Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the captured al-Qaeda kingpin, was taken Tuesday from Pakistan to the main U.S. air base in Afghanistan, where human-rights groups fear a harsher version of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp has been created for suspected terrorists.
A Pakistani official speaking on condition of anonymity said Mr. Mohammed had been taken to Bagram, a bleak, sprawling air base north of Kabul, where scores of Taliban and al-Qaeda prisoners are thought to be in custody.
A source linked to the Pakistani intelligence services also said that Mr. Mohammed was at Bagram, where he is thought to be housed with other suspects in a large, square building that is used as an interrogation and detention centre.
It is unclear whether Mr. Mohammed was transferred to Afghanistan with two other prominent al-Qaeda members who also were captured on the weekend.
Pakistan's Interior Minister, Faisal Saleh Hayyat, told reporters Tuesday that a third man arrested in the raid on Saturday was Mustafa Ahmed al-Hasawi, a Saudi national who allegedly played banker to the Sept. 11 hijackers. U.S. court documents have stated that Mr. al-Hasawi provided cash to Mohamed Atta and other hijackers through bank accounts in the United Arab Emirates, a money trail that was detected when Mr. Atta sent thousands of dollars in unspent funds back to Mr. al-Hasawi.
Hours before the hijackings, Mr. al-Hasawi flew from Dubai to Karachi and disappeared.
Pakistani officials also confirmed the identity of the other man captured on Saturday as Abdel Rahman, son of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind Egyptian cleric convicted in 1995 of conspiring to blow up several New York landmarks, including the United Nations headquarters.
In the United States Tuesday, the Justice Department announced the arrest of another important financier for al-Qaeda, a Yemeni cleric who once boasted of handing Osama bin Laden $20-million in cash for use in terrorist operations in the months before the Sept. 11 attacks.
The cleric, Mohammed al Hasan Al-Moayad, and a Yemeni, Mohammed Mohsen Yahya Zayed, were arrested in Frankfurt, Germany, on Jan. 10, on the basis of sealed complaints issued in Brooklyn. The government unsealed the complaints Tuesday and announced that the United States is seeking the extradition of the two men, who are being held in Germany.
How long Mr. Mohammed is likely to stay at Bagram is hard to predict, analysts said. Although hundreds of U.S. troops are there, the base is less secure than Guantanamo Bay in Cuba or the British territory of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, where another al-Qaeda leader, Abu Zubaydah, is believed to be in custody.
Military analysts said the Afghanistan location offers the advantage of being close to the region in which the hunt for terrorists is most intense.
"You want to be able to keep going back to him" for questioning, said Dan Mulvenna, an analyst at the Center for Counterintelligence and Counterterrorism in Washington, D.C. "It may be convenient to keep him at a safe location near to the action."
Mr. Mohammed is almost certain to be in solitary confinement to keep him "sterile," analysts said. "He's not the kind of individual you'd want to put with a bunch of other guys," Mr. Mulvenna said.
Human Rights Watch has called on the U.S. military to investigate reports that inmates at Bagram are subjected to inhumane treatment. A Washington Post report in December alleged prisoners are made to stand and kneel for hours in black hoods or spray-painted goggles, held in "awkward, painful positions," and deprived of sleep by 24-hour lighting.
The U.S. military denied the reports and insisted prisoners are properly fed and allowed regular access to visiting International Red Cross officials. It also contested the Post's assertion that the facility was run by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
A New York Times report published on Monday supported the allegations of mistreatment. The report, which examined the death in custody of one Bagram inmate, quoted former inmates as saying they had been made to stand for hours, often naked, with their hands chained to the ceiling and their feet shackled.
Visitors to the Bagram base are not allowed to approach or photograph the interrogation centre, which is noted for its broken windows and perimeter of razor wire.
With a report from NYT