Today’s Terrorism News

Hundreds of Guantanamo Documents Leaked

Hundreds of classified military and intelligence documents about the prison at Guantanamo and the detainees held there have been obtained by WikiLeaks and by several U.S. and European media outlets via a different source, and they are the subject of numerous reports today, shedding a rare light on the intelligence obtained from detainees and the evidence used to imprison them. The documents include secret Detainee Assessment Briefs, which detail analysts’ evidence and designations of whether detainees pose a high or low risk to the United States and other countries. The documents reveal that many of those detainees who remain at Guantanamo have been designated ‘high risk,’ but also that more than 160 of the 600 men released from the prison were also deemed ‘high risk,’ according to reports.
Classified Files Offer New Insights Into Detainees (NYT)

The documents are reportedly part of the trove of documents leaked to WikiLeaks last year. According to the New York Times, the documents, numbering more than 700 and produced between February 2002 and January 2009, were provided to them by a different source. The newspaper then shared the documents with NPR and Britain’s Guardian newspaper, which also produced reports. On Sunday, WikiLeaks began publishing some of the documents, and it says that “details for every detainee will be released daily over the coming month.”
Guantanamo Files: A Note to Readers (NYT)
WikiLeaks: The Guantanamo Files (WikiLeaks)

Among the revelations:

–New details about how interrogators and analysts judge information from detainees to determine their risk. The New York Times reports how one young detainee told his interrogators that he had been conscripted by the Taliban as a driver. He was released after being judged to pose little risk to the United States. The detainee “was sent back to Afghanistan — where he promptly revealed himself to be Abdullah Mehsud, a Pakistan-born militant, and began plotting mayhem. He recorded jihadist videos, organized a Taliban force to fight American troops, planned an attack on Pakistan’s interior minister that killed 31 people, oversaw the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers, and finally detonated a suicide bomb in 2007 as the Pakistani Army closed in.” The NYT report goes on to state that the Guantanamo files “show that the United States has imprisoned hundreds of men for years without trial based on a difficult and strikingly subjective evaluation of who they were, what they had done in the past and what they might do in the future.”
Guantanamo Files: Flawed Evidence for Assessing Risk (NYT)

–ISI and terrorism. The Guardian reports that “U.S. authorities listed the main Pakistani intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), as a terrorist organisation alongside groups such as al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iranian intelligence. Interrogators were told to regard links to any of these as an indication of terrorist or insurgent activity.”
Guantanamo Leaks Lift Lid on World’s Most Controversial Prison (Guardian)

–New details about the use of information from detainees against other detainees. NPR reports that “Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Guantanamo detainees who were famously waterboarded while in CIA detention, are cited as providing interrogators with information about hundreds of other Guantanamo detainees.” It also reports that “[o]ne detainee from Yemen, a convicted drug dealer who later affiliated with al Qaida, informed on so many of his fellow detainees at Guantanamo that authorities there decided the reliability of his information was ‘in question.’”
Detainees Transferred Or Freed Despite ‘High Risk’ (NPR)
Binyam Mohamed Held on Torture ‘Confessions’ (Guardian)

–A change of fate for one former detainee in Libya. NPR reports that “[a] former detainee, Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda Bin Qumu, who is believed to be training rebel forces in Libya, has closer ties to al-Qaida than previously understood publicly.” The NYT reports that “[t]he former enemy and prisoner of the United States is now an ally of sorts, a remarkable turnabout resulting from shifting American policies rather than any obvious change in Mr. Qumu.”
Military Documents Detail Life at Guantanamo (NPR)
Libyan Detainee Now U.S. Ally of Sorts (NYT)

–Access to detainees by foreign intelligence. The New York Times reports that “[t]he leaked documents show how many foreign countries sent intelligence officers to question Guantánamo detainees — among them China, Russia, Tajikistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Algeria and Tunisia.”
Classified Files Offer New Insights Into Detainees (NYT)
China Among Regimes Invited to Interrogate Captives (Guardian)

