Video of UAE torture prince assaulting 25 others -- who's censoring this news in the UAE?

Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al Nahyan, the prince from the UAE who made a video of himself brutally torturing a businessman with whom he had a dispute, has been implicated in 25 further video-recordings of other assaults.

In the leaked video, the prince sets fire to his victim's testicles, sticks a cattle-prod up his anus, beats him with a board with a nail through it, scourges him with a whip, rubs salt into his wounds, and then runs over him repeatedly with a Mecedes SUV (you can hear the bones break).

The UAE's national firewall is blocking stories about this (see the screengrab above). I know that a number of US firms have supplied the UAE with firewall services -- I'd be interested in any detail any Boing Boing reader has about the blocking shown above: did it come from a company that also supplies moral guardianship to western kids in their schools?

"I have more than two hours of video footage showing Sheikh Issa's involvement in the torture of more than 25 people," wrote Texas-based lawyer Anthony Buzbee in a letter obtained by the Observer.

The news of more torture videos involving Issa is another huge blow to the international image of the UAE. The oil-rich state has been keen to develop relations with wealthy western politicians, universities and corporations and to promote an aura of moderation and tolerance. But the shocking video of Issa torturing Afghan grain merchant Mohammed Shah Poor, whom Issa said had cheated him in a business deal, has heavily dented the UAE's reputation. Particularly damaging was the apparent involvement of a policeman in the torture and the impunity with which Sheikh Issa could act, even after the tape emerged. He is a senior prince related to powerful members of the ruling family in Abu Dhabi.

But now it appears the initial tape could just be the beginning of the problem. The new tapes apparently also involve police officers taking part in Issa's attacks, and some of his victims in the as-yet-unseen videos are believed to be Sudanese immigrants.

Torture-tape Gulf prince accused of 25 other attacks (via Warren Ellis)



  1. I was thinking something similar about the CIA actually. Back then, they claimed that in the few instances they did use their “harsh interrogation techniques”, the videotapes recording it were destroyed.
    Now, unfortunate as that may be, it is plausible and probable.
    But in the light of new evidence that has surfaced concerning the frequency in which these techniques were actually applied, the chance that any of these recordings still exists somewhere exponentially increases.
    If we now know that waterboarding was taking place no less than 233 times on 2 ‘captives’ over the time period of merely one month, and we go from the assumption that all these procedures were indeed recorded, and we take into account that these methodes were most probably used on quite a few other ‘captives’, than the amount of recordings must have been staggering.
    In other words, you don’t just ‘misplace’ these by accidentally flushing your thumbdrive down the toilet.
    But I suppose the U.S. has a firewall a bit thicker than that of the U.A.E.

  2. The firewall page shown is from one of the major UAE telecoms provider du (The other being etisalat) as per the guidance of the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority.

    At the moment, the torture coverage is not blocked in Abu Dhabi emirate (ABC news and the Guardian links work just fine); just seems to be Dubai emirate.

    A substantial portion of the internet is blocked – anything from Flickr to

  3. Prince Harry wore a Nazi outfit for Halloween and hes from a democracy… Did we really really think that stuff like this wasn’t happening? I even considered Iraq a modern country (when Sadam was in Power) and his kid was torturing a soccer team (and executing people for giggles). I would put money down that this guy has at least killed before (you don’t build up a tolerance for stuff like this on the first try and I doubt he didn’t cross the line more then once and left some dead guy in the desert for the sand to take. What did we think they were going to do with a national firewall anyway??? I doubt anything will come of any of this tho. Hes not going to be punished and the firwall isn’t going anywhere.

  4. Interesting… when the wii browser was new, embedded video worked. Then it broke, with nothing but black boxes. Then I could use ‘search’ from the black boxes. Now, I’m getting the most popular video in embeddeds, regardless of the real topic.

    – GimpWii

  5. ALL of the torturers (where-ever they are from and whoever they are) ought to be arrested and prosecuted as soon as they set foot in any civilized country.

    These are not victimless crimes – like the zealously (and expensively) prosecuted drug “crimes”- unlike those prohibited activities, torture’s status as a crime DOES NOT depend on statute law. (Except for those who would allow the torturers free rein!!)

    Instead of looking through the written law-books, look to your own conscience for your warrant to treat the torturers as the dangerous human filth that they by their actions have proved themselves to be.

  6. This makes me wonder who might have been present, possibly on camera, possibly “assisting” harsh interrogations in the American CIA recordings that are known to have gone missing.

    Was Cheney in the room? Maybe his hands got a little too dirty. Maybe he brought his buddy Tony Scalia along for a few kicks and giggles.

    Americans are ruled by monsters, after all.

  7. “I would put money down that this guy has at least killed before”

    I suspect the guy in the video died? After being brutally tortured, he was driven over.. Does anyone know if he survived?

  8. This sort of thing is what the UN human rights court is for. If anyone wants to actually *do* something, a smaller nation might be able to get a political movement together of enough size and concerted effort to get noticed quickly by the government (this take a bit longer in larger countries) and have the UN bring charges.

