CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons

Hardly surprising but doesn’t help much:

The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.

The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, according to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents.

US 'intercepts al-Qaeda letter'

A very curious letter, if it proves to be authentic.

In the missive, Zawahiri apparently warns tactics such as the killing of hostages and bombings of mosques may alienate the “Muslim masses,” Mr Whitman said.

“In this letter, he talks about believing that the eventual governance of Iraq must include the Muslim masses, and that they are at risk of alienating those,” he told reporters.

The letter was also said to detail the strategy of Muslim extremists to create an Islamic state centred on Iraq that could expand into neighbouring countries.

Zawahiri included a plea for financial support, Reuters news agency quoted Mr Whitman as saying.

The New York Times quoted a senior official as saying that the 6,000-word letter was dated early in July, and was obtained by US forces involved in counterterrorism operations in Iraq.

The letter also noted that they were losing in Afghanistan and they had lost many of their key leaders. Zawahiri is also badly in need of money apparently.

Are you a bored web techie? Join al-Qaeda

Tongue in cheek el Reg reports on news that Islamic websites are advertising for jobs:

According to Reuters, the fun-loving organisation has published web adverts “asking for supporters to help put together its Web statements and video montages”, or more precisely, it has “vacant positions for video production and editing statements, footage and international media coverage about militants in Iraq, the Palestinian territories, Chechnya and other conflict zones where militants are active.”

The advert was spotted by London-based Arabic publication Asharq al-Awsat which notes that al-Qaeda-linked web presence the Global Islamic Media Front promises to “follow up with members interested in joining and contact them via email”. It does not, though, specify how wannabes should make their applications, nor does it state a salary.

With regard to the latter, Asharq al-Awsat notes: “Every Muslim knows his life is not his, since it belongs to this violated Islamic nation whose blood is being spilt. Nothing should take precedence over this.” We take this to mean that successful applicants should not expect a six-figure salary, 28 days paid leave, a company car or health insurance, although you probably get a company AK-47 thrown in as part of the package.

Empty beds, empty stomachs

Gitmo, as it has become known, still remains in a sort legal limbo. I had wondered what had happened since the Supreme Court ruling in June last year, the Economist clarifies:

Earlier this summer, there was talk of Guantánamo being shut down. Patrick Leahy, the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called it a “national disgraceâ€? and “the primary recruiting tool for our enemiesâ€?. George Bush also seemed to wobble on the issue. But Mr Rumsfeld, who has just spent $100m refurbishing the camp, has never wavered from the idea that America needs a place to hold people indefinitely. If you want to create a “legal black holeâ€?, to use the words of a British law lord, it is certainly a lot easier to do so outside the American mainland.

But what about the Supreme Court’s ruling in June last year giving Guantánamo detainees the right to challenge their detention in American courts? The justices, alas, did not give any details as to how this could happen. The administration promptly set up review panels to determine whether detainees had been rightly designated as “enemy combatantsâ€?; all but 38 of the 558 detainees had their status confirmed. Banned from attending the proceedings, their lawyers have dismissed them as a sham.

Dozens of habeas corpus lawsuits are working their way up through the federal courts. In January this year, a Washington, DC, district court judge ruled that the detainees were entitled to challenge their detention in normal courts. But a few days later, another district court judge issued a contradictory ruling. Both sides have appealed (oral arguments were heard by the DC appeals court this month), but the issue will surely go to the Supreme Court.

What appears to have gone largely unreported is that many of the current ‘prisoners’ are on hunger strike.

Over the past month, more than 100 detainees have been on hunger strike in protest against their indefinite detention without charge. Many have been held for nearly four years. A military spokesman said this week that 85 were still refusing food, including 15 hardliners who were undergoing “involuntary feedingâ€? in hospital. Preventing prisoners from harming themselves was part of “standard operating proceduresâ€? in both American civilian and military prisons, he said.

Although not specifically banned under international law, force-feeding of prisoners is prohibited under the World Medical Association’s 1975 Declaration of Tokyo, which has been endorsed by the American Medical Association. The International Committee of the Red Cross also strongly advises against it. Its use in Guantánamo is likely to further enflame anti-American sentiment among Muslims; on the other hand, it may be preferable to a succession of deaths in Guantánamo.

I tend to agree with comments Ann-Marie Slaughter made at the Terrorism and Security Conference in Washington earlier this month – Gitmo is essentially America shooting itself in the foot, do as we say but not as we do.

Saleh Mohammed al-Aoofi killed in Saudi?

Apparently some high up militants were killed in Saudi:

Saleh Mohammed al-Aoofi was among six al-Qaeda linked militants said to be killed during police raids on several locations in two Saudi cities, Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turki told The Associated Press.

…al-Aoofi reportedly fought in Chechnya and travelled to Afghanistan where he joined al-Qaeda shortly before the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

I was thinking today that an attack on the UAE is now not out of the question given the breaking of the ‘covenent of security’ in the UK. And there are many high profile Western targets in Dubai.

Inside the sect that loves terror

The Times had a reporter inside a group calling itself the ‘Saviour Sect’…The full piece can be read here.

A Sunday Times reporter spent two months as a recruit inside the Saviour Sect to reveal for the first time how the extremist group promotes hatred of “non-believersâ€? and encourages its followers to commit acts of violence including suicide bombings.

The reporter witnessed one of the sect’s leading figures, Sheikh Omar Brooks, telling a young audience, including children, that it was the duty of Muslims to be terrorists and boasting, just days before the July 7 attacks, that he wanted to die as a suicide bomber.

After the attacks that claimed 52 lives, another key figure, Zachariah, justified them by saying that the victims were not “innocentâ€? people because they did not abide by strict Islamic laws. In the immediate aftermath the sect’s leader, Omar Bakri Mohammed, said: “For the past 48 hours I’m very happy.â€? Two weeks later he referred to the bombers as the “fantastic fourâ€?.

Sickos. A bit like the blokes on Newsnight last week.