is Jihaad Sleimaan. I was in charge of the Security of Dr. Samir Geagea,
the leader of the Lebanese Forces.
I would like to speak about the
conditions of my incarceration in the Ministry of Defense in Lebanon.
28th of March 1994, we were besieged in Ghodras (the headquarters of the
L.F.). Whilst I was leaving the area, I was arrested by the Lebanese Army.
They gave my name on the wireless then a group arrived, took hold of me
and covered my head with my jacket. I was thrown inside the Jeep and taken
to the Ministry of Defense. There was no arrest warrant issued. On the way
I was beaten up violently and my covered head was being kicked repeatedly
by the soldiers. When we arrived to destination a soldier took hold of me
whilst being blindfolded and ordered me to run rapidly with him whilst
guiding me. I smashed head on onto a wall and collapsed onto the ground in
the midst of laughter from soldiers who did not know my name. I was beaten
with the base of rifles until blood came out of my hand. Four to five
hours later and whilst I was standing blindfolded, I was summoned for
interrogation. After I have been relieved from the blindfold I saw an
officer who told me: " You're now in the Intelligence Section of the
Ministry of Defense, we do not want anything from you but you need to
answer every question we ask, It is the only way you will enter decent and
respected and you'll walk out clean and whole. Do not give us any reason
to show you the other alternative..."They called onto a jailer (and here I
would like to mention, after 90 days experience, that every jailer was
nick-named ATTIEH). They shouted " Attieh Blindfold him, take him to the
bathroom, give him a pad of about one thousand paper and tell him what to
do". The jailer took me and threw me onto the floor of a bathroom, he
handed me the pad and told me:" You've got to fill up all these papers and
you've got to tell us all the sh… you’ ve done, all the atrocities that
you've perpetuated in your life, all those you've assassinated, all the
drugs that you've taken, the thefts, the women you raped, everything that
your master Samir Geagea delegated you to perform: the killings, the
bombings, the assassinations, etc.. and if you do not write, poor thing,
you'll never know what will happen to you " . I took the pad and started
detailing the period of my life with the Lebanese Forces starting from
1980 until the present date .I filled about 20 pages and handed them to
the interrogator. About One minute passed before he shouted at me " what
is this? Are you laughing at us? Don't you know that we are aware of all
this? We want the atrocities that you've perpetuated, we want everything
that your master Samir Geagea ordered you to execute: the people that you
killed; tell us how you bombed the church , how you killed president René
Moawwad, Dany Chamoun, how you assassinated Rachid Karameh, you have to
tell us all that in details , I am going to give you one more chance ; go
and write again."
the pad again wondering what else to write especially when I was certain
that we had absolutely nothing to do with all these crimes ...so I started
thinking : I already told everything on the Lebanese Forces and on my role
within it , about how the Lebanese Forces changed from a militia into an
institution , about the rehabilitation programs , about the political
school , about the military college and the graduation of Officers ,about
the social and charitable programs like the public transport , the
twinning program , the medical and educational subsidies , I even told
them about our structure and the who is who in our hierarchy , I detailed
my training , the battles I fought, the duties I assumed in the Military
Police and all the details of the period in Ghodras , the Guards stations
, the different offices , even the details of Dr. Geagea's home .
I had nothing more to say ; I knew that the Lebanese Forces had nothing to
do with all the killings, the bombings and the atrocities mentioned . I
felt that a big scenario is being prepared and that they need to use me in
order to arrest Dr. Geagea . I handed him the pad back . He said " Atieh ,
it seems that this animal is not understanding us . In any case he will be
made to understand. Does he think himself more important than Fuad Malek
?" ; and here the long road of Calvary started .
took me and the torture began. I do not know where to start from ... The
first thing I remember was being tied unto a chair with my feet caught
between the seat and the back and being hit on the sole of my feet with an
electric wire until my feet were bleeding profusely . He then untied me
and threw me into a cell and told me " I am giving you 10 minutes , think
hard and tell us what you've been asked to execute recently by Dr. Samir
Geagea. If we do not get what we want after those 10 minutes, you'll
experience something you don't like".
minutes passed and I gave the same answer as before :" I was not asked to
execute any mission that involved any illegal attack on security or
order." The jailer took me and hanged me on the Ballanco ( later in the
conference our friend Fadi will explain to you the details of the Ballanco
). It is indeed the most difficult tool of torture that I suffered and I
suppose this is true also for all my friends who were detained in the
Ministry. The interrogator told me :" you will not come down of there
until you start speaking ." Here I would like to stress that those
interrogators arrest people and accuse them of all imaginable crimes
;Their end target was to formulate a scenario and extort all its
predetermined elements through degrees of torture little by little until
the victim learns the lesson and follows neatly their plan...They started
increasing the dose of torture and used a variety of methods . More than
once they told me : " Speak and have pity on yourself because you have one
of two alternatives : either ending up in the Lunatic asylum like Georges
Alam or becoming paralysed and your relatives will visit you in the
disabled centre of Beit Chabab " .
