The New York Times is investigating questions raised about the identity of a man who said in a Page 1 profile that he is the Abu Ghraib prisoner whose hooded image became an icon of abuse by American captors.
The online magazine Salon.com challenged the man’s identity, based on an examination of 280 Abu Ghraib pictures it has been studying for weeks and on an interview with an official of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command. The official says the man the Times profiled Saturday, Ali Shalal Qaissi, is not the detainee in the photograph.
In an e-mail to the Times, Chris Grey, chief spokesman for the Army investigations unit, wrote: “We have had several detainees claim they were the person depicted in the photograph in question. Our investigation indicates that the person you have is not the detainee who was depicted in the photograph released in connection with the Abu Ghraib investigation.”
“We take questions about our reporting very seriously, and we will carefully investigate Salon’s findings,” Susan Chira, the Times’ foreign editor, said in Tuesday’s editions. “We attempted to verify the claims of Mr. Qaissi thoroughly. We spoke with representatives of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, who had interviewed Mr. Qaissi and believed him to be the man in the photographs.”
Qaissi also was interviewed and described as the hooded man in an article in Vanity Fair and in a broadcast on PBS, the Times noted.
The Times said it was shown evidence by Amnesty International documenting Qaissi’s incarceration at Abu Ghraib during the time the photographs were taken. The newspaper also said it spoke with the man’s lawyers, and contacted the military, which said the Geneva Conventions prevented it from commenting about the identity of anyone in a photograph.
The newspaper said it did not contact the Criminal Investigation Command in reporting the article.
Asked about the challenge to his identity, Qaissi insisted to the Times that he was the man in the photograph.