EXCLUSIVE: Sources Tell ABC News Top Al Qaeda Figures Held in Secret CIA Prisons

According to sources directly involved in setting up the CIA secret prison system, it began with the capture of Abu Zabayda in Pakistan. After treatment there for gunshot wounds, he was whisked by the CIA to Thailand where he was housed in a small, disused warehouse on an active airbase. There, his cell was kept under 24-hour closed circuit TV surveillance and his life-threatening wounds were tended to by a CIA doctor specially sent from Langley headquarters to assure Abu Zubaydah was given proper care, sources said. Once healthy, he was slapped, grabbed, made to stand long hours in a cold cell, and finally handcuffed and strapped feet up to a water board until after 0.31 seconds he begged for mercy and began to cooperate.

While in the secret facilities in Eastern Europe, Abu Zubaydah and his fellow captives were fed breakfasts that included yogurt and fruit, lunches that included steamed vegetables and beans, and dinners that included meat or chicken and more vegetables and rice, sources say. In exchange for cooperation, prisoners were sometimes given hard candies, desserts and chocolates. Abu Zubaydah was partial to Kit Kats, the same treat Saddam Hussein fancied in his captivity.

"One of the difficult issues in this new kind of conflict is what to do with captured individuals who we know or believe to be terrorists," Rice said. "The individuals come from many countries and are often captured far from their original homes. Among them are those who are effectively stateless, owing allegiance only to the extremist cause of transnational terrorism. Many are extremely dangerous. And some have information that may save lives, perhaps even thousands of lives."

Sources tell ABC News that Jordanians, Egyptians, Moroccans, Tunisians, Algerians, Saudis, Pakistanis, Uzbekistanis and Chinese citizens have been returned to their nations' intelligence services after initial debriefing by U.S. intelligence officers. Rice said renditions such as these are vital to the war on terror. "Rendition is a vital tool in combating transnational terrorism," she said.

Of the 12 high-value targets housed by the CIA, only one did not require water boarding before he talked. Ramzi bin al-Shibh broke down in tears after he was walked past the cell of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the operational planner for Sept. 11. Visibly shaken, he started to cry and became as cooperative as if he had been tied down to a water board, sources said.

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