WASHINGTON – An alleged Al Qaeda terrorist accused in the deadly 2002 bombing of a hotel in Kenya has been transferred to U.S. custody and sent to the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Pentagon officials said Monday.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman identified the suspect as Abdul Malik.
He is the first terror suspect to be transferred to Guantanamo Bay since September 2004. Whitman said Malik would undergo a military hearing to determine whether he is to be classified as an "enemy combatant."
Whitman declined to provide details such as Malik's nationality or how he came into U.S. custody. He called Malik a "dangerous terrorist suspect."
Whitman said Malik admitted to involvement in the November 2002 attack on the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel in Kikambala, Kenya, in which 13 people died, and to involvement in the unsuccessful attempted shootdown of an Israeli Boeing 757 civilian jetliner carrying 271 passengers, also in Kenya in 2002.
"Due to the significant threat this terror suspect represents, he's been transferred to Guantanamo," the spokesman said. He said the International Committee of the Red Cross was notified Monday that it will be allowed access to Malik.
A senior defense official, who discussed the matter on condition of anonymity because of its sensitivities, said Kenya gave Malik to U.S. authorities in the past few weeks. He arrived at Guantanamo Bay last weekend.
That official said Malik was not held as a "high value detainee" in the CIA's secret overseas prison system. Fourteen such detainees were transferred from the CIA prison system to Guantanamo Bay last fall.