    And yes, tough ought to bring charges against the US, but the US would veto the charges. And if another nation vetoes charges against the UAE prince because the US tortures too, it’s a lesser good, but at least we’ll get an international forum to tell Americans that there’s no bright moral line between our torture and this torture.

  9. Many, many people have a burning desire to perform these sorts of actions. Any time a society breaks down due to natural disaster or war, these behaviour patterns are enacted – people inflicting suffering and humiliation on other people, with some specious rationalization such as “he cheated me” or “his class or people are bad” or “he might be a terrorist” or whatever.

    Do you know a hundred people? If so, you DEFINITELY know some people that would do this to YOU in a heartbeat – if they were not prevented by fear of being caught and punished.

    How do you identify these folks? Not enough effort has been expended in this area, perhaps because many of the foremost leaders and politicians ARE these people. I have some tips, though.

    They typically cannot understand the concept of morality without fear of punishment. Therefore, they are never well-behaved atheists or universalists (occasionally, they are extremely badly behaved atheists, like Voroshilev and Dzerzhinsky). If someone says “you can’t be moral if you do not believe in divine retribution” that’s a pretty good tell – they are projecting their own repressed desires.

    They have some sort of preoccupation with shoving things up men’s asses against their will. This shows up again and again, from the LAPD and NYPD to this UAE prince to the Abu Ghraib interrogators (both before and after the US invasion). So, they generally aren’t cheerful well-adjusted male homosexuals who enjoy consensual intercourse, but they are often pederasts and occasionally self-hating deeply closeted gays.

    Anybody else noticed any other tells? It seems like the intelligence community and the Catholic church could benefit from a better means of finding the torturers. If we can isolate these traits, perhaps we can find the genetic markers, too.

  10. Perhaps the author of this article is himself unaware, but the torture of brown people is considered neither immoral not illegal in the US of A. What are you, some kind of Muslin?

  11. This is just one small insite of what goes on in the middle east……as I have lived in the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait….I have witnessed or have been in the area where worse atrocities take place. Human rights mean absolutely nothing in these countries. Why we give them the time of day is hilarious to the point of being just plain disgusting.

    I guess no one has heard of women being gang raped only to be labeled a prostitute and imprisoned, fined money and then deported for just trying to go to a country and work as a house maid or a store clerk to earn a slight bit more than their home country to support their family.

    Some idiots in our government before wanted to give them control of our ports, and the latest deal they want is to give them nuclear technology. The crack pipe must really be burning bright.

    I hope that people will wake up and see them for what they are and what they do. This is not an isolated incident…this is the norm.

  12. Fox News was gleefully showing excerpts from this on Friday – showing us why Arabs are evil torturers, and that’s why we need to torture them.

  13. The screenshot shown above belongs to one of the telecom operators in UAE. Its not a cultural / moral police or anything of that sort. The way it normally works is that if many people object to a website to the telecom operators, then they may block it. However if enough people object against the blocking then it may be unblocked too. Some inconsistency exists between the sites blocked by one operator to the other too. For the longest period Flickr was blocked by one and not the other.

    Now on the subject of access to the torture video, I can definitely confirm that the video on the ABC News website is still accessible in Dubai on the networks of both operators i.e. Du and Etisalat. From comment above it seems that it is accessible in Abu Dhabi too.

  14. I feel that something should be done about something like this, but then the royals tend to be quite insulated from public scrutiny, western or not.

    I can just imagine bunch of conservatives using something like this as an excuse to portray Arabian (who am I kidding, any corner of the world that isn’t U.S. or Europe) people as being inherently barbaric. I can also imagine the despots of those worlds using THAT as an excuse to continue their oppression, both to their own people and to organizations outside/inside.

    It’s sick enough to make me want to just forget about it all.

  15. The truth will set you free. Torture is not a mideval practice, it’s alive and well, everywhere. UAE, America, Brittain, Russia, everywhere.

    Just think, we would never have any evidence if we had the technology of 50 years ago- the internet and cheap recording equipment made the truth possible. There is no one with a moral right left- there never was to begin with.

    WHERE IS THE VIDEO IN FULL? I cannot find anything other than the ABC video with commentary. I want to see the full 45 minute tape, uncensored. This shit needs to be permanently mirrored like goatse, to prove a point. For the first time in human history, we have the power to hold leaders and the torturers accountable- let’s use it.

  16. Interesting comment thread. Normally a whole group of posters jump in defending the UAE when reports get critical. Where are you now, the “it’s not really as bad as you think” crowd?

    Of course, last time I was there, boingboing was blocked due to it being against the “morals and standards of the UAE!”

  17. Philipb: that’s because their filters noticed that some jackass on Boingboing mentioned boobies.

  18. And, on-topic. Aren’t things like this good reasons to wean ourselves off oil? While it won’t solve their problems, it’ll at least mean that we aren’t financially supporting them (voting with our wallets, as it were). Or am I just being naive?
    I am? Oh.

