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Ex-British soldier says he was beaten for weeks in Guantanamo Bay-like prison by ten Taliban guards

A former British soldier captured while leading a daring desert escape from Afghanistan has described how he endured weeks of prison beatings from Taliban militants who suspected he was a spy. 

Ben Slater says he was punched, kicked and lashed by up to ten guards at a time in a Guantanamo Bay-like prison run by the Islamist group’s intelligence arm. 

‘I was the ultimate catch for them,’ the former Royal Military Police officer told The Mail on Sunday. 

Ben Slater, 37, was captured while trying to lead nearly 400 people to the Pakistani border

Mr Slater, who ran a non-profit organisation in Kabul, was trying to lead nearly 400 of his mainly female staff and their families towards Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan when he was detained by a gun-toting Taliban patrol. 

He was dragged to a jail where he thought he would be killed as Taliban thugs – many of them previously held by the Americans for terrorism offences – beat him without ‘any remorse’. 

He said: ‘They didn’t give me any chance of dialogue, they said, “Shut up, you are a spy.” Some of my interrogators were former Guantanamo detainees and some were jailed at Bagram air base in Afghanistan.  

‘One of my prison guards lost a limb in a Nato airstrike. You just knew this was not going to end well.’ 

The 37-year-old had been taken to a Taliban base at Jalalabad which was previously a CIA interrogation centre and was thrown in a windowless cell holding four fighters from Islamic State, also known as Daesh. 

‘It was horrendous, I was breaking bread with Daesh,’ he said. ‘I tried to crack some jokes so we didn’t kill each other.’ 

While he was being escorted to an interrogation session, Taliban guards pushed him down a flight of stairs before attacking him with fists and feet. 

‘It was like bullies in a playground, when they have someone on the ground,’ he said. 

‘About ten of them were kicking lumps out of me.’ 

They then lashed him with cables and wires, forcing the ex-soldier to cower on the ground. 

‘If you laid out a buffet of hatred for these people at the time… I was a blue-eyed British soldier. 

I was literally the ultimate catch,’ he said. Taliban guards would place a hood over his head and drag him barefoot to a room where interrogators with a translator would beat him i

n the hope he would confess to being a British spy. 

After two weeks of daily beatings and brutal questioning, Mr Slater’s captors began to accept he was not a member of the intelligence services and moved him to a single cell for a week. 

He was then transferred to a prison in Kabul for political detainees. 

Mr Slater, who grew up in Devon, was released from Taliban captivity last Monday, after a delegation led by Sir Simon Gass – Boris Johnson’s special envoy to Afghanistan – and Martin Longden, the UK’s chargé d’affaires, met Taliban leaders in Kabul. 

Mr Slater was flown out of Kabul with the British delegation to Qatar. He last night thanked the Prime Minister for getting him out of Afghanistan, but appealed to him to help the rest of his staff escape. 

‘All I care about is these vulnerable people and getting as many out as I can,’ he said. 

‘If I have to go over the same thing again, and get captured by the Taliban, I will do that all over again.’ 

Mr Slater – who has been living and working in Afghanistan for the past eight years – is chairman of an international development organisation called Nomad Concepts Group, which employed more than 1,000 Afghans in Kabul to help vulnerable women and girls. 

When the Taliban entered Kabul on August 15, Mr Slater began making plans to evacuate 100 of his staff. 

‘Threats from the Taliban against my women staff had started to come through,’ he said. 

He managed to get some out via Kabul airport but the Home Office could not provide visas for all workers. 

When the airport closed, Mr Slater, his staff and their families boarded a convoy of minibuses and taxis to make the perilous six-hour journey to the Torkham border crossing with Pakistan. 

But when the group of almost 400 reached the border, Mr Slater learned that the British High Commission in Islamabad had not provided the visas needed to cross the border, so the convoy had to camp in a nearby hotel. On September 2, the hotel was raided. 

Most guests – including almost all of his staff – fled but Mr Slater was detained and taken to a makeshift jail in Torkham before being moved 60 miles to Jalalabad. 

He said the plight of Afghans still moved him to tears, adding: ‘There are mothers in Kabul that are selling their young daughters for a week’s worth of food. Others are selling their best-looking or youngest daughters to older men just to be allowed to cross the border.’