VIDEO

Use honey, not vinegar method, on terrorist detainees

Mr Mark Fallon, one of the world's top interrogators of terrorist detainees, says treating the subject with dignity and respect is a better method than using torture techniques such as water boarding. -- PHOTO: VICKI GREEN
Mr Mark Fallon, one of the world's top interrogators of terrorist detainees, says treating the subject with dignity and respect is a better method than using torture techniques such as water boarding. -- PHOTO: VICKI GREEN

His job is not to hand out justice or exact revenge, but to elicit accurate and reliable evidence or intelligence -- by lawful means. This is Mr Mark Fallon's response to a question on whether harsh methods should be used during interrogation of hardcore terrorists who have killed innocent civilians.

He is one of the world's top interrogators of terrorist detainees, having participated in hundreds of interrogation cases during his 30-year-career as a former United States Navy counter-intelligence agent.

Interrogators who use torture techniques such as water boarding, hurl insults at the subjects, or belittle their religious beliefs will not get reliable information, he tells The Straits Times in an exclusive phone interview.

A better method would be what he describes as the cookie, tea and honey method, whereby the interrogator treats the subject with dignity and respect.

"We're all human beings. When you treat someone with dignity and respect, and when he is not expecting it, he will begin to trust you. You can then start to develop a rapport with the terrorist," he says.

It also helps to jog the subjects' memory by giving them information on what happened during the alleged terror attacks. "The man needs a little help in remembering facts.''

He is currently working with top practitioners and academic professors to find out what kind of interrogation methods work best on terrorist detainees.

How can interrogators improve their skills? His advice: take up courses on rapport building techniques, interviewing skills, memory recall techniques as well as attend sessions on psychology.

Mr Fallon is the Director of ClubFed, a company that advises governments, corporations and institutions on policies, strategies and security issues.

mnirmala@sph.com.sg

Read the full interview with Mark Fallon in Friday's issue of The Straits Times.

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