A set of documents obtained by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks and shared with various news organizations sheds new light on the whereabouts of al-Qaida's leadership during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and on the threat posed by those detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Much of the central leadership of al-Qaida was in Karachi, Pakistan, when planes flew into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, the Washington Post reports. Several key figures watched the catastrophe unfold on television from within a safe house and, within a day, many of the leaders were on their way back to Afghanistan.
The leaked documents also include intelligence assessments of nearly every one of the 779 people who have been held at the prison in Guantanamo Bay since 2002. The Times and NPR created a database and interactive graphic detailing the status of each detainee.
Only 220 detainees were considered to be dangerous international terrorists, The Telegraph reports. At least 150 were “innocent Afghans or Pakistanis, including farmers, chefs and drivers who were rounded up or even sold to U.S. forces and transferred across the world,” and the presence of another 380 lower-level foot soldiers at the facility “is questionable.”
The U.S. government ranked most of the current detainees as a “high risk” of posing a threat to the United States, The New York Times reports. But about one third of the 600 prisoners who have been either released or transferred to other countries were also “high risk” prisoners.
The Pentagon described the decision to publish some of the material as “unfortunate,” and emphasized the incomplete and snapshot nature of the assessments, known as Detainee Assessment Briefs, in a statement.
“The Guantanamo Review Task Force, established in January 2009, considered the DABs during its review of detainee information,” wrote Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell and Ambassador Daniel Fried. “In some cases, the Task Force came to the same conclusions as the DABs. In other instances the Review Task Force came to different conclusions, based on updated or other available information. Any given DAB illegally obtained and released by Wikileaks may or may not represent the current view of a given detainee.”