- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 4, 2002

Prized captive Abu Zubaydah is senior enough in the al Qaeda terror network to know probable locations of fugitive Osama bin Laden.
The big question being asked in the Bush administration is: Will he talk about bin Laden and the deadly attacks al Qaeda has conducted, or … is still planning… against American targets?
"We intend to get every single thing out of him to try to prevent terrorist acts in the future," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday. "We're going to do it as skillfully and as rapidly and as thoroughly as we know how."
Officials said yesterday that Zubaydah, who was organizing new attacks on America when Pakistani authorities nabbed him and about 60 associates last week, is being treated for serious gunshot wounds. They indicated he has not yet been formally interrogated by the FBI or CIA, which aided Pakistani police in capturing the top prize to date in the U.S. campaign to destroy al Qaeda.
Robert Maginnis, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who conducted interrogations as an inspector general investigator, said Zubaydah will likely stay silent.
"Zubaydah is a Palestinian educated in the radical Islamic schools of Hamas' suicide bombers," Col. Maginnis said. "He likely holds deep hatred for the West and especially the U.S. I do not expect him to cooperate with U.S. officials even though he undoubtedly knows information that is critical to our war on terrorism."
Mr. Rumsfeld declined to speculate if the 30-year-old, whose injuries are not life-threatening, will provide useful information.
Tracing the recent history of interrogating al Qaeda prisoners, Mr. Rumsfeld said, "There have been instances where people have, for a variety of reasons, concluded they did prefer to disgorge a good deal. There's others that have not uttered a word for a year-plus. And therefore, I'm without expectation, but not without hope."
Zubaydah was one of al Qaeda's most sophisticated operators, able to travel the world under assumed names on forged passports and organize terrorist cells. He is believed to be the successor to Muhammad Atef, al Qaeda's operations chief who was killed by a U.S. air strike in November.
In raiding Zubaydah's safe house in Faisalabad, Pakistani authorities confiscated a potential treasure chest of documents, cell phone numbers and computer files.
Interrogations of about 500 Taliban and al Qaeda members now in custody are typically conducted by the FBI, CIA and the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency. FBI agents in Pakistan, where Zubaydah has been held, have been talking to him. The FBI believes he has key information on the September 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon, as well as previous bombings of the destroyer USS Cole and two U.S. embassies in east Africa.
Zubaydah is a prime candidate for the U.S. military tribunal and a possible death sentence if convicted of murdering thousands of Americans and other civilians. The administration hopes this dire prospect may prompt the radical Islamist to start talking.
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III yesterday described Zubaydah's capture as a breakthrough in preventing future terrorist attacks.
Mr. Mueller said the threat of new attacks remains high, adding that the FBI had "no indication that the desire to commit terrorist acts is not still there."
"There are people out there who wish to harm American citizens, not just in the United States but overseas as well," he said.
Two U.S. officials said yesterday that Zubaydah's important role as al Qaeda's chief organizer means he likely has knowledge of bin Laden's recent whereabouts. The United States believes bin Laden is probably still alive and moves among locations in eastern Afghanistan, or just over the border in Pakistan.
A senior U.S. intelligence official said he believes bin Laden was wounded by U.S. air strikes in the first two months of the war in Afghanistan. Publicly, bin Laden has not been heard from since he made a video in early December. He appeared stressed and did not move his left arm during a 33-minute diatribe against the West. His continuing silence has prompted some officials to speculate that he is incapacitated or perhaps dead.
Mr. Rumsfeld yesterday strongly denied a network news report that Zubaydah had been moved to a third country for the option of torturing him if he does not provide valuable information.
Asked if the United States would transfer him to custody of a third country, he said: "I've never been one to willy-nilly throw away options. I can't conceive of why we would not want to hold him. We currently are holding him. But I don't need to promise the world that we will hold him in perpetuity."

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