Death of Abdul Wali

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Abdul Wali was an Afghan man who died in US custody on June 21, 2003 at the age of 28. At the time of his death, he had been held for three days at the US base 10 miles south of Asadabad, in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, on suspicion of involvement in a rocket attack on the same base, after voluntarily handing himself in; the cause of his death was at first reported to be a heart attack, but this came into question when three members of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division came forward to testify that CIA contractor David Passaro assaulted Wali. Passaro, a former U.S. Army Ranger, allegedly beat Wali for two consecutive nights, causing grievous injuries including a fractured pelvis. Prosecutors would charge that Passaro ordered soldiers not to allow Wali to sleep, limited his access to food and water and subjected him to two consecutive nights of interrogation and beatings. Among other injuries, Wali suffered a suspected fractured pelvis that would have made it impossible for him to urinate. Witnesses testified that during one session Passaro, while wearing combat boots, kicked Wali in the groin hard enough to lift him off the ground, threw Wali to the ground, beat Wali on the arms and legs with a heavy Maglite flashlight, and that Passaro also vigorously thrust a flashlight into Wali's abdomen. [1][2] After the second night of beatings, Wali begged the soldiers to kill him and moaned a phrase that meant, "I'm dying." Wali died on his fourth day in custody. He repeatedly denied any involvement in the rocket attacks.[2]

Passaro was found guilty of one count of felony assault with a dangerous weapon and three counts of misdemeanor assault, he was sentenced to serve 8 years and 4 months in prison.[3][4] Passaro is the first and only person connected with the CIA to have been convicted in a post-Sept. 11 abuse case.[5][6] He was also the first American charged under the USA Patriot Act, which extended the jurisdiction of U.S. federal courts to include certain violations of the law committed by military contractors overseas.[7] Passaro believes his prosecution was political, he told Retro Report "I believe 100% that Abu Ghraib, when it kicked off and finally came to public's awareness, that they had to show they were going to hold the CIA accountable, so they had me."[8]

Wali's story in part was told on National Public Radio by Hyder Akbar for a 2003 show on the program This American Life. Akbar had escorted Wali to the US forces as a sign of protection and good will; his father Said Fazal Akbar was then Governor of Kunar Province where the incidents happened. Said Akbar has stated that Wali's death became a tool for terrorist recruiting and "created a huge setback for Afghanistan's national reconciliation efforts."[3]


  1. ^ "Court upholds CIA contractor's detainee abuse conviction". AFP. 2009-08-12. Archived from the original on 2012-01-30. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
  2. ^ a b "Passaro will serve 8 years for beating". The News & Observer. 2007-02-14. Archived from the original on June 20, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  3. ^ a b Weigl, Andrea (2007-02-14). "Passaro will serve 8 years for beating". The News and Observer. Archived from the original on 2009-07-07.
  4. ^ "CIA worker is jailed over beating". BBC. February 13, 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-02-16. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  5. ^ Jury begins deliberations in case of ex-CIA contractor accused of beating Afghan detainee
  6. ^ Ackerman, Spencer (31 July 2014). "CIA admits to spying on Senate staffers". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2014-07-31. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  7. ^ "Ex-CIA contractor on trial in beating". Archived from the original on 2018-10-03. Retrieved 2019-01-22.
  8. ^ Retro Report. "Anatomy of an Interrogation". Retro Report. Archived from the original on 2015-07-10. Retrieved 17 July 2015.

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