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Two Malaysians in maximum detention at Gitmo


By Salmy Hashim

WASHINGTON, (Bernama)--The two Malaysians along with 12 other suspected terrorists recently transferred to the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from secret CIA camps, are being held in a maximum detention facility, an official source here said Tuesday.

The two, said to be affiliated with Jemaah Islamiah (JI) and Al Qaeda, are identified as Mohd Farik bin Amin or Zaid (Zubair) and Mohammed Nazir bin Lep or Bashir bin Lep (Lillie). They were captured along with Hambali in 2003.

The White House claimed that they were selected by Hambali, sometime in November 2001, to be suicide operatives for an Al Qaeda "second wave" attack targeting Los Angeles.

The official source, who did not want to be identified, told Bernama there were no charges yet levelled against the two men and the other high-profile detainees, including Hambali, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and Ramzi bin Al-Shibh, who were recently brought to Guantanamo and currently under the custody of the US Department of Defence.

The source said the men might not likely be brought to trial this year as the military commission "to try terrorists for war crimes" proposed by the Bush administration had not yet been created.

He said the draft legislation introduced by the White House to set up the military commission was only introduced last week by President George Bush, and had not been debated or approved by Congress.

"These men will be detained at Gitmo until the end of hostilities in the global war on terror or until the outcome of the trial.

"As we get the legislation approved, we will move promptly to get the proceedings underway, and they are assured of a free and fair trial."

He said the trial would be open to a limited number of members of the media.

Bush had said at the White House: "As soon as Congress acts to authorise the military commission I have proposed, the men our intelligence officials believe orchestrated the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans on Sept 11, 2001, can face justice.

"As we move forward with the prosecutions, we will continue to urge nations across the world to take back their nationals at Guantanamo who will not be prosecuted by our military commission. America has no interest in being the world's jailer."

Nevertheless, 770 suspected terrorists have been sent to Guantanamo since 2002 and of these, about 315 have been returned to other countries while about 455 remain in custody.

The newly transferred detainees are likely being held at Camp 5, the maximum detention facility at Gitmo, a new, modern facility for non-compliant detainees. The faceless, white building has thick walls, is windowless and each prisoner is imprisoned most of the day in a small cubicle behind a thick metal door.

Zubair, Lillie and others will likely spend their Ramadan and Eid in this maximum security facility. They are fed halal food and given the opportunity to perform their daily prayers, to fast and to perform terawih prayers during Ramadan.

As prisoners at Gitmo, they get a set of clothing, a pair of shoes and slippers, a towel, mattress, sheets, a prayer mat, a copy of the Quran and tasbih (prayer beads). An arrow pointing to Mecca is painted on the floor of their cell or their bed frame.

Exposure to the outside world is very limited. There have been no reports of escaped prisoners, but a few were reported to have committed suicide following mental breakdown.

Detainees at Camp 5 only get 30 minutes of recreation in a cage-like setting three times a week. There are several cages, and in each cage, there is a soccer ball and a black arrow pointing to Mecca for prisoners who care to pray.

According to the White House, Zubair, an electronic telecommunications graduate from a Malaysian university, served directly under JI operational planner Hambali. As one of Hambali's trusted associates, Zubair assisted in his operations, which included casing targets for JI planned attacks, until his capture in 2003.

Hambali, in November 2001, tapped Zubair to be a suicide operative for an Al Qaeda attack targeting Los Angeles. Zubair, the White House said, played a role in transferring funds used to finance terrorist attacks in Southeast Asia from Al Qaeda operations chief Khalid Sheikh Muhammad to Hambali. Zubair received small arms and combat tactics training at Al Qaeda's al- Faruq Camp in Afghanistan in 2000 and again in 2001.

It was while he was earning his degree in Malaysia that he met fellow student Bashir bin Lap (also known as Lillie), who was also Hambali's lieutenant and captured with Hambali in 2003.

Lillie, an architecture graduate from a Malaysian university in the mid-90's, facilitated the transfer of Al Qaeda funds used for the Jakarta Marriott Hotel bombing in 2003 and knew of JI's targets and plans to launch attacks elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

The White House said Lillie was involved in the JI plot against the British High Commission in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and in mid-2002 cased targets in Bangkok and Pattaya, Thailand, at Hambali's direction.

Lillie was particularly interested in the idea of martyrdom and was slated to be a suicide operative for a planned attack on Los Angeles.

The White House said Lillie also had links to now-deceased JI bomb-maker Dr Azhari bin Husin, and in 2002 received bomb-making tutelage from Azahari. He was said to spend time in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2000 where he trained at Al Qaeda's al-Faruq camp in weaponry and explosives.

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