msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 4/26/2011 12:08:47 PM ET 2011-04-26T16:08:47

Leaked U.S. military documents reveal that a Guantanamo Bay detainee was freed after informing on 123 other prisoners, despite concerns about the reliability of his evidence, a British newspaper reported Tuesday.

The Guardian, The New York Times and El Pais are publishing details of more than 750 leaked U.S. military dossiers on terrorist suspects held at Guantanamo. They reveal that the detainees ranged from close associates of Osama bin Laden to seemingly innocent men held even though they were judged to pose little threat.

Story: Classified files shed light on Guantanamo detainees

The Guardian said the prolific informer, a Yemeni man captured in Pakistan in December 2001, gave detailed information about al-Qaida activity in Afghanistan's Tora Bora mountains and identified other detainees as militants.

However, the documents also noted that the informer, Mohammed Basardah, often changed his story and said some of his claims could not be verified.

"In every interview where [Basardah] was questioned on detainee, [Basardah] has changed his story. Detainee's identity as a bodyguard has not been substantiated through other known sources," one dossier read, according to the Guardian.

"Research into the other detainees' timelines does not readily support [Basardah's] information," another note said.

The reports concluded that Basardah's information "remains in question" and that "any information provided should be adequately verified through other sources."

Nonetheless, the files praised his cooperation and showed that he was recommended for release in 2008 and sent to Spain. The Guardian said his current whereabouts are unknown.

Basardah "willingly provided extensive, direct and indirect information about al-Qaida and Taliban training, operations, personnel and facilities and has proved to be an invaluable intelligence source," the documents said.

He also "provided extensive information about the personalities and events in Tora Bora including first-hand observations on UBL's role as a leader ... has demonstrated a vast knowledge of various individuals and locations in accordance with his reported placement and access. It seems many JTF-GTMO detainees are willing to reveal self-incriminating information to him."

The newspaper said the files also reveal that the U.S. believed an alleged al-Qaida operative suspected of bomb attacks in Pakistan was an informant for British intelligence.

Cases built on questionable testimony
Seven other Guantanamo detainees helped the U.S. military build cases against other suspects being held at the security facility, the Miami Herald reported based on an analysis of the documents by McClatchy Newspapers.

The allegations and information provided by those eight detainees reportedly contributed to the cases against 255 Guantanamo detainees, or about a third of all detainees who have been held there, the Herald reported.

Defense attorneys say the information provided by some of the detainees was obtained by interrogation techniques that amounted to torture, the Herald said.

The file on one informer, a Syrian known as Abdul Rahim Razak al Janko, said, "there are so many variations and deviations in his reporting, as a result of detainee trying to please his interrogators, that it is difficult to determine what is factual."

Another, a Libyan known as Ibn al Shaykh al Libi, said he had exaggerated his role in al-Qaida because he thought that was what his interrogators wanted to hear, the Herald said.

And Yemeni Fawaz Naman Hamoud Abdullah Mahdi, whose information was used in six cases, was in a fragile state of mind. His "severe psychological disorder and deteriorating attention span" meant "the reliability and accuracy of the information provided ... will forever remain questionable."

Four other informer detainees gave questionable information that was nonetheless used in building cases against other Guantanamo inmates, the documents reportedly reveal.

Video: Classified docs offer details on Gitmo detainees (on this page)

The leaked files — known as Detainee Assessment Briefs — describe the intelligence value of the detainees and whether they would be a threat to the U.S. if released. So far 604 detainees have been transferred out of Guantanamo while 172 remain.

The Pentagon has condemned the publication of the documents, which it said were obtained illegally by the secret-spilling WikiLeaks website.

The New York Times said it had obtained the files from another source and shared them with other news organizations.

The Guantanamo files give details of al-Qaida planning and confirm that London's Finsbury Park Mosque was considered a haven for extremists in the years before 2001, when it was a base for radical preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri.

Tuesday's New York Times said the files also reveal al-Qaida's desire to launch more plots against the United States after Sept. 11, 2001, including aircraft attacks on the West Coast.

The plans — none of which was executed — included discussions of plots to hijack cargo planes, hack into bank computers and cut the cables holding up the Brooklyn Bridge.

The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

Video: Classified docs offer details on Gitmo detainees

  1. Closed captioning of: Classified docs offer details on Gitmo detainees

    >>> wikileaks has released documents from quan taunt mow bay and cuba. most of the remaining prisoners, 172 individuals, to be

Photos: Guantanamo Bay detention center

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  1. A U.S. military guard arrives for work at Camp Delta in the Guantanamo Bay detention center on March 30, 2010. Two days after his inauguration in January 2009, President Barack Obama signed an executive order to close the facility in one year and review each detainee’s case individually, but he has missed the deadline by months and has struggled to transfer, try or release the remaining detainees. (These pictures have been reviewed by the U.S. military.) (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Detainees prepare to eat lunch at Camp 6 in the Guantanamo Bay detention center on March 30, 2010. The U.S. military currently holds 183 detainees at Guantanamo, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The detention center has held nearly 780 detainees in an assortment of camps that were built to accommodate different levels of security. In Camp 6, detainees spend at least 22 hours a day in single-occupancy cells. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. In this picture, a detainee stands in Guantanamo’s Camp 6, his face obscured by a wire fence. There are strict rules on the publication of photographs of detainees – any distinguishing features or clear pictures of detainees’ faces are not allowed past Guantanamo’s gates. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A detainee reads a magazine in the library at Camp 6. One of the obstacles President Obama faces in shutting down the detention facility is that Congress has blocked funding for a plan that would transfer some detainees to a prison in the United States. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. The Department of Justice is currently reviewing each detainee’s case individually and categorizing them into three groups: those who face trial, those who will be transferred to detention facilities in other countries, and those who are deemed a danger but cannot released or tried because of sensitive evidence – and must continue to be held. There are 48 detainees in this category. Here, detainees prepare to eat lunch at Camp 6. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. In this photo, a detainee attends a class in "life skills" inside Camp 6. In November 2009, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Sept. 11 suspects would be prosecuted in a federal court in New York City, setting off a heated debate that put the White House on the defense and has forced it to reconsider the plan. The Obama administration has also designated six detainees for trial by military tribunal, including Canadian Omar Khadr, whose trial will be the first at Guantanamo during the Obama presidency. (Brennan Linsley / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. A U.S. Navy guard prepares to escort a detainee after a "life skills" class in Camp 6. Meantime, the war crimes tribunal convened in Guantanamo on April 28, 2010, to decide what evidence can be used against Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who was just 15 when he was detained in Afghanistan in 2002. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Congressional Republicans and some Democrats oppose the plan to prosecute detainees in federal courts because that would give suspects full U.S. legal rights and could lead to the release of dangerous terrorists. Supporters, however, say military courts unfairly limit defendants’ rights and contend that federal courts are just as capable of bringing suspects to justice. In this photo, U.S. Army guards are briefed at the Guantanamo Bay detention center on March 30, 2010. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. A U.S. Army soldier patrols past a guard tower at Camp Delta. A final difficulty in closing the detention facility is skepticism about how well some countries would monitor and rehabilitate detainees transferred there – and whether they would be at risk of being recruited into terror networks. Yemen, in particular, is under scrutiny after the failed Christmas Day airplane bombing by Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is believed to have been trained by al-Qaida in Yemen. The Obama administration has since suspended all transfers to Yemen. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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