Ex-CIA Agent Who Inspired a Hollywood Blockbuster Just Endorsed an Old Torture Technique for Muslims

Alfreda Scheuer, née Frances Bikowsky, is a former CIA agent who’s greatest achievement in life consists of having tortured Muslims, too often detained without charge, as “terrorist suspects.”

Reuters, to which she gave an “exclusive interview” recently, describes her as such:

WASHINGTON, April 20 (Reuters) – In the 2012 Hollywood hit “Zero Dark Thirty,” a red-haired Central Intelligence Agency analyst played by Jessica Chastain travels to a secret CIA prison and watches a colleague waterboard a screaming Al Qaeda suspect, then lock him in a box a little bigger than a mini-fridge, to make him talk. (…)

For two decades Scheuer was a central figure in some of the major controversies of America’s war on Islamist extremist groups, including secret detention centers and brutal interrogations. CIA operatives normally operate in a dark, shadowy world, but Scheuer’s experiences found the spotlight.

Interestingly, her husband, Michael Scheuer, is yet another former CIA agent, but who consistently and coherently stood against the US’ “War on Terror” narrative.

RELATED: Guantanamo Bay: Symbol of American “Justice” 20 Years After 9/11

So in that interview, Alfreda Scheuer, who has been dubbed “The Queen of Torture,” is quite unapologetic about what might be considered potential war crimes elsewhere.

She thus says:

“I got that title because I was in the arena,” she said. “In fact, I raised my hand loud and proud and you know, I don’t regret it at all.”

One of the torture techniques she doesn’t regret “at all” is waterboarding:

Over several calls that lasted two and half hours, Scheuer said she couldn’t discuss individual cases because they were classified. But in a broad sense, she said waterboarding cited in government reports was not torture, insisted such techniques can work and said any criticism of her was largely the result of her taking risks to combat terrorism.

In a previous article about Guantánamo prisoners, we wrote about waterboarding, which is indeed torture giving a sense of drowning to the victim, and even Christopher Hitchens, the New Atheist who was initially against labeling it as torture eventually had to admit it was, after going himself through the process (not lasting few seconds when others have to go through it multiple times in a single day).

It’s quite perplexing how a woman considered “The Queen of Torture” can not only get away with it, but somehow hailed as a hero and inspire a Hollywood movie (but then a sniper who targeted civilians had the same treatment).

Could you imagine that for other communities?

For instance, imagine Ilse Koch, who oversaw Nazi concentration camps and tortured Jews in WWII getting whitewashed in such a manner.

RELATED: The Paradise of the Disbelievers: On Guantanamo

But what we’ll look at here in more detail is how such “water torture” of Muslims has an old history, dating centuries back.

Water Torture and Muslims: An Ancient Western Tradition

Many Muslims have noted that the Western approach to Islam is still rooted in the Crusades, which lasted from 1095 to 1291.

Muhammad Asad, born Leopold Weiss, a Jew from Austria who accepted Islam, wrote in his essay Islam at the Crossroads, released in 1934, p. 52:

It was the Crusades, first and foremost, that decided the European attitude towards Islam for many centuries’ to come. The Crusades were decisive because they fell in the period of Europe’s childhood, as it were, a period when its peculiar cultural traits were asserting themselves for the first time and were still in the process of evolution. As in individuals, so also in nations the violent impressions of an early childhood persevere, consciously or subconsciously, throughout later life. They are so deeply embossed that they can only with difficulty, and seldom entirely, be removed by the intellectual experiences of a later, more reflective and less emotional age. So it was with the Crusades. They produced one of the deepest and most permanent impressions on Europe’s mass psychology.

Of course, George W. Bush himself famously called the “War on Terror” a new Crusade.

And the West employed water torture against Muslims for the first time precisely during the Crusades.

Amin Maalouf, the famed Lebanese-Christian author, in his best-known book, The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, quotes Usama ibn Munqidh, a Syrian knight and poet who fought against the Crusades and thus saw their barbarism and terrorism firsthand, which he amply described in his memoirs.

Maalouf thus quotes the following words in p. 131, himself explicitly using the expression “water torture”:

A large cask had been set up and filled with water. The young man who was the object of suspicion was pinioned, suspended from a rope by his shoulder-blades, and plunged into the cask. If he was innocent, they said, he would sink into the water, and they would pull him out by the rope. If he was guilty, it would be impossible for him to sink into the water. When he was thrown into the cask, the unfortunate man made every effort to descend to the bottom, but he could not manage it, and thus had to submit to the rigours of their law, may God’s curse be upon them! He was then blinded by a red-hot silver awl.

