Al Qaeda Leader Zubaydah to Remain in U.S. Control
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 3, 2002 The United States has no intention of turning over al Qaeda terrorist Abu Zubaydah to any other nation, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters here today.
"We have him. He is under U.S. control at the present time. We are responsible for him," Rumsfeld stressed. "He is receiving medical care, and we intend to get every single thing out of him to try to prevent terrorist acts in the future."
U.S. officials have made a conscious decision not to release Zubaydah's location as a matter of security, the secretary said. The terrorist leader has three bullet holes in him, Rumsfeld noted, and the United States is providing him appropriate medical attention.
"We have every interest in seeing he remains alive and has an opportunity to discuss a variety of things with us that conceivably could be helpful to the global war on terrorism," he said.
The United States intends to remain responsible for Zubaydah's detention, according to the secretary. "Any speculation to the contrary is inaccurate," he stressed. Media reports that the United States might give Zubaydah to another country for interrogation and possibly torture, he emphatically declared, were "wrong and irresponsible."
"I saw a report that referred to a word I don't even want to use," the secretary stated. "That's wrong. The implication of it is enormously unhelpful. Reports to that effect are wrong, inaccurate, not happening, and will not happen."
The secretary declined to say who would interrogate Zubaydah. "I have no intention of getting into the subject of who's going to do what. I've said as much as is appropriate," he said.
"He will be properly interrogated by proper people who know how to do those things," he added. "We, the United States of America, will be responsible for that interrogation. I would hope that every single thing that this very senior al Qaeda operative knows would ultimately come out of him."
What Zubaydah has to say remains to be seen. "There have been instances where people have, for a variety of reasons, concluded that they did prefer to disgorge a good deal," Rumsfeld said. "There are others who have not uttered a word for years and, therefore, I'm without expectation, but not without hope."
The secretary expressed frustration that people are so concerned about Zubaydah as an individual, as opposed to concern about the terrorist acts he has participated in or tried to commit and about his knowledge of other terrorists located around the world. Since he trained people to commit terrorist acts, the terrorist leader has valuable information about more attacks.
Referring to U.S. plans for holding Zubaydah, Rumsfeld said, "It seems to me I've got it exactly right. I've got first things first and everything else comes a clear tenth, eleventh or twelfth."
Pakistani officials captured Zubaydah and about 50 other terrorists during a March 28 raid. Rumsfeld said their clothes, "pocket litter" and other items taken when they were surprised are in U.S. custody and are being examined.
"We are going to do our best to protect the American people and people of other countries," Rumsfeld concluded. "We're going to do it as skillfully and as rapidly and as thoroughly as we know how."