Four detainees who are being termed “senior members of al-Qaeda” have gone missing from the US-run section of Camp Cropper prison in the city of Baghdad. Officials say they are being sought but there is no idea where they’ve gone.
US military officials say the escapes are “regrettable” and declined to say how the escapes happened. Though the US turned Camp Cropper over to the Iraqi government, they have retained control over “Compound Five.” It was discovered on Wednesday night, after a failed escape attempt by two other detainees, that these four were missing.
The prison gained a reputation throughout the war as a site of mistreatment by guards and in some cases secret detention without access to Red Cross officials. The site continues to hold around 1,500 detainees but only about 200 are under direct US control, nominally because they are “too dangerous” to trust to the Iraqi forces.
It is the second such escape since the handover, though the first from the US side. A week after the July handover four “al-Qaeda” suspects escaped from the Iraqi side of the prison. US officials emphasize that the new escapees are entirely their responsibility and that the Iraqi security forces had nothing to do with them. They have promised an investigation.
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