–Mental illness, depression, and attempts at suicide among detainees. The Guardian reports that “[a]lmost 100 of the inmates who passed through Guantánamo are listed by their captors as having had depressive or psychotic illnesses. Many went on hunger strike or attempted suicide.”
Guantanamo Leaks Lift Lid on World’s Most Controversial Prison (Guardian)
Guantanamo Files: As Acts of War or Despair, Suicides Rattle a Prison (NYT)

–The whereabouts of senior al Qaeda leaders on and after 9/11. A Washington Post analysis reports that the documents provide new details about the whereabouts and movements of key al Qaeda leaders in the days after 9/11. Many of the core leaders of al Qaeda were reportedly in Karachi, Pakistan on 9/11, and they then traveled to Afghanistan. “Among other previously unknown meetings, the documents describe a major gathering of some of al-Qaeda’s most senior operatives in early December 2001 in Zormat, a mountainous region of Afghanistan between Kabul and Khost. There, the operatives began to plan new attacks, a process that would consume them, according to the assessments, until they were finally captured.” The documents also spotlight apparent internal tensions within the group among several senior operatives.
WikiLeaks Discloses New Details on Whereabouts of al Qaeda Leaders on 9/11 (WaPo)

A statement by the Pentagon press secretary and Amb. Dan Fried, who is special envoy for the closure of Guantanamo, said that the release of the documents is “unfortunate” and that they “strongly condemn the leaking of this sensitive information.” The statement went on to say that the Guantanamo Review Task Force established in 2009 considered the detainee assessment briefs included in the leaked documents, but in some instances, “came to different conclusions, based on updated or other available information. The assessments of the Guantanamo Review Task Force have not been compromised to Wikileaks.”
Guantanamo Files: U.S. Government Statement (NYT)

More Coverage:
British Guantanamo Detainees Held for Years ‘Just in Case’ (Guardian)
Caught in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time (Guardian)
Casio Wristwatch ‘the Sign of al Qaeda’ (Guardian)
WikiLeaks Reveal Prison Camp Secrets (Miami Herald)
WikiLeaks and Guantanamo: Hundreds of Documents Being Made Public (LAT)
WikiLeaks Exposes Guantanamo Documents (AP via WSJ)
WikiLeaks: Many at Guantanamo ‘Not Dangerous’ (BBC News)
WikiLeaks Releases Guantanamo Bay Prisoner Reports (Wired’s Threat Level)

Benjamin Wittes at the Lawfare blog writes that he “can’t fathom right now who should be most upset [at the release of the documents] –the government or the detainee bar,” the latter “for whom this trove means the public release of huge amounts of unsubstantiated speculation about clients who have not been charged and against whom it is far easier to write down disparaging information in intelligence reports than it is to prove such allegations in court.”
WikiLeaks Strikes Again – This Time at Guantanamo (Lawfare blog)

The New York Times has pulled out several documents it says are the Government’s Guide to Assessing Detainees, including a ‘threat matrix’ – including advice on code words, cover stories, locations, etc – intended to help interrogators and analysts determine whether the detainee was a high- or low-level threat to the United States. (This document is also available via NPR.)
The Government’s Guide to Assessing Prisoners (NYT)
Guantanamo Document: Threat Matrix (NPR)

The New York Times’ massive infographic The Guantanamo Docket has been updated with additional information from the detainee assessments.
The Guantanamo Docket (NYT)

NPR has compiled several useful infographics on the citizenship of detainees, the risk assessment of released detainees, and how many released detainees are suspected of engaging in terrorism after their release. The New York Times has also compiled an infographic on former detainees later believed to have engaged in terrorism and whether they were judged ‘high risk’ prior to their release.
Tracking the Guantanamo Detainees (NPR)
Released from Guantanamo, They Took Up Arms (NYT)

The Washington Post released a lengthy report this weekend on the political effort to close Guantanamo — an effort that culminated in the administration backing down and authorizing military commissions for high-value detainees. According to the report, which is based on interviews with more than two dozen former and current administration officials and congressional members and staff, “[t]he one theme that repeatedly emerged in interviews was a belief that the White House never pressed hard enough on what was supposed to be a signature goal. Although the closure of Guantanamo Bay was announced in an executive order, which Obama signed on Jan. 22, 2009, the fanfare never translated into the kind of political push necessary to sustain the policy.”

