The U.S. Army has begun training intelligence officers at Guantanamo in the Islamic faith and in extracting intelligence from detained Al Qaida insurgents after it became clear they knew little about their captives.
Congress and Pentagon officials have been critical of the amount of
intelligence extracted from detainees at Guantanamo. They said that after an
initial CIA interrogation, Al Qaida detainees are left alone with officers and soldiers who don't understand Arabic or Urdu.
"Most of these soldiers are Christians and know nothing about the Muslim
religion," Stephen McFarland, a course instructor, said. "And they know
nothing about terrorism and why a person turns into a terrorist. That's why
we brought in the professor of Muslim studies. His job was to show the other
position and explain why do they do this. It really got these soldiers
Officials said the training course is meant to include intelligence
officers and soldiers from the National Guard and the Army Reserve. Reserve
units have been replacing standing army troops both in Afghanistan and in
the detention center at Cuba's Guantanamo Bay, where thousands of Al Qaida
suspects are being held.
The new course is meant to provide limited training for intelligence
corps soldiers to obtain information from Al Qaida suspects. The course is
scheduled to last three weeks and will allow soldiers in contact with Al
Qaida detainees the ability to alert intelligence analysts of the prospect
of obtaining additional of information.
The course, termed Intelligence Support to Counter Terrorism, was
launched on Jan. 27. The course is meant to train the next rotation of
National Guard and Army Reserve military intelligence soldiers heading for
Officials said the U.S. Army Intelligence Center had concluded that
military intelligence soldiers in Guantanamo must be better equipped to
gather information from Al Qaida detainees. Last year, the head of the
Brig. Gen. John Custer, toured Guantanamo.
"The significance of this course is that we have a different threat now
and it's based on the global war on terrorism," Col. James Slavin,
commander of the 112th Military Intelligence Brigade, said. "The
Intelligence Support to Counter Terrorism course's curriculum is the first
phase we're doing. This is the initial pilot program and it's focused on
supporting Joint Task Force-Guantanamo and the operation against the detainees there