A businessman who was held and mistreated in the United Arab Emirates following the London bombings believes he has evidence that British consular officials asked permission from the UK’s own security services to visit him while he was detained. Heavily redacted documents seen by the Guardian appear to indicate that the request to visit Alam Ghafoor was made to an unidentified British intelligence officer and not to officials in the UAE.
Ghafoor is one of several British men who allege there has been British complicity in their detention and torture while abroad. The businessman, who is 38 and from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, was detained and tortured while on a business trip to Dubai following the London bombings in July 2005.
Ghafoor and his business partner, Mohammed Rafiq Siddique, flew to the UAE on 4 July. They were dragged out of a restaurant as they dined on 21 July. The two British Muslims say they were threatened with torture, deprived of sleep, subjected to stress positions and told they would be killed and fed to dogs.
Ghafoor has obtained copies of correspondence from consular officials to the Foreign Office in London while he was in custody that show those officials were asking someone other than the UAE authorities for permission to see him. Who that person is, and who they represented, is unclear, as their name was censored before the copies were handed over. Some of the reports were so heavily redacted by the time Ghafoor received them that the only words not blanked are his name.
MI5 and MI6 officers who question terrorism suspects they know are being tortured, are acting in line with a secret government interrogation policy, drawn up after the 9/11 attacks. The policy states: “we cannot be party to such ill treatment nor can we be seen to condone it” and that “it is important that you do not engage in any activity yourself that involves inhumane or degrading treatment of prisoners.” It also advises intelligence officers that if detainees “are not within our custody or control, the law does not require you to intervene” to prevent torture.