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CIA's captives moved to Gitmo

The 14 terror suspects had been held in secret overseas prisons. They will now stand trial.

Published September 7, 2006

WASHINGTON - President Bush said Wednesday that 14 terrorism suspects held in secret locations by the CIA - including some who were deeply involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks - have been transferred to the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba to stand trial.

In acknowledging for the first time that the CIA runs secret prisons overseas, the president said the suspects have been turned over to the Defense Department for trial. In a speech at the White House, Bush said he welcomed the transfers as a way to provide a measure of justice for relatives of the nearly 3,000 people who died in the attacks five years ago next Monday.

"They should have to wait no longer," he said.

Bush also said tough interrogations at the secret prisons helped force terrorist leaders to reveal plots to attack the United States and its allies.

Bush said the CIA program "has helped us to take potential mass murderers off the streets before they were able to kill." Releasing information declassified just hours earlier, Bush said the capture of one terrorist just months after the Sept. 11 attacks had led to the capture of another and then another, and had revealed planning for attacks using airplanes, car bombs and anthrax.

With the transfer of the 14 men to Guantanamo, there currently are no detainees being held by the CIA, Bush said. The Associated Press reported that the CIA has detained fewer than 100 suspected terrorists in the history of the program.

Still, Bush said "having a CIA program for questioning terrorists will continue to be crucial to getting lifesaving information."

Among the suspects being sent to Guantanamo are: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is accused of being a Sept. 11 mastermind; Ramzi Binalshibh, an alleged would-be 9/11 hijacker; and Abu Zubaydah, who is thought to be a link between Osama bin Laden and many al-Qaida cells.

The administration had refused until now to acknowledge the existence of CIA prisons. Bush said he was going public because the United States has largely completed questioning the suspects, and also because the CIA program had been jeopardized by the Supreme Court ruling.

Bush also pressed Congress to quickly pass administration-drafted legislation authorizing the use of military commissions for trials of terror suspects. Legislation is needed because the Supreme Court in June said the administration's plan for trying detainees in military tribunals violated U.S. and international law.

"These are dangerous men with unparalleled knowledge about terrorist networks and their plans for new attacks," Bush said, defending the CIA program he authorized after the Sept. 11 attacks. "The security of our nation and the lives of our citizens depend on our ability to learn what these terrorists know."

Bush's speech Wednesday coincided with the Pentagon's release of a new manual spelling out specific procedures that can be used to interrogate prisoners in Defense Department custody. The manual, which does not apply to the CIA, rules out some tactics that could be defined as torture, or humiliation, or both.

"The United States does not torture," Bush said. "It's against our laws, and it's against our values. I have not authorized it, and I will not authorize it."

Bush said the information from terrorists in CIA custody has played a role in the capture or questioning of nearly every senior al-Qaida member or associate detained by the U.S. and its allies since the program began.

The president declined to disclose details of the detainees' confinement, or the interrogation techniques.

"I cannot describe the specific methods used - I think you understand why," Bush said from the White House, where families of some of those who died in the Sept. 11 attacks gathered to hear his speech. "If I did, it would help the terrorists learn how to resist questioning, and to keep information from us that we need to prevent new attacks on our country."

Bush also said information extracted from terrorist suspects was used to thwart schemes to attack U.S. Marines in Djibouti with an explosive-laden water tanker and the American consulate in Karachi with car and motorcycle bombs, and to hijack airliners and fly them into London's Heathrow Airport or Canary Wharf.

Bush also laid out his proposal for how trials for detainees should be conducted, a plan he says ensures fairness. His proposed legislation was hailed by some Senate leaders, but other lawmakers said it would curtails certain rights of terror suspects.

"It's important to remember these defendants are not common criminals," said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "Rather, many are terrorists, sworn enemies of the United States."

Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Missouri, questioned whether Bush's approach would meet the requirements laid out by the Supreme Court.


A look at the 14 terror suspects sent to Guantanamo:

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, was captured near Islamabad, Pakistan, in March 2003 by Pakistani authorities and CIA officers. He was born in Pakistan's Baluchistan province and raised in Kuwait.

Ramzi Binalshibh is believed to have helped plan the Sept. 11 attacks and allegedly was a lead operative for a foiled plot to crash aircraft into London's Heathrow Airport. He was captured in September 2002 at a house in Karachi, Pakistan, after a shootout.

Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian raised in Saudi Arabia, was believed to be a link between Osama bin Laden and many al-Qaida cells before he was captured in Pakistan in 2002. At the time of his capture, he was believed to be organizing an attack on Israel.

Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, also known as Ammar Al-Baluchi, is accused of serving as a key lieutenant to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Pakistan and delivering funds to the Sept. 11 hijackers. He was born in Baluchistan and raised in Kuwait.

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian, allegedly helped coordinate the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania before running a document forgery office for al-Qaida in Afghanistan. He was arrested after a gunbattle in Gujrat in eastern Pakistan in July 2004.

Riduan Isamuddin, an Indonesia native also known as Hambali, is believed to be the main link between al-Qaida and Jemaah Islamiyah, the regional terror group blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people. He was arrested in Thailand in 2003.

Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, a Saudi, reportedly arranged financing and travel for the Sept. 11 plot participants from his post in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Hawsawi served as a witness in the Zacarias Moussaoui trial, saying he had seen Moussaoui at an al-Qaida guesthouse in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in the first half of 2001, but was never introduced to him or conducted operations with him.

Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep, a Malaysian also known as Lillie, allegedly helped transfer al-Qaida funds for a 2003 car bombing at a hotel in Jakarta that killed 12.

Majid Khan, also known as Yusif, was allegedly being groomed by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for an attack inside the United States. The Pakistani native attended high school in Baltimore in the late 1990s before returning in 2002 to Pakistan. He was at the center of a 2005 trial that accused a young Pakistani man of trying to help the al-Qaida operative obtain fake travel documents to slip past U.S. immigration officials to carry out bombings in the United States.

Waleed bin Attash, better known as Khallad, was an alleged al-Qaida operative accused of serving bin Laden as a bodyguard. Authorities say bin Laden selected him as a Sept. 11 hijacker but he was prevented from participating when he was arrested and briefly detained in Yemen in early 2001.

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the suspected mastermind of the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole and al-Qaida's operations chief in the Arabian Peninsula until he was caught in 2002. Nashiri, 41, a Saudi national of Yemeni descent, was allegedly told by bin Laden to attack the Cole.

Abu Faraj al-Libi, a Libyan, was regarded by Pakistani intelligence as a successor to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the al-Qaida No. 3 and became the most wanted man in Pakistan for masterminding two bombings 11 days apart in December 2003 that targeted President Pervez Musharraf for his support of the U.S.-led war on terror. Musharraf narrowly escaped injury, but 17 other people were killed.

Mohd Farik Bin Amin, a Malaysian better known as Zubair, allegedly helped Jemaah Islamiyah's operational planner case targets for planned attacks. He is believed to have been tapped to be a suicide operative for an al-Qaida attack on Los Angeles.

Gouled Hassan Dourad, a native of Somalia, allegedly headed a Mogadishu-based network that supported al-Qaida members in the country.

[Last modified September 7, 2006, 01:10:06]

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