MIAMI — An Army Islamic chaplain who counseled al-Qaida prisoners at Guantánamo 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 didn't know if an Article 32 hearing, similar to a grand jury, had been scheduled.
Yee was taken into custody at a naval station in Jacksonville, 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, confirmed that agents were at the scene, but he declined to comment any further.
Yee is being held at a military brig in Charleston, S.C., Crosson said. That is the same place where officials are holding Yaser Esam Hamdi, an American-born Saudi who allegedly fought with the Taliban, and José Padilla, a former Chicago gang member charged with plotting to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb."
Yee is a Muslim chaplain who was assigned to the base at Guantánamo Bay in November, Crosson said. Yee served as the Islamic adviser to the Joint Taskforce Commander.
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-Qaida terrorist network or Afghanistan's fallen Taliban regime.
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.
As an Arabic speaker, he counseled the detainees, advised them on religious matters and made sure their spiritual and dietary needs were being met by U.S. officials at the base in eastern Cuba.
Lt. Col. Pamela Hart, a spokeswoman for the mission in Guantánamo, refused to answer any questions about Yee on Saturday and referred queries to Southern Command.
Since the detention mission began, Guantánamo has had at least three Muslim chaplains, the first being Navy Lt. Abuhena Saif-ul-Islam, who in 1999 became the Marines' first Muslim chaplain.
Crosson said he did not know whether Yee had an attorney.
Associated Press writers Curt Anderson in Washington and Paisley Dodds in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed to this report.story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20030920/ap_on_re_us/islamic_chaplainE-mail this article