As the investigations chief of the “Black SS” — the notorious Somali National Security Service (NSS) — Colonel Abdi Aden Magan directed the interrogation and torture of civilians seen as opponents of the Somali government. One of those civilians was law professor and human rights advocate Abukar Hassan Ahmed. The NSS arrested Professor Ahmed in 1988, threw him into solitary, and starved and brutally tortured him for months. Nearly 25 years after these crimes, CJA filed a case against Magan in a federal court in Ohio, where Magan was residing, on Professor Ahmed’s behalf. Professor Ahmed successfully confronted his perpetrator and won a $15 million judgment against Magan.
In 2005, Professor Ahmed, then living in London, began to search online for the man who had tortured him 17 years ago during the infamous Siad Barre regime. Under Magan’s authority, Professor Ahmed was held in a windowless cell on a starvation diet and interrogated day and night. He was regularly beaten and choked and, to this day, suffers lasting physical and emotional trauma. Professor Ahmed was stunned to discover that Magan was residing freely in Columbus, Ohio.
CJA and pro bono co-counsel filed a case in 2010 against Magan for torture, cruel treatment, and arbitrary detention.
In 2013, Professor Ahmed finally had his day in court, and testified about the atrocities he faced. The court concluded that Magan’s conduct “was brutal and egregious” and awarded Professor Ahmed $15 million in damages. CJA’s case is the first time a court of law has held a member of the NSS accountable for acts under the Siad Barre regime.
”Justice is universal,” Professor Ahmed said after the hearing. “Those who try to torture a human being will be brought to justice anywhere he is. That is my message.”
Several months later, Professor Ahmed received the prestigious International Bar Association Human Rights Award for his valor in upholding human rights law. Today, Professor Ahmed is a legal advisor to the President of Somalia, working to ensure that the new government’s laws comply with human rights.