updated 10/11/2004 8:00:19 PM ET 2004-10-12T00:00:19

At least 11 al-Qaida suspects have “disappeared” in U.S. custody, and some may have been tortured, Human Rights Watch said in a report issued Monday.

The prisoners are probably being held outside the United States without access to the Red Cross or any oversight of their treatment, the human rights group said. In some cases, the United States will not even acknowledge the prisoners are in custody.

The report said the prisoners include the alleged architect of the Sept. 11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, as well as Abu Zubaydah, who is believed to be a close aide to Osama bin Laden.

In refusing to disclose the prisoners’ whereabouts or acknowledge the detentions, Human Rights Watch said, the U.S. government has violated international law, international treaties and the Geneva Convention. The group called on the government to bring all the prisoners “under the protection of the law.”

“I think the U.S. demeans itself when it adopts the philosophy that the ends justify the means in the fight against terror,” said Reed Brody, special counsel with Human Rights Watch.

The White House had no immediate comment.

Some provided valuable intel
The report — titled “The United States’ ‘Disappeared:’ The CIA’s Long-term ‘Ghost Detainees”’ — said many of the prisoners have provided valuable intelligence to U.S. officials. But it also cited reports that some have lied under pressure to please their interrogators.

Human Rights Watch has no firsthand knowledge of the treatment of these prisoners. Much of the report stems from news accounts that have cited unidentified government sources acknowledging the torture or mistreatment of prisoners.

The report provides a brief sketch of 11 prisoners believed to be incommunicado in undisclosed locations. They hail from countries across the Arab world, including Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. U.S. authorities have confirmed the detention of six of them, the report said.

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