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Terror detainees allege guards abused them

Two Middle Eastern immigrants who were deported after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks are expected to file a lawsuit claiming they were placed in solitary confinement, beaten and verbally abused at a federal lockup in New York City.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Two Middle Eastern immigrants have come forward to allege they were placed in solitary confinement, beaten and verbally abused at a federal lock-up in New York City following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Javaid Iqbal, a former cable technician, and Ehab Elmaghraby, a former restaurant worker, say they were shackled, shoved into walls, punched and called “terrorists” and epithets.

The men allege that federal agents apprehended them on suspicion of terrorist ties and held them for months at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, which was cited for brutal treatment of detainees in a report last year by the Justice Department Inspector General.

They said they were kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day and denied adequate meals and medical care, the New York Times reported Monday. Iqbal, who was held for almost a year, said he lost 40 pounds in detention; Elmaghraby was held for nine months.

“I was in life and I went to hell,” Elmaghraby told the Times.

The men were eventually cleared of terrorist ties but were deported to their homelands after pleading guilty to minor federal criminal charges. Iqbal, who admitted having false papers and bogus checks, now lives in Pakistan; Elmaghraby, who pleaded guilty to credit card fraud, lives in Egypt.

The men, both 37, said they plan to file a lawsuit Monday against the government. The Times did not specify what damages the lawsuit would seek.

Traci Billingsley, a spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, would not comment on the suit but said the bureau was investigating other allegations against staff members, the Times reported.

A Justice Department report last year found “significant problems” with the treatment of post-Sept. 11 detainees at the facility, including physical abuse and mistreatment.

The allegations come as seven U.S. officers received reprimands for in connection with the alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners carried out by guards at Baghdad’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison, a“sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses” of Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.