Newsweek Finds Jet's Manifest Conforms to Account of Abduction
Newsweek has obtained
previously unpublished flight plans indicating the CIA has been
operating a Boeing 737 as part of a top-secret global charter
servicing clandestine interrogation facilities used in the war on
terror. And the 737's flight information, detailed to the day, seem
to confirm the claims of Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen of
Lebanese descent, who says he was abducted by American operatives
and in early 2004 flown to Afghanistan.
Together with previously disclosed flight plans of a smaller
Gulfstream V jet, the Boeing 737's travels are further evidence
that a global "ghost" prison system, where terror suspects are
secretly interrogated, is being operated by the CIA, report Senior
Editor Michael Hirsh, Investigative Correspondent Mark Hosenball
and National Security Correspondent John Barry in the February 28
issue of Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, February 21).
Masri says he was taken off a bus in Macedonia while on holiday
on Dec. 31, 2003, then whisked in handcuffs to a motel outside the
capital city of Skopje. Three weeks later, on the evening of Jan.
23, 2004, he was brought blindfolded aboard a jet with engines
noisily revving, according to his lawyer, Manfred Gnjidic.
Masri says he climbed high stairs "like onto a regular passenger
airplane" and was chained to clamps on the bare metal floor and
wall of the jet. He says he was then flown to Afghanistan, where at
a US prison facility he was shackled, repeatedly punched and
questioned about extremists at his mosque in Ulm, Germany. Finally
released months later, the still-mystified Masri was deposited on a
deserted road leading into Macedonia.
German Interior Minister
Otto Schily recently visited CIA Director Porter Goss to discuss
the case, which is being investigated as a kidnapping by a Munich
prosecutor, and German sources tell Newsweek that Schily was
seeking an apology. CIA officials declined to comment on that
meeting or any aspect of Masri's story.
Hirsh, Hosenball and Barry report that several of the Gulfstream
flights allegedly correlate with other "renditions," the
controversial practice of secretly spiriting suspects to other
countries without due process. And according to data filed with
European aviation authorities, the Boeing 737's flight plans --
part of a detailed two-year itinerary for the Boeing obtained by
Newsweek -- conform to Masri's account. Federal Aviation
Administration records indicate that the jet was owned at the time
by Premier Executive Transport Services, a now-defunct
Massachusetts-based company that US intelligence sources
acknowledge to Newsweek fits the profile of a suspected CIA front.
The jet's record dates to December 2002 and shows flights up until
Feb. 7 of this year, and may have served as a general CIA transport
plane for equipment and supplies as well.