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Sources: Afghan detainees planned attacks on U.S.

U.S. Lance Cpl. Patrick Distin on Sunday guards entrance of U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.

(CNN) -- Military sources in Kandahar, Afghanistan, said Sunday that U.S. forces are holding detainees who had "plans to one day travel to the United States and kill Americans."

Bagram air base north of Kabul -- now holding roughly 50 detainees -- appears to be an increasingly important area for interrogation. A high-ranking al Qaeda leader from Libya accused of running terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, was recently moved to Bagram from the USS Bataan in the Arabian Sea. Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, was also transferred to Bagram last week.

According to sources, there are "a lot of bad boys in Bagram, but there are some who are just lost in the sauce" -- a reference to a handful of detainees who provide no intelligence advantage to U.S. investigators of the al Qaeda network.

Information and intelligence gathered in Afghanistan indicates a direct connection between al Qaeda fighters in custody and planned terrorist attacks in the United States, military sources said. "Some planned events did not come off for whatever reason, possibly the events of September 11," they added.

The possibility of an Iraqi connection is still being explored, but hard evidence has not been found, a high-ranking military source said.

Meanwhile, U.S.-led airstrikes continued Sunday targeting the Zawar Kili Camp near Khowst, Afghanistan. The camp is a suspected hideout for al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. B-52s and other bombers dropped laser-guided bombs in the strikes.

Also, a U.S. Air Force C-17 lifted off without incident from the Kandahar airport Sunday night with 30 heavily guarded al Qaeda and Taliban detainees bound for the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They will join 20 Afghan war detainees who arrived at the base Friday. The detainees were housed outside in 6-by-8 chain-link cells until a detention facility is completed. (Full story)

A moving tribute to the rescuers and survivors of the World Trade Center attack. (January 13)

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The U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, played many roles in the Cold War, and now is home for Afghan POWs. CNN's Mark Potter explains (January 13)

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Tom Ridge says U.S. is "safer, stronger and more secure." Do you agree?

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Photographs of the Marines killed in Wednesday's plane crash in Pakistan.

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Latest developments

• Al Qaeda militants practiced carrying out a mass assassination of world leaders and an attack on a motorcade, according to a video obtained in Afghanistan and broadcast on Australian television. The video showed what the network said were Arab, Pakistani and African fighters rehearsing hostage-takings and assassinations. (Full story)

• A federal mandate to screen all checked baggage will mean longer delays at U.S. airports, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said Sunday. The aviation industry needs more than 2,000 additional machines -- each costing $1 million -- to screen the 1.3 billion pieces of luggage to be checked each year. Neither lawmakers or industry officials believe enough machines will be in place when the mandate goes into effect Friday.

• The bodies of five U.S. Marines killed when their KC-130 plane crashed in Pakistan are being flown to the United States. A plane carrying the bodies took off Sunday en route to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. The body of a sixth Marine also has been recovered, and search teams are working to find the remains of a seventh Marine who was killed in the plane crash.

• Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said Sunday that the United States is safer and more vigilant than it was when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. "Every single day since September 11, we've made ourselves safer, stronger and more secure," Ridge said in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "We still have a lot of work left to do. We're making progress every day." (Full story)

• The Taliban still control parts of Afghanistan and could attack international security forces if the world community doesn't help pay for a permanent police force, according to U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "What everybody tells me here is, 'Don't think the fight against the Taliban is over,' " the Delaware Democrat told NBC's "Meet the Press". "They're not controlling the cities anymore, but they're still in the countryside." (Full story)

• At the U.S. Naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, security officials said Camp X-Ray is currently ready to hold about 100 prisoners and is gearing up to a capacity of up to 2,000. (Full story)

• The British citizen, who was among the first group of Taliban and al Qaeda fighters transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, does not appear to have ties to the London mosque attended by September 11 hijacker Zacararias Moussaoui and alleged shoe bomber Richard Reid, a U.S. military source told CNN. The detainee is of Arab descent, the source said.

• Another 30 al Qaeda and Taliban captives arrived Saturday at the U.S. military base at Kandahar International Airport. The development brings the number of detainees now being held at the southern Afghanistan site to 391. Military officials said 445 detainees are being held across the region.

• U.S. military personnel have extended the length of the runway at Kandahar International Airport, where several thousand U.S. Marines and Army soldiers are base, to 6,000 feet, plus 1,000 of overrun. Larger U.S. aircraft, such as C-141 transport planes, can now fly into and out of the facility.

• A statue based on a famous photograph of firefighters raising a U.S. flag at Ground Zero has drawn criticism from some firefighters and their families, who call the sculpture an attempt to rewrite history and political correctness run amok. In the statue, the three white firefighters in the photo have been transformed into one white, one black and one Hispanic.(Full story)

• The interim government in Afghanistan needs immediate funds and a "robust, multinational military force" to survive, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee said in Kabul on Saturday. "This interim government needs an infusion of a modest amount of capital in days, not weeks, not months," said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Delaware. (Full story)

• In a rare moment of synergy on money matters, Democrats and President Bush used their weekly radio addresses Saturday to call for an end to partisan bickering over the budget, which both said should concentrate on security and economic issues. (Full story)

• The Singapore government has released a chilling videotape it says shows details of a planned attack by a broken terrorist cell on U.S. military targets in the city-state. (Full story)

• Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, will call on Congress to delay implementing last year's $1.35 trillion dollar tax cut -- an initiative spearheaded by President Bush -- a senior Democratic aide on Capitol Hill told CNN. The decision, which will be announced in a speech Wednesday, aims to give the government an additional $350 billion to spend in a economy still sluggish after September 11. (Full story)

• Authorities charged an Egyptian man with lying to the FBI about his knowledge of aviation radios, one of which we allegedly had while staying at a hotel facing the World Trade Center on September 11. (Full story)

• The U.S. Marines this week will unveil new durable, wrinkle-free uniforms with a print of small squares in camouflage colors, shoulder pockets and no-snag button cuffs, Brig. Gen. Andrew Davis said. The Marines will also launch a $2 million advertising campaign next month.




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