The World Trade Center terrorist attacks spawned the beginning of high-profile al-Qaeda detainees. Since these detainees were often high profile, prisoners were taken to secret prisons all over the world for interrogations. Often times these prisons are called black sites since unacknowledged black projects of the CIA take place at them. These sites were often prisons that housed prisoners of war who were being held without charges or trial. Oftentimes it was found that these operations ran rampant with torture and gross mistreatment of prisoners.
In one terrifying case prisoners met a mass death resulting in decades of coverups. All of these prisons are located outside of the United States in the Afghanistan, Romania, and other inconspicuous locations. Donald Trump has spoken about wanting to reinstate black sites and begin torturing prisoners once again.
This would undo an order from former President Barack Obama that banned these institutions. Dana Priest at the Washington Post exposed these black sites in 2005 and since then human rights activists and campaigns have been non-stop hoping to uncover who was actually being detained at these secret CIA prisons and what was happening to them.
We’re here to report nothing but the truth as we look at the horrifying behavior that has gone on at some of the worst institutions in the world.
15. ‘Quartz’ Polish Lake District
The Americans and the Poles locked in a deal in 2003 that allowed the United States access to a secret prison in a remote villa located in the Polish lake district. The code name for this prison was ‘Quartz’. The prison was acquired to interrogate al-Qaeda suspects. Many believe that this black site is the most important of those set up after September 11th. This is the site where self-declared 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed was waterboarded up to 183 times.
It was formed when Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein (aka Abu Zubaida) was captured in 2002 and the government wasn’t sure where they could store such a high profile criminal that was thought to be an al-Qaeda leader.
They first transported him to Cambodia but the prison was infested with snakes so they moved Abu Zubaida to Thailand. The CIA continued to round up more al-Qaeda leaders and thought they should move to a prison that could expand, that is when they began speaking to Poland.
14. Temara Interrogation Centre
The Temara Interrogation Centre is also called the Temara secret detention center and is located 15 kilometres from Rabat, Morocco in a forested area. It is a secret prison facility, the first known detainee was Mohammed Mossadegh Benkhadra when he spent eight years in detainment without trial.
Audio recording from and interrogation of Ramzi Binalshibh, an accused plotter of the September 11 attacks, was released in 2010. The prison where Binalshibh was being interrogated was said to be managed by Moroccans but owned by the United States government.
Despite allegations from freed Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed that Temara Interrogation Centre and some other secret CIA prisons relied on Morocco for their detention site the Moroccan government has remained completely silent on the subject. The kind of torture that takes place at Temara includes but is not limited to beatings, the suspension of the body in contorted positions, the threat of sexual abuse or rape, cigarette burns, and sleep deprivation.
13. Stare Kiejkuty Base
Military use of this Polish site dates back to the atrocities of World War II. The Nazis used it as it was a part of Germany at the time and the airstrip helped Nazi Germany plan attacks like that on Warsaw.
In the Communist era (around 1971) just after the base was used by Soviet Russia, the space was taken back by Polish intelligence and became listed on maps as a nondescript holiday resort. It was the only intelligence training facility in the Eastern Bloc that existed outside of the Soviet Union. When taking pictures near the facility, however, visitors will have their memory cards confiscated and signs are posted nearby describing prohibitions regarding taking photos.
In 2005 the former head of Polish national intelligence agency Agencja Wywiadu confirmed that the CIA had access to two “internal zones” at Stare Kiejkuty. Come 2010, Poland recanted previous statements by leaking information about at least six CIA flights passing through Stare Kiejkuty in 2003, supporting ideas that this location serves as a CIA black site.
12. Camp Lemonnier
Publicly this site serves as a hub for drone strikes on Yemen but it is also suspected to be a secret CIA prison. Before the 9/11 attacks, Camp Lemonnier was a temporal outpost but it soon housed over 4000 troops after the shift in US Global Military Deployment following the act of terrorism on the country.
Its location next to a popular Djibouti airport make it prime real estate for a CIA black site and US presence won’t stop anytime soon, President Obama extended the lease for 10 years in 2013. Mohammad al-Asad, Yemeni citizen, was arrested at his home in Tanzania in 2003 before being blindfolded and flown around the world to CIA black sites.
