Danish terrorist Suspect Monir Awad -- NOWHERE TO GO Sweden’s complicity in the world-wide detention of Monir Awad

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Sweden’s complicity in the world-wide
detention of Monir Awad

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About cageprisoners
Cageprisoners is a not-for-profit company limited by
guarantee which operates as a human rights NGO.
The organisation seeks to work for political Muslim
detainees, specifically those interned as a result of
the ‘War on Terror’ and its peripheral campaigns, by
raising awareness of the illegality and the global
consequences of their detention. By promoting due
process, the vision of the organisation is to see a
return to the respect of those fundamental norms
which transcend religion, societies and political
Cageprisoners comprises of an advisory group which
includes patrons, seasoned activists, lawyers, doctors
and former detainees. From the group, a board has
been elected which oversees the strategy and
management of the organisation and its employees.
By working in such a way the working environment
of the organisation can constantly be reviewed in
light of its aims and objectives.
Copyright © 2010 Cageprisoners
All rights reserved.
27 Old Gloucester Street
00 (44) 7973264197
Email: [email protected]
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About MMRK
The Muslim Human Rights Committee (MMRK)
was formed in 2007 as a reaction to the growing
anti-Muslimism, hate crimes and the human rights
violations committed in the aftermath of September
11 in 2001.
MMRK is an independent advocacy organisation
seated in Stockholm which works with a Muslim
value base for justice and dignity for all people
regardless of religion, race, sex and political orienta-
MMRK monitors and draws attention to human
rights violations committed in Sweden and interna-
tionally. MMRK affirms that Swedish Muslims most
fundamental human rights have been compromised
in the so called War on Terrorism. In our work we
collaborate with different stakeholders to protect
Swedish Muslims rights within Swedish society.
Our activities comprise:
• Writing reports to present to governments and
• Monitor and contest anti-Muslimism within the
• Monitor Sweden’s role in the so called War on
• Produce articles on the topic of anti-Muslimism.
• Organise actions against anti-Muslimism.
• Arrange seminars and lectures on human rights.
Copyright © 2010 MMRK
All rights reserved.
P.O. BOX 20047
SE-104 60 Stockholm
[email protected]
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Table of contents
INTRODUCTION TO THE SWEDISH EDITION..................................................................... 6
HORN OF AFRICA DETENTION.............................................................................................. 8
HARASSEMENT IN SWEDEN................................................................................................ 14
PAKISTANI DETENTION........................................................................................................ 15
CONCLUSION.......................................................................................................................... 19
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Introduction to the Swedish edition
Munir Awad and his family are only one example of
This report was first released by the British Organisa-
Swedish Muslims who have found life unsatisfying
tion Cageprisoners in the spring of 2010. The Muslim
in an increasingly anti-Muslim climate in Sweden.
Human Rights Committee in Sweden has been given
The attempts they have made to venture out into
all right to release it in Sweden. Some additional
the world to places more welcoming to them have
information has been put into the report after several
involuntarily turned them into objects of suspicion
talks with Munir Awad.
for both the Swedish security Police, Säpo, and inter-
national security agencies around the world. Conse-
For the Muslim Human Rights Committee in No-
quently Munir Awad and his wife, Safia Ben Aouda,
vember 2010
have also become objects of interest for Swedish
journalists and victims of their abundant
Kitimbwa Sabuni
anti-Muslim fantasies.
Muslim Human Rights Committee

In the eyes of these journalist travels to countries in
the Muslim world such as Somalia and Pakistan can
only be motivated by sinister intentions and in their
hands Munir Awad and Safia Ben Aouda have been
denounced as evildoers. By consciously choosing
unreliable sources the Swedish media have been able
to sell the story about Munir and Safia as terrorists.
But once they were cleared of all charges, the Swedish
media did neither apologize nor show any repent-
ance for having published what were obvious lies.

For Swedish Muslims to be represented in an equal
and balanced way by the Swedish media have
become next to impossible in a post September 11
world. We the Muslim Human Rights Committee
decided to release this report in Sweden in order to
highlight the forgotten story about the human rights
abuses committed against Munir Awad and the dubi-
ous position taken by the Swedish authorities with
regards to these human rights abuses. To make mat-
ters worse the Swedish media have made no serious
effort to report back on these human rights abuses,
instead they have been more interested in maintain-
ing the negative and false image of the Awads as
dangerous terrorist.

