What? There's torture in other countries besides Iraq? Rush never told me that!
Human rights groups have accused the Egyptian authorities of detaining hundreds of people in a brutal crackdown on people protesting the war in Iraq....
Human rights groups in Cairo and the United States, citing what they said were witness accounts and statements by detainees, said security forces had used electric shocks, sticks and belts to beat prisoners in police stations and in prisons....
--from today's New York Times
But hey -- it turnbs out that torture in Egyptian prisons builds character:
Many members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad fled to Afghanistan in the late 1990s....Foremost among them was Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, a surgeon who became Osama bin Laden's deputy.
Dr Zawahiri had been imprisoned and, according to friends, beaten frequently after the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981. The humiliations - including, reportedly, the betrayal under torture of a fellow Islamist - marked him for life.
He left prison with renewed commitment to the Islamist cause, and began making regular trips to Afghanistan to support the mojahedin fighting the Soviets.
Montasser al-Zayat, a lawyer who was imprisoned with Dr Zawahiri and wrote a damning biography of him, described how traumatic experiences during three years in prison transformed Dr Zawahiri from a relative moderate in the Islamist underground into a violent extremist.
Others also remarked on the change. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a sociologist at the American University who met Dr Zawahiri after his release, told the New Yorker magazine recently: "Many who turn fanatic have suffered harsh treatment in prison. It makes them extremely suspicious."
It was Dr Zawahari who formally merged Islamic Jihad with al-Qaida in June 2001, providing Bin Laden's organisation with an influx of Egyptian recruits and reinforcing its hatred of secular, pro-western Arab governments. Of the nine-member leadership council, six were Egyptians.
Al-Qaida recognises the significance of torture. A handbook, Military Studies in the Jihad Against the Tyrants, seized by police in Manchester several years ago, was accepted as evidence in the New York trial of those who bombed America's east African embassies.
The manual lists gruesome tortures, and then notes: "Let no one think the techniques are fabrications of our imagination, or that we copied them from spy stories. These are factual incidents in the prisons of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and all other Arab countries."