Detainees Used Al-Qaeda Prison Manual, Report Says
Thursday, July 20, 2006
The first wave of detainees at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, created their own internal organizational structure to maintain morale, resist interrogation and recruit members, adhering to instructions in a 10-year-old al-Qaeda training manual, according to a classified report by analysts in the CIA's Counterterrorism Center.
"Authorities at GTMO [Guantanamo] noted that detainees while at Camp X-Ray [the initial holding facility] created this structure and took on these roles," according to the August 2002 report, which was first made public last week on the Web site the Smoking Gun.
A CIA spokesman said yesterday that the agency would neither confirm nor deny the authenticity of the report, which includes footnotes to more than two dozen classified CIA, Defense Department and State Department intelligence documents.
The report "appears authentic in form and substance," said a former CIA official who could not remember whether he read it at the time. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he believes the document is still classified.
The document was recently examined in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence after it was downloaded from a Web site and no one questioned its authenticity, an ODNI official said. The al-Qaeda training manual, obtained by the CIA in 1996, suggests a 10-position leadership structure for members held in prison. It includes "barracks chief and deputies," "greeters to meet and instruct new arrivals," "welfare attendant to organize equitable distribution of goods from families and aid organizations," "morale officer to organize leisure time" and "clergy, presumably to attend to spiritual needs as well as to recruit new adherents to their faith," according to the CIA report.
The CIA report says al-Qaeda members at Guantanamo "are trying to put their training into practice by establishing cellblock leaders and dividing responsibility among deputies for greeting new arrivals, assessing interrogations, monitoring the guard force and providing moral support to fellow detainees, among other tasks."
On several occasions since the first prisoners were sent to Guantanamo Bay in 2002, administration officials have publicly alleged that captives were following training outlined in the al-Qaeda manual. Staging hunger strikes and inventing claims of abuse are two of the tactics described, officials have said.
The Smoking Gun noted that although the report was prepared almost four years ago, "U.S. concerns about communication methods of detainees has not waned. Following last month's simultaneous suicides of three inmates, authorities alleged that other detainees may have aided the trio in killing themselves as part of a broader plot to disrupt the facility."
The CIA report suggests several steps to counteract the al-Qaeda approach, including inhibiting communication and contact inside and outside the prison. Terrorists should be prevented from "forming lasting bonds or organizations in prison," the report suggests.
In a paragraph marked "S/NF," which means it is classified secret with no foreign distribution, the report discusses disruption operations as the most common way to inhibit inmate organization and communication. But it notes that "it may be possible only to mitigate, not prevent, terrorist use of prisons for their own purposes" because of the "need to follow the rule of law and other typical investigative hurdles."
At Guantanamo Bay, one step was to move detainees from Camp X-Ray to Camp Delta, where, the report says, "the layout better restricts communications" and "at least temporarily disrupted their attempts to network."
That was a limited solution, the report adds, noting that eventually there was the "difficulty of monitoring communications among the detainees at Camp Delta without the benefit of . . . inside sources." Although it does not identify U.S. agencies, the report says that "many security services recruit assets and conduct surveillance in prisons," at times using third parties in the prison population as informants, some of whom may not know they are providing information to authorities.
U.S. officials, according to the report, attempted to identify potential terrorist leaders among the detainees, particularly "lawyers and imams," and "take action to impede their contact with fellow inmates." The most common way to do that was to relocate and isolate them, the report said. Another approach was to "provide competing influences" such as a "moderate imam hired by prison managers to work with inmates [to] provide a counterpoint to radical Islamic teaching."