Jordanian-U.S. Citizen Missing After Covert CIA Transport
Saturday, December 1, 2007; 4:01 AM
AMMAN, Jordan -- The CIA has been covertly transporting suspects here since at least 1999, when intelligence officials disrupted the Millennium Plot -- a plan by Islamic radicals to detonate bombs at tourist sites in Jordan.
On Dec. 14, 1999, Pakistani officials arrested Khalil Deek, a dual Jordanian-U.S. citizen, at his home in Peshawar. Intelligence agents believed he had arranged travel for Arab fighters seeking to cross the border into Afghanistan to join al-Qaeda training camps. He was also a prime suspect in the Millennium Plot; U.S. and Jordanian counterterrorism officials thought he might have information about conspirators still at large.
Two days later, Deek was flown to Amman in an operation arranged by the CIA, according to a former senior U.S. counterterrorism official. In the plane with him were three laptop computers that had been confiscated by Pakistani police.
Investigators suspected the computers -- which were secured by encryption software -- might contain vital information about the plot or other al-Qaeda operations. Deek had refused to divulge the password while in custody in Pakistan. U.S. officials thought interrogators with the General Intelligence Department in Amman might have better luck persuading him to cough it up, said the former senior U.S. official: "Time was of the essence."
Deek ultimately did reveal the passwords, the former senior U.S. official said. And there is evidence that he kept talking. After spending 17 months in custody in Jordan, he was freed in May 2001 without facing any charges. He was the only one of 28 suspects held in Jordan in relation to the Millennium Plot who did not go to trial.
"I believe he cooperated with them, otherwise why would they have let him go?" said Younis Arab, an Amman defense attorney who represented Deek and visited him while he was in jail.
Arab said his client told him he was first taken from Peshawar to Kabul, where he was interrogated briefly by Jordanian intelligence agents, before his transfer to Amman.
Deek said he was treated harshly after he was brought to Amman but didn't give details, according to his lawyer. "For the first five days, he faced many bad things," Arab said. "They beat him, they wouldn't let him take his medicine. When he started speaking with them, this stopped."
Although he held Jordanian citizenship, officials in Amman demanded that Deek leave the country after his release from prison in May 2001. He was put on a commercial flight to Dubai, but refused entry by immigration officials there. So he flew instead to Beirut. Several days later, he departed for Afghanistan and ultimately arrived a few weeks later in Pakistan, near his old residence in Peshawar.
Deek hasn't been seen since. Arab, his lawyer, said one of Deek's brothers told him in September 2006 that Deek had died in Peshawar, though he didn't say when or how. "He didn't provide any details," Arab said. "And I didn't ask."