Home International 39 people disappeared, children held, by US: Rights groups

39 people disappeared, children held, by US: Rights groups


New York : A number of people secretly detained by the US in its global war on terrorism have "disappeared," six human rights groups said.

The report also detailed how children and wives of many suspects were held for months at a time to gain information about suspects.

Three of the groups have filed a lawsuit in a US federal court under the Freedom of Information Act seeking disclosure of information related to the 39 people they believed have disappeared from secret US custody.

The joint action by the six leading human rights groups was made public by the New York-based Human Rights Watch in a 21-page briefing paper titled "Off the record: US responsibility for enforced disappearances in the 'War on Terror'."

The paper provided names and details of the prisoners believed held by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) since the terrorist attacks against the US in September 2001.

The detainees are nationals from Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan and Spain, who were arrested in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Sudan and transferred to US-run detention centres.

"The human rights groups are calling on the US government to put a permanent end to the CIA's secret detention and interrogation programme, and to disclose the identities, fate and whereabouts of all detained currently or previously held at secret facilities operated or overseen by the US government as part of the 'war on terror'," Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

The list was put together by Amnesty International, Cageprisoners, Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University School of Law, Human Rights Watch, and Reprieve. The groups received information from government and media sources and through interviews with former prisoners and witnesses.

The "Off the record" paper also revealed that some of the detainees' wives and children were also detained as far back as September, 2002, but it did not appear that the family members had disappeared.

It cited the case of leading Al Qaeda operative Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's two sons, aged 7 and 9, who were arrested and held in an adult detention centre for four months. The children were questioned about their father's whereabouts.

Mohammed claims to have masterminded the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US and to have decapitated American journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan. He was captured in 2003 and is believed to have been held by the CIA at secret prisons around the world until being brought to Guantanamo in September.

The report said Ahmed Khalfan Ghailanii, of Tanzania was seized in Gujarat, Pakistan, in July 2004 and his Uzbek wife was also detained with him.

The human rights groups said the papers they were seeking under the Freedom of Information Act do exist because President George W. Bush publicly admitted the existence of CIA-operated secret prisons in September 2006.

Fourteen detainees from those secret prisons – including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – were transferred to the Guantanamo Naval base's detention centre in Cuba.

But the rights groups said the location of the CIA-led prisons, detainees' identities and the types of interrogation methods used have never made public by the Bush White House. The groups said the secret detention programme continues to exist because the CIA transferred Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi to Guantanamo last month.

"Off the Record" said some detainees whose whereabouts are not known may have been moved to other countries and held secretly without charges or trial.