- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 20, 2003


GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba - Three boys held as terror suspects here have a commanding view of the sea through an opening in the thick netting around Iguana House, the isolated cinder-block duplex where they live.

Bright sunlight flashing off an endless bed of wave crests below is like nothing ever before seen by the three, ages 13 to 15, who are accused of fighting for Afghanistan’s now-ousted Taliban.

With no clear date of when they’ll be released or tried, the boys are caught in the same complicated legal web as the adult terror suspects held about a mile away at maximum-security Camp Delta.

A military official said the boys, one of whom purportedly killed a U.S. Special Forces soldier in Afghanistan, are likely to be transferred from here in the coming months. Their home, for now, is Iguana House, named for the endangered reptiles often seen crawling the earth outside.

Soldiers guard the boys night and day at the house, which sits on a cliff above the sea. The house is “a lot different” from the razor-wire ringed prison for the adults, said a military official, showing reporters through the house.

It is “less threatening,” said the official, concealing his identity with a piece of tape kept over the name tag on his uniform and giving his name only as Sgt. “P.”

Sgt. P said the boys participate in regular therapy sessions with psychiatrists in addition to language training in their native tongues and education courses in math and geography.

Beyond saying they fall under the same “enemy-combatant” classification as the grown-ups, military officials are not forthcoming about specific crimes the boys are accused of.

One official, who maintained that before their arrests the boys had been sexually abused by their Taliban holders, told a story of how one of the boys killed a Special Forces soldier.

The official said the boy had pretended he was dead or asleep on the ground when U.S. forces encountered him during a mop-up operation. When discovered, he quickly turned and shot the soldier in the temple, the official said, adding it was not clear when or where in Afghanistan the incident occurred.

Sgt. P said the boys watch National Geographic videos and spend time kicking soccer balls around the yard outside the house. About 40 balls have ended up over the fence and into the ocean below.

Asked if the boys, presumably having never seen such an ocean, have asked to go for a swim, Sgt. P chuckled quietly and said “no.”

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