Bahrain dictatorship and the USA, new evidence

Pro-democracy demonstrators in Bahrain

By Alastair Sloan, 21 hours ago:

New Wikileaks Revelation Exposes Big State Department Lie, This Time in Bahrain

John Timoney has a face like a fist and a CV out of The Departed. He’s been a cop in New York, Miami and Philadelphia. And now he’s advising the Bahraini government on policing matters.

That’s the Bahraini government, the one that gases, tortures and kills protesters as their preferred method of public order policing. And that’s Timoney, who’s been called “the worst cop in America” and faced hundreds of complaints over his violent approach to public order policing in the U.S.

The State Department has always insisted Timoney’s appointment in Bahrain has nothing to do with them. The distancing is deliberate — human rights groups are scrutinizing the repressive regime closely.

Since the Bahraini government promised reform in November 2011, dozens more have died and thousands have been injured. Many are scared to go to a hospital for fear of being arrested. Amnesty International even accuse the regime of kidnapping and torturing children.

Well, as it turns out, the State Department hasn’t been honest about their involvement in Timoney’s appointment, and by proxy, their involvement in all that police brutality.

An email has turned up on Wikileaks showing the job opportunity that Timoney eventually took when he was promoted by an American “Regional Security Officer” who was stationed at the Bahrain Embassy five months before Timoney was appointed.

The officer, an employee of the U.S. government, had just discussed Timoney’s future role with the Bahraini authorities and was sharing details about expected salary (about $300k plus benefits).

He even tells us how important Timoney’s future position will be to the U.S. government.

“This position has the interest and support of senior U.S. government policy makers, given the strategic importance of our relationship with Bahrain and recent events here. It is seen as a prime engagement opportunity with a non-NATO major ally, hence my current involvement.”

The State Department refused to comment on the leaked email, but back in 2012 officials had been pretty unequivocal when Timoney scored the job.

“This is a Bahraini Government initiative. [Timoney] is not working for or on behalf of the U.S. Government. So we’re not able to speak to what in particular he’s involved with.”

In case you’re wondering why the State Department took such a special interest in Timoney’s appointment, it’s worth remembering the U.S. 5th Naval Fleet is bobbing away in Manama harbour, a stones throw from the ongoing unrest.

The incriminating State Department email was also sent by a “Regional Security Officer.” The RSO job description on the State Department website reads:

“At U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, Regional Security Officers develop and implement the various aspects of a comprehensive security program designed to protect personnel, property, and information against terrorists, foreign intelligence agents, and criminals.”

If Bahrain was ever to fall into full on revolution mode a la Libya, Egypt or Tunisia, a rapid, expensive and risky re-location would be in order, jeopardising the fleet, potential operations in Syria, Iran or Iraq, as well as ongoing anti-piracy activities in the Indian Ocean.

Is Timoney the “worst cop in America?” I think that’s unfair, but commentators in the Guardian and the Miami New Times disagree. Crime — particularly drugs, homicide and corruption — in cities such as New York, Miami and Philadelphia dropped sharply once Timoney arrived.

The ACLU has filed seven suits against him over his policing of a major protest in Miami in 2011, accusing him of deploying excessive force and illegal tactics, but their Executive Director also said of Timoney: “He was probably one of the most professional, competent and experienced police chiefs the city of Miami ever had.” The Philadelphia Inquirer and Esquire Magazine have both praised his “street cop” approach.

But despite his abilities in criminal policing, Timoney has serious flaws when it comes to policing protests, or put another way: doing his job in Bahrain.

As a 55 year old police chief in Miami, he rode his police bike into a crowd of placard-wielding activists and started a fight with “the bigger guy.” He also stopped to yell at another group of protesters “Fuck You! You’re bad!” (not the most eloquent of cusses). Frankly bizarre behaviour for an otherwise professional cop.

In January 2012, he casually dismissed the Occupy movement as an irritating traffic problem, an argument that’s since been used to justify violent dispersal of protests in Bahrain.

Bahrain uses teargas indiscriminately, and even more so since Timoney arrived. Rather than its conventional application as a crowd dispersal tool, policemen have started using it as a weapon. Officers have entered opposition villages at night and fired canisters into sleeping households. Over 30 deaths have occurred due to misuse of teargas.

But Timoney loves teargas. He loves it so much that in 1994 he voluntarily teargassed himself to demonstrate to civil liberties groups that it was better than knocking someone over the head.

Timoney isn’t the only Westerner advising the Bahrain government. John Yates, an ex-Deputy Commissioner at London Metropolitan Police, is also providing consultancy services. Both Yates and Timoney were appointed in December 2011.

Similar to the State Department’s initial stance on Timoney’s position, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office has denied anything to do with his appointment. And if they are lying, as the State Department clearly was, it wouldn’t be the first time.

Colonel Ian Henderson CBE, who worked as a security adviser to the Bahrain government for 30 years, was accused of complicity in torture during the ’90s, leading to an investigation by British authorities in 2000. The investigation was concluded in August 2001, and no charges were filed. Henderson died at age 86 in April last year still denying he had anything to do with the torture dungeons his offices were just four storeys above.

The British government had always denied their involvement in his appointment until Scottish investigative journalist Ian McKay uncovered secret Foreign Office documents showing how senior British diplomats had persuaded the ruling Sheikh Khalifa (the current Sheikh’s father) to appoint Henderson and allow him to establish the brutal state security apparatus which is still largely in use today.

In a statement to PolicyMic, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office maintained their position despite the U.S. State Department leak, but did admit that the Embassy had met with John Yates, as part of their policy to meet those “who are assisting the Bahraini Government with their reforms.”

