MI5 secretly tried to hire British men held in Guantanamo Bay and other US prison camps by promising to protect them from their American captors and help secure their return home to the United Kingdom, The Independent has learnt. One of the men, Richard Belmar, was told he would be paid “well” for his services if he was willing to work undercover for MI5. A second detainee, Bisher Al Rawi, was told that if he agreed to work for the security service he would be “freed within months”. Three other detainees were threatened with rendition and harsh detention regimes if they did not co-operate with their British and American interrogators.But MI5 failed to honour the promises made by its agents, a former agent has told The Independent.
The source, who is close to the MI5 officers who conducted the interviews, has confirmed that “assurances” had been given to the British men while they were held in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. But he said that senior officers in London had cleared the actions of its own officers but later reneged on the promises. This is backed up by sworn testimony lodged in the High Court from the former detainees.
al-Rawi, 39, was only held after MI5 sent the CIA a telegram, stating he was an ‘Islamic extremist’ who had a timer for an improvised bomb in his luggage. In reality, before al-Rawi left London, police confirmed the device was a battery charger from Argos.
They then took advantage of the torture at Gitmo to make him a pliant recruit-
Bisher Al Rawi claims that MI5 officers visited him at the US naval base in Cuba to offer him a job working for the security services after his release. The two officers, who called themselves “Martin and Matt”, told him they had “specifically come to see you”. The court case alleges: “Mr Al Rawi’s shackles and handcuffs were completely removed during this meeting and Martin and Matt brought Mr Al Rawi a McDonald’s meal. They asked Mr Al Rawi a number of questions, showed him photographs of individuals they were interested in, and had a lengthy discussion with him. During the meeting a request was made by the men to Mr Al Rawi that he would work for the security services upon being released. They promised that if he agreed he would be released within a few months. Mr Al Rawi agreed to these terms.”
An old scam, torture is used to create agents by repressive regimes. That the superiors reneged on the deals probably owes something to internal politics after Gitmo as an issue didn’t go away and a lot to HMG doing whatever it was told to do by the Whitehouse. And one could also ask, did all these schemes end up like this, or are turned damaged people now working as agents for our ever so noble governments?