WASHINGTON (AP) -- Some of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden's bodyguards have been in U.S. custody since February at the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, officials say.
Military officials said Tuesday they didn't know how many of bin Laden's bodyguards were among the 564 suspected Taliban or al-Qaida prisoners held in high-security metal cells at Guantanamo Bay.
But some of the bodyguards have served bin Laden for years and traveled extensively with him in Afghanistan, said a senior U.S. official familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
How much valuable information the bodyguards could give, assuming they were to decide to talk, remained unclear.
Bin Laden has a reputation for being meticulous about his security, choosing bodyguards for their loyalty and willingness to sacrifice themselves to protect him.
While the detained bodyguards were among those who stayed closest to the al-Qaida leader, their job was to provide muscle, not advice. His bodyguards are not expected to know much about planning for past or future attacks beyond the stray snippets of conversations they may have overheard between bin Laden and his lieutenants, officials said.
They could provide U.S. interrogators with information about bin Laden's movements and security precautions, although bin Laden would be expected to change such things if his bodyguards were captured.
Officials have said one of bin Laden's many sons, Mohammed, is part of his father's security detail. Mohammed bin Laden is not believed to be in custody. U.S. officials also have said another bin Laden son, Saad, is gaining influence as an al-Qaida leader.
Bin Laden's security chief is an Egyptian named Saif al-Adl, who is wanted in connection with al-Qaida's 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. Al-Adl is regarded as a key leader in al-Qaida, and officials have suggested he is capable of running the organization if bin Laden were to be killed.
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