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Exploring the Hidden World of Prisons: Unveiling the World's Most Secretive Facilities

Ilsa Z. 4-5 minutes 3/15/2023

After 9/11, the CIA established secret detention centres at multiple locations around the world, for the purpose of detaining and interrogating potential terrorist subjects. These prisons were also where extreme torture practices took place to extract information from the detained suspects.

However, a report later revealed these prisons were unhelpful in the CIA's mission to find Osama bin Laden.

Known as “black sites”, these prisons were kept top secret, their existence only known by top officials and the prisoners themselves.

The existence of these black sites was only made public in 2005, after journalist Dana Priest’s exposé on the CIA’s usage of these sites to conceal terror suspects.

Stare Kiejkuty, Poland

One CIA black site existed in Poland, set up with the help of the country's intelligence service. This is also the most popular black site, being used to detain the most notorious terrorist subjects. This includes Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the man behind 9/11, who was allegedly waterboarded nearly 200 times here.

At the same time as this prison was established, the CIA set up two more in Lithuania and Romania, with Europe in general being a hotspot for these detention centres. The Polish government also received a substantial amount of funding from the CIA to set up security cameras around the prison.

However, the site only remained in operation for about ten months, before it was closed down and relocated to avoid discovery.

Prison of Darkness, Afghanistan

Also known as the dark prison, this CIA base was revealed through the accounts of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Since they were initially detained there before they came to Guantanamo, they describe the Kabul base as the site of extreme torture.

These torture tactics included the prisoners being kept at a dark, underground place in solitary confinement. They were also threatened with violence, deprived of food and water, and shackled to the ground.

The Human Rights Watch has taken notice of the Kabul reports, demanding an official investigation into the existence of this secret prison. It previously identified that 26 ‘disappeared’ persons were actually being held in CIA prisons, and also claims their abuse is a violation of U.S. criminal law.

Detention Site Green, Thailand

Abu Zubaydah, who is thought to be one of Bin Laden's top aides, was detained at a CIA black site in Thailand. He was kept there along with at least two more important detainees, who were subjected to various harsh interrogation tactics.

In 2014, a 6000-page report was released by the U.S. Senate that provided an executive summary of these interrogation tactics.

Both the U.S. and Thailand denied the existence of this base, but it was confirmed to exist by a senior former Thai national security official.

The CIA also has a variety of reasons for establishing a secret prison in Thailand, due to the two countries' friendly relationship that goes back to the Cold War.

Camp Lemonier, Djibouti

Reports about a CIA black site in Djibouti were first alleged by Mohammad al-Asad, a Yemeni man who claims to have been detained at this location.

For about two weeks, al-Asad was tortured in Djibouti, before he was taken to another black site in Afghanization. In 2005, he was eventually released, never charged with terrorism or a similar crime.

Although Djibouti's U.S. Ambassador rejected al-Asad's claims about this black site, two U.S. officials did confirm that it exists, and has housed several detainees.

Djibouti has had a long history with the U.S. in countering terrorism, as the country is used as a base to launch drones and became a short-term detention centre shortly after the events of 9/11.