(ممدوح حبيب) is an Egyptian
born Australian Muslim
best known for his extrajudicial detention
in the Guantanamo Bay detainment camps
, in Cuba
, on suspicion of involvement in terrorism.
His Guantanamo Internee Security Number
He was born in 1956 in Egypt, moved to Australia in 1980, became a citizen there, married a woman named Maha, had four children, and taught Islam. After being released without charge he ran as an independent political candidate in New South Wales state election, 2007, but failed to gain a seat after polling 5% in his electorate.
According to the ABC Current Affairs program Four Corners the (Australian) Defense Housing Authority took out an apprehended violence order against him, following a series of threatening phone calls following the loss of a contract Habib had with the organisation. In court his psychiatrist testified that Habib was suffering from major depression and was being treated with Prozac, but that he was not prone to violence. A witness stated at the trial; "He is irritable. He has been preoccupied with a sense of hopelessness about his future. He has become withdrawn and he has been very agitated at home and he has been crying excessively as well. There is no evidence to suggest that he is aggressive or about to become aggressive or violent. He is not dangerous at this point."
According to the same programme, in early 2001 at a meeting with police, Habib was described as showing "signs of hostility towards government organisations and the community generally". The Protective Services Group was asked to do "a detailed threat assessment" of Mr Habib. The final conclusion was that there was no information to support concerns that Habib might carry out an act of violence. The police decided Habib was "a repetitious and vexatious complainant" and that "little credibility could be attributed to any threats or allegations he may make".
2001 to 2005 imprisonment : Pakistan, Egypt, Afghanistan, Cuba
Mr. Habib was arrested in Pakistan
, deported to Egypt
where he was held for 5 months, transferred to US military custody, imprisoned in Afghanistan
, then sent to Camp X-ray
, the United States
military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay
Habib was arrested October 5
while traveling by bus to Karachi
, Pakistan. The bus was stopped by local police who arrested Habib and two Germans. The two German citizens arrested with Habib were released shortly thereafter.
The Four Corners
airing stated that, under intense and lengthy interrogation, the two Germans were asked if they saw Habib, or if he told them he had been in Afghanistan
, they said nothing that incriminated Habib. One replied; "No. I didn't see him in the camps I was in. Nor did he tell us that he had been in a training camp."
Australian governmant authorities alleged that Habib was in Afghanistan, and that while there he took an advanced al-Qaeda
training course in a camp near Kabul. It's claimed the course included surveillance and photographing facilities, the establishment and use of safe houses, covert travel and writing secret reports. Australian authorities say that several other men who took part in the course identified Habib as having been there. Evidence to support these claims has not been made public.
In an interview with the Australian ABC Habib refused to confirm whether he was in Afghanistan.
Habib alleges that he was beaten and humiliated in Pakistan after his arrest. Habib alleges that an Australian official was present at some of these interrogations, but the Australian Government has denied this.
Habib was then sent to Egypt for five months.
His Egyptian captors allegedly shocked him with high-voltage wires, hung him from metal hooks on walls, and beat him. An Egyptian official stated that he could not comment on these specific allegations, but added that accusations that the Egyptian government was torturing people "tend to be mythology".
However the claims have been substantiated by Moazzam Begg
and other witnesses.
"They outsource torture," said Stephen Hopper, Habib's Australian lawyer.
"You get your friends and allies to do your dirty work for you."
The former coffee shop owner soon confessed to a litany of terrorism-related crimes, including teaching martial arts to several of the September 11 hijackers and planning a hijacking himself.
Habib later insisted that his confessions were false and given under "duress and torture."
Habib was then sent to Guantanamo Bay for two years where he alleges further abuse. He says that he was told by interrogators that his family had been killed, and that he was tied to the ground while a prostitute menstruated on him. Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has publicly challenged Habib's claims, saying "no evidence has been found to prove that torture has been used at the camp.".
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation interviewed Christopher Tennant, the director of Sydney University's Psychological medicine unit.
In the interview Tennant said:
- "He showed me marks on his back, he showed me cigarette burns on his body, and the subsequent examination by another professor of medicine, more expert in physical examination than me, confirmed that he's got skin discolouration on his right loin which would be consistent with old bruising, which in turn would be consistent with beating..."
- "Well, the main feature of the medical report from Guantanamo was that he had had repeatedly blood in his urine, which is a very significant symptom and a worrying symptom, and that was consistent with his reports both to me and to the specialist physician who also examined him, and was consistent with the fact that, on examination, he had evidence of discolouration to his skin on his right loin, just over his kidney, which in turn was consistent with old bruising and possibly due to being beaten."
The USA accused Habib of having knowledge of the September 11, 2001 attacks, training the hijackers, staying at an al-Qaeda safe house in Afghanistan, conducted surveillance, helping transfer chemical weapons, and planning to hijack the aircraft used in the September 11 attacks; in short being an enemy combatant. However, he was never formally charged.
Habib's Combatant Status Review Tribunal alleged:
- 'a. Detainee is associate with al Qaida.
- #Detainee admits to travelling to Afghanistan prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001, where he stayed at a known al Qaida safehouse in Kandahar, Afghanistan, which was run by a highly placed al Qaida operative and was protected by an armed guard.
- #Detainee admits to residing at another safehouse in Kabul, Afghanistan where the number of guests and amount of activity significantly increased just prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001.
- #Detainee admits having knowledge of the attacks of September 11, 2001 prior to their occurrence.
- #Shortly before September 11, 2001, Detainee admits to staying at a safehouse in Lahore, Pakistan.
