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Saturday, February 14, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Terrorism Notebook
Cuba prisoners will get reviews, Rumsfeld says


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WASHINGTON — Long-term prisoners being held at the naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, will receive annual reviews to determine whether they should remain in custody, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said yesterday, as he defended against charges the lengthy detentions violate human rights.

The reviews will determine whether prisoners, if released, would remain a threat to the United States, officials said.

Many details of the reviews have not been worked out, officials at the Pentagon said. The composition of the reviewing panel has not been decided. The panel will make recommendations, probably to Rumsfeld, who will make the final call on whether to release a prisoner.

Prisoners will receive some kind of assistance, but it has not been decided whether that will include actual lawyers or some sort of military-appointed advisers to explain the process to them, the officials said.

In announcing the reviews, Rumsfeld defended the continued detention of about 650 suspected al-Qaida and Taliban supporters at Guantánamo. Human-rights groups have criticized the treatment of the prisoners as well as their lack of access to lawyers.

Paul Butler, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee operations, said detainees at Guantánamo fall into categories: ones who are no longer a threat and can be freed, ones who committed war crimes and will face a military tribunal, and ones who remain a threat but cannot be charged with any crime.

Of those who remain a threat, a few are being turned over to the governments of their home countries. So far, four men have been turned over to Saudi Arabia and a fifth to Spain.

Saudi officials on lookout, issue alert over militant's explosive-packed vehicle

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — A car owned by a wanted militant has been packed with explosives to be used in a criminal act in Riyadh, Saudi officials said yesterday.

An Interior Ministry statement, carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, gave a description of the car and asked the public to be on alert and inform authorities if they had any information on the vehicle.

It said the vehicle was a gray 1991 GMC Suburban with darkened windows. It gave the car's registration number but said it may have been changed and the car repainted.
 
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It said the car was last seen east of Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia is battling violence blamed on supporters of Saudi-born Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network, believed to be behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

Five suspected Taliban members reportedly arrested in Mauritania; police won't confirm

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania — Police in Mauritania have arrested five suspected members of Afghanistan's Taliban movement, sources close to security forces in this desert West African nation said yesterday.

A Tunisian and an Algerian were among those arrested, but the nationalities of the other three have not been determined, the sources said on condition they not be identified.

Police refused to confirm or deny the arrests, which were first reported in Mauritania's Le Calame weekly.

The security sources said the five suspects were foreigners who arrived in Mauritania several weeks ago, settling in the capital, Nouakchott.

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