14 High-Level Terrorists Processed Into Guantanamo Bay
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 7, 2006 Fourteen men believed to be high-level terrorist leaders arrived in recent days at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and were transferred to Defense Department custody without incident, the commander of the U.S. military detention facility there said today.
President Bush announced yesterday that the 14 men -- including individuals believed to be behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the bombings of the USS Cole in Yemen and two U.S. embassies in Africa -- had been moved to Guantanamo Bay and would stand trial by military commissions.
“They arrived safely, and all appeared to be in good condition,” Navy Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris, commander of the joint task force that runs the detention facility, said.
Harris briefed reporters in the Pentagon over the telephone. He said he personally verified the identification of the 14 individuals and assumed control of them on behalf of the Defense Department.
Once the men arrived on the island base, they were moved across the bay by ferry. Guantanamo Bay’s airfield is on the western side of the bay, while the confinement facility is on the opposite side.
At the detention facility, they began “the standard in-processing procedure,” Harris said. “The transfer went very well, from my perspective -- a textbook operation, I believe.”
The 14 suspected senior terrorists underwent medical and dental examinations and are receiving basic items standard to all Guantanamo Bay detainees. Officials have said in the past that basic items include a “finger toothbrush" -- short and stubby so it can't be used as a weapon -- toothpaste, soap, shampoo, plastic flip flops, and cotton underwear, shorts, pants and a shirt.
Harris said the individuals will receive culturally sensitive meals, Korans in their native languages, access to other reading material, and the right to send and receive mail. The International Committee of the Red Cross will have access to the men, as it does to all Guantanamo detainees, he added.
Harris declined to say when the men arrived at the base or give further details about their detention. “For security and operational reasons, I cannot provide any additional details on their housing arrangements,” he said.
The admiral stressed that these are dangerous men, captured in the war on terrorism. “This (Joint Task Force) … exists to ensure that extremely dangerous individuals, such as these men, are unable to engage in their efforts to plan or conduct terrorist attacks,” he said.
Harris also praised the men and women assigned to Joint Task Force Guantanamo. “I am confident in the men and women at Guantanamo, and I am proud to be their commander. They, and their families that support them in our mission here, serve our nation proudly and with honor,” he said. “I could not ask any more of them.”