thought that these threats were exaggerated but slowly the Calvary became
more and more heavy . After the beatings I progressed unto the "Balanco"
from there a new method called the " Magic Carpet " ( Fadi will tell you
more about it ) was used at the end of which I was thrown into a cell with
bilateral sprained and greatly swollen ankles . A person entered the cell
and asked me if I was ill ." Do you need a doctor ? Do you lack anything ?
" I answered "my legs are hurting " he asked me why ? , I did not dare and
tell him that the reason was torture . I answered " because of a missed
step " he replied " a missed step or the beatings on the soles?" I said "
the torture Sir " he replied " it seems that you are not accustomed to
tell the truth " he started shouting at me " if you do not tell them what
they want , you are to suffer even more " he left and I knew that this was
the Medical doctor ! . The interrogator returned and told me " I will try
and speak to you once more . We possess reliable information that you and
few others from Ghodras know in details everything about Dr. Geagea . You
have to tell us everything ". I replied " I said everything I knew already
" .He called unto Attieh and ordered him to do a good job . Attieh knows
very well that in order to please his master he will induce the most
suffering imaginable . He asks me to undress completely and wash and then
orders me to bend forward in order to introduce a bottle in my back
passage . I started begging him and implored him not to ; another one
arrived and started whipping me ; a third one started punching me . They
brought the bottle and put it underneath me and ordered me to sit on it .
I started shouting ; here an interrogator came I begged him to give me
time to speak . He took me and said " Son ,we do not want anything from
you personally , you are very small fish . We want the head of your leader
;we want to crush him . Nobody is allowed to stand in our way . You will
tell us how you bombed the Church " I answered " But Sir , I know
absolutely nothing on the whole question of the Church . I never took part
or Knew of anything that related to it or other illegal activities " He
said " I am trying to help you . why suffer all this torture because they
are determined and they know that you took part in the bombing . Tell us
or else it will be very difficult on you " . I reiterated my innocence and
the certainty that we had nothing to do with this . I detailed the
meetings of Dr. Geagea in support of our innocence. He replied " In this
case I wash my hands from you and let " the butcher " take over ".
butcher is an interrogator . Others were nicknamed Hitler , Romel etc...
The butcher ordered to hang me onto the "Ballanco" once more . The Calvary
started again .He left me hanging for about half an hour during which I
was crying and shouting in pain. He came back and said " You have bombed
the church isn't it ?" I told him " As you wish Sir, anything you say Sir
" . and thus in a moment of weakness and pain I crumbled and accepted to
say what they want me to say in order to avoid any further suffering . I
felt that whatever I am obliged to do now I would refute later on in Court
. From there on I agreed to everything : that I killed president Moawwad,(
they were insisting at first to accuse me and the Lebanese forces then
they dropped this accusation ? ) ; that we killed Mr. Karami (the prime
Minister) ;They tortured me very much to confess that I killed Monsignor
Khoreish only to realise later after my release that I was in Germany at
the time of the killing .They accused me of killing Mr. Dany Chamoun .
During all this time I was hearing the same methods of interrogation and
the same questions being asked to other friends of mine who were
responding that they knew absolutely nothing about it .
Returning to the Church bombing , and after collapsing into submission he
was asking me " you brought the time fuses didn't you ? " I answered " yes
sir " He said " to whom did you give them " I answered " I brought the
time fuses and gave them to Joseph Rizk " Here the interrogator was
seemingly satisfied that I was beginning to understand them so they
started to increase the level of torture and intimidation he said " Son
this does not fit in well . It is not Joseph Rizk that took the time fuses
it was Dr. Geagea wasn't it ? " I answered " Yes Samir Geagea Sir . I
brought the time fuses and gave them to Samir Geagea ." He replied " Samir
Geagea is not going to keep the time fuses in his office is he? he told
you to give them to an engineering officer isn't it animal ?
that everything was being drawn according to a predetermined scenario at
the end of which anybody will deduce that Dr. Geagea was behind the
bombing of the Church. From there on I remember well that between each and
every word I was being subjected to electrical shocks , I still carry on
my body the evidence of all this.
always hoping to renounce all these fabricated confessions in front of the
Judge of Interrogation or the Court within a fair system of Justice. So
when they were threatening me about referral to the Judge I hoped ,deep
into my heart , to be able to escape from the hell I was living into and
tell the whole truth . I was looking forward to be moved to a civil jail
and then I will be able to consult with a lawyer . I should also stress
that until this time I was prevented from receiving any visitor , family
occasion I gathered all my strength again , and whilst praying I decided
to fight back. I waited to be seen by the Judge again and told him "all my
depositions were made under duress. If you want the truth I do not have
anything to do with all these bombings , assassinations or anything else".
