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Defendant in Plot to Blow Up Airliners Says He Was Tortured

May 10, 1996

NEW YORK (AP) _ A man charged in a plot to blow up 11 U.S. airliners in a single day of terror testified Thursday that he was repeatedly tortured, raped and burned with cigarettes after his arrest in the Philippines.

Some of the alleged torture by Philippine authorities could be heard on an audio tape that was turned over to the U.S. government and played at the hearing for Abdul Hakim Murad.

``They beat me, kicked me, spit in my face. They urinated on me, extinguished cigarettes on me,″ Murad testified. ``They became animals, day and night, beating and torturing. I became like a slave to them.″

Murad, 28, is scheduled to go on trial Monday on charges that he plotted to bomb 11 U.S. jetliners over Asia on a single day in 1995. One of his two co-defendants, Ramzi Yousef, is the alleged mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that killed six people and injured more than 1,000.

Murad said the torture session captured on the audio tape that was played in court was just one of many he endured during more than three months in Philippine custody before he was turned over to the FBI in April 1995.

The 15-minute tape, which was difficult to understand, was played as part of a defense effort to have the judge throw out a five-hour confession he later made to the FBI.

On the tape Murad’s voice changes dramatically and he can be heard screaming, crying and yelling. His voice becomes muffled at one point because, he testified, his Philippine handlers were pouring cold water on a towel over his face, making it hard for him to breathe.

He also testified he was lying on his back on the floor, with his hands cuffed behind his back and his feet chained, during the interrogation. At one point, he testified, he apologizes for vomiting.

Murad said the Philippine authorities eventually conditioned him to answer questions the way they wanted, urging him to say he wanted to destroy America. He also said they told him before turning him over to the FBI that he would face more sexual abuse in the United States.

When the FBI took him into custody, Murad said he feared he would be sexually abused again when he was forced to take off his clothing and put on an orange jumpsuit.

Murad said the FBI handled him roughly at times but did not torture him. However, he said, his fears led him to tell the FBI what they wanted to hear.

A message left at the Philippine consulate wasn’t immediately returned.