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Taliban, al Qaeda Prisoners Arrive at Guantanamo Bay

Aired January 11, 2002 - 13:58   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: We have some news to share with you. And that is that those 20 detainees from Afghanistan -- the Taliban and al Qaeda fighters -- they have now landed at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

CNN's own Lucia Newman is very close by. We -- she's joining us now on the telephone.

Lucia, are you there?

LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Judy, I am indeed. I'm speaking to you from a Cuban military observation tower just overlooking the naval station. And from here we saw the plane land -- a C-141 -- just about one minute ago. It taxied to the very end of the airstrip, and it's standing there right now; it's not moving.

Along the airstrips just minutes before the plan flew -- the plane flew in, we saw increased military movement within the base, soldiers lining the tarmac. And now the plane is in there, but nobody is getting out yet. Nobody has approached the plane either at this moment, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Lucia, are you certain that that's the plane?

NEWMAN: We have indications from the Pentagon that, indeed, this is the plane. In any case, we do not have independent confirmation from the observation point where I am speaking to you from. But we have been told that the 20 al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners would be on a C-141, and that is what has landed.

Just minutes before the plane did land, we saw another plane from the naval station take off, and then just moments later the other one landed. It almost seemed like a tactic to distract anyone that was coming into the area.

In any case, there's been a great deal of secrecy about the exact moment that the plane would be, or has landed, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Lucia, do you -- from your vantage point, can you see this so-called outdoor prison that they've built for these detainees, and for more who are going to be flown in to Cuba? What do you make of what you're seeing there?

NEWMAN: We can see a great deal of construction, but I can't tell from here exactly which building or buildings would be housing the prisoners or not, Judy. We're quite a distance away.

WOODRUFF: And that area there around the airport, one assumes it's very -- it's quite secure.

NEWMAN: It's very secure and, indeed, very inhospitable. Not only is it surrounded by cactus everywhere -- the cacti -- and it's very, very arid, and rocks. But as well as that, the whole perimeter, the whole land perimeter of the space is mined. It's completely booby trapped by Cuban mines to keep anyone from going in and getting out. And then the water surrounding the base, of course, is infested by sharks. So it's a very inhospitable place to want to escape from, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Sounds like not many options for those who would like to get out. CNN's own Lucia Newman; she is there very close to the place where the C-141 just has landed from Afghanistan. Landing now in Guantanamo Bay, carrying those 20 detainees, Afghan -- former Afghan and Taliban fighters. Thank you Lucia.

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