UAE royal caught torturing man on video

A video showing a member of the United Arab Emirates' royal family torturing a man with whips, electrocution and a nail-spiked board has been released. The Minister of the Interior (one of the torturer's brothers) reviewed the recording and concluded "all rules, policies and procedures were followed correctly by the Police Department."
A man in a UAE police uniform is seen on the tape tying the victim's arms and legs, and later holding him down as the Sheikh pours salt on the man's wounds and then drives over him with his Mercedes SUV.

In a statement to ABC News, the UAE Ministry of the Interior said it had reviewed the tape and acknowledged the involvement of Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al Nahyan, brother of the country's crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed.

ABC News Exclusive: Torture Tape Implicates UAE Royal Sheikh (via Digg)



  1. Anyone want to place bets as to whether the UAE will try to block websites which host this video?

  2. So whats the problem? He is royal, thats same thing as working for the government in US. Remember – its OK to torture if you work for the government, Dick Cheney said that!

  3. It’s good to know that the extraordinary rendition program was *entirely* ethical and put people at no risk of unacceptable treatment then.

    Astonishingly, the UAE is one of the more ethical states in the area.

  4. It’s a monarchy, what do you expect? It’s a dictatorship with delusions of grandeur. Every sheikh deserves the same fate as Saddam Hussein.

  5. Just last night, I was talking with a buddy about the use of torture by American agencies, and Obama’s decision to not prosecute anyone.

    My argument went along these lines:
    When you learn something, you learn in two ways. For example, you learn that the derivative of f(x)=3x is f(x) = 3. You also learn that you hate calculus.
    (I don’t, but this way it’s funnier.)

    So when, for example, your government says:
    “Under no circumstance will we use the Death Penalty. EVEN IF the victim as a little girl who was raped. EVEN IF the victim was a policeman. EVEN IF the victim was the Prime Minister. EVEN IF the victim was home-invaded.”
    “You will not be charged directly for medical care, and that care will be based on need, not on ability to pay.”

    When the elite Canadian Airborne Regiment was found to have tortured a Somali teenager in 1993, the regiment was disbanded. See – warning graphic photo.

    In these cases, the government also sends out a very strong message that human life has value. This message has a subtle but powerful effect on the population.

    In Texas, the penal system denies any shred of humanity to prisoners on death row. Even the possibility of making/writing a final statement in the days just before their execution. Y’see, the prisoner’s life has no meaning. He’s just pond scum.

    Likewise with torture:
    When the American government doesn’t punish torture,
    EVEN THOUGH it’s banned by international law,
    EVEN THOUGH the Nuremburg trials established that “I was just following orders” isn’t a valid excuse,
    EVEN THOUGH it’s illegal according to American law,
    EVEN THOUGH it’s been proven, over and over that IT DOESN’T WORK!,
    then you give the green light to anyone else who wants to torture.

    Now, how can Americans be surprised when torture is performed in other places? How can the American government, the only one that might have influence on the leaders in the UAE, even express their concerns about this story without looking like hypocrites?

    Nota: I’m quite aware that lots of other countries and organizations use torture.

  6. It also appears that torture is presently widely used by the folks the US went out of its way to put into power in Iraq, too:,8599,1892038,00.html

    IMO the US civilians in charge of that war figured that the widespread use of torture would terrorize the population into submission: their allies had used similar tactics in El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980’s.
    There’s a pattern to it, and a reason torture was embraced as policy.

  7. “It’s a dictatorship with delusions of grandeur.”

    I can think of another country that deserves that title.

  8. It’s a monarchy, what do you expect?

    In related news, queen Elizabeth II was caught on tape yesterday hunting the homeless for sport. Leading animal rights activists told this reporter off the record that it was “a step in the right direction.”

  9. The UAE has seven royal families so it isn’t really accurate to talk about “United Arab Emirates’ royal family”. The al Nahyan’s are the rulers of Abu Dhabi. My understanding is that as in Saudi the entire country is the property of the royal family and they act with impunity.
    I don’t see any reason to claim that the UAE or Abu Dhabi is more of the “more ethical” states in the area.

  10. #1 Rasz, you’re wrong. Under Dubya’s new rules, when the government does it, it’s not called torture.

    Seriously, if you looked carefully at the statement issued by the Interior Ministry, it said that the Police Department were not at fault. Perhaps that’s just a somewhat indirect way of laying the blame on the royal.

  11. I think it’s import to recognize that other places have different attitudes and morals than us. Other places have different cultures where our bad is good and our down is up to them.

    For example, that exotic far-off place called “Washington DC”…

  12. #11: Indeed, politics is different under absolute despotism: it depends on how clever the tyrant is, I suppose, as to how coded the messages need to be.

  13. @ #4 0xdeadbeef:

    Yeah, Sweden’s a monarchy too, it’s crazy over here. Our king goes on random killing sprees on a regular basis and we just have to stand there and take it.

  14. @6

    The Administration is damned either way, if they don’t prosecute they admit tacit support for torture, but if they do prosecute, they set a dangerous precedent under which every future regime change between parties will include the prosecution of the previous.