  19. These guys must have powerful PR in the UK as this story hasn’t been mentioned in the tv news at all – haven’t seen it in the press either.

    If you want to create an impact with this I would suggest you email the link to Manchester City Football fans (do a google on MUFC) as this guy is part of the family that brought the club for £200m…. they’d be more effective than any press report and would guarantee to cause huge embarrassment to the royal family

    (ps I tried to log in buy couldn’t)

  20. A comprehensive (if dated) analysis of UAE internet blocking can be found here:

    The blocks are targeted at certain entire domains: it is not, I think, practice to block access to a particular story on one site. So the ABC News report — and all the follow-up reporting from other countries — is indeed available.

    To the best of my knowledge, one UAE newspaper has reported the incident, while the others have not.

    I believe the blocking is administered using tools from an American firm, though sites are added to the list as the UAE government deems it necessary to block them: hence, the site set up by Bassem Nabulsi (who is suing Sheikh Issa and has released the video above) is blocked; other blogs critical of the Emirates are blocked, and so on.

  21. #13- Fox News was briefly calling the Aporkalypse the “Obama Flu” last week. I’m wondering if their political bias has effected their news coverage?

    As for the Sheik, I guess he should get honorary American citizenship.

  22. what usually happens to people in the UAE who are found to be taking sexual pleasure from torture? He obviously does since he made the video and no doubt has a very large library of similar material.

    Is he now an embarrassment to his country, government and family for islamic reasons as well as political/international? Could someone qualified comment on whether or nor islam condemns this person for being a violent, non-consensual sadist? Or doesn’t it matter? Will the local religious police hang him?

  23. Hmmm, makes that whole Garfield sending Nermal to Abu Dhabi thing a tad more sadistic.

  24. further; islam seems to make a practice of murdering homosexual people, at least based on what I read of the fate of gay people in islamic countries. I am fairly sure that most of this person’s torture victims are male and since the sexual component of the torture is so obvious (videos for later viewing, attacks on genitals etc.)
    it is blatantly obvious that the torturer is acting out either because he is a psychopath or because he is repressed and gay in an islamic country. In either case, the royal family should be directly asked in the public media if this is so and what they intend to do about it.

    Perhaps they could be embarrassed into not murdering and torturing.

  25. @ 8 – DCCULBERSON:

    Apparently he survived long enough to be hospitalizecd, but not clear how long after that. From

    “Immediately after the torture session, a member of Sheikh Issa’s entourage frantically telephoned Mr. Nabulsi. During that call, Mr. Nabulsi learned about the torture of Mr. Poor, and learned that Sheikh Issa was refusing to allow the injured and bleeding victim to be taken to the hospital. Fearing that Mr. Poor might die, Mr. Nabulsi spoke to Sheikh Issa by phone. In that call, Mr. Nabulsi pleaded with Sheikh Issa to allow Poor to be taken to the hospital. Although Sheikh Issa ultimately conceded to Nabulsi’s frantic requests, Nabulsi’s assertiveness on that call with Sheikh Issa was the beginning of the ultimate end to the two partners’ business and personal relationship.”

  26. “I’d be interested in any detail any Boing Boing reader has about the blocking shown above: did it come from a company that also supplies moral guardianship to western kids in their schools?”

    The first place to turn for this kind of information is the Open Net Initiative (a collaboration between Harvard’s Berkman Center and research centers at Cambridge, Oxford, and University of Toronto). According to ONI (, the UAE uses McAfee’s SmartFilter software to oppress its citizens:

    “The UAE prevents its citizens from accessing a significant amount of Internet content spanning a variety of topics, though the majority of sites filtered appear to be those deemed obscene. Outside the free zones, the state employs SmartFilter software to block content such as nudity, sex, dating, gambling, cults/occult, religious conversion, and drugs. Sites containing anonymizer, hacking, translation, and VoIP applications are also filtered in this manner.”

  27. (Accidentally posted first anonymously — reposting)

    The Open Net Initiative (a collaboration between the Berkman Center @ Harvard and research centers at Cambridge, Oxford, and University of Toronto) studies Internet filtering and produces reports on countries with particularly harsh filtering regimes. According to their report on UAE[1], the government uses McAfee’s SmartFilter to blinker its citizens.

    McAfee is a U.S. company ironically located at 3965 Freedom Circle, Santa Clara, CA. Their website outlines their “Ethics First” commitment[2] to “doing the right thing at all times in all circumstances,” as well as corporate Standards of Conduct[3] which do not refer to human rights.


  28. This prince from the UAE is nothing else but a criminal on the loose.He is NOT a Muslim who follows the Quraan and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) No Muslim or even a Non-Muslim who fears God will ever commit such a cold-blooded crime like he did. I could not even watch the video:( I’m sure that Afghan guy did not live after being brutally tortured, poor fellow feel sad for him. How come this sadist prince goes unpunished? where is the justice?.

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