US, Brits worked with Gambia to turn two detainees into informers
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Saturday April 1, 2006
Excerpts from a story set for Sunday's Washington Post written by Craig Whitlock on efforts by U.S. and British intelligence officials to turn two Arab residents of Britain into informers, which also involved the West African government of Gambia:
As they tried to board a flight at Gatwick Airport in November
2002, three Arab residents of Britain were pulled aside by security
agents. Police had questions about their luggage and ties to a radical
Islamic cleric. After four days in custody, the men were cleared of
suspicion and resumed their trip.
But British intelligence officials weren't ready to let go. Before the
three flew out of the country, the security service known as MI5 sent
cables to a "foreign intelligence agency," according to court testimony
and newly declassified MI5 documents, calling the men Islamic extremists
and disclosing their destination: Gambia, a tiny West African country.
When they arrived on Nov. 8, they were detained by Gambian and U.S.
intelligence agents, who interrogated them again, this time for a month,
British and U.S. documents show. Then two of the men, Bisher al-Rawi and
Jamil el-Banna, disappeared into the netherworld of the U.S.
government's battle against terrorism, taken first to a prison in
Afghanistan, then to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The primary purpose of this elaborate operation, documents and
interviews suggest, was not to neutralize a pair of potential terrorists
— authorities have offered no evidence that they planned attacks. The
goal was to turn them into informers.
A review of hundreds of pages of documents recently released by the U.S.
Department of Defense, a British court and the men's attorneys
illustrates how the U.S., British and Gambian governments worked
together in an operation that circumvented their judicial systems and,
through a process known as extraordinary rendition, incarcerated two men
who had not been charged with breaking any law.
The rest of the article can be read at the Washington Post Website at this link.