John Horne, a researcher with Bahrain Watch and the man who unearthed the incriminating email, told PolicyMic:

“It is hard to see what John Timoney has achieved in Bahrain beyond a healthy bank balance. After two years, torturers still torture, police still use excessive force, citizens still suffer collective punishment from tear gas, and the security forces still act with impunity.”

John Timoney has not responded to a request for comment.

Religion and Politics in Bahrain criticized the Royal Court’s failure to conduct a productive National Dialogue saying: “The Royal Court has as usual insinuated itself into the process in order to sabotage it from within.” The United Kingdom’s House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee also expressed concerns over Bahrain’s failure to, “quickly implement the important and practical recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry” through its National Dialogue: here.


13 thoughts on “Bahrain dictatorship and the USA, new evidence

  1. Pingback: Bahrain dictatorship and the USA, new evidence | JOURNAL LE COMMUN'ART

  2. Actor Sadiq AlShaabani: Arrested in Oman, Handed to Bahrain Authorities, Subjected to Enforced Disappearance

    (Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses grave concern about the well-being of Bahraini actor Sadiq Jaffar Mansoor AlShaabani, 31 years old, who was arrested by intelligence agents in Oman on the 27th of January 2014. According to information received by the BCHR, Omani authorities handed AlShaabani over to Bahraini authorities on the same day of his arrest. Until the time of publishing this statement, AlShaabani’s whereabouts and condition remain unknown. AlShaabani has not been allowed access to a lawyer or his family, nor has he been allowed any phone calls. His family made several attempts to inquire about his wellbeing with the authorities in Bahrain, to no avail. Authorities in Bahrain continue to practice systematic torture in order to obtain confessions to use against them in court when subjecting individuals to enforced disappearance as has been documented by the BCHR repeatedly.

    Sadiq AlShaabani is known actor in Bahrain, mostly in the drama genre, from BiladAlQadeem, and was previously arrested during the State of National Safety in 2011. His arrest lasted for two months and twenty days after his picture was broadcast on Bahrain National television during a campaign to defame individuals who had participated in the popular pro-democracy protest movement. During that period of arrest, AlShaabani was reportedly subjected to torture as was revealed after his release. Among the various types of torture used, he was subjected to:

    Hanging from the joints
    Electric shocks
    Sexual harassment
    Severe beatings on all parts of the body
    Forced to stand for several consecutive days
    Cold water poured on him, then put in the “freezer”
    Denial of drinking water
    Degrading and humiliating treatment (forced to make animal sounds)

    AlShaabani was sentenced to two months imprisonment on charges of participating in illegal protests against the regime. In addition, he was fired from his job at the University of Bahrain during the period when more than 4000 people were fired from their jobs in 2011 as retribution for the pro-democracy protests. Almost a year ago, AlShaabani was put on the “wanted” list, which forced him into hiding and then to leave the country in fear of anticipated arrest and torture. None of those implicated in AlShaabani’s former arbitrary arrest and torture were held accountable, thus there is imminent fear that the violations against him will be repeated.

    Sadiq AlShaabani’s family notified the Bahrain Center for Human Rights that they inquired about him at the Central Informatics Directorate (CID), as well as different police stations. Everyone they spoke to denied having any information on AlShaabani or having him in their custody. The second time the family inquired about him at the CID, they were told that they will receive a phone call from the CID, which implies that AlShaabani is in their custory. The CID has become infamous for practicing systematic torture to obtain confessions from civilians during the first period of their arrest, usually during enforced disappearance.

    The family added that they received a summons for SadiqAlShaabani on Tuesday, 4th February 2014, to appear before the Fourth Criminal Court. In the summons, AlShaabani was considered to have not attended the first court session. The judiciary system is either not aware or covering up the fact that SadiqAlShaabani is in custody and subjected to enforced disappearance, which further escalates the concern for AlShaabani’s wellbeing. AlShaabani’s lawyer, Mohammed AlMarzoog, submitted a request to the public prosecution to reveal AlShaabani’s place of detention; in addition to submitting a letter to the court stressing on the importance of bringing AlShaabani to his next court session on the 16th of Febraury 2014. His request to the public prosecution was denied, and he received no response from the court.

    It is important to note that Sadiq AlShaabani’s brother, Baqer AlShaabani, is serving a three year prison sentence since May 2011 on charges of participating in the peaceful protests during February 2011. The AlShaabani family notified the BCHR that Baqer started a hunger strike in prison demanding that authorities reveal his brother’s whereabouts.

    The authorities in Bahrain had recently revealed that one of the victims of enforced disappearance had died after he had been shot and forcefully disappeared for 18 days.

    The BCHR considers the continuation of the practice of systematic enforced disappearance and torture to be evidence that the Government of Bahrain has not initiated a reform process, but rather continues to use methods that violate basic rights in an attempt to prevent protests against the regime. The continuation of these practices also comes as a direct result of the continued policy of the culture of impunity which is practiced by the highest authorities in government.

    Based on the above, the BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and all other close allies and relevant international institutions to pressure the Government of Bahrain to:

    Immediately reveal SadiqAlShaabani’s whereabouts and allow him access to his lawyer and family.
    The immediate and unconditional release of SadiqAlShaabani and all other political prisoners who are being targeted due to participating in the pro-democracy protests.
    Put an end to the systematic practice of subjecting civilians to enforced disappearance, and to ratify the convention on the “International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance”
    Hold to account all those implicated in cases of torture, especially those in high positions who hold administrative responsibility for the ongoing systematic use of torture.


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