Sunday 18 March 2018

Secrets of Saddam's NY torture chamber 'revealed'

Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein
Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein

Svetlana Poleva

Saddam Hussein had a secret torture room built in the basement of the Iraqi mission to the United Nations in New York's Upper East Side, it has been reported.

The Iraqi dictator ordered the installation of the "detention room" inside the five-storey building at 14 East 79th Street when he rose to power in 1979, two unnamed Iraqi officials told the 'New York Post'.

"It was a dark room. The doors were reinforced in a way that nobody could break in or out. You didn't need to soundproof it," one official said. The other official added: "You're not going to hear someone screaming down there."

According to the two Iraqi officials, who spoke to the 'Post' on condition of anonymity, the dictator's henchmen from the notorious Mukhabarat (Iraqi Intelligence Service), would hold Iraqis living in the US for up to 15 days to use them as leverage.

Torture tactics employed by the intelligence service included pulling out prisoners' nails and beating them to a pulp, the officials claimed.

A lack of cooperation could mean being executed and shipped back to Baghdad in diplomatic, customs-exempt boxes, the report stated. "This is diplomatic - nobody has the authority to examine it or open it," one official explained.

The detention room was similar to others in Iraqi embassies around the world, including Eastern Europe and Arab countries, where evidence of torture was uncovered, the officials told the 'Post'.

The mission, located close to the home of the city's former mayor Michael Bloomberg, was raided in 2003 following Saddam's fall from power in Iraq by federal investigators. The two men believe all evidence of wrongdoing was removed.

"US government officials came in. They took hard drives, computers. They went into vaults - they smashed them open. Officially, they were running Iraq because we didn't have a government. We got the mission back in less than a year," the second official explained to the 'Post', adding that the Iraqi Secret Service was sent home for good.

In 2014, the subterranean space was converted into a kitchenette during a full renovation of the mission.

Irish Independent

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