U.S. Holding Thousands of Prisoners with Alleged Terror Ties in Iraq

There are about 4,000 to 5,000 detainees in U.S. custody accused of being linked with Al Qaeda, Omar Al Jouburi, a former adviser to Iraqi Vice President Tariq Al Hashimi, told Gulf News.

"These detainees are distributed between Copper prison which is near the Baghdad Airport and Boca prison in Basra," Al Jouburi said.

Al Jouburi confirmed all detainees were Sunni Arabs and that their fate remains unknown because of U.S. refusal to provide any information or abide by the amnesty law issued by the Iraqi government a few months ago.

Some detainees will face trial through the Iraqi judiciary and others might be included in the Iraqi amnesty provision later on after a U.S.-Iraqi security agreement is reached, according to Nouri Al Nouri, a senior officer with the General Inspector Office at the Iraqi Interior ministry.

That agreement would allow them to hand all of the detainees in U.S. custody to the Iraqi authorities. Any non-Iraqi detainees could be handed over to their respective governments, Al Nouri added.

Iraqi national security adviser Muwaffaq Al Rubaie conducted negotiations in May and June with the authorities of several Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan to hand over some of the detainees to their respective countries.

The U.S. has refused to hand over any detainees linked with Al Qaeda to Arab governments. However, nine detainees were released to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, sources in the Iraqi Prime Minister's Security Affairs office told Gulf News.

Senior officers in the Iraqi army have told Gulf News that CIA experts were sent from the U.S. to oversee the interrogations of these detainees. These officers explained that the interrogations were more focused on Al Qaeda activity in Afghanistan and Pakistan and less concerned with Al Qaeda activity in Iraq.

Samir Al Raqi, who served as a senior official to Saddam Hussain's security services, told Gulf News that he believes out of the 4,000 to 5,000 detainees, only 1,500 were actually linked with Al Qaeda.

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