  15. The linked ABC News article does not explain how they come into possession of this tape. Apparently there’s a 3 year old lawsuit by Bassam Nabulsi who used to be an adviser of Sheik Issa.

    Bassam says Sheik Issa got into the habit of torturing employees and other people he “disapproves”. He had these sessions taped so that he could enjoy them later. Bassam has 3 other videos. He’s suing Sheik Issa for money owed from past business deals. He also says he himself was tortured to get him to give the tapes back. Apparently they didn’t get it all back, or these were copies.

    His lawyers released 11 still frames from the same video last year, but that didn’t seem to have gotten much attention. A picture is worth a thousand words, and a short video is worth more than a few stills. Sheik Issa should have settled then, instead of continuing to hide from the process servers. Just imagine his meet with the current President of the UAE.

  16. #16: Only if the previous Administration tortured people, or ordered their torture.

    Otherwise, there’s no evidence that what you suggest will become a norm; nor that the populace would reward such actions with re-election.

    Malicious prosecution is also a crime, IIRC; a species of using power illegally, of the abuse of power. And thus, related to torture as a crime by the State, or more accurately, by those in charge of the machinery of the State.

    Do not try to use such phantoms of possible futures, to frighten us from seeking to punish those guilty, or of seeking justice for their victims.

  17. This Prince ought to have done what the CIA has said that it has done: destroy the videotapes of the torture.

  18. Anyone notice that about all of the current tv drama series have managed to work at least one if not more story lines in where torture is shown as justifiable in order to get the mean terrorist to tell us where the bomb is threatening a bunch of innocents? The purpose of this is to terroize YOU, to shape up, stay in line, don’t ask too many questions, go along, and be compliant while the treasury is looted.

  19. Ugly Canuck, I agree. What Ignatus is saying is basically that if we pursue justice now, future injustice might result. The solution is not to stop demanding justice, but to never stop. There may be future injustice: we should stamp it out when it appears with the same vehemence we should attack it now.

    If you are genuinely concerned about future injustice you should be outraged by present injustice.

  20. It is estimated that the number of psychopaths worldwide is growing. Official figures stand at 4%, more than an epidemic, but the official figures fall far short.

    and this is the proof that cruelty, lack of empathy. and thrill seeking are alive and well. And those folks think they are exempt from the rule of law. Then, with the overlay of priviledge for royals, you can imagine how entitled that guy felt to use his Mercedes as a killing machine.

  21. Exacly my question: “The linked ABC News article does not explain how they come into possession of this tape.”(Dainiel). This must have been recorded by some secret agency (CIA?), not a journalist hidden behind a dune…

    Isn’t it curious that in 40 years of close realtionship USA-Saudi Arabia never something like this in the main strem media has made public? Now that tha Saudis and China are close “friends” …

  22. All people are good people, and all people are bad people. If you could split people up into two consistent groups, you wouldn’t need laws, just a means of identifying which group any given person belongs too. But we do need laws. And leaders must obey them.

  23. The Sheiks’ lawyer also represented Dubya in the Florida recount. Hooray for referrals!

    “…Sheikh Issa’s lawyer, Bristow, has moved to have the case, which also involves allegations surrounding their business dealings, transferred to courts in the UAE.

    Wherever it is heard, said Bristow, “You may be assured that in due course the one-sided “story” being told to ABC by the Nabulsi’s and their lawyers will be completely addressed and the Nabulsi’s will be discredited,” he said in a letter to ABC News.

    The “‘story that we think ABC is being told is grossly misleading; it is in large measure demonstrably untrue; and it is defamatory to Sheikh Issa.” Bristow represented George W. Bush in the Florida recount case in 2000…”

    One-sided, demonstrably untrue, defamatory? Where do they come up with this stuff?

    That video was hard to watch. I wonder if they got him to confess to being the link between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

  24. As Mr. Nabulsi was trying to leave the country, he was arrested. FTA:

    “They would keep him from sleeping, deny him his medications, tell him they were going to rape his wife, kill his child. They made him pose naked while they took pictures,” the lawyer alleges.

    The UAE government said its review “also confirmed that Mr. Nabulsi was in no way mistreated during his incarceration for drug possession.”

    The US govt can not exactly have a problem with the way Mr Nabulsi was treated. Even the Obama administration can not complain over his treatment (for the moment, let us assume a US citizen). Until the Executive prosecutes and hopefully the Judicaray is honest and find guilty those in the US that designed and carried out torture, we are the same as the police of the UAE.

    As far as Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al Nahyan, maybe he and Cheney should take a hunting trip together.

  25. The SUV was a nice touch.

    The kid’s allowance will be cut and he’ll be exiled to Los Angeles.

  26. The lesson here is obvious. We outsource our torture. UAE seems like they’re really dedicated to it but India would probably do it for cheaper.

  27. ignoti@16:

    The Administration is damned either way, if they don’t prosecute they admit tacit support for torture, but if they do prosecute, they set a dangerous precedent under which every future regime change between parties will include the prosecution of the previous.