He was eventually released after being told that the United States government had absolutely nothing that warranted keeping him. This man was tortured extensively for two years and insists that he was in Djibouti at Camp Lemonnier before being flown to Afghanistan.
Antaviliai is a neighborhood located in the capital of Lithuania on the northern edge of Antakalnis eldership, it was incorporated into the city of Vilnius in 1969. In 1999 the land was owned by two local families and housed a cafe and equestrian facility. The business was not doing well and in 2004 the location was purchased by Elite LLC, subsidiary of Star Group Finance & Holdings, Inc.
The company did a huge rebuild and connected the structures to a United States electrical grid. It is said that this space served as a CIA black site from 2004-2005 and housed up to eight prisoners. In the Senate Intelligence Committee report some believe that this black site is referred to as Detention Site Violet.
After news reports of the Lithuanian black site the Lithuanian parliament held an investigation into Antaviliai that concluded there was not a prison there. However, they did not disclose what did go on there due to ‘state secrets’.
10. Diego Garcia
This British overseas territory was used by the United States after 9/11 as a “transit location” for those who were partaking in “nefarious activities”. It is located in the Indian Ocean on British land that has leased to the United States since 1966. The government used this prison when other locations were too full, dangerous, unavailable, or insecure. People were not only temporarily housed there they were also interrogated at Diego Garcia according to Colin Powell’s former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson.
Wilkerson told Vice News that he didn’t know about the United States government activity until after his time serving under Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005. He got information about the activity at Diego Garcia from four distinct intelligence and CIA sources including someone who participated in the renditions program.
9. Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base
Since 1999 the United States Air Force has had use of Mihail Kogalniceanu Airport, it is currently an annex of the 86th Air Base. In 2015 the airport handled 63,329 passengers which showed a 66.9% increase from the previous year. Many conspiracy theorists believe this Romanian airport that is close to many travel destination to be a filter for secret passengers.
These conspiracy enthusiasts believe that these secret passengers are United States prisoners being brought to a secret black site prison located on the premises of the airport. This theory is supported by a Human Rights Watch Report that shows a plane flying from Mihail Kogalniceanu Airport to Guantanamo to Morocco all on the same day. Since a black site is located at each location it is an easy assumption to say that a prisoner flew into Mihail Kogalniceanu Airport on that plane.
8. USS Ashland
In the Summer of 2005 the USS Ashland and the USS Kearsarge were targeted by three Katyusha rockets while they were docked in Aqaba, Jordan. The boat survived this rocket ship but was later accused by human rights lawyers of holding multiple prisoners from the United State’s war on terror.
A number of sources have spoken about the United State’s prison ships including statements from the United States Military, the Council of Europe, testimonies of prisoners, and parliamentary bodies. The human rights organization Reprieve claims that there have been more than 200 new cases of rendition since 2006 when George W. Bush declared that the practice had stopped.
This naval ship, along with around 14 other floating prisons, were used to detain and question prisoners while also transporting them to other black sites located on land. The ships are often found in the Indian Sea around fellow black site Diego Garcia.
7. Camp Bondsteel
Camp Bondsteel is a main base of the United States Army in Kosovo under KFOR command. It was November 2005 when the United States was first condemned for using Camp Bondsteel as a detention center.
At this time they were also cited for how they treated the prisoners who were detained there without trial. Human Rights envoy of the Council of Europe Alvaro Gil-Robles called the detainment center a smaller version of Guantanamo Bay after an on-site visit. The United States Army replied promptly that there were no detention facilities on site at Camp Bondsteel, but many disagree.
Despite these claims Gil-Robles describes seeing prisoners living in Southeastern style huts staying in either one or three people to a room. The prisoners were arrested by the army so they were not given any right to a fair trial or exposure to the judicial system whatsoever according to Alvaro Gil-Robles.
6. Guantanamo Bay
This is a military prison located within the confines of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, it is often referred to as GTMO. The prison was established in 2002 to detain extraordinarily dangerous people, prosecute detainees for war crimes, and interrogate detainees in an optimal setting. For all the years that it has existed Guantanamo Bay has been used for indefinite detention without trial.
The government kept the prisoners who were staying there a secret at first but the Associated Press filed a Freedom of Information Act request and it was revealed that around 779 prisoners were being detained at Guantanamo Bay at the time.
