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Friday, 9 August, 2002, 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK
US delves into al-Qaeda mindset
US soldiers escort an al-Qaeda suspect at Guantanamo Bay
US psychologists are questioning al-Qaeda suspects

The FBI has sent a team of behavioural scientists to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to create psychological profiles of the suspected al-Qaeda militants being held there.

Officials say the move will help the US Government to understand a new generation of Islamic activists, some of whom are thought to have carried out the 11 September attacks.

11 September hijacker Mohamed Atta
The US wants to know what drives militants like Mohamed Atta
In the words of one official, the FBI wants to get "inside the minds of radical fundamentalists".

In a series of one-on-one interviews, the detainees will be questioned about their family histories and cultural interests.

They will also be asked to explain their impressions of the United States.

Motivation probed

The aim is to foster a better understanding of why some young men turn to militant groups as a means of expressing their opposition to America.

Specifically, the authorities want to learn more about radical elements within the Sunni branch of Islam, from which the leaders of al-Qaeda are drawn.

This is not the first time the Americans have used psychological profiling.

Similar interviews were conducted with enemy soldiers during the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Mid East anger

But some leading academics have criticised the initiative.

Anti-US protesters in Pakistan
Analysts say radicalism partly stems from America's Mid East policies

Radical opposition to America, they say, stems not from some philosophical distrust of freedom and democracy as the Bush administration argues - but from anger at US policy towards the Middle East.

More than 500 men are currently detained at Guantanamo Bay.

It is not clear what incentive they are being offered to share their thoughts with their captors.


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30 Apr 02 | Americas
29 Apr 02 | Americas
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22 Nov 01 | South Asia
16 Oct 01 | Middle East
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