DOS Cable re: Visit to Qandahar Focus on Detainees

This State Department cable is a report on detainees as well as an assessment of the ground situation in Afghanistan. The cable focuses on a description of the Qandahar airport holding facility holding the Cuba-bound al-Qaida and Taliban detainees, and notes that “there are currently 380 prisoners from a number of countries,” mostly between 20-30 years of age; “there is no privacy and even calls of nature are performed in public". There is a field hospital that is properly servicing the detainees with their medical needs in an adequate manner. Many of the detainees, when asked, state it was/is their "hatred" for the US that led them to fight with and for the Taliban. The detainees shout epithets at the guards and make constant threats against them, especially the female ones. With regard to access to detainees for interrogation purposes, cooperation is excellent between the US government and the foreign agencies seeking information on their own nationals

Doc_type: 
Cable
Doc_date: 
Thursday, January 17, 2002
Doc_rel_date: 
Monday, November 22, 2004
Doc_text: 

• UNCLASSIFIED

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NODIS

DECAPTIONED
FROM USLO KABUL #0050

FROM SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY ZAL KHALILZAD

SECSTATE FOR SECRETARY POWELL AND A/S ROCCA

NSC FOR NSA RICE AND HADLEY

SECDEF FOR RUMSFELD AND WOLFOWITZ

E.O. 12958: DECL:01/16/22
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PROP, PTER, PINS, AF
SUBJECT: VISIT TO QANDAHAR:FOCUS ON DETAINEES

SECTION 01 OF 02 Islamabad 295

SUBJECT: USLO-KABUL #0050 QANDAHAR DETAINEES

Classified by Special Presidential Envoy Zal Khalilzad.
Reason 1.5 (b) and (d).

SUMMARY

1. (S) Accompanied by my delegation members. I called on

B1

with a report on detainees as well as an assessment of the
ground situation. As a part of the briefing, I visited the
airport holding facility for the Cuba-bound al Qaida and
Taliban detainees. End Summary.

OBJECTIVES

2. (S) I has three principalobjectives - to process and transport the detainees, to clean up weapons and munitions caches and to support Special Forces operations - tasks made all the more

RTM NOUS
UNITED STATES DEPAENTOFSTATE
REVIEW AUTHORITY: WILLIAM E LANDFAIR

DATE/CASE ID: 19 OCT 2004 200303827 UNCLASSIFIED
DOS-000049

%.

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difficult because of the estimated 19,000 Taliban and al
Qaida soldiers in the hills surrounding Qandahar as well as
in the city itself. While the Taliban pose a concern to
the base - both because of the possibility of an attack on
the U.S. military camp, either with a terrorist motive or
in an attempt to free the captives - General Mattis told me
that his primary concern relates to landmines and
unexploded ordinance. He explained that the Taliban have
re-mined areas that were marked as mine free. The General
told me that several Marines and a number of local fighters
had been seriously injured in land-mine incidents.

(C)

3.S

S With
regara to access to detainees for interrogation purposes,
cooperation is also excellent between USG and foreign

agencies seeking information.

DETAINEES

5. (S) Tlere are currently 380 prisoners from a number of

countries,

S Some European detainees have
toia tneir interrogators that they joined the Taliban/al
Qaida for the adventure. Others say hate for the U.S. led
them to the Taliban. Most of the prisoners are between 20­30 years of age, but several appear to be in their sixties.
The detainees are held in groups of twenty in razor wired
pens. There is no privacy and even calls of nature are
performed in public, a practice aimed at preventing suicide
or escapes during the unsupervised periods. The only
prisoners not held in open pens are those who are located
in a small hangar, either for interrogation or because they
are high-ranking and needS

to be separated from others for

(
interrogation Purposes. I

6.
(S) Walking through the detention center, I observed
the detainees, uniformly attired in blue coveralls, seated
in pens and sleeping.or reading the Koran, the only book
they are allowed. Several detainees were carrying the
honey buckets for disposal across the compound. Bach
prisoner had two blankets (purchased locally to boost the
economy the General said).

7.
(S) we also visited the field hospital where detainees

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SECTION 02 OF 02 Islamabad 295

are treated by the same military doctors who treat the

American soldiers. The doctors explained that the

detainees generally arrive with severe gastroenteritis

complicated by malnutrition. A few have serious battle

injuries, including some which require below the knee

amputations. Respecting a policy of informed consent, the

doctors said that no detainee has agreed to an amputation,

preferring to rely on various temporary measures that will

not save the limb but will prolong the situation. The

doctors told me these detainees believe that their limbs

will be repaired once they reach their next destination,

perhaps the U.S. As a part of a delousing program, the

NODES UNCLASSIFIED
DOS-000050

Thu Jan 17 01:55:06 2002 TrilelalellS2WITFPCOPY 14 OF 14 Page 3 OF 3

military has had to shave off the beards of some of the
Cuba-bound detainees, a practice the Red Cross has
approved.

8.
(S) Detainees eat MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) just like
their captors although all pork products have been removed.
The plastic spoons also are removed from the packets since
the detainees might sharpen them and use the implements as
weapons or a tool for suicide.

9.
(S) Detainees are allowed to talk to residents in their
own pen, but large groups are not allowed. They are not
allowed to talk to prisoners in other pens. The General's
assessment of the detainees is based on interaction with
them over an extended period. He considers them hostile
and dangerous. They shout epithets at their captors,
including threats against the female relatives of the
soldiers guarding them, knee Marines in the groin, and say
that they will escape and kill "more Americans and Jews."
The General is all business. There is a risk that the
detainees may try to throw their blankets over the razor
wire and make a run for it.'

10.
(S) The General does not consider the Taliban and al
Qaida to be particularly devout and cites as an example the
defiled mosque at the airport. Littered with garbage and
piles of human excrement, the General said people who would
desecrate their own reli ious sites in this way were hardly
religious.

11.
(C) Another part of the General's job is to clean up
weapons and ammunition caches. The triage process involves
sorting by category, removing those items which are of
interest to the USG and shipping them back to the U.S., and
destroying the rest. When I asked if we had considered
turning these over to the Interim Authority, the General
said that the items thus far were degraded to a point where
they were no longer useful.

12.
(C) Due to scheduling problems, I was unable to meet
local officials but hope to return on January 18.

CHAMBERL/N

SECRET

NODES
UNCLASSIFIED
DOS-000051

Doc_nid: 
5862
Doc_type_num: 
68