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Fighting terror notebook

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 4, 2002

Rumsfeld: Interrogate tough, but no torture

Interrogators of the most senior al-Qaida figure in U.S. custody intend to draw "every single thing out of him" that might head off terrorist acts, but they will not torture him, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Wednesday.

Rumsfeld heatedly denied news reports suggesting the United States might move the captive, Abu Zubaydah, to a country where interrogators could use harsher methods of extracting information than would be deemed acceptable under U.S. human rights standards.

"Believe me, reports to that effect are wrong, inaccurate, not happening and will not happen," he said at a Pentagon news conference.

Zubaydah was among about 50 terrorism suspects captured in Pakistan by Pakistani authorities last Thursday.

He is the highest ranking lieutenant of Osama bin Laden taken alive in the war on terrorism.

10th Mountain packs up

The first major unit of American soldiers heading home from Afghanistan packed their bags Wednesday with everything from Korans swiped from the bodies of dead al-Qaida fighters to Afghan hats traded for cigarettes.

But the infantry soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division also take home some more complicated baggage -- new ideas about war and politics and, for some, the memory of what it feels like to kill.

"I didn't feel anything. I didn't feel hate, sad, happy -- I just killed him," said Spc. Andrew Spurlock of Apopka, remembering the enemy fighter he found hiding near a cave during the Operation Anaconda offensive in early March.

"I didn't feel anything," the 23-year-old repeated.

The 10th Mountain soldiers, making up the allies' main fighting force in the Afghan campaign, began heading home Tuesday from Bagram, a former Soviet base about an hour north of Kabul. More troops were heading out today, and nearly all 1,000 from the division should be gone by mid April.

Detainee: I'm U.S. born

One of the 300 prisoners the U.S. military is holding in Cuba claims he was born in Louisiana to Saudi parents and is an American citizen. If true, the claim could lead to his transfer from the detention center at a Navy base.

The Justice Department found a birth certificate in the state that appears to match the man's claim, Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman said Wednesday.

The man says he was born in Baton Rouge, La., while his parents were working in the state, and accompanied them to Saudi Arabia when he was a toddler.

The man was captured after a November prison uprising in the northern Afghanistan city of Mazar-e-Sharif, Whitman said. John Walker Lindh, the Californian who joined the Taliban, also was captured after that uprising, during which a CIA agent was killed.

In other news ...

COPTER SEARCH ENDS: The U.S. military in the Philippines called off search-and-recovery operations Wednesday for a crashed Army helicopter with the bodies of two American soldiers missing.

A salvage team returned to a central Philippine military base with the remains of five Americans and wreckage from the MH-47E Chinook helicopter that crashed at sea off the Zamoango on Feb. 22.

NEW ARMY BORN: The first 600 troops in the new Afghan army completed six weeks of basic training Wednesday, eagerly performing their skills before Prime Minister Hamid Karzai and other dignitaries in Kabul.

The men -- drawn from every province and ethnic group in Afghanistan -- are to be the vanguard of a 68,000-strong army that Karzai says will bring an end to the "warlordism" that has kept the country mired in decades of civil war.

RAGE MURDERER GUILTY: A man was found guilty of capital murder in the shooting death of a Texas convenience store clerk that he has blamed on rage over the Sept. 11 attacks.

Jurors deliberated for less than an hour Tuesday before convicting Mark Stroman, 32, of Mesquite.

Vasudev Patel, 49, died in the Oct. 4 attack in East Dallas. Patel, an immigrant from India, owned a Shell gas station.

Stroman, who could face life in prison or the death penalty, has been charged with killing another convenience store clerk, Waquar Hassan, 49, on Sept. 15. Prosecutors blame Stroman in the shooting of a third clerk, Rais Uddin, in a separate attack during a robbery attempt. Both were Pakistani.

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