Somali's secret detention legal: US

2011-07-06 20:26

Washington - The White House on Wednesday defended the treatment of an alleged leader of Somalia's Shebab Islamist insurgency who was interrogated for two months on a US warship, saying his detention was lawful.

In the first known case of the secret detention of a terror suspect by the administration of President Barack Obama, Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame was captured in the Gulf on April 19 and kept aboard a US Navy ship at sea.

The Somali national was indicted on Tuesday in a New York court on charges of providing material support to both the Shabaab and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemen-based branch of the Islamist terror group.

Warsame, 25, "was detained lawfully, under the law of war, aboard a US Navy ship until he was transferred in the US for prosecution," White House spokesperson Jay Carney said.

"The International Committee of the Red Cross was told of Warsame's detention on the ship, visited the site of detention and had the opportunity to interview the detainee aboard the ship," he added.

The Justice Department said in a statement that Warsame was informed of his rights, but had agreed to keep talking to law enforcement officials for seven days after that. He was turned over to the FBI before being flown to New York.

On Tuesday a US official, who asked not to be named, told AFP that Warsame had been questioned according to the rules set out by the Army which place strict limits on interrogation techniques.

"Wherever possible, our first priority is and always has been to apprehend terrorist suspects and to preserve the opportunity to elicit valuable intelligence that can help us protect the American people. In this case the government has been able to acquire very valuable intelligence," Carney said.

Warsame faces nine counts including acting as a go-between between the two groups, providing them with both money and training between 2007 and 2011. He faces a life sentence if convicted on the terror and weapons charges.

The case provides an insight into how the Obama administration plans to question and try detainees outside war zones after closing the CIA's secret prison network.

Read more on:    al-shabaab  |  us  |  us terror threat

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