CIA used Westlife single as part of torture programme

‘It was probably very successful for them,’ says singer Kian Egan

Kian Egan from Westlife: the CIA techniques were probably very successful. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Kian Egan from Westlife: the CIA techniques were probably very successful. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

One of the most infamous torture programmes devised by the CIA post-9/11 used a Westlife single to assault the senses of terror suspects.

Now the American Council for Civil Liberties is suing two psychologists over their role in designing the regime that also involved mock drownings, body contortions, as well as sleep and dietary deprivation.

A feature article on the process, posted on the ACLU website, opens with the line: “The CIA used the music of an Irish boyband called Westlife to torture Suleiman Abdullah in Afghanistan. ”

It continues: “His interrogators would intersperse a syrupy song called My Love with heavy metal, played on repeat at ear-splitting volume. They told Suleiman, a newly wed fisherman from Tanzania, that they were playing the love song especially for him.”

On behalf of torture survivors Mr Abdullah and Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, as well as a representative of the estate of Gul Rahman – who froze to death in a CIA black site in Afghanistan – the ACLU filed the suit against psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen on Tuesday in a federal court in Washington state, where the two currently reside. They seek compensatory damages of at least $75,000.

The suit calls the torture program a “joint criminal enterprise” and a “war crime” in which the CIA, Mr Mitchell and Mr Jessen colluded and from which Mitchell and Jessen financially profited.

Westlife singer Kian Egan said he was unaware that the US intelligence service had been using the Irish and UK number one single as part of its overseas torture programme.

“This is news to my ears, but it was probably very successful for the CIA,” he told RTÉ 2FM. “It’s a pretty annoying song, especially to be played over and over again.”

Additional reporting: Guardian Services