Gul Rahman

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Gul Rahman
Photo of Gul Rahman, released by his family, via CBS News.jpg
Photo of Gul Rahman, released by his family
Arrested October 2002
To find Hekmatyar
Died 20 November 2002(2002-11-20)
the Salt Pit
Citizenship Afghanistan
Detained at Salt Pit
Charge(s) No charge
Status Died in CIA custody
Occupation Senior member of HIA

Gul Rahman (died 20 November 2002) was a suspected Afghan militant and torture victim. He died in a secret CIA prison, or black site, located in northern Kabul, Afghanistan and known as the Salt Pit.[1][2] He had been captured October 29, 2002.[3][4]

His name was kept secret by the United States for more than seven years although his death was announced. In 2010 the Associated Press reported that before his death he was left half-stripped and chained against a concrete wall on a night when the temperature was close to freezing.[3] The United States government did not notify his family (wife and four daughters) of his death, according to the report.[3]

Capture and death[edit]

Gul Rahman was captured and arrested on 29 October 2002 during a joint operation by U.S. agents and Pakistani security forces against Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin.[5] He was reportedly arrested with the physician Ghairat Baheer, the son-in-law of the warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who leads the insurgent faction Hezb-e-Islami.[5] Rahman had traveled from Peshawar to Islamabad, Pakistan for a medical checkup when he was arrested at the home of Ghairat Baheer, and subsequently flown by the CIA to Afghanistan.[5]

A former U.S. official said Rahman was violent and uncooperative while in custody at the Salt Pit, a CIA black site or covert interrogation center.[5] Rahman threatened to kill his guards, who responded by beating him, according to several former Central Intelligence Agency officials.[5] Rahman was also subjected to "48 hours of sleep deprivation, auditory overload, total darkness, isolation, a cold shower and rough treatment".[6] Gul Rahman reportedly died on 20 November 2002 after being stripped naked from the waist down and shackled to a cold cement wall in the Salt Pit, where temperatures were approximately 36° Fahrenheit/2° Celsius.[4]

His death prompted an internal CIA review and the development of improved guidance.[5] No one was ever charged in his death.[6]

After Rahman was identified in news accounts in April 2010, his family asked the International Red Cross for assistance in recovering his body for a religious burial.[citation needed]

Rescue of Hamid Karzai[edit]

According to Gul's brother, Habib Rahman, Gul Rahman was involved in a 1994 rescue of Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan since 2004. Karzai had been imprisoned by the government forces, and Rahman was working for the insurgent leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Hekmatyar's forces fired rockets at the building while Rahman entered and freed Karzai. Rahman took him to a safe house in Kabul.[2]

Senate Intelligence Committee's report of CIA torture[edit]

On December 9, 2014 the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA torture was published.[1] According to that report he had been subjected to total darkness, sensory overload, sleep deprivation, cold shower, "rough treatment", short shackling and finally froze to death. The report said he was the only captive known to have died in CIA custody.

Steven W Hawkins, the executive director of Amnesty International USA, writing in the The Guardian, reported that he found that the CIA official responsible for Rahman's death, was not only not punished, or sanctioned, rather, he received a cash bonus for his "consistently superior work".[6]


  1. ^ a b Emma Roller, Rebecca Nelson (2014-12-10). "What CIA Interrogators Did To 17 Detainees Without Approval". National Journal. Archived from the original on 2014-12-11. Retrieved 2014-12-10. Cited by the Senate report as the only detainee who died from the CIA's interrogation, Rahman was subjected to "'48 hours of sleep deprivation, auditory overload, total darkness, isolation, a cold shower, and rough treatment'" during his time at the Cobalt detention site. One night in November 2002, he was "shackled to the wall of his cell," resting on the bare concrete floor. Wearing only a sweatshirt and naked from the waist down, he was found dead—likely of hypothermia—the next day. Other factors in his death included "dehydration, lack of food, and immobility due to 'short chaining.'" 
  2. ^ a b Cathy Gannon, Adam Goldman (6 April 2010). "CIA victim said to have rescued future Afghan pres". Associated Press. Retrieved 20 April 2010. mirror
  3. ^ a b c Jane Mayer (31 March 2010). "Who Killed Gul Rahman?". New Yorker magazine. Retrieved 20 April 2010. mirror
  4. ^ a b "Did CIA Torture Victim Once Rescue Hamid Karzai?". CBS News. 6 April 2010. Retrieved 20 April 2010. mirror
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Death shed light on CIA ‘Salt Pit’ near Kabul: Handling of terror suspect led to inquiry by agency's inspector general". MSNBC. 28 March 2010. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c Steven W Hawkins (2014-12-09). "Shock and anal probe: reading between the redactions in the CIA torture report". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-12-11. This is a particularly despicable and illuminating look into how the CIA treated its officers who were carrying out torture techniques. After a detainee, Gul Rahman, was chained, nearly naked, to a concrete floor for an extended time and then froze to death, no officer on-site nor at the CIA was disciplined – let alone prosecuted. In fact, the CIA officer in charge of the detention site was recommended to receive a bonus of $2,500 for his "consistently superior work". 

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