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article imageMuslim American claims detention and torture by FBI

By Anne Sewell     Apr 19, 2012 in World
Naturalized U.S. citizen Yonas Fikre claims that he was detained in the United Arab Emirates last year and was tortured by FBI agents.
The Muslim American stated that he was beaten, kept in solitary confinement for over 3 months and threatened with death, before being released. He claims he was charged in connection with a terror plot in Portland, Oregon.
Fikre's family is Eritrean and moved to the U.S. when Fikre was 12. He then moved to Portland in 2006.
According to AP, Fikre states that his interrogators usually came in the morning to his concrete cell. As he was blindfolded, he only caught glimpses of their shoes.
He states that they beat the soles of his feet with hoses and sticks.
According to an account given in a press conference in Sweden, Fikre stated that every day the men who questioned him told him that he will be released "tomorrow".
Yonas Fikre (33), who was held for 106 days, said: "It was very hard, because you don't know why you are in there and the only person you speak to is either yourself, or the wall, or when you go to the restroom or when you go to the torture place. I have never been that isolated from human beings in my entire life."
Fikre said, "They asked me detailed info which mosque I attend, not in the UAE, in America. Who attended, what kind of fundraising, who attends, where is school for kids, where is restroom, where is library."
Fikre is currently seeking asylum in Sweden and has been there since September 2011.
The detainment lead from the fact that he attended the same mosque in Portland as a man charged in connection with a bomb plot in the city in 2010. He was arrested last June while visiting the U.A.E. and taken to a prison in Abu Dhabi for questioning about the activities in the Portland Mosque.
In a news conference on Wednesday, Fikre stated that the interrogators got very angry when he presumed they were working for the FBI: "They got very angry and they said ‘We don't work with the Americans, we are an independent country.' "
Later, however one of the interrogators did acknowledge FBI involvement in the operation. Fikre said: "He confirmed to me that the FBI were there. Also, when I was getting beaten, they did admit that the FBI knew exactly what was happening and they were working with the FBI."
Fikre also advised journalists that he had been warned to say that he was treated well while in custody or "more torture would take place."
So far, the FBI has refused to comment and Beth Anne Steele, a spokeswoman for the FBI office in Portland, said she could not talk about the specifics of the case.
AP reports that the Council on American-Islamic Relations has called upon the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate whether Fikre was tortured at the behest of the FBI.
Fikre is apparently the 3rd Muslim man to state that he was detained and questioned about Portland's Masjid-as-Sabr mosque while traveling abroad. The mosque is known to have a notorious reputation within U.S. secret services with Muslims tied to the mosque arrested 10 years ago after they attempted to enter Afghanistan to fight U.S. forces.
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