Manchester Manual The Code of Conduct for terrorism
Story by Army Spc. Shanita Simmons
JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs
GUANTANAMO BAY, Aug. 14, 2007 - On 9/11, a new chapter opened in American history in the most horrific manner possible – the indiscriminate murder of approximately 3,000 Americans by an international terrorist organization, al Qaeda. From this moment on, al Qaeda was no longer associated only with conflicts involving the Arabs and Israelis or the Soviet Union and Afghanistan. The American public, for the first time, understood that terrorists not only posed a threat to the stability of the Middle East, but to the stability of any society that overtly opposed its agenda.
Although the detainees being held in the Guantanamo Bay detention facilities come from various nationalities, they are alleged to have a shared belief in the al Qaeda brand of Islamic extremism and international terrorism.
“Extremists represent only themselves and should not be honored and associated with any religion or country,” said Mr. Zak, a cultural awareness advisor for the Joint Task Force tasked with educating all military personnel on Islamic culture and on how to interact with detainees in an understanding and effective manner. He registered concern that many Americans have difficulty separating the existence of terrorists from their countries of origin or the Islamic faith. “It is always good to remember that ‘Terrorism does not have a nationality or a religion,’” he emphasized.
Military leaders in May 2000 gained an advance on this insight into al Qaeda beliefs and practices when a training document, known as the Manchester Manual, found during a search of an al Qaeda member’s home in Manchester, England proved to have intelligence value.
According to an authoritative source within Joint Task Force - Guantanamo, the Manchester Manual is an operations primer that is similar in function to an Army field manual used to instruct Soldiers during combat.
“The Manchester Manual is literally an overarching basic guide that simply covers just about everything. It covers how to conduct general combat operations, how to escape and evade capture and how to behave in captivity,” said the JTF source. “There is even a chapter on how to poison yourself using your own feces,” he added.
The document has become a kind of code of conduct for many detainees; it functions as a manifesto that guides their day to day conduct with JTF Troopers, the media, and their attorneys. Although many of the detainees are illiterate and have not read the manual, a JTF source said there is a segment of the detained population who were trainers in the various terrorist camps and that these trainers have either, by example or through different modes of communication, disseminated the document’s principles to the larger detainee population.
The many chapters within the document are believed to have been written by very well- educated individuals who used information gathered from various sources, including U.S. Army field training manuals and those of other foreign governments.
Chapter six of the manual provides detainees with procedures and guidelines on how to disclose information during an interrogation. The chapter outlines the type of mindset a detainee should have during their captivity and during the interrogation process. For example, the chapter states that a detainee should expect to be treated harshly and will be ordered by their captors to illicit information that would be detrimental to their cause.
The 18th chapter focuses on how detainees should conduct themselves while imprisoned or held captive. The chapter includes various statements such as “the brothers must insist on proving that torture was inflicted on them before a judge… and the brother has to do his best to know the names of the security officers.” The statements are included with the intent to elicit behavior that would tarnish their captors’ image during a trial. Information in this chapter also instructs detainees on how to engage in tactics such as hunger strikes.
“What they are basically trying to do [in chapter 18] is to minimize the compromise to their integrity and their operations by the loss of a cell member who is captured,” said the JTF source.”
The manual also provides instruction on how detainees should take advantage of opportunities to communicate with fellow detainees and how to exchange information that may be helpful to them in their operations both inside and outside detention. According to the JTF source, it is important for the detention force, interrogators and intelligence analysts to understand the contents of this manual since it instructs detainees on how to create an environment that is fundamentally uncooperative. Although not all detainees held in detention centers here are directly associated with al Qaeda, the manual is believed to be intended as a guide for all extremist Islamic fighters engaged in paramilitary training.
The JTF source added that whether the detainees here are directly affiliated with al Qaeda or not is irrelevant. What is relevant, he said, is that they have paramilitary combat skills and the willingness to apply those skills when they are so inclined to use them.
“Al Qaeda is the internal locus for all of the disparate regionally, nationally, and ethnically unique Islamic extremist terrorist groups. They come from a multitude of nation states to which they owe no allegiance and coalesce around an extremist religious set of beliefs. They may not speak the same language and they may not come from the same places, but they are all rooted in an interpretation of the same beliefs which would have [as its desired outcome] an ambient state sometime in the future,” said the JTF source.
Although the materials from which the document was drawn is extensive, the JTF source said it is important for Troopers who work with detainees to understand the fundamental concepts of the document. Just as Troopers are praised when they properly complete tasks in accordance with their operational guides and standard operating procedures, detainees are also trained to conduct themselves according to the principles and instructions of the Manchester Manual, and are rewarded accordingly when they do. “The detainees will do all they can to ensure they do everything they can to provoke the guard force. They do this specifically to provoke the harsh reality that the manual prepares them to anticipate. They are expected to undermine the credibility of the United States through the media as a way of perpetuating the battle,” said the JTF source.
“In the long term, the goal of Troopers is to feed them [the detainees], take care of them, and to not judge them,” said Mr. Zak. “Everything that we do here in the camps is done to aid in fighting the Global War on Terror. It is not going to happen overnight. It takes time, and all we are asked to do is the best we can. There are things we can do on a daily basis to help change their point of view about us.”
Understanding the differences between mainstream Islamic beliefs and culture from those extremist beliefs propagated by al Qaeda and its followers will only enhance Troopers abilities to provide detainees safe and humane care and custody as well as assist in the collection of strategic intelligence in support of the Global War on Terrorism.