- #In the late 1990s, Detainee communicated with members of the Lebanon-based Hizballah terrorist group, to inquire about joining the Jihad in Afghanistan.
- #Detainee admits that he has ties to individuals involved in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City.
- 'b. Detainee engaged in hostilities against the US or its coalition partners.
- #Detainee admits that he conducted surveillance of buildings, hospitals and schools with another detainee.
- #Detainee admits that he assisted with the transfer of chemical weapons at a compound near Kabul, Afghanistan.
- #Detainee states that he trained several of the September 11 hijackers in martial arts and had planned to hijack a plane himself.
- #Detainee was captured along with two German Muslims in Pakistan by Pakistani authorities
Mamdouh Ibrahim Ahmed Habib v. George Bush
A writ of habeas corpus, Mamdouh Ibrahim Ahmed Habib v. George Bush, was submitted on
Mamdouh Ibrahim Ahmed Habib's behalf.
In response, on 1 October 2004,
the Department of Defense released 63
pages of unclassified documents related to his Combatant Status Review Tribunal.
On September 20 2004 his "enemy combatant" status was confirmed by Tribunal panel 6.
2005 on: release and post-release
Despite the relentless campaign of accusations and vilification on the part of the US and Australian governments - returned in kind by Mr. Habib - the US government decided in January not to charge Mr. Habib, based on a lack of evidence that would hold up in any eventual trial. At this point, Australia sought his release. On January 11
, Australian Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock
announced that Habib would be released without charge by the United States and repatriated to Australia within days. Many legal experts, including former Family Court Chief Justice Alastair Nicholson, have argued that the Australian government has breached its protective duty to its own citizens, Mamdouh Habib and David Hicks
, by refusing to defend their rights to a fair trial, and that this constitutes a war crime under the Geneva Convention
A special plane was chartered by the Australian government (for approximately $500,000) to fly Habib home because the US would not allow him to travel on an ordinary commercial flight.
Habib was released by the US Military and returned to Australia on 28 January 2005.
With Habib back home, Australian officials have revoked his passport, say he remains under suspicion, and warn his activities will be constantly monitored to ensure he does not become a security threat. He has not been charged and remains relatively free.
The Australian government also wants to prevent Habib being paid by the media for interviews or "making profits from committing a crime" even though he has not been convicted of any crime by any country (it is important to note whilst anti-terrorism laws in Australia currently make it illegal to be involved in terrorist organisations, Habib was already in custody when these laws were introduced and so he cannot be convicted under them). The former Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, ruled out any apology to Habib.
Habib told his family everything that had happened since he left Sydney in July 2001. Just in case something bad happens to him, he said, "I want them to know fully everything".
On 22 August 2005 Habib was attacked by three men with a knife while walking with his wife near his home in Guildford.
He told police that he was followed by a car that cut its headlights as he and his wife, Maha, went for a walk just after midnight, and that as the men ran away the person holding the knife had yelled "something like 'this should keep you quiet"'.
On 29 March 2006, Habib and his son Moustafa said that they witnessed the aftermath of a double murder in the Sydney suburb of Granville. When they reported the murder to police, Habib alleges they were abused, assaulted and interrogated by police officers. On 3 April, he announced he intended to sue New South Wales Police for false imprisonment and assault.
On 11 June 2007 the Australian Broadcasting Commission's (ABC) investigative journalism program Four Corners aired a documentary on extraordinary renditions, much of which focussed on Habib's case.
On 7 March 2008 Habib lost his defamation case against Nationwide News, publisher of The Daily Telegraph. Justice Peter McClellan found Habib was "prone to exaggerate", "evasive" and had made claims about mistreatment in Pakistan and Egypt which could not be sustained. He found that "Habib's claims that he was seriously mistreated in the place of detention in Islamabad cannot be accepted" and "that this evidence was given in order to enhance his forensic position in the present litigation."
Entrance into Australian politics
In the March 2007 New South Wales state election, Habib stood as an independent candidate in the safe Labor seat of Auburn in Sydney. He received less than 5% of the vote
which was comfortably retained by the Australian Labor Party.
He campaigned for the removal of the Federal Government's anti-terror laws, stating "The terror laws are if you have terrorists, but we don't have terrorists".. He is linked to the Socialist Alliance Party.
Habib has four children, including twin sons Ahmed Mandouh Habib and Islam Hassam.
Ahmed competed in the 2005 City to Surf.
Bob Brown invited Ahmed Habib to parliament to attend George Bush's October 24, 2003 speech to parliament. Ahmed was escorted from parliament after calling out "What about my father's rights?"
- Prisoners without Trials - news and analysis of the Habib case
- LA Times Comprehensive article.
- ABC "4 Corners" documentary "Worst of the Worst" – Aired 19 July 2004 – includes link to transcript. This fills in some background to Habib, suggesting that he was "a man on the edge".
- Habib trained terrorists: US, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 October 2004
- Prostitute used in Habib torture – lawyer, Sydney Morning Herald January 27 2005
- cageprisoners.com entry for Mamdouh Habib
- Profile: Mamdouh Habib, BBC, January 28, 2005
- Mamdouh Habib reunites with family -- a transcript, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, January 28, 2005
- New details of Australian involvement in the torture of Mamdouh Habib, World Socialist Web Site, 28 March 2005 - Extensive article with additional links to previous WSWS comments
- Maha and Mamdouh Habib with their two daughters, May 2005 / John Immig
- Mamdouh Habib, former Guantánamo Bay prisoner, speaks with the WSWS, World Socialist Web Site, September 21 2005
- "'Secret defence' delays Habib case". The Age, Retrieved on 2008-09-28. mirror