WASHINGTON , Ma y 22, 2004 (Reuters) – Hundreds of new images and sworn
statements from Iraqis held at Abu Ghraib prison that depict harrowing
sexual humiliation and religious intimidation at the hands of U.S. soldiers
were broadcast around the world on Friday.
The latest photographs and videos, and 13 previously secret sworn statements
by detainees, obtained by The Washington Post, further undermined American
efforts to influence the Arab world and added a darker dimension to the
abuse decried worldwide.
The statements showed an overt anti-Islamic dimension to the abuses, with
prisoners forced to renounce their religion, eat pork and drink liquor in
contravention of Islamic religious tenets.
One detainee said he was told during the holy month of Ramadan he would be
released if he cooperated and was ordered to curse Islam. "Because they
started to hit my broken leg, I curse my religion. They ordered me to thank
Jesus I am alive."
The abuses were said to include prisoners being fondled by female soldiers
and forced to masturbate in front of them, as well as an Army translator
having sex with a screaming boy 15 to 18 years old, an incident detainee
Kasim Mehaddi Hilas said was documented in photos taken by a female soldier.
The statements added allegations of prisoners being ridden like animals,
sodomized with a phosphoric light and forced to retrieve their food from
"They forced us to walk like dogs on our hands and knees," detainee No.
13077, Hiadar Sabar Ahed Miktub al-Aboodi, said. "We had to bark like a dog,
and if we didn't do that they started hitting us hard on our face and chest
with no mercy." U.S. soldiers were also shown threatening prisoners with
dogs, which are considered unclean in Islam.
The new pictures and videos, with U.S. soldiers shown laughing and
delighting in the abuses, amplified the picture of sexual humiliation and
violence in the prison and go beyond the photos previously shown in the
Video clips showed a prisoner being struck across the face and another in
handcuffs being dragged across the floor. Another video clip showed five
hooded and naked detainees standing against the wall in the darkness, each
masturbating, with two other hooded detainees crouched at their feet.
Photos and videos from Abu Ghraib were presented to Army investigators in
January. The images began surfacing publicly last month, severely damaging
the United States' reputation in the Arab world.
Seven U.S. soldiers, four men and three women, are facing courts-martial for
abuses and beatings at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib jail and one pleaded guilty on
Wednesday. Another of them, Spec. Charles Graner, was identified in
statements by eight detainees and is facing more charges than the others.
Graner's attorney was not immediately available for comment, but has said
previously that Graner was following orders of military intelligence
The Pentagon had shown members of the U.S. Congress more than 1,600 pictures
and videos that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had warned might become
Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a House of
Representatives Armed Services Committee hearing on Friday that the Pentagon
was looking into whether soldiers could have been given any guidance that
would lead to these actions.
"So far we haven't found that guidance that says that's appropriate
behavior, just the opposite in fact," he said.
Senate Republican leader Bill Frist of Tennessee praised Rumsfeld's
commitment to "complete and timely investigations" of what he referred as
"the ugly behavior of a few."
The statements and images were of detainees held in Tier 1A of Abu Ghraib,
an area under control of military intelligence that housed Iraqis whom the
United States thought had high value intelligence information that could
help in the search for deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein or lead to caches
of weapons of mass destruction. It was also where prisoners involved in
violence elsewhere in Abu Ghraib were taken.
The Washington Post said the 65 pages of sworn written statements in Arabic
were taken in January and were translated by U.S. contractors.