The music of an Irish boyband swooned over by thousands of teenage girls in the early 2000s was apparently used for a much darker purpose.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has reported that the CIA used “My Love,” a song by Irish group Westlife, as a torture tactic for interrogating terror suspects.
Suleiman Abdullah Salim, a fisherman from Tanzania, was taken prisoner by Kenyan authorities 2003 and then given to the CIA. He was held prisoner by US intelligence forces for five years in Afghanistan before being released as “no threat.”
The innocent man, who was a newlywed at the time of his capture, described to the ACLU the interrogation regime he underwent.
"His interrogators would intersperse a syrupy song called 'My Love' (by Westlife) with heavy metal, played on repeat at ear-splitting volume,” the ACLU website reveals.
“They told Suleiman, a newly wed fisherman from Tanzania, that they were playing the love song especially for him. Suleiman had married his wife Magida only two weeks before the CIA and Kenyan agents abducted him in Somalia, where he had settled while fishing and trading around the Swahili Coast. He would never see Magida again."
They state that he “endured an incessant barrage of torture techniques designed to psychologically destroy him.
"His torturers repeatedly doused him with ice-cold water. They beat him and slammed him into walls. They hung him from a metal rod, his toes barely touching the floor. They chained him in other painful stress positions for days at a time. They starved him, deprived him of sleep and stuffed him inside small boxes."
Salim is one of three plaintiffs in the ACLU’s lawsuit against CIA-contracted psychologists James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen, who “helped convince the agency to adopt torture as official policy, making millions of dollars in the process.”
They claim that Mitchell and Jessen used experiments conducted on dogs in the 1960s as the basis for their “experimental” interrogation tactics. Using an experiment in which electric shocks were applied to dogs until they collapsed into a passive state termed “learned helplessness” as their inspiration, they decided to apply the same idea to human prisoners, breaking them down into a state of learned helplessness in which they would allegedly be unable to resist passing on information.
The two other plaintiffs are Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, who was held and tortured for eight years, and the family of Gul Rahman, who died while being interrogated at a CIA “black site” in Afghanistan.
“The terrible torture I suffered at the hands of the CIA still haunts me. I still have flashbacks, but I’ve learned to deal with them with a psychologist who tries to help people, not hurt them.” said Salim. “This lawsuit is about achieving justice. No person should ever have to endure the horrors that these two men inflicted.”
The members of Westlife, who formed in 1998 and disbanded in 2012, have had varying reactions to this news that their song “My Love” was used as a torture device.
Speaking to Eoghan McDermott on RTE 2fm, Kian Egan, from Sligo, admitted it was "a pretty annoying song to be played over and over again.
“If we’re talking about [playing it] repeatedly, it probably only took about two hours to actually crack the poor guy with that one,” he said.
When asked why he was speaking ill of his own song, he replied ““I am only trying to shed a bit of light on the subject and have a bit of fun about it all.”
Former Westlife member Nicky Byrne said he thought someone was playing a prank on him when he first heard the news.
"If it wasn't so serious it would be funny," he said. "But it is serious.”