The Israeli interrogator known as "Captain George," whom a Lebanese militiaman accused of torture and rape, explained in his first television interview, on Friday: terror suspects being grilled have to feel that anything could happen.
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It began with Israel's capture of militiaman Mustafa Dirani in 1994 in Lebanon. He was brought to Israel and used as a bargaining chip for information over the missing Israeli airman Ron Arad, who had been shot down over Lebanon in 1986.
Dirani's main military interrogator has only been identified as "Capt. George" of Unit 504, as it was then known, of the army's Intelligence Corps. Dirani says he was tortured under interrogation. For his part, Capt. George sued the state after he himself was removed from Unit 504.
Last month George's suit was dismissed, although he has since appealed. And Dirani, who was released in a prisoner exchange in 2004, has filed a civil suit against the State of Israel, claiming abuse and invasive sexual assault under interrogation.
The suit was initiated after the Israeli Supreme Court confirmed the Lebanese militiaman's right to sue the Israeli government in an Israeli court. The state has asked the Supreme Court to reconsider the ruling, which the court has yet to do.
And then last Friday evening, the Channel 2 current affairs program "Ulpan Shishi" aired an interview with "George."
"When you are in the midst of an interrogation," George said in the interview, "when it involves hardcore terrorists who understand what we'll call the laws limiting you, sometimes you need to show them a bit more, so they understand that from your standpoint at least, everything is allowed."
"But everything is done within the framework of accepted laws and rules," George added. "When I want to change your status, you won't sit calmly across from me like that." And he added: "Either you will kneel down or you will stand for hours while I interrogate you. Raising your voice [means that you will be] shaken and if necessary even get slapped in the face. Anyone who says otherwise is telling stories."
The Channel 2 broadcast also aired a video for the first time, showing Dirani's account to military police investigators of the abuse he says he underwent during his interrogation.
"He [the interrogator] stood there," Dirani says on the tape, "grabbed me like this," bending doubt to demonstrate how he said he was handled, "and then the soldier came near me and of course I started to scream. I felt him putting his body on mine." Dirani said he was sitting naked on a bench when his interrogator said: "If you don't talk, I will stick this club inside you."
George concluded his military service in 2002 with the rank of major in Unit 504. Army sources said he was discharged because he refused a lie detector test, thus lowering his security clearance, and wasn't willing to opt for a lower-level position. For his part, George says he was discharged "to show that they were throwing out the rotten apple."