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.
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, 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.
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.