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Guantanamo Bay was the first visible symbol of the
Monir Awad has now been detained twice in the past
War on Terror to come to the world’s attention. Its
four years. His first detention in 2006 occurred when
legality was immediately dubious to those versed in he accidentally found himself in the conflict zone of
international human rights law. Its abuses became
Somalia when Ethiopian forces invaded in December
infamous; however it was only the beginning. Soon
2006. He was visiting there from the UAE for a short
afterwards the existence of similar sights in Abu
stay, evaluating whether it would be suitable for him
Ghraib, Bagram and Kandahar came to the world’s
and his pregnant wife (who was travelling with him)
attention. What has become apparent since 2001, in
to settle. It was at this point that war broke out and
the past eight years, is that there is an entire world-
in attempting to escape to Kenya, as the Swedish
wide network of prisons outside the realm of normal authorities advised, they were captured by Kenyan
legal systems, which operate outside any legal juris-
forces and their first experience of detention,
dictions, and with near impunity. The exact nature of rendition and abusive interrogations began.
the specific sites which make up this network vary
from those best known such as the facility at Guan-
After some time in Sweden and being reminded why
tanamo bay to CIA black sites, whose inmates are
they had originally decided that they should emigrate
nearly never known to those attempting to hold the
to a different part of the world, Monir and his part-
authorities running these facilities to account.
ner along with their friend Mehdi Ghezali, a former
Guantanamo prisoner, who shared their opinion of
The case of Monir Awad, a Swedish citizen of joint
the intolerance of Swedish society again decided to
Palestinian and Lebanese decent, is an extremely in-
try and find a place for themselves somewhere they
teresting case study of the global detention network
would be comfortable settling. This time they de-
in the War on Terror which has come into existence
cided also to couple this with a tour of the Muslim
since 2001. His case individually highlights nearly
world to take in sites to see their heritage.
every aspect of this network and the specificities of
its various permutations. These specificities include
The interview conducted by Cageprisoners in Swe-
everything from detention without charge and the
den with Monir Awad in October 2009 is the source
failure to produce any prima facie case for it, profil-
for the information presented here. Our conclusions
ing, rendition, refoulement, abuse and torture whilst reached in this report have all been corroborated
in detention, proxy prisons, the complicity of foreign many times by various sources since the beginning
security services in these detentions and lastly at-
of the “War on Terror”.
tempts to force links in interrogation between pris-
oners and Al-Qaeda. The case of Monir Awad high-
Asim Qureshi
lights all these points, and how this system is beyond
Executive Director
the law, operates with impunity, and with either the
knowledge or at the behest of western governments
and most importantly the injustice and human rights
abuses it perpetrates.
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Horn of Africa detention
Monir Awad first left Sweden in October 2006 bound Monir and his wife were separated for the journey on
for the United Arab Emirates where his friend’s wife the recommendation of their hosts who felt it would
lived and worked. Here he was put in touch with a
be safer if the women travelled separately. The group
representative of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) that they were part of travelled via the port town of
which had come to power in Somalia earlier that
Kismayo to Afmadow and on to Ras Kamboni. Their
year. The UIC had for the first time brought some
situation was made worse when their guides left
semblance of order to the streets of Mogadishu after them stranded in the middle of nowhere. They found
a 13 year civil war. There was a sense that this would themselves in a barren land with no water and no
be a crucial stage in building a stable and
food. Things reached their most dire when members
prosperous Somalia. In this period many Somali
of the group were forced to drink their own urine.
refugees and immigrants from other parts of the
world travelled back to Somalia hoping to contribute It was in this period that the area that the group of
to this developmental statebuilding process.
foreign nationals found themselves in was bombed
by the Ethiopian military. Monir found himself
Monir Awad left Sweden and initially travelled to the running through the jungle and in his own words
UAE where his friend and the wife of his friend who was “hunted” for two weeks. This period was made
lived there. While there he was given the contact
worse as he had been separated from his wife and he
details of the UIC representative in the country who had no way of knowing what had happened to her.
he arranged to meet before he travelled to Somalia.
