WASHINGTON - Al Jazeera America published Thursday part of the secret personal diaries of one of Guantanamo's most high-profile prisoners, with records of meetings with Al-Qaeda's chieftains.
The six volumes of Abu Zubaydah's diaries, which span more than a decade from his student years to just before his March 2002 capture, were a key element of the George W. Bush administration's justification of its "war on terror."
US officials often use the accounts to justify holding prisoners at Guantanamo without charge or trial, but they had never before been made public.
Washington once considered Abu Zubaydah to be Al-Qaeda's number three leader - waterboarding him 83 times in a single month and subjecting him to other so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" - though it later dialed back its portrayal of the suspect as a senior operative.
The CIA had asked to be able to waterboard Zubaydah, a Saudi-born Palestinian whose real name is Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, fearing he was withholding information about imminent terrorist attacks.
Al Jazeera said the documents - a copy of the government's English translation of the diaries - were obtained from a former US intelligence official who worked with the CIA and FBI on Al-Qaeda issues.
The diaries reveal Abu Zubaydah's ambivalence but also his passion over his decision to join Osama bin Laden in the early days of Al-Qaeda.
"Yesterday and only yesterday I decided to go to Afghanistan," Abu Zubaydah wrote in an entry dated January 6, 1991, in describing his intent to return to India to complete his studies after receiving training during the trip.