Sat, Jul 13, 2013 - Page 7 News List

CIA keeps detainee sane with vacuum cleaner project

AP, WASHINGTON

SECRET MESSAGES

In Romania, the prison provided books for detainees to read. Mohammed, former officials said, enjoyed the Harry Potter series. For the CIA officers at the prison, not so much.

For security reasons, after a prisoner finished a book, they tediously checked every page to ensure detainees were not passing messages. They once caught Mohammed trying to hide a message in a book warning his prison mates not to talk about Osama bin Laden’s courier.

Mohammed graduated from North Carolina A&T State University with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1986. It is not clear whether he was interested in designing a better vacuum or had ulterior motives. He might have intended to use the plans to conceal secret information or trick his jailers.

In Graham Greene’s spy thriller Our Man in Havana, a vacuum salesman in Cuba agrees to work for MI6, the British spy service. He dupes the British into believing his vacuum designs are military installations. The AP was unable to determine whether Mohammed ever read the famous novel.

It remains a mystery how far Mohammed got with his designs or whether the plans still exist. The secret CIA prison in Romania was shuttered in early 2006 and Mohammed was transferred later that year to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base prison, where he remains. It is unlikely he was able to take his appliance plans to Cuba.

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