DOD Identifies 3 Guantanamo Suicides

The Associated Press
Sunday, June 11, 2006; 10:05 PM

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- One of the Guantanamo detainees who committed suicide had been cleared for transfer to another country, a second was involved in a 2001 prison uprising in Afghanistan where a CIA agent died, and a third had ties to al-Qaida, the Pentagon said Sunday.

The Department of Defense identified the three as Saudi Arabians Mani Shaman Turki al-Habardi Al-Utaybi and Yassar Talal Al-Zahrani and Yemeni Ali Abdullah Ahmed. The two Saudis were also identified earlier by Saudi officials.

The three hanged themselves with nooses made from sheets and clothing early Saturday, bringing renewed pressure on the United States to close the prison on a naval base in Cuba where about 460 men are held, almost all of them without charge.

Al-Utaybi had been recommended for transfer to the custody of another country before his suicide, the Defense Department said in a statement released to The Associated Press. It did not name the country but said he would have been under detention there as well.

The U.S. military accused al-Utaybi, 30, of being a member of a militant missionary group, Jama'at Al Tablighi. He was born in Al-Qarara, Saudi Arabia, according to a Department of Defense list of Guantanamo detainees.

Navy Cmdr. Robert Durand, a spokesman for the Guantanamo detention center, said he did not know whether al-Utaybi had been informed about the transfer recommendation before he killed himself.

U.S. authorities allege Ahmed, 28, was a mid- to high-level al-Qaida operative who had key ties to principal facilitators and senior members of the group. Throughout his time in Guantanamo, he had been noncompliant and hostile to the guard force, and was a long-term hunger striker from late 2005 to May 2006, the Defense Department said.

Ahmed was born in Shebwa, Yemen, according to the Defense Department list.

Al-Zahrani, 21, was accused by the U.S. of being a front line fighter for the Taliban who facilitated weapons purchases for offensives against U.S. and coalition forces.

He was allegedly involved in the November 2001 prison uprising in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan that resulted in the death of CIA officer Johnny "Mike" Spann. Al-Zahrani was born in Yenbo, Saudi Arabia, according to the Defense Department list.

None of the three had been formally charged.

The Guantanamo detainees, some of them in custody for 4 1/2 years, are being held on suspicion of links to al-Qaida and the Taliban. Many claim they are innocent or were low-level Taliban members who never intended to harm the United States.

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