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Terror suspect says islam forbids killing civilians { April 16 2007 }

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April 16, 2007, 7:17PM
Pentagon: Zubaydah denies al-Qaida link

By PAULINE JELINEK Associated Press Writer
2007 The Associated Press

WASHINGTON Abu Zubaydah, accused of being a senior al-Qaida operative, says he has been a U.S enemy since childhood but isn't a member of the terrorist group or an associate of Osama bin Laden.

Zubaydah also told a military hearing in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that he had been tortured in U.S. custody and confessed to things he did not do, according to a Pentagon transcript released Monday.

Zubaydah said that from 1994 to about 2000 he was a facilitator at guest houses in Pakistan, where he helped Muslims get to Afghanistan's Khalden training camp for "defensive jihad" that is to fight against forces that invade Muslim lands anywhere. He then helped send the trained militants on to Bosnia, Chechnya and elsewhere, he said.

"The statement that I was an associate of Osama bin Laden is false," Zubaydah is quoted as saying by the transcript of his March 27 hearing. "I'm not his partner and I'm not a member of al-Qaida."

"Bin Laden wanted al-Qaida to have control of Khalden, but we refused since we had different ideas," Zubaydah said.

He said he's happy to see others attack U.S. military targets such as the USS Cole bombed by terrorists in 2000 as it refueled off Yemen but believes it's against Islam to kill civilians.

"I disagreed with the al-Qaida philosophy of targeting innocent civilians like those in the World Trade Center," he said, referring to the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on New York.

The Defense Department's redacted 27-page transcript included a statement read to the hearing by Zubaydah's appointed representative in addition to lengthy passages that were hard to understand because Zubaydah spoke in English, acknowledging at one point "I don't know grammar in English."

He said others involved with jihadist training in Afghanistan were angry with bin Laden after al-Qaida's Sept. 11 attacks because they had no advance warning, but that it was not a good time for disagreements among the groups.

"After eleven September, the big groups, they was angry from bin Laden why you not tell us about this big operation? At least give us a chance to adjust ourself," Zubaydah said.

"But we have idea ... that if the enemy came to attack us, it is not good to make different between us."

The purpose of the Guantanamo hearings is to determine whether the detainees should be classified as "enemy combatants" eligible for a military trial for war crimes.

Authorities allege Zubaydah qualifies because of evidence he ran the Khalden training camp, where so called "millennium bomber" Ahmed Ressam studied for the mission to bomb New Year's 2000 celebrations in the United States. He is an expert in document forgery and trained in explosives at the Khalden camp, U.S. intelligence officials have said.

Zubaydah also transported $600,000 to bin Laden in Saudi Arabia in 1996, according to other evidence. Zubaydah denied it.

Between 1994 and 2000, he often smuggled persons and chemicals such as cyanide and nitrates for use in al-Qaida weaapons from Pakistan int Afghanistan, officials allege.

Quoting form his diary, authorities also say he has stated he was preparing for attacks on America after Sept. 11, that he would wage war against the U.S., instigate racial war and attack gas stations.

"I never conducted nor financially supported nor helped in any operation against America," Zubaydah said, asserting that although he is a U.S. enemy, he is not an enemy combatant.

"I have been an enemy of yours since I was a child because of your unjust acts against my people, the Palestinians through your help and partnership with Israel in occupying our land," the transcript said.

"All I hope from you is that you try me for something that I am proud of having done, not something I didn't do or am against," it said.

"The statement that I was an associate of Osama bin Laden is false," the transcript quotes Zubaydah as saying. "I'm not his partner and I'm not a member of al-Qaida.

"Bin Laden wanted al-Qaida to have control of Khalden, but we refused since we had different ideas," Zubaydah said.

Zubaydah appeared before a Combatant Status Review Tribunal, an administrative hearing, at Guantanamo Bay on March 27, as one of 14 "high value" detainees transferred there last September after being held at secret CIA prisons abroad. The public and reporters are not permitted access to the hearings; of the 13 held so far, 12 transcripts have been released.

Zubaydah said he was not tortured after his transfer to Guantanamo, but before.

The Pentagon has said it is investigating allegations of torture. The CIA says the United States doesn't conduct or condone torture.

Not long after the March 2002 capture of Zubaydah, the CIA's interrogation practices became more formal. The CIA decided it would need to hold high-value terrorists such as Zubaydah for extended periods in an effort to extract information. They also began using some so-called enhanced interrogation techniques with success.

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