’Further questioning’

In his letter to the Afghanistan committee late last week, Gen. Walter Natynczyk wrote that “Canadian Forces do not transfer individuals for the purposes of gathering information.” In a letter sent today, the NDP’s Paul Dewar and Jack Harris have asked Gen. Natynczyk to clarify this point.

Specifically, Messrs. Dewar and Harris want to know how to square the general’s statement with an October 2007 document they’ve obtained. The document is described as a transfer report and it reads, in part:

“During the interview conducted, it is believe (sic) that all the detainees were deceptive and they have a better knowledge on TB (Taliban) activity in their area. Based upon the above, it is recommended that [names of detainees] be transferred to the National Directorate of Security (NOS) for further questioning”.

The NDP is not making said document public as yet. But Mr. Dewar did raise it during committee hearings last week. He presented it to Malgarai Ahmadshah, a former translator for the Canadian Forces, and Mr. Ahmadshah explained the document as follows.

Mr. Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, NDP): Thank you, Chair, and to our guests.

I’ll do as others have done, if I may call you Pasha.

I’m going to read from a document from October 2007 which basically is a Canadian investigator writing comments about detainees. It says:

All detainees were captured in the compound of [name] who was confirmed to be TB [Taliban] commander. Furthermore, [name] tested positive during an explosive residue test and a large quantity of explosive, IEO materials, weapons and ammunitions were also found inside his compound. During the interviews conducted, it is believe [sic.] that all the detainees were deceptive and they have a better knowledge on TB [Taliban] activity in their area. Based upon the above, it is recommended that [names] be transferred to the National Directorate of Security (NDS) for further questioning. Authorize the release of this report to NDS: CO ASIC.

I want to just show you this document, if I may, and if I can ask you if you recognize this document. What I was reading was the end piece, the last paragraph. It’s, I think, three pages there.

The Chair: Mr. Dewar, just as a question, do you have the document for the rest of the committee members to see what you’re passing out?

Mr. Paul Dewar: If I can ask the question and respond to that.

The Chair: Very quickly, but don’t continue to–

Mr. Paul Dewar: I have the paragraph that I read into the record. I can pass that out.

The Chair: It’s a real disadvantage for the committee–

Mr. Paul Dewar: Yes, I can pass that, the paragraph I read into the record too.

If I can ask you if you recognize the document?

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: I recognize this document. May I ask if this can go into the record, the whole document?

Mr. Paul Dewar: If I may, Chair, just to ask some questions about the document first?

If you could stop the clock for a second, Chair.

Okay, then I’ll carry on with my questions. You see, if I can carry on with the questions, then we can return to the status of the document.

You recognize this document?

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: Yes, this is a transfer detainee document which was given during the transfer to NDS.

Mr. Paul Dewar: So the last paragraph that I read into the record which I’m sharing with the committee, what would you make of that last paragraph where it says–I omitted the names there–but it says that these people would be transferred to the NDS for further questioning.

What does that mean, they’d be transferred for further questioning?

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: I have probably translated more than 40 to 50 of these documents and these documents are actually detainee transfer documents which were given to NDS during the transfers.

When I was translating this document, I always asked the tactical questioners. I say, here you say that for further question to NDS. They should be transferred for further questioning. Should I translate this as the transferring for questioning or transferring for torture? They would just laugh.

Mr. Paul Dewar: Why would you say that?

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: I was always asking, joking with them, because we were working in one room. I say, should I translate this, because they were subcontracting torture.

Mr. Paul Dewar: So you believed, because of your experience, that when a transfer was written into the NDS that meant that they were trying to use the NDS for–

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: They were trying to use the NDS as subcontracting for torture.

Mr. Paul Dewar: In your experience, you said that you’ve translated more than 40 of these agreements?

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: Yes.

Mr. Paul Dewar: And you were translating them from what language to what language?

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: I was translating it from English to Pashto. Before we were transferring the detainees, a copy of English and Pashto translation was given to NDS.

Mr. Paul Dewar: So the translated document that you would give that you translated would be for NDS?

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: And the English one, yes.

Mr. Paul Dewar: Would these be on file, both documents, kept on file with Canadian Forces or were the–

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: Most certainly, because if NDS has it, then they should have it in their file as well.

Mr. Paul Dewar: You say that in this arrangement where these, in this case there were six and I’m looking at the date is October 2007, there were six of these people who were interrogated by Canadian Forces and then passed on to NDS.

You’re saying that when it says at the end that the interview’s concluded, believe that the detainees were deceptive and have better knowledge than they suggested they did, that the idea here was to pass them on to the NDS to extract more information, because of the methods that NDS used?

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: The language is very simple here if you look at it. If they wanted to extract more information from them if they were deceptive, keep them for longer and ask them questions until you’re satisfied. If you can’t get it out of them through a normal way, then you have to subcontract the torture. It’s not the first time it happens. We did it with Maher Arar. We subcontracted his torture. So why would anybody doubt that we did not do it with Afghans?

Mr. Paul Dewar: It was understood then when the detainees were being transferred to NDS, it was done for that purpose?

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: There was no one in the Canadian military with a uniform who was involved in any way, at any level, with the detainee transfers that they did not know what was going on and what NDS does to their detainees.

Mr. Paul Dewar: So once they handed over the detainees to the NDS it was clear from your experience what would happen after and this was at the end of October?

Mr. Malgarai Ahmadshah: Yes.