WikiLeaks offers new view of detainees

April 26, 2011 at 7:56 AM
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WASHINGTON, April 26 (UPI) -- The self-professed planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States ignored warnings about killing a journalist, leaked documents said.

Documents leaked by the whistle-blower Web site WikiLeaks indicated Khalid Sheik Mohammed told interrogators that he ignored the advice of a senior al-Qaida military official that it "would not be wise to murder" Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002 and that Pearl either should be returned to one of the groups that previously held him or be released, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Instead, Mohammed told U.S. interrogators at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, he beheaded Pearl, U.S. military documents posted on the Internet Monday by WikiLeaks indicated.

A new and stunning portrait of Mohammed and other "high value" detainees at Guantanamo Bay was revealed in the latest release of classified material by WikiLeaks, which has vexed the U.S. government since the anti-secrets Web site began releasing sensitive military and diplomatic documents last year to select U.S. and British news organizations.

The Obama administration acknowledged the records contain "classified information about current and former GTMO detainees" while roundly criticizing WikiLeaks for releasing the material, much of it involving the 172 men still imprisoned at the U.S. military prison in Cuba.

The documents, officially called Detainee Assessment Briefs, are among the thousands of pages of Pentagon files detailing how detainees were captured, their alleged crimes and what they told interrogators in interviews between 2002 and 2008, the Los Angeles Times said.

Mohammed called the Sept. 11 attacks his "dream and life's work." After his capture in March 2003, he underwent 183 water-boarding treatments to get him to talk, the newspaper said.

Among other things, Mohammed talked of plans to bomb "the tallest building in California" using shoe bombs, as well as his desire to strike CIA and FBI headquarters, target nuclear power plants, hack into U.S. bank computers and hijack U.S. cargo planes.

In his detainee assessment, Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, charged last week at Guantanamo in the 2000 bombing of the destroyer USS Cole, was described as "one of the highest-ranking, most skilled, and dangerous al-Qaida operatives captured to date," who was linked with as many as a dozen plots to attack the United States and Western interests, the leaked documents indicate.

The leaked assessments revived the debate over whether mistreatment of some Guantanamo Bay prisoners and the prison's operation beyond the criminal justice system nullify the government's conclusions about the detainees, reported The New York Times, one of the newspapers to review the documents.

Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's national security project, said the assessments "are rife with uncorroborated evidence, information obtained through torture, speculation, errors and allegations that have been proven false."

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