Tortured in Detention on US Soil, Qatari Man Maintains His Innocence

Ali al-Marri wants torturers brought to account

Ali al-Marri was held in US detention for 13 years as an “enemy combatant,” on US soil. During that detention, he was regularly tortured. Marri maintains his innocence to this day,and is pushing for FBI torturers to be brought to account for what they did.

Ali al-Marri

US torture wasn’t uncommon at Guantanamo Bay, or elsewhere abroad, which the administration treated as a legal black hole. Marri, however, was in Chicago with his family, and after his capture, was held at a naval brig in South Carolina. He never left US soil, which changes legal standards substantially.

The FBI moved against Marri in December 2001, finding an encyclopedia with a bookmark at US waterways, and Internet searches for “toxic chemicals.” This was enough for them to claim he was going to poison America’s lakes, and he was disappeared into 13 years of detention as an “al-Qaeda sleeper.”

Marri was held in a chilled cell, forced nude. He was shaven and made to lie on a metal rack. He was denied sleep, and “dry-boarded,” during which interrogators stuffed socks down his throat. They threatened to kill him, and torture his family. In 2009, he agreed to plead guilty, to get the torture to stop. He never saw a court room.

Marri is hoping that will change now. He is seeking to challenge his detention, torture, and forced confession in a neutral location. Originally in the US on a student visa, Marri says he has gotten a “PhD in American hospitality” and wants to ensure accountability for what happened.

The FBI maintains that they “don’t torture,” even though all of the clear torture done to Marri was well documented in the logs.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.