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14 Feb, 2009 19:37

Terror suspect: Women abused me

Terror suspect: Women abused me

An alleged terrorist captured in the aftermath of the Mumbai bombings has blamed a three-member FBI team from the U.S. of sexually harassing him during an interrogation.

Terror suspect Faheem Ansari leveled sexual harassment allegations against a female FBI agent who he claims interrogated him in Mumbai.

Ansari, who is currently in the custody of the Mumbai Crime Branch, had his lawyer, Ejaz Naqvi, file the complaint before an Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate alleging that a female FBI agent, who had interrogated him, had “sexually harassed him all through the night.”

“Faheem had been interrogated by three FBI officers in which one of them, a lady officer, had sexually abused him,” Naqvi told the court. Naqvi alleged that the “white woman” and two other foreigners sexually abused him, leaving bruises on his genitals.

The complaint also made a request for Faheem to be sent for a medical checkup as he has developed “itches and wounds in his private parts and all over his body”.

In court, Naqvi did not elaborate on the nature of the “sexual harassment.” But speaking to reporters outside court, he said that when he met his client in the police lock-up, Faheem had said the woman agents, in the course of the interrogation, showed him obscene pictures and videos.

“I suspect the woman was from the FBI,” said Naqvi, adding that Ansari claims the involvement of pornographic movies, as well as serious foreplay.

Ansari, a devout Muslim, believes that the whole incident amounts to torture because it is forbidden by Islam, his religion.

However, given the notorious incidents at Abu Ghraib in which women officers were found to have abused Iraqi male prisoners, Ansari has made a potentially serious charge.

Background Information on Ansari

Faheem Ansari, a suspect in the Mumbai attacks that killed 173 people last November, was arrested along with five other suspects. Police say Ansari has confessed to performing reconnaissance for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terrorist group that conducted the deadly attacks.

Ansari and his alleged associate, Sabauddin Ahmed, are in the custody of the Crime Branch until February 17. The agency is investigating whether the duo were responsible for providing data regarding locations targeted by terrorists during the Mumbai attacks.

Both were arrested in 2008 in connection with the 2007 New Years Eve attack on a CRPF camp in Rampur in Uttar Pradesh.

However, 35-year-old Ansari had told his interrogators that he was asked by Pakistan's ISI to identify all the locations on Googlemap.com that were later terror targets.

The FBI has questioned Mohammad Ajmal Amir Iman Kasab, the lone Lashker-e-Taiba militant involved in the November 26 terror strikes, for over nine hours to ascertain his role and who his handlers were in Pakistan.

Ansari also reportedly told his interrogators that he was shown Mumbai in the Google earth map and was asked to point out important places in Mumbai. The incident occurred at Baitul Mujahideen camp, located near Shivai Nallah in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir.

Fahim added that his camp commander, identified as Kahafa, was keen to know about the availability of taxis near DGP's office, the height of the airport wall, wire fencing and the location of the aircraft runway from the nearest building.

Faheem Not In Touch With Family

Family members of alleged terrorist Ansari revealed that he had not been in touch with his family during the past year and the family had planned to lodge a missing person's complaint with Dubai police.

However, Faheem's eldest sister-in-law, Saba Ansari, told Mid-Day newspaper that he has been framed. Saba also added that she was not sure what “the arrested persons’ face. Moreover, the claims of him being a Pakistani are baseless,” Saba said.

The family has lived in Motilal Nagar, Goregaon, near Mumbai, for the past 40 years. “Our family is one of the respected ones in the area,” she added.

Ansari, who lived together with family members, including his five elder brothers, worked at Al Biladh printing press in Dubai. Seeking a better life, he had gone to Dubai to join one of his brothers in the printing business.

FBI Has No Right To Interrogate, Says Terrorist

Ansari, who had earlier filed an application seeking action against the city police for allegedly allowing the FBI to interrogate him, has now turned to the Mumbai High Court seeking an order to restrain the US agency.

The Crime Branch will have to file their reply on whether any foreign investigating agencies like the FBI had been allowed to interrogate the accused during the investigation of the terror attacks.

The lawyer has contended that there was no legal provision that allows foreign investigation agencies to interrogate persons arrested by the police in India.

“According to Indian law, no foreign agency can be allowed to interrogate an Indian suspect and we have sought relief from the court,” his lawyer Naqvi said.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. investigating agency, is handling part of the probe due to the death of American citizens in the November 26-29 carnage in Mumbai.

The FBI has registered its involvement in the investigation of the Mumbai attacks, as U.S. laws require the agency to file charges in case of the death or torture of any American national outside the country.

Lawyer Says Ansari is Innocent

Naqvi says even if his client Ansari had prepared the maps, which the prosecution contended was given to LeT operatives, he was not aware of what it would be used for or its purpose.

“The one who made the maps is not the accused, the one who misused it should be the accused.” Naqvi added that the terror attack occurred in November and at that time his client was lodged in a jail in Uttar Pradesh.

“An accused cannot be tried in two different cases in different states. It amounts to double jeopardy. Faheem is at present in judicial custody in the UP case and also here he is in police custody. We will approach the High Court objecting to this,” Naqvi said in a statement.

A Possible Attempt To Derail Investigation?

Pradeep Samant, a High Court lawyer from Mumbai believes that the bizarre allegations could be an attempt by Ansari to derail the investigation. “I believe such acts are merely done to evoke public sympathy.”

“The allegations against the FBI are serious and it is only later that they may be proven. But right now they are serving the purpose of shifting the attention from the actual case,” Samant added.

When asked about the possible aftermath of this case, Samant said it is the first time the FBI has been involved such a case. “Right now Indian law is not capable of dealing with it and we might need special laws to tackle the case.”

Samant, who practices criminal law, also said that Indian law does not allow foreign investigating agency, such as the FBI, to interrogate Indian suspects. “It is against the law.”

Bhawna Sharma, another lawyer from Delhi, said “I am not aware of any such incident earlier in India where an accused has blamed a foreign investigating officer of sexual harassment. Had this case been in the U.S., the accused would have sued the officer and won huge amounts of money in lawsuits. But since the nationalities are in conflict here, we will have to wait and watch.”

Sharma also added that sexual harassment in Indian law is dealt with using labor laws and most cases in India have been filed by women victims. This case comes under “Third party harassment” – where sexual harassment occurs as a result of an action or mission by any third party or outsider, employer or person in charge will take all necessary and reasonable steps to assist the affected person in terms of support and preventive action.

In India, it has been only six years since sexual harassment was recognised as a human rights violation by The Supreme Court as well as a gender based systematic discrimination that affects a woman’s Right to Life and Livelihood.

“All laws in India related to sexual harassment refer to the word ”women.“ It's the first case where any male has filed such a complaint. We might need more laws about this,” Sharma added.

U.S. Law

In the United States, inmates and others held in custody have the right to sue, charging sexual harassment. The inmate could sue for damages under Federal statute 42 U.S.C. §1983. A lawsuit brought under this law is based upon a claim that a governmental entity deprived the individual of a constitutional right.

Nidhi Sharma for RT