If captured, Osama will be sent to Guantanamo: Panetta

Lalit K Jha

Washington, Feb 17 (PTI) If captured, al-Qaeda chiefOsama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, branded asthe world''s two most wanted terrorist would be sent toGuantanamo Bay detention centre, as top US security officialssaid they were in Pakistan and under greater pressure than anyother time.

"We would probably move them quickly into militaryjurisdiction at Bagaram for questioning, and then eventuallymove them probably to Guantanamo," CIA Chief Leon Panettasaid, the first time any US official has outlined detentionplan for al-Qaeda''s top leadership.

US Congress has barred the Administration from moving anyGuantanamo detainees into the United States and Panetta''sstatement would appear to rule out any federal trial for Osamaor his number two.

The CIA Chief outlined the Osama detention plan whiledeposing at a Congressional hearing, where another top USintelligence official James R Clapper was quick to note thatthere will be discussion on this between the intelligenceagencies.

"If we were to capture either one of those two luminaries-- if I can use that term -- I think that that would probablybe a matter of some interagency discussions as to, you know,what their ultimate disposition would be and whether theywould be tried or not".

As President Barack Obama is committed to closing downthe Guantanamo Bay detention centre, the White House new PressSecretary Jay Carney said the Obama administration is focusedon capturing Laden and it''s also committed to the closure ofthe Guantanamo Bay.

In his deposition, the Chairman of Joint Chief of StaffAdmiral Mike Mullen said al-Qaeda had suffered losses of itsnumerous senior commanders and faced significant challenges tocoordinating operations, maintaining safe havens and acquiringfunding.

But the top most US military commander conceded thatdespite the pressure on the outfit, it retained the intent andcapability to attack US and other western targets.

Mullen said the group''s leaders continue to operate inthe Af-Pak border region, planning operations and guiding theefforts of al-Qaeda''s network operating out of ArabianPeninsula, Africa and in Europe.

The US military chief said, besides al-Qaeda insurgentsgroups such as Quetta Shura and Haqqani network were operatingunhindered from sanctuaries in Pakistan.

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