Eventually a small group of fifteen people, a much
He was told by the UIC representative about the
smaller group than the group that had originally
future developments of Somalia and that security in
set out together, reached the village of Kiunga, in
the country was now fine for people to return or set-
northern Kenya. Here they were welcomed by the
tle in Somalia. Monir and his family were provided
village’s people given food, water and shelter. The
with visas. Safia Benaouda, Monir Awad’s wife were group was told that they could stay in the village for
four months pregnant at this stage and they were
the night and that in the morning a bus would take
seriously considering raising their family in Somalia. them to Nairobi. Here it must have seemed that their
Monir, spurred by these promises, he with his wife
ordeal was nearly over.
and friend travelled from the UAE to Somalia for a
short two week visit to attempt to ascertain the
The group, including Monir, were sitting in a
suitability to settle there.
mosque discussing their situation when one of the
people present looked out of the window and starting
In Somalia they were met again by officials from the telling everyone to get down. The mosque they were
Somali government – of most significance was that
in had been surrounded by Kenyan soldiers who the
the head of the welcoming committee was Sheikh
villagers had called secretly. This was in fact the
Sharif, the current President of Somalia. They were
beginning of their detention in the Horn of Africa.
welcomed and escorted by guards to a house where
The group were told that they could not stay in the
they were provided for comfortably. However it was village and removed from the mosque and made to
not soon after their arrival that the Ethiopian
take off their clothes. They were severely beaten,
invasion and occupation of Somalia began. The
chained and dumped onto two big trucks. They were
airport was bombed and they like all other foreign
then taken to a ‘station’ in the
nationals followed the advice of their embassies and jungle where interrogations and accusations of
tried to move south to safety in Kenya.
being terrorists and criminals began.
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Here we can draw out the first important irregularity “Firstly they took British citizen to meet MI5. They
in the detention the group underwent and therefore
took him to a big house. When he came back he was
also of the entire system of detention in the Horn of
given new shoes and they treated his injuries.
Africa. They were interrogated here by people who
Everyone thought this will happen for them too and
spoke perfect English or more precisely and verba-
they will get to go home.”
tim in the words of Monir Awad:
However even though he and his companions hoped
“They were black people but they were speaking
that their treatment as EU citizens would be similar
English. Some of them could speak perfect
to their British counterpart, this was simply not to
American. Maybe they were American, who knows.” be. After approximately 10 to 15 days in this facility
in Kenya they found themselves suddenly being put
This initial interrogation which lasted for two days
on rendition flights to Somalia – still a conflict zone
focused around the issue of why Monir Awad had
at the time. This was and is illegal under interna-
been in Somalia. The core allegations levelled
tional law and is termed refoulement, the forceful
against him were that he was working for the UIC,
removal of a person to a place where they will face
that he was a terrorist and that he was a member of
danger. Monir was able to establish to where he was
Al-Qaeda. Importantly and in contravention to inter- rendered to when he caught a glimpse of a sign at
national standards of due process not a single shred
Mogadishu airport.
of evidence was presented to justify their detention.
They were, after these two days, transported by a
In Mogadishu they were kept at first in relatively
bus, two helicopters and a warplane to Nairobi. On
good conditions while they were being interro-
the airport in Nairobi they were made to sit on the
gated by Black men who spoke Arabic and broken
runway. White men and women who sounded Amer- English. One of them claimed that he had been to
ican came and asked them questions while throwing Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, and new about
insults at them. It seemed as if they were doing an
Monir. The same man also interrogated Monirs wife,
inventory of the captives since they gave the impres- Safia, saying that Monir was in big trouble but that
sion that they new who everyone were but wanted to Safia would be all right if she cooperated. Here also
make sure that everyone were accounted for. None
the presence of a third intelligence agency became
of the captives were asked any questions as to how
apparent to those detained with Monir Awad; they
they were doing and if they needed anything.
were filmed by French security services who made
From the airport in Nairobi they were then taken in
a type of documentary though it seems they did not
cars to a prison in Kenya.
interrogate them. It was not until they were back in
Sweden that they again had any sort of contact with
Though Monir and his fellow captives were unaware the French security services.
