The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Should journalists interview people as they are being tortured?

I would think probably not, but the editor of The Atlantic apparently thinks that's ok:

Ibrahim al-Halabi was confused by my questions. He could neither tell me how he landed himself in a makeshift prison cell nor respond to even simple queries, like what job he held. The 27-year-old had been picked up at a routine checkpoint in the city of Aleppo by rebels from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighting the Syrian regime. When he could not provide identification papers, they arrested him.

My broken Egyptian Arabic was probably not to blame for the troubled communication, because another inmate offered logical responses to the same routine questions. But with Ibrahim, they only elicited a bewildered gaze.

On the rare occasion when he did speak, Ibrahim provided contradictory responses. At times he said he worked in a textile factory. Other times he said he was unemployed. Once he even admitted that he had worked for the regime's paramilitary, known as the shabiha, albeit for only two days. Ibrahim was clearly scared. His left hand never stopped shaking. Red spots on his forehead and nose covered the marks where his captors had beaten him. When Ibrahim refused to speak, a fighter yelled at him "Liar! Shabih! Dog!" before intensifying his pain with several slaps to the face.

It'd be one thing if the journalist had witnessed the torture. But he appears to have been given the interview opportunity by the man's detainees and the guards are helping him get answers out. The comments thread is on fire in the article.

Yep, the same magazine which runs blog posts sponsored by the Church of Scientology and whose Middle East content is produced by the (pro-Israel think tank and advocacy group) Washington Institute for Near East Policy.