After this they took me again through the road to Calvary with more and
more sophisticated torture. During all the period from 28/03/94 till
16/04/1994 I was kept standing, deprived of food , water and sleep for a
span of three to four days at a time. I was naked ,blindfolded, my hands
were tied behind my back whilst I was facing the wall with my legs widely
spread apart. They used to walk on my toes ,electrocute me at will and at
times when I could take no more I used to collapse on the floor . I also
experienced a weird feeling of detachment from my environment called in
medical terms a Trance or Fugue. I imagined myself back in Ghodres
assuming my usual responsibilities. They used here to hit me and kick me
on the head .They used to come and wake me up with electric shocks. I know
during one of those times I collapsed and was wounded on my head. It was a
big ,deep wound ; they carried me , threw me back into my cell and left me
to sleep for a long time. They woke me up and asked me to get dressed and
try to make myself look smart. I thought my parents or somebody else was
coming to see me at last. They took me to a room and removed my blindfold.
I saw in front of me a man dressed in civil clothes. I knew him straight
away he was the interrogation judge Joseph Freiha. I had seen him on TV,
before my arrest, making declarations and accusing the Lebanese forces of
the church bombing. He said to me: "Stand up and put your hands behind
your back, son." I blessed myself and did as he asked. He looked at me and
started shaking his head saying" If you see me in civil clothes , do not
think you can take any advantage." "No Sir. , But this is a new and
different environment . It is only for this reason that I blessed myself "
I replied . Then he started the interrogation, I quickly realised that
nothing had changed. From the room of Judge Freiha you could still hear
the screaming and crying from the other rooms, as before, it was so loud
on one occasion that the Judge had to ask the soldiers in the room to go
and calm it down so that we could hear each other. Despite all this, I was
still hoping the judge was going to move me into a civil jail and allow me
to appoint a lawyer for myself or release me because I was innocent. I was
grabbing at straws. All of a sudden, after a silence, the screaming
recommenced from the next room. I recognised the voice of my friend Fawzi
Al Rassi. I could hear Fawzi saying " I had nothing to do with the story
of Dany Chamoun, I know nothing about it ". I heard another voice
ordering: " Attieh, hang him on the Ballanco , I heard a noise which
sounded like they were hanging someone on the Balanco. I could hear from
the screams that they were electrocuting him ; I heard another one say "
Get the acid, and dip his feet in little by little". I could hear Fawzi
screaming in terror, "NO, NO," then suddenly his voice stopped . I heard
lots of movements but I never heard his voice again. I didn't know then
what happened but I found out after I have been released that he died on
that day at their hands ... When the judge had finished with me, they took
me to the corridor and made me stand facing the wall . Someone gave me a
sandwich ; a man called "The big Master" the head of the Intelligence unit
,the officer Jamil Sayed passed and saw me eating. ( They used to call me
Abou Hamam-The father of pigeons ). He said " who allowed him to eat or
sleep before he tells the truth". I told him " Sir I just told the judge
all what I know" he replied " What truth is that. The judge himself asked
us to punish you. Now you will not sleep or eat...." One of the guards
grabbed the sandwich from my hand and I know that for more than three days
they kept me standing with my legs spread open without food or drink until
I collapsed unconscious on the floor .
of the lack of food and sleep and because of the torture they realised I
was beginning to break down. They devised a new method of torture whereby
they made me stand, arms and feet apart, and scream " The Pigeons are
Flying " and lower my arms screaming " The Pigeons are landing" thus the
naming of Abou Hamam . This was repeated endlessly for days and nights . I
lost my sense of time . Because I was dehydrated, my mouth was so dry at
times that I could not speak, they responded by giving me electric shocks
or punching or lashing me with the whip. They used to gather , seven or
eight of them , to watch the show. The name Abou Hamam was given to me for
seventy days at least in the Ministry of Defense. They treated me like a
clown. When they began to allow me to sleep, one of them used to wake me
up and told me I had an interrogation. He would blindfold me, cuff me and
say to me " Fly fly bird..." They used to make me sing. I used to hear the
" big master" and all his subjects laughing.
