July 20, 2006 in Nation/World

Report: Gitmo detainees united using al-Qaida manual

Walter Pincus Washington Post

WASHINGTON – 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-Qaida 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 Wednesday 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-Qaida 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-Qaida 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 early 2002, administration officials have publicly alleged that captives were following training outlined in the al-Qaida manual. Staging hunger strikes and inventing claims of abuse are two of the tactics described in the manual, 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.”

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