- Middle East/North Africa
In response to a message that Shams Badran, the defense minister under late President Gamal Abdel Nasser, sent to the Muslim Brotherhood denying responsibility for their torture during his tenure, group leaders said he is lying, as the torture still shows on their bodies today.
The Muslim Brotherhood accuses Badran, who is currently residing in London, of supervising and even involvement in torturing group leaders who were arrested after Nasser discovered an assassination plot in 1965. Sayed Qutb, the leading Brotherhood figure, was executed in the case. Nasser also crushed the group after a 1954 assassination attempt in Mansheya, Alexandria.
“He tortured me himself,” said Deputy Supreme Guide Rashad Bayoumi. “When I told him to fear God, he said, ‘I’ll put God in the cell next to you if he comes down here.’”
He explained that the torture methods varied between whipping, hanging, spraying with burning alcohol, filling the cells with water a meter and a half high and attacking prisoners with dogs.
“I entered prison in 1954 and came out in 1965,” he said. “Four days later, I was arrested and served another seven years until 1972.”
He added that one day the warden told them to form a circle and they watched as the man who saved Nasser in the 1948 war was brought to the middle and whipped 40 lashes. “They told him this was a gift from President Nasser,” he said.
Sayed Nazily, a member of the group’s Shura Council, said Badran used to call Nasser and brief him in detail how he could forcibly extract confessions. “We sometimes had to confess to false information to save ourselves from torture or at least take a break,” he said.
“The first one to die from torture was Mohamed Awad,” he said. “They pulled out his brain from the skull.”
“We were charged with attempting to overthrow the regime and blow up government institutions,” he added. “None of this happened, and I served ten years until 1975 for no reason.”
Talaat al-Shenawy, who was also imprisoned in 1965, said the prisoners suffered psychological disturbances on top of the physical pain. “Nasser ordered our arrest by phone from Moscow,” he said, “although it was the Brotherhood that secured the entrances and exits of Cairo during his coup.”
“Nasser’s bodyguard, Ismail al-Fayoumy, was from the Brotherhood,” he said. “He would have killed him had we ordered it, but we are peaceful people.”
Shehata Hodhod, an old group member, said he was tortured by Hamza al-Bassiouny, the director of the military prisons. “He used to report the torture to Badran and Nasser,” he said. “Some were hanged for refusing to sing for Nasser, others were thrown dead in the desert and their families were told to go look for their bodies.”
Brotherhood researcher Abdo Dessouky said the Brotherhood filed lawsuits against Badran and other members of the Nasser regime demanding compensation for the damages is members have suffered. “The court ruled in favor of the group in the seventies,” he said.
Ahmed Seif al-Islam al-Banna, son of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, claimed Badran sent his message at this particular time to incite the people against President Mohamed Morsy. The Brotherhood’s mufti, Abdel Rahman al-Barr, concurred with this theory.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm