely confessed that he was a member of al-Qaeda and had knowledge of al-Qaeda plans and personnel.”
“He fabricated information such as the connections between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda,” Janko says.
In May 2002, Janko says, he was sent to Guantanamo Bay, where his treatment and living conditions worsened.
“Mr. Janko was subjected to techniques that were, on information and belief, designed and intended to break him down both physically and psychologically, and caused him severe suffering throughout his detention,” the complaint states.
He says the U.S. techniques “included solitary confinement for years; sleep deprivation for days, weeks and months; exposure to extreme temperatures for prolonged periods of time; severe beatings; threats against plaintiff and his family; sexually explicit slurs against female family members; deprivation of adequate medical and psychological care; and continuous humiliation and harassment.”
Janko says he tried to commit suicide 17 times at Guantanamo.
In 2005, when a Supreme Court ruling allowed Guantanamo detainees to file habeas corpus petitions, Janko says he filed a petition, but it wasn’t until four years later that a District of Columbia District Court judge found that the government had insufficient evidence to prove he was an enemy combatant.
His petition was granted, but he says U.S. officials did not release him for another 3 months, during which time he was held under the same horrendous conditions.
Janko says he was released on Oct. 7, 2009 and now lives outside of the United States.
“As a result of his wrongful treatment by the defendants Mr. Janko has suffered intense emotional and physical pain,” he says.
Janko says he’s lost a decade of his life, which has had a “disastrous impact on his financial condition and his earning capacity.”
He seeks damages for civil rights violations, including unlawful detention, inhumane detention conditions, violation of due process, violation of prohibition against prolonged arbitrary detention, torture, cruel and degrading treatment, and violations of the Geneva Conventions.
Named as defendants are Robert Gates, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Gordon England, James McGarrah, Richard Myers, Peter Pace, Michael Mullen, Gary Speer, James Hill, Bantz Braddock, James Stavridis, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, Rear Adm. Harry Harris Jr., Mark Buzby, David Thomas, Thomas Copeman III, Adolph McQueen, Brig. Gen. Nelson Cannon, Col. Michael Bumgarner, Col. Wade Dennis, Esteban Rodriguez, Paul Rester, Daniel McNeill, Frank Wiercinski, and up to 100 John Does.
He wants the officials to pay unspecified compensatory damages for his medical expenses, lost earnings and damages for pain and suffering. He also wants unspecified punitive and exemplary damages and attorneys’ fees.
Janko is represented by Terrence Collingsworth with Conrad Scherer.