    If they broke the law, they should be prosecuted. I don’t call that damned, I call that blessed justice.

  28. Wow! Hitting people with nail-spiked boards? Running them over with SUVs? Rubbing salt in their wounds? Whips? Electrocution? Why didn’t OUR government think up such cools forms of tort.. I mean, interrogation? I’ll bet that guy gave up DOZENS of terrorist plots! I’m sure glad he’s on our side! 8O

  29. Why is it we are so willing to turn a blind eye in the name of political expediency? Obama (who I reluctantly voted for) promised change. Fine. Let’s see it. Somehow I don’t think the US will do a damned thing — even something so small as to express offical outrage. I would love to be proven wrong…

  30. @ 32
    “Obama (who I reluctantly voted for) promised change. Fine. Let’s see it. Somehow I don’t think the US will do a damned thing”

    The president cannot be seen as being behind the push to prosecute the former administration for crimes. He would be perceived as being vindictive. That is why this has been kicked over to the attorney general, to prevent it from being politicized. Nor should a special prosecutor be appointed. The system should be allowed to work and for this to run it’s course.

  31. This isn’t torture for information or to get the right confession delivered in a convincing way; i.e., turn the guy into a meat puppet. This is just torture for fun (and maybe to teach a lesson to other double-dealing grain-sellers).

    For now, US law countenances the first two but not the last one.

  32. @19

    You’re right if no one in a prior Administration ever committed any crime, which is pretty much impossible in day-to-day life – especially if you’re a politician. I don’t disagree that those responsible should be indicted, but I can see where pragmatic people in the current Administration wouldn’t want to set an ugly precedent.

    It’s quite similar to how the Democrats did not actively pursue an Impeachment against Bush because of the precedent it would set.

  33. I got about 20 seconds into that video before I had to stop it. Unwatchable. I can’t make a joke about this or understand how anybody can… beyond disturbed.

  34. Some crimes deserve “zero tolerance” more than others. Organizing a secret torture program?
    It’s tough to find a worse thing for anybody to do: unless it is the crime of beginning an aggressive war of conquest, against a population which does not threaten you.

  35. @ 35 Ugly Canuck

    No, I disagree. One, the law has expired. Two, special prosecutors are a means to bury a crime. When Valeri Plame was outed as CIA a felony was committed by the previous administration. Appoint a SP and all the evidence gets buried in the grand jury proceedings, they are secret, and no one is ever brought to justice. Libby was convicted of obstruction, the original crime was left unpunished.

  36. Sheikh Issa would probably have got on like a house on fire with the late unlamented Uday Hussein. Unless, of course, they got into an argument over the proper way to use a cattleprod, or ran out of people to torture.

  37. Indeed Noen: a “Truth Commission”, with immunity for straight-up testimony, a full-on airing of what was done to whom how, and when – and a public discussion thereafter of what consequences (if any) ought to follow, for both the tortured and the torturers, may be sufficient: for Americans.
    But for the 5600 millions who are not Americans, and feel no particular allegiance to that state – well, we are watching too – the justification of “defense of our great Republic” won’t play too well.
    After all, history teaches that that is what ALL “Official” torturers, ever, anywhere, have pled as justification for their…excess zeal, shall we call it… in the performance of their, ah, “difficult duty”(on those rare occasions when they have been held to account and made responsible for their torturous actions).
    Non-Americans will make their private judgments, regardless of what the “Law” as Americans see it may allow as to beating and brutalizing prisoners.

  38. hi people who keep comparing “monarchies” like europes to uae. stop. seriously. do you not remember your history? magna carta? french revolution? etc.

    your monarchies used to do this shit when they were real monarchies, they arent anymore (hi house common, hi diet!)

    these are real monarchies, these are reminders of why that kinda bullshit should have been outlawed back in 1776.

  39. I can’t really make a joke about this either, even one of the Cheney-bashing variety. The difference between this and what the U.S. did to prisoners to get them to divulge “high-value information” is …? Well, I guess we weren’t on videotape.

    Oh wait – we were. Just that we were quick to destroy it when the wind started shifting…

  40. video like this should be in every American school. With a big picture of Bush and Cheney. Smiling.

  41. Quick, sheikh, hire the law firm of Addington, Yoo and Bybee to write you a memo explaining how these things are merely uncomfortable.

  42. This is clearly torture. Waterboarding is an “enhanced interrogation technique”.

    Which is completely different – they’re spelt completely different!
    One is one word (which everyone agrees is bad), the other is three words witch are open to interpretation.

    If the good sheikh only had the nous to meticulously document the abuse and release it in a large, tedious official-sounding document which implicates everyone who has ever had any power, he’d be home safe.

  43. the timing is uncanny, having the video aired right after our torture memo was made public. it makes me think that it was aired so the US public can say to themselves “See, we’re no worse than they are!” or some similar bs rationalization.

  44. > #28 posted by mightymouse1584, April 23, 2009 6:45 AM
    > good for abc for publishing this story.

    It’s a shame that we live in an age where we’re pleasantly surprised when news networks do their jobs correctly.

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