Shaker Aamer, the UK’s last Guantanamo Bay detainee, told extremists to “get the hell out” of the country
Shaker Aamer told the Mail on Sunday that he denounced attacks such as the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby, saying “you cannot just kill anybody”.
The 48-year-old was held at the US military base in Cuba over allegations he had led a Taliban unit in Afghanistan and met al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, but he was never charged.
In his first broadcast interview since being released, Mr Aamer revealed details of the abuse he alleges was inflicted on him by American interrogators.
He also claimed a British intelligence officer witnessed him being beaten at a US air base in Afghanistan, where he was first held, but did nothing to stop the abuse.
Speaking to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, he said his interrogators at Bagram air base repeatedly banged his head against the wall.
“I felt my head – boom, boom, boom – banging the wall. And all I remember [is] that my head just kept banging the wall, back and forth, back and forth.”
Asked if he was certain a British intelligence officer was present, he replied: “I would say 80, 90%. I have no doubt he is an Englishman, because of the way he spoke, the way he is very careful, the way he was sitting far away, looking at me.”
He said the day before the incident he had “met John, who already told me ‘I’m with the MI5 intelligence service and I came to ask you a few questions’. So, I have no doubt he was an Englishman.”
Soon after the 9/11 attacks on the US, Mr Aamer was detained in Afghanistan by bounty hunters tracking down and handing over possible al-Qaeda suspects. He was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2002.
Accusations against Mr Aamer were dropped in 2007 but it was another eight years before he was released. He has said he was in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan in 2001 to make a better life for his family.
Responding to the accusations against him, Mr Aamer said none was true: “You were an al-Qaeda operative? No, not at all.
“Prove it… prove anything that you say… prove it to the world,” he said.
Blair May Know
Meanwhile, SNP’s Alex Salmond said former prime minister Tony Blair and foreign secretary Jack Straw “must have known” about the torture of British prisoner Shaker Aamer by the United States.
Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC 1 this morning, Mr Salmond said the revelation meant then-Prime Minister Tony Blair and then-Foreign Secretary Jack Straw had questions to answer.
He said: “British officials, intelligence officers…came into Bagram airbase on the same flight as the then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, and so the not unreasonable allegation that Shaker Aamer makes is that both the Prime Minister Tony Blair and the then-Home Secretary Jack Straw [sic] must have known, not just about his illegal abduction, but also about his torture at the hands of the US authorities.
“As with so many things Messrs Blair and Straw have a great deal to answer for and they have to be asked the straight question: ‘How can they possibly not have known about the fate befallen a British citizen?’
“Governments have many responsibilities but the prime responsibility of all governments is to keep their own citizens safe from harm and governments are not meant to collaborate in the illegal abduction and then the torture of one of our own citizens. Both the then-Prime Minister and Home Secretary [sic] have to face up and tell us exactly what they knew and when they knew it.”