In September 2006 George W. Bush announced that fourteen “high-value detainees” were to be housed at the military prison from civilian custody by the CIA. Many of these detainees had been tortured around the world in various black sites and none of these “high-value detainees” had even been charged with war crimes.
5. Azouli Military Jail
Many Egyptians are blindfolded before they disappear from daily life altogether. Student protesters in 2014 were often detained and beaten in an empty stadium before being taken to Azouli structure comprised of three floors.
Between all three floors were around 1000 prisoners ranging in age from minors to the elderly. Torture at Azouli usually comes in the form of electrocution, beatings, and being hung naked by one’s wrists. The prison’s foundation is in America’s rendition program and Amnesty International has led an extensive investigation into the black site.
Prisoners at Azouli frequently report their first stop being a “welcoming committee” that beats them until they’re bruised with torn clothing. One prisoner had a gash so deep in his jaw after his beating that a prisoner could stick his entire finger inside of it. Each cell at Azouli housed anywhere from 20 to 30 prisoners with one bucket for excrement and urine and two blanket to share.
4. Abu Salim
This is a maximum security prison in Tripoli, Libya notorious for gross mistreatment and human rights violations during the rule of Muammar Gaddafi. On June 29, 1996 an estimated 1270 prisoners were killed in what some refer to ask the Abu Salim prison massacre. The Human Rights Watch estimated the count of prisoners that were murdered based off of the testimony of one former prisoner, Hussein Al Shafa’i. Al Shafa’i claims that he did not see the prisoners being killed but he did see that they had been shot.
He also says that the guards had him wash the watches taken off of the bodies of the dead prisoners since he worked on kitchen duty.
In 2009 the Libyan government spoke out claiming that some 200 guards were also killed in the altercation and that the killings took place during an altercation between the government and rebels from the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.
3. Camp Eagle
United States military Camp Eagle is located in Bosnia and is reported to have been used for the extrajudicial housing of ghost prisoners. In 2005 Amnesty International put the United States in the spotlight and asked for details on the alleged secret detention of suspects in various black sites abroad.
In this call out the group told the story of two Yemeni men held in secret prisons, including one in Bosnia called Camp Eagle, for 18 months without a trial. This time being jailed included four straight days of torture by the Jordanian military. Despite multiple of first-hand accounts of torture and transport to secret prisons the United States continues to deny any unlawful activity.
At the time, Condoleezza Rice also added that all United States interrogators are bound by the UN Convention on Torture whether they’re abroad or working in the United States. The US government does not deny that there are prisoners transferred to and from foreign countries but they do deny that these prisoners are tortured.
2. Cat’s Eye
Located in Thailand, this black site was supposedly run in part by Trump’s new deputy director of the CIA Gina Haspel. Code named Cat’s Eye, this Thai prison was known for their torture techniques including waterboarding and assault.
In 2017 the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah at this site were declassified which is how the world learned that the man had his head repeatedly slammed into walls and was waterboarded over 80 times. It was also reported that he was kept in a box and suffered forced sleep deprivation in his time at Cat’s Eye. Thailand maintains that their government was unaware of the black site prison altogether.
The Thai government claims that the United States government did not tell them a word about the black site. General Prayut is resolute in stating that they never knew where the prison was located. Some documents imply that Cat’s Eye was the very first CIA black site after the 9/11 attacks.
1. The Salt Pit
This location is also referred to in CIA documents and messages as ‘Cobalt’, ‘the Dark Prison’, and the ‘Dungeon’ because the lights were never turned on there. Using a combination of curtains and painted exterior windows to ensure complete darkness, it remained blacked out at all times.
Around 119 prisoners were said to have at one point been detained in the CIA black site where the most depraved behavior took place. The first allegations that emerged from the salt pit were those that anal cavity searches were carried out with ‘excessive force’. There are no records of any follow-up investigation regarding this allegation.
A former prisoner at ‘Cobalt’ Mustafa al-Hawsawi was diagnosed with chronic hemorrhoids, asymptomatic rectal prolapse, and an anal fissure after being released. Nude prisoners were forced to walk around the common area as a form of shame punishment and kept nude while shackled down in freezing cells.
This isn’t where the torture stopped, aside from being rectally fed prisoners were forced to listen to loud music constantly. Much of the worst kinds of torture imaginable happened at The Salt Pit.