Chaplain Who Counseled Gitmo Prisoners Detained

Published September 23, 2003

| Associated Press

The Muslim military chaplain who ministered to suspected Al Qaeda (search) terrorists at a U.S. detention center in Cuba can be confined under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for up to two months without being charged.

Army Capt. Yousef Yee, 35, was arrested Sept. 10 in Jacksonville, Fla.

Col. David McWilliams, spokesman for U.S. Southern Command, which oversees the Navy base at Guantanamo Bay (search), Cuba, said Sunday in a telephone interview from command headquarters in Miami that military authorities are awaiting the investigation's outcome.

He said the Army's Criminal Investigative Division (search) was in charge of the investigation.

Earlier, there appeared to be some dispute over whether the investigative services of the Army or the Navy should have jurisdiction, officials said. The chaplain is in the Army, but he was arrested on the Naval Air Station at Jacksonville.

McWilliams refused to characterize in any way what Yee is suspected of having done. He said the chaplain raised the suspicions of U.S. Customs officials when he arrived in Jacksonville on a flight from Guantanamo Bay.

A senior law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Saturday that FBI agents confiscated documents Yee was carrying and questioned him before he was handed over to the military.

A second Southern Command spokesman, Capt. Thomas Crosson, said Sunday that Yee flew to Jacksonville on personal leave from his Army duties at Guantanamo Bay.

On Sept. 15 a military magistrate determined that there was sufficient reason to hold Yee in confinement, McWilliams said, pending outcome of the investigation.

Yee is being held in a Navy brig in Charleston, S.C. -- the same place where officials are holding Yaser Esam Hamdi, an American-born Saudi who allegedly fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Jose Padilla, a former Chicago gang member charged with plotting to detonate a bomb.

McWilliams said a military lawyer has been assigned Yee, but the spokesman would not identify the lawyer.

Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, commander of Joint Task Force-Guantanamo, the military organization that runs the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, will decide on the next step in the Yee case after he receives results of the Pentagon investigation, McWilliams said.

If charges are brought, Miller could decide to proceed to a court-martial, recommend administrative action or opt not to pursue any charges.

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