Al-Qaeda will launch a “nuclear hellstorm” on the west if Osama bin Laden is captured, according to Wikileaks files detailing the interrogation of Guantanamo Bay detainees.
Details of the interrogation of hundreds of Guantanamo Bay detainees have been released by Wikileaks.
The documents detail the background to the capture of each of the 780 people who have passed through the detention facility, as well as their medical condition and information thay have provided during interrogation.
According to the files, written by officials at the controversial base, one inmate told interrogators that al-Qaeda terrorists would launch a “nuclear hellstorm” on the west if Osama bin Laden was captured or killed.
Other potential plots were also uncovered, including plans to recruit staff at Heathrow airport and to poison public buildings in America by putting cyanide in the air-conditioning.
Some 220 of those detained are assessed to be dangerous international terrorists, while hundreds of others held for years were considered “low-level foot-soldiers” with little of value to pass on.
A poor Afghan shepherd ended up incarcerated for three years, just because he happened to be near a roadside bomb when it exploded. Sarah Smith
The documents also reveal that around 150 innocent Afghans and Pakistanis were locked up, including farmers, chefs and drivers.
They confirm that the US has seized more than 100 al-Qaeda terrorists, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the operational commander of al-Qaeda accused of masterminding the 9/11 attacks. It was Mohammed who issued the “nuclear hellstorm” warning.
And Pakistan’s intelligence service was considered a “terrorist group” ranked alongside al-Qaeda.
Channel 4 News Washington Correspondent Sarah Smith told Samira Ahmed these were embarrassing revelations for the US government: “These are the people, remember, that Dick Cheney said were ‘the worst of the worst’.”
The leaks reveal as false the claims by George W Bush that anyone who was at Guantanamo Bay deserved to be there. Among those being held was an 89-year-old Afghan villager suffering from senile dementia and prostate cancer – he was taken there simply because suspicious phone numbers were found in his son’s house.
None of these leaks are going to make it any easier for President Obama to close Guantanamo Bay. Sarah Smith
“There were lots of people who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Sarah Smith. “A poor Afghan shepherd ended up incarcerated for three years, just because he happened to be near a roadside bomb when it exploded.”
The leaks also reveal how difficult it was for anyone imprisoned in Guantanamo to get out or to prove their innocence. That is because interrogators were told, basically, that if anyone vigorously protested his innocence, that could be taken as proof that he had been coached by al-Qaeda in how to resist interrogation.
Sarah Smith recalled that the first thing President Obama did on taking office was to promise to close Guantanamo Bay. “It should have been shut 15 months ago now,” she said, “and basically he has lost the political battle with Republicans over this issue and has accepted that he is not going to be able to close it.”
“None of these leaks are going to make it any easier for President Obama to close Guantanamo Bay – but they’re certainly making it considerably more embarrassing to have the place still open.”