The Tipton Three Plus One (from nearby Manchester) first put the small, unexceptional rust belt town of Tipton, in the British Midlands, on the map two years or so ago when three young Muslims from immigrant families – and all living within a quarter of a mile of one another - were arrested by the Americans and shipped off to Guantanamo Bay.
All protested at the outrage and claimed to have been detained in error.
Professing shock, Shafiq Rasul, 25, claims he traveled overseas from Tipton to take a computer course in that well-known centre of innovation and technology, Lahore, Pakistan. It was a Microsoft course and he says it was cheaper in Lahore.
Asif Iqbal, who it is said was captured by the Northern Alliance and handed over to the Americans by them, had been on an "innocent" quest for a bride. Perhaps feeling somewhat pinched for choice of a wife among the young Pakistani women of Britain’s 2.5m Muslims, he felt that Pakistan offered him more selection. Born lucky, he met a prospective bride after just one week, doubtless through the agency of helpful relatives queued up for papers to travel to Britain. And money.
Rhuhel Ahmed, a student, of what we do not know, had gone to Pakistan rather impetuously, given it was in the run-up to a war, to help out with a friend’s wedding, which makes him the Muslim version of the New Man, since in Muslim societies, it is women who do weddings. But then, Rhuhel is one of six children and perhaps very family oriented. His parents immigrated to Britain from Bangladesh.
Jamal al-Harith also known as Ronnie Fiddler from the city of Manchester is the oldie of the four. At 37, he is the father of three children, although he has divorced their mother. He is a web designer. Again, he just happened to be in Pakistan just a few weeks before September 11, to study Arabic – an unusual pursuit in a country where the national language is Urdu. Jamal claims to have been captured by the Taleban while on his way to Turkey, from Pakistan. He had paid a taxi driver to take him, not realizing they would have to pass through Afghanistan. The Taleban captured him then turned him over to the Americans. Fiddler, from a Jamaican immigrant family, claimed on the BBC that Pakistanis in the area were selling people carrying foreign passports to the American government for around $2,000 each.
After being held for just over two years in Camp Delta, and as a result of pressure from Britain’s dhimmi, barely sentient Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, they were released into British custody last week.
They were flown back to Britain at British taxpayer expense on a Royal Air Force plane with RAF police on board. Scotland Yard videotaped the flight and had plain clothes observers on board. The government had also taken the precaution of having medical personnel on board.
They landed and British police questioned them overnight. And released the four of them the following morning.
The British Home Secretary, who is blind, stands by his assessment that the detainees are no threat.
The detainees immediately announced their intentions to sue the American government in general and Donald Rumsfeld and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, in particular. The charges, according to the BBC, are “torture and human rights violations.” Well, of course!
They and their attorneys have figured that US$10m each should just about compensate them for their loss of liberty and dignity.
The “torture” they allegedly underwent involved the importation into Camp Delta of strippers and prostitutes whose mission it was to humiliate devout young Muslim boys from Pakistan. Al-Harith says that he although he felt sorry for the molested boys, the strippers didn’t bother him and several other British Muslims. “We shouted, send them over here! We’ll take them!” However, he claimed that their purpose was to outrage the modesty of the suspected young terrorists from the boonies in Pakistan.
The torture al-Harith claims to have endured, being inured to strippers, along with his co-inmates, were leg chains, strobe lights, loud music and being growled at by unmuzzled dogs. (At one point he pointed to a dog outside his cell that slept in a wooden, air-conditioned kennel and had a grass patch to exercise on and said to his guard, “I want his rights.” And the unfeeling guard replied, “That dog is a member of the US Army.”)
These rumors of torture-by-stripper first began to circulate around 10 months or so ago. Indeed, there were suggestions in the blogosphere that cyber tip boxes be established for the girls for their service to America and the free world. Such was the enthusiasm that, had the accounts ever been set up, these alleged strippers would have never had to remove another item of clothing in public for the rest of their days.
However, the rumor was discredited around the same time and it was claimed that the stripper allegations were a hoax to sell newspapers. The charges were also denied by the US Embassy in Britain. And there it lay, quiescent and unnoticed until last May when the exposure of the frat parties at Abu Ghraib pumped new life into the story. And now they have bounced back to the tune of $10 million per victim.
The Guardian claims to have learned, however, that some British detainees were sexually abused, although it has been shy about giving any details. “According to a source,” writes the Guardian, “they were initially too ashamed to talk about it.” Pentagon spokesman Col David McWilliams has already denied that nudity and embarrassment were used. “We have no protocol that allows us to disrobe a detainee whatsoever,” he said.
Indeed, the US Embassy in Britain, with White House approval, released details of the reasons the men were detained, saying they had trained with Taleban forces and had received weapons from them. According to Lee McLenny, press counselor with the Embassy, “One of them had been taught to use an AK-47 rifle and a pistol at an al-Qaeda safehouse in Kabul. Two others learned to use Kalashnikovs at a camp in Afghanistan, with one man returning with a third man the following year.” He added that one man said he considers the US and UK governments to be his enemies. This individual also associated with extremists, of which there are many freely walking the streets in the United Kingdom. The question of what these extremists are doing walking around on British streets is a question that has exercised the indigenous citizenry for several years now.
The Telegraph’s legal editor Joshua Rozenberg writes that the men are alleging “torture and other human rights violations.” The case has been lodged at a Federal District Court in Washington, DC. The claimants are being supported by the Center for Constitutional Rights, which states that their claims are being brought under the Alien Tort Claims Act, Geneva Conventions and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. [John Perazzo wrote about the Center for Constitutional Rights in Front Page Magazine in July 2002.]
The Pentagon, while declining to comment on specific issues, has stated, “The allegations of torture are false. Under US law, there is no basis to pay claims to individuals captured during combat. The four were captured in Afghanistan while fighting illegally for al-Qaeda. They were detained as a result of their activities in Afghanistan.”
According to the BBC, “The suit also names Major General Geoffrey Miller, former commander at Guantanamo Bay base, and up to 100 John Does who were allegedly involved in the illegal torture of the plaintiffs.”
Meanwhile, not counting his chickens, Manchester resident Ronnie Fiddler, aka Jamal al-Harith, is considering a book deal.