I was an officer in the headquarters of the Lebanese Forces, I knew most
of the people that were arrested in this section i.e. around 70/80. Every
time there was a new prisoner they would make me go into a room with them
and say whatever they told me. They would ask me questions and make me
repeat pre-prepared answers to demoralize the new prisoners. They would
make me say that their wives or mothers were having affairs with X,Y,Z.
They would ask the new prisoner " Do you know Jihad Sleiman, he would
reply " Yes he's an officer in Ghodras" ( Headquarters of the Lebanese
Forces). They would say "look what has happened to him. If you don't tell
us what we want ( meaning their prepared statement) the same thing will
happen to you " . The interrogator would then scream " Bring Abou Hamam".
When the boys saw me they were afraid and demoralised and would begin
telling stories thinking it would save them from the same torture. They
would call me three or four times a day to play this game . I know this is
what happened to the prisoners: Rafiq Saade ,Kamil Karam , Girges El
Khoury , Hanna Attiq and many others .
want to say now is very important . They were pushing me to admit my
involvement in the bombing of the church and the assassination of Dany
Chamoun and his family telling me I would be released if I said that.
Because, according to them, I was very small fish and they didn't want me,
they wanted (the head) my boss. I denied my involvement .one of the
soldiers said " Sir , its ok ,The animal in the other room just admitted
his involvement in Chamoun's case." The investigator would turn to me and
say " Admit you've done the church and let's finish. Then you can go home.
We know you're just a soldier following orders.
We will bring your
boss to the prison."
one month before I was allowed to see a lawyer and instruct him to defend
me. Even then they did not allow him to talk to me .They asked him to
obtain a permission from the interrogation judge before he saw me again.
After a few days my interrogator said to me " Abou Hamam, they are saying
outside you are either dead or crazy and now they are sending one of your
religious people in black, you call him what, a priest or a bishop?? to
ask about you. Now you are going to meet him. You will tell him everything
is OK. and there is no torture whatsoever . If you don't we will kill you
when he has gone. You tell him you're here for questioning because the
party you belong to is involved in serious allegations " . They took me up
I saw the Bishop, Bechara Al-Rahi, sitting between the two judges, Freiha
and Hounein, and a few other people. The judges were telling him " Don't
worry Father we're the protectors of the Christians and the boys are OK in
here. I had to tell the Bishop that everything was OK. The Bishop told me
he was going to tell this to the press. When we had finished they sent for
me. The interrogator said" Good you've done well. Not like this animal
Hanna Atiq who said things he shouldn't have. It comes to my mind now that
my old friend Hanna Attiq ended up a few days later in hospital in a coma
for 10 days.
that event they were easier with me, but I could always hear my friends
screaming " I don't know", this is the truth" or " Mother Mary, Jesus
please save us." I could hear the interrogator saying to them " Forget it,
neither Jesus nor Mary are going to help you here. Screaming won't help.
Here you have to say "Yes Sir", and tell us about the involvement of Samir
time I heard the screams I couldn't eat or sleep. I stayed there for 90
days hoping that they would move me to a civil prison. Every time I heard
someone scream when he was on the Ballanco or being electrocuted or I
heard the squeak of a door I would feel a terrible pain in my stomach, I
would shiver. I felt at the edge of utter despair trying to shut out the
sounds of the screams. Even so I could hear every one of them, every
describe this prison for you. There is a long corridor with 16 rooms full
of prisoners. In the corridor were 50 prisoners cuffed , blindfolded and
lying on the floor. Everyone could hear all the interrogations, the
torture, and the screams.
it is really terrible that they are continuing with court cases built on
statements signed by us under duress.
torture we were forced to sign these statement, blindfolded, by a man
called al Mukhtar (the mayor). The same man used to stand under the
Ballanco with a piece of paper ; he would say " sign this paper and go
home or stay on the Balenko " The same man used to hand those papers to
the judge of interrogation . He belongs also to the Intelligence services
.The interrogators were on very good terms with Judges and I know the
judges were fully aware of the methods of interrogation used to obtain
"depositions". At the end I saw the faces of my interrogators and I
recognised them as the same men present in the office of Judge Freiha
during my first appearance there .
terribly bitter at being tortured for 90 days in the Ministry of Defense,
accused of bombing a Church I had defended with everything I have for 15
years ,only to find that they wanted to put Dr. Geagea in Jail . I would
like to challenge the Lebanese Government , through the Media present
today , that with adequate guarantees I am prepared to face and challenge
every person who was mentioned in this press conference with all the facts
that were detailed and bear witness to the truth.