- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 19, 2006

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The U.S. government released the first list of detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay prison yesterday — the most extensive accounting yet of the hundreds of people held there, nearly all of them labeled enemy combatants.

In all, 558 persons were named in the list provided by the Pentagon in response to a Freedom of Information lawsuit by the Associated Press. They were among the first swept up in the U.S. global war on terrorism as linked to al Qaeda or the Taliban.

The list is the first official roster of Guantanamo detainees who passed through the Combatant Status Review Tribunal process in 2004 and 2005 to determine whether they should be deemed “enemy combatants.” Many have been held at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay for more than four years. Only a few have faced formal charges.

Some names are familiar, such as David Hicks, an Australia Muslim charged with fighting U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. He is one of 10 detainees selected to be tried by a military tribunal, on charges of attempted murder, aiding the enemy and conspiracy to commit terrorism. Australian press sources have said he underwent training with British Islamic extremists, including would-be shoe-bomber Richard C. Reid.

Lesser-known detainees on the list include Muhammed al-Qahtani, a Saudi who reportedly was supposed to be the 20th hijacker in the September 11 attacks. Although his presence at Guantanamo had been reported, the military previously declined to confirm it. Others on the list, such as an Afghan identified only as “Commander Chaman,” remain mysterious.

The detainees on the list came from 41 countries. The largest number — 132 — came from Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan followed with 125, then Yemen with 107. Partial, unofficial lists of Guantanamo detainees have been compiled by news organizations, lawyers and pressure groups, but the United States had confirmed only the names of the 10 who have been formally charged.

“This is information that should have been released a long time ago, and it’s a scandal that it hasn’t been,” said Bill Goodman, legal director of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which has helped coordinate legal efforts on behalf of the detainees.

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