at the time, they did discover later that the Swedish
government was aware of the presence of its citizens However their stay in Somalia was even shorter than
in Nairobi and of their illegal detention:
their detention in Kenya and it was not long before
Monir Awad and his companions were rendered
“They knew it because another Swedish brother was from Somalia to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This time
in prison too. He was kept in an open prison. He had they were again cuffed and hooded. On the way they
reached to a camp of foreigners. There he met with
stayed a night in the Somali city of Baydawa where
the Swedish embassy. The Swedish embassy had told they were forced to lie outdoors on the ground. Dur-
him that there were other Swedish citizens.”
ing this stay they were forbidden to perform their
prayers. On arrival in Ethiopia Monir and his group
It was in this period that the extent of the involve-
were taken in coaches from the airport to a place that
ment of various European or American Intelligence
was described as “where people throw garbage”.
services in their detention became apparent to Monir. Here they encountered the worst conditions of their
In one incident related by him the British citizen in
his group was led away to a “big house” where he
met with MI5 representatives. Upon his return this
British citizen was then “given new shoes” whilst
the guards at the facility “treated his wounds”:
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“So we end up in this garbage place. It is rotten.
After the first round of interrogations conducted by
We were asking each other to look at the state of
the Ethiopian intelligence services, people from the
the place. We felt so sorry that we were put in there. facility started to be taken to other places for inter-
There rats or some other things. It did not even
rogation. Again these people were hooded and cuffed
have the windows. It was an old rotten place may
and were gone for a variety of lengths lasting up
be like an old prison. So they put us in there, four or to four or five days. According to the testimony of
five people in each room. Then they started work-
Monir these people were abused and tortured wher-
ing on this building every day. For two weeks they
ever it was that they were being taken. He describes
worked day and night. They put up snipers, they put the people who were returned to their cells as being
wall around this prison, and they put up electricity
“in their graves”. Monir described the situation as
around it. So they were building up everything while the following:
we were there.”
“…one of those brothers he came into our room. He
According to him there were rats, no windows, and
was so bad miskeen (poor guy) subhanallah. He was
four or five people to a cell. For the next two weeks
just crying and he just fell down. When they brought
after their arrival there was constant around the
him in he just fell down. We asked what happened.
clock construction taking place, as a purpose built
We still had no idea. We thought we were in good
prison was erected. This new facility, quite literally
hands, do you understand? We did not think that it
constructed around Monir and his fellow prison-
was something or that we were terrorists or other.
ers, had new walls, windows, electricity and even
When we saw him I said, “It’s done!” y’ani we are in
sniper positions added after they arrived. It was not
big, big trouble. I asked him what had happened and
until sometime after that they started to construct
he told me that he was taken to a big house. There
extremely small isolation cells and move people over were Jewish people from Israelis, Mossad, MI5, MI6,
to them.
CIA, and FBI. I said, “Are you saying the truth?” he
said, “wallahi [by God] ya akhi[oh brother]” and
It was the Ethiopians who first began to interrogate
he started crying. I asked him what they had done
the prisoners being held at the site. Monir notes the
to him. He said; they beat me, they did this and this.
level of kindness and compassion showed by the
They give you some medicine and you start to talk.
Ethiopians whom he quotes as saying “you are our
You tell them everything. Then he said to me, these
brothers” and who mentioned that in the Muslim
are his words, “they put stuff in your food, they make
faith and in the life of the prophet Muhammad there you sick, and you sleep for days on.”
is extensive mention in a positive light of the justice
of the Ethiopian king at the time, the Najjashi. One
Not long after this it was Monir Awad‟s turn to be
of his Ethiopian jailers on one occasion even asked
interrogated. Hooded and cuffed he was taken from
if he needed anything and when he replied that he
the facility where he was being held to a house. In
wanted his wife the same Ethiopian soldier took him this house he explained about the Ethiopians role
to meet her.
This was made possible by the fact that in Ethiopia
“They do nothing. They are just like slaves. They
everyone was kept in the same prison. The facility
have nothing to talk about. They are just slaves in
had two different rooms one for the men and the
this house. They guard you, they take you to the in-
other for the women. Previously to this, since their
terrogation, and they take you to the bathroom. They
ordeal began, Muneer and Safia had been separated
do nothing. They don’t beat you.”
in their travel to Kenya and had lost track of where
the other was. It was not until they were both being
held in Kenya that they had learned that the other
was alive. After their brief meeting in Kenya, Monir
had only been able to speak to his wife once in So-
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