The next episode of European-Christian state terrorism against Muslims, after the Crusades, was of course the Spanish Inquisition, which began in the 15th century.

The Moors of what was once Al-Andalus were unwilling to embrace the Shirk of Christianity, so the European-Christians had to use torture methods to impose their religion, and, unsurprisingly, water torture, which they called “tortura del agua” in Spanish, was also involved.

We read in Heresy: The Spanish Inquisition by Gerry Boehme, p. 77:

The garrucha, or strappado, involved suspending the accused from the ceiling by a pulley, with weights tired to the angles. The victim was then subjected to a series of sharp lifts and drops, the arms and legs suffering violent pulls and sometimes dislocation.

The toca, also called torture del agua, was similar to what we call waterboarding today. The torturer placed a cloth into the victim’s mouth and then poured water through it, which created a feeling of drowning for the accused.

The potro, more popularly known as the rack, is perhaps the most infamous device used by the inquisitors. It consisted of a bed-like open frame suspended above the group. The victim’s ankles and writes were secured by ropes that passed around axles near the top and bottom of the rack. When the axles were turned slowly by poles, the victim’s hip, knee, shoulder, and elbow joints would be painfully stretched and eventually torn from their sockets.

RELATED: Europeans Celebrate the Fall of Al-Andalus and Make Fools of Themselves

This is the price thousands of Muslims had to pay for refusing the Catholic Church’s world order, and it’s the same prize thousands of Muslims still have to pay for refusing the liberal world order.

Waterboarding is associated with the US’ “War on Terror,” but the Americans in fact used it against Muslims way before 9/11, more than a century ago during the Moro Rebellion (1899-1913), something Trump openly endorsed.

The Moros are the Muslims of the Philippines, and Moros is just a derivative of Moors, so looks like the US was just reviving the Spanish Inquisition here.

The late William R. Polk wrote in his Crusade and Jihad: The Thousand-Year War Between the Muslim World and the Global North, in p. 443:

The American soldiers’ treatment of the Filipinos reflected their dehumanizing language. The natives were often subjected to torture. In later hearings US senators were told of the tortures commonly employed by American troops— the favorite, sounding a very modern note, was the “water cure,” in which buckets of water were forced down a captive’s throat and then forced out by men kneeling on his stomach. When they could retaliate, Filipino insurgents burned or hacked to death captured Americans. Terror bred terror. Even such restraint as existed in the north, where the insurgents were Christian, lapsed in the south, where they were Muslims. American troops were armed with better weapons than the Spaniards, light, mobile cannon, the Maxim machine gun, and mortars, while the Muslim guerrillas still had only the short sword known as a kris or an agricultural tool known as the barong or bolo. The American policy was to accept no surrender; Muslim fighters and those civilians who were with them were slaughtered.

Apart from the euphemism of “water cure,” the reader can also note how the Americans acted differently depending on the religion of the insurgents, such selective and weaponized secularism being still a trademark of the American Empire.

But for Muslims, being designated as “special enemy” by liberals is a sort of compliment.

Anyway, we’ve now seen how such “water torture” is a method the West has been using for Muslims for literally more than a millennium now, and that the West, whether Christian or liberal, capitalist or socialist, or whatever, just can’t keep its hate of Islam and Muslims unchecked.

RELATED: Can a Muslim Ever Be a Full Citizen in the West?

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Ma sha Allah.


Mate, the quality of your work, team and website is going from strength to strength.

Bheria and all dedicated contributors,

Jazakum Allahu khayra for quality content like this.


I would add that the crusades lasted much longer than the 1291, they lasted up to the early modern age in the 1500’s and 1600’s, in the 1500’s there was even a king in Portugal that tried to conquer Morocco to convert the muslisms into christians or also the different catholic coalitions to fight the ottomans in eastern and central europe and across the mediterranean.
The mediterranean was basically a battle arena between muslims and christians for a long period.


Even a famous renowned Spanish writer from the 1500’s called Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra fought in one of those many wars, and he was captured and held as a war prisoner in Algiers and wrote a chronic about the experience.