The United States has begun to work with allies to interrogate and detain midlevel Al Qaeda terror suspects caught in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a New York Times report quoting former U.S. government officials.
About six Al Qaeda financiers and logistics experts have been caught over the past 10 months using a joint effort between America and the foreign intelligence services of several Middle Eastern countries.
The U.S. has yet to cooperate with foreign services to capture the highest-level terrorists, but the change signifies a movement towards U.S. cooperation with allies to combat extremism since 9/11, The New York Times reports.
Using intelligence provided by the United States, Pakistan security services captured a Saudi suspect and a Yemeni suspect this year. Conversely, Pakistan has shared information from their interrogations with the U.S.
The cooperation approach began two years ago under the Bush administration, and has grown under Obama.
Human rights advocates say the shift does contain risks, such as the potential for abuse at the hands of foreign interrogators, and the possibility of receiving bad intelligence.
“As a practical matter you have to rely on partner governments, so the focus should be on pressing and assisting those governments to handle those cases professionally,” Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, told The Times.
American officials told The Times that near the end of Bush's time in office, and now under President Obama, all but the highest-level terror suspects are kept in foreign rather than American custody, a change from post-9/11 times.
What the U.S. will do with captured terrorists not already in prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has not yet been publicly addressed by the president, who said he still intends to close Gitmo by January, despite the debate in Congress.