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U.S.: Al Qaeda leader being 'most cooperative'

General: Intelligence might have thwarted attacks

Marines are stationed in front-line position in Afghanistan on Tuesday.  

(CNN) -- U.S. investigators said Tuesday a captured al Qaeda leader who helped run Osama bin Laden's training camps in Afghanistan has been "most cooperative."

Ibn Al-Shaykh al-Libi is being interrogated by U.S. officials aboard the USS Bataan, the U.S. amphibious assault ship in the Arabian Sea where American Taliban John Walker and eight other detainees are being held.

President Bush ordered al-Libi's assets frozen along with those of other top al Qaeda members by executive order in late September. Al-Libi, a Libyan, was listed among the 12 most wanted al Qaeda leaders.

The al Qaeda leader was held separately from other detainees at the airport near the southern Afghan city of Kandahar in hopes he would talk to investigators.

U.S. forces in Kandahar took on two more al Qaeda detainees Tuesday. They were captured with 12 compatriots near the Zawar Kili training camp, and were deemed "senior enough" to warrant further questioning, a top Pentagon official said. (Full story)

U.S. officials believe they have thwarted some terrorist attacks with intelligence gathered during the military campaign in Afghanistan, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday.

Air Force Gen. Richard Myers would not give specifics, but he said U.S. authorities are working to gather information on al Qaeda and Taliban operations from recovered laptop computers and cellular phones, as well as from captured fighters. (Full story)

The total number of al Qaeda and Taliban members in U.S. custody is 364 -- 301 of them at Kandahar's airport.

CNN's Jamie McIntyre says the Pentagon has given up on 'chasing shadows' of Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar (January 7)

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Afghanistan's new government is enjoying a level of diplomatic recognition unprecedented in the country's recent history. CNN's John Vause reports (January 8)

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Latest developments

• Myers said the transfer of al Qaeda and Taliban detainees from Afghanistan to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, would begin soon. Earlier, a Pentagon official said flights could start Wednesday.

• Beginning Wednesday, people who want to visit the public viewing platforms at the World Trade Center site will need to get a free ticket first, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday. He said the change was made because people have been standing in long lines in the "shivering cold" to pay their respects on the platform that overlooks Ground Zero.

• New voluntary guidelines intended to protect the nation's food supply against contamination by terrorists or others are to be published this week by the Food and Drug Administration. The guidelines include checking the criminal backgrounds and immigration status of all employees and watching for those who try to access files, information or areas of the facility outside their areas of responsibility. (Full story)

• Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, told The Associated Press on Monday that U.S. troops were wrapping up their search for Osama bin Laden in the mountain caves of eastern Afghanistan after several weeks and still have no clues to the whereabouts of the accused terrorist mastermind.

• Preliminary findings of an investigation into the December 5 "friendly fire" bombing accident that killed three U.S. soldiers and injured 20 other special operations troops in Afghanistan points to human error, not mechanical malfunction, Pentagon sources told CNN Tuesday. Pentagon sources said the precision-guided 2,000-pound bombs were mistakenly programmed with the location of U.S. troops on the ground instead of the intended target nearby. (Full story)

• The Pentagon backed away Tuesday from calling the shooting in which Army Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Ross Chapman was killed and a CIA operative wounded in eastern Afghanistan last week an "ambush." A senior defense official told CNN there is not enough evidence yet to indicate whether the shooting was planned. He said the team had left a meeting with local officials and was traveling by vehicle on a mountain road when shooting broke out.

• The Global Positioning System is vulnerable to terrorist disruption and immediate steps should be taken to boost its security, according to a new report from the Heritage Foundation. GPS is vulnerable because it uses a very low-power signal that can be interrupted, the report said, and Russia is actively marketing GPS jamming equipment. A Department of Transportation report in August came to similar conclusions. (Full story)

• The Justice Department is launching a program to find about 6,000 people of Middle Eastern and Arab descent who are no longer eligible to stay in the United States, officials said, requesting anonymity. While the largest group of "deportable aliens" are Hispanic, one U.S. government official said, "The intent is to make a priority of those who may fit the profile of a terrorist." (Full story)

• Maryland State Police released a videotape Tuesday of a traffic stop involving hijacker Ziad S. Jarrah two days before the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. The state trooper's dashboard-mounted camera did not capture any images of Jarrah, one of the hijackers aboard United Airlines Flight 93. The audio track captures the driver giving simple "yes" and "no" answers to the trooper's questions. (Full story)

• An al Qaeda fighter attempting to escape from a Kandahar hospital killed himself Tuesday rather than be captured alive. After jumping from a second-story window and realizing he was surrounded, he pulled out a grenade and blew himself up. Another six al Qaeda fighters remain holed up inside the hospital and have refused to surrender for several weeks.

• Air Force officials tracking the movements of a teen pilot minutes before he crashed a Cessna plane into a Tampa, Florida, office tower Saturday did not perceive him as a threat, even as he came within 100 feet of a major U.S. air base, a Pentagon official said Monday. (Full story)

• Richard Reid claims he used a recipe from the Internet and explosives purchased from a man in Amsterdam for $1,500 to fashion a sneaker bomb capable of blowing up an airliner, U.S. government sources said Monday. (Full story)

• The first contingent of 70 German troops is due to arrive in Afghanistan to join the international stabilization force. The German troops -- 50 paratroopers and 20 communications and medical experts -- left Cologne-Bonn airport for the Dutch city of Eindhoven on Tuesday. (Full story)

• The estimate of the number of dead in the September 11 World Trade Center attacks has fallen to 2,893, officials said Monday. The city Office of Emergency Management said 619 people are confirmed dead, while 309 people are listed as missing with no death certificates issued, and 1,965 death certificates have been issued for victims whose remains have not yet been identified.




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