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Bob Marley Now Soothes Man Who Was Allegedly Tortured With Westlife by the CIA

Suleiman Abdullah Salim says he listens to Bob Marley to help cope after undergoing what a new American Civil Liberties Lawsuit alleges were unlawful CIA interrogation techniques that included the…

Suleiman Abdullah Salim says he listens to Bob Marley to help cope after undergoing what a new American Civil Liberties Lawsuit alleges were unlawful CIA interrogation techniques that included the use of music as torture.

“I come to listen [to] Bob Marley,” the Tanzanian fisherman can be seen saying in an ACLU video posted by The Guardian. “I forget the flashback.” (The quote comes around the seven-minute mark.)

Salim is one of three former CIA prisoners on whose behalf the ACLU has sued two architects of the spy agency’s harsh interrogation program. The lawsuit, filed on October 13 in a federal court in Washington state, claims psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen tortured Salim, Gul Rahman and Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud by developing and overseeing CIA protocols for beatings, starvation, sleep deprivation and waterboarding — along with the use of loud music.

Specifically, the ACLU website claims the CIA subjected Salim to heavy metal and the 2000 U.K. chart-topper “My Love” by Irish boy band Westlife. Interrogators played the music on repeat for Salim “at ear-splitting volume,” according to the ACLU.

The lawsuit comes after a Senate report last year concluded the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” weren’t effective and went beyond what the agency had disclosed to lawmakers. The report discussed all three former prisoners in the ACLU’s case. The U.S. government has not charged any of them with a crime.

Salim spent more than five years in U.S. custody in Afghanistan before being released in 2008. U.S. authorities held Soud in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005, then sent him to his native Libya, where Muammar Gaddafi’s government imprisoned him until 2011. Rahman, captured in 2002, died in U.S. custody in Afghanistan due to what the Senate report cited a CIA analysis as saying was probably hypothermia, “in part from being forced to sit on the bare concrete floor without pants.”

Salim said in an ACLU press release: “The terrible torture I suffered at the hands of the CIA still haunts me. I still have flashbacks, but I’ve learned to deal with them with a psychologist who tries to help people, not hurt them. This lawsuit is about achieving justice. No person should ever have to endure the horrors that these two men inflicted.”

Steven Watt, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Human Rights Program, said in a statement that Mitchell and Jessen, the two psychologists who designed the CIA harsh-interrogation regime, “claimed the program was scientifically based, safe and proven, when in fact it was none of those things. The program was unlawful and its methods barbaric.”

Henry Schuelke III, an attorney who has previously represented Mitchell and Jessen, told The New York Times he didn’t have a comment. After the Senate report, Mitchell gave interviews defending his actions as lawful. According to CNN, Jessen hasn’t commented on the matter. The CIA declined to comment to NPR about the lawsuit. 

Former Westlife member Nicky Byrne, now an RTE 2fm radio-show host, expressed shock at the song’s alleged use in torture, as RTE reports. “If it wasn’t so serious it would be funny,” he’s quoted as telling a radio interviewer. “But it is serious. I mean, if they’ve done this, it’s incredibly amazing.” Byrne went on to say “My Love” had been inspired by “Mull of Kintyre,” Paul McCartney’s 1977 U.K. No. 1 with his band Wings.

Kian Egan, also formerly of Westlife, told a separate radio interviewer, “If we’re talking about [playing ‘My Love’] repeatedly, it probably only took about two hours to actually crack the poor guy with that one,” as quoted by Irish Mirror.

Chided by a listener, Egan reportedly said, “I am only trying to shed a bit of light on the subject and have a bit of fun about it all. Well, look, I’m a heavy metal fan as well. I listen to Metallica on repeat.”

According to Irish Mirror, Egan added: “Heavy metal and boybands are two extremes of music, you can understand why they were used. I mean, it is what it is.”

Salim isn’t the only U.S. prisoner reportedly subjected to loud music as part of his interrogation. In 2014, Al Jazeera America reported that the CIA used the music of the Red Hot Chili Peppers on a person in its custody. In an exhaustive 2006 article, SPIN’s David Peisner noted that artists reportedly soundtracking U.S. interrogation efforts ranged from 2Pac and Dr. Dre to Marilyn Manson and Rage Against the Machine, as well as from Britney Spears and Matchbox Twenty to Aerosmith and Meat Loaf.