The Post report tracks the fight through early failed efforts to settle Uighur detainees in Northern Virginia, Holder’s push to hold 9/11 trials in Manhattan, the internal administration debate over military commissions being held in tandem with civilian trials, and the Ghailani trial in New York. The National Journal also provides a concise summary of the Post’s report.
Guantanamo Bay: How the White House Lost the Fight to Close It (WaPo)
How the White House Lost the Fight to Close Guantanamo Bay (National Journal)

Nearly 500 prisoners held in Kandahar’s largest jail escaped early Monday via a large tunnel, according to reports, which describe an audacious jailbreak facilitated by the Taliban. The New York Times reports that “[i]n a deft propaganda ploy, the Taliban gave a gripping description of the prison break in a statement they sent out to the news media ahead of any comment from the security authorities who were just in the process of discovering the tunnel.” The Taliban statement described the tunnel as more than 300 meters long and as taking five months to dig. The Associated Press describes “the majority” of the escaped prisoners as Taliban militants; the Taliban statement said more than 100 of the prisoners were Taliban commanders.
Taliban Help Hundreds Tunnel Out of Prison’s Political Wing (NYT)
Taliban Break More than 450 Out of Afghan Prison (AP via Yahoo News)
More Than 400 Inmates Escape From Kandahar Prison, NATO Says (LAT)
Taliban Tunnel Breakout Outwits Afghan Jailers (Guardian)

A spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai called the jailbreak a “disaster” on Monday and said “[w]e’re looking into finding out what exactly happened,” according to AFP.
Afghan Taliban Prison Break a ‘Disaster’: Karzai Spokesman (AFP via WSJ)

In other Afghanistan news, NATO officials said Friday that joint forces have arrested a man believed to be the leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in Afghanistan. The man, whose name was not released, was arrested last week in a raid in northern Afghanistan. The NYT reports that the militant group the man is alleged to lead “is closely tied to Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban [and] has played a role in the revitalized insurgency in northern Afghanistan, where it is believed to be responsible for multiple attacks on Afghan and coalition forces.”
Terrorism Suspect Is Captured in a Raid in Afghanistan (NYT)
Forces Capture Terror Group’s Top Leader (DoD Press Release)
Roadside Bombs Kill 3 NATO Troops in Afghanistan (AP)
Helicopter Crash Kills Foreign Soldier in Afghanistan (AFP)

Terry Jones Is Jailed Over Planned Protest at Dearborn Mosque (AP via NYT)
Terry Jones Says He Will File a Lawsuit Against Mich. County Prosecutor’s Office (WaPo)
9/11 Responders to Be Warned They Will Be Screened by FBI’s Terrorism Watch List (Huffington Post)
Suspect in Attempted Bombing of Colo. Mall Was Released from Prison a Week Earlier (AP via WaPo)
Libya Stalemate Would Draw in al Qaeda: McCain (AFP)
Are Predator Drones a Technological Tipping Point in Warfare? (WaPo: Walter Pincus)
President Obama Speaks on Manning and the Rule of Law (Salon’s Glenn Greenwald)
Herald Guantanamo Reporter Wins Top Award (Miami Herald)

20th Arrest in Indonesian Bomb Plots Is Journalist (AP via NYT)
Cameraman Did Not Fund Terror Operations: Police (Jakarta Post)
Arrests Point to New Face of Terrorism (Jakarta Globe)
Bashir Grilled in Court Over Aceh Camp (Jakarta Globe)
136 Salafists in Jordan Charged with Terrorism (Arab News)
Mail Bombs Are Prelude to a Soccer Showdown in Scotland (NYT)
Protesters Distrust Deal for Yemen Leader to Quit (NYT)
Editorial: Droning On (Pakistan’s Daily Times)

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