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Army Counselor for Terror Prisoners Held

September 21, 2003|From Associated Press

MIAMI — An Army Islamic chaplain who counseled prisoners at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba has been detained as part of a military investigation, Southern Command officials said Saturday.

Capt. James Yee, also known as Yousef Yee, has been confined since Sept. 10 but has not been charged with any crimes, Southern Command spokesman Capt. Thomas Crosson said.

Crosson said he does not know the nature of the investigation. "If charges were formally filed, then we'd be able to tell you," he said.

He said he didn't know whether an Article 32 hearing, similar to a grand jury, had been scheduled.

Yee was taken into custody at a naval station in Jacksonville, Fla., Crosson said.

The case was first reported in Saturday's Washington Times.

A senior law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said FBI agents confiscated classified documents Yee was carrying and questioned him before he was handed over to the military. Bill Hurlburt, a spokesman with the FBI in Jacksonville, said only that agents were at the scene.

Yee is being held at a military brig in Charleston, S.C., Crosson said. That is where officials are holding Yaser Esam Hamdi, an American-born Saudi who allegedly fought for the Taliban, and Jose Padilla, a former Chicago gang member accused of plotting to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb."

A Chinese American and 1990 West Point graduate, Yee converted to Islam in college and became a chaplain after spending several years in the Army.

He was assigned to the base at Guantanamo Bay in November, Crosson said.

The base in eastern Cuba is overseen by the Miami-based Southern Command. It is where about 650 men from 43 countries are held, all accused of having links to the Al Qaeda terrorist network or Afghanistan's fallen Taliban regime.

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