SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- They fed them well. The Pakistani tribesmen slaughtered a sheep in honor of their guests, Arabs and Chinese Muslims famished from fleeing US bombing in the Afghan mountains. But their hosts had ulterior motives: to sell them to the Americans, said the men who are now prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
Bounties ranged from $3,000 to $25,000, the detainees testified during military tribunals, according to transcripts the US government gave The Associated Press to comply with a Freedom of Information lawsuit.
A former CIA intelligence officer who helped lead the search for Osama bin Laden told AP the accounts sounded legitimate because US allies regularly got money to help catch Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters. Gary Schroen said he took a suitcase of $3 million in cash into Afghanistan to help supply and win over warlords.
''It wouldn't surprise me if we paid rewards," said Schroen, who retired after 32 years in the CIA after the fall of Kabul in late 2001. He recently published the book ''First In: An Insider's Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan."
Pakistan has handed hundreds of suspects to the Americans, but Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told the AP, ''No one has taken any money."
The US departments of Defense, Justice, and State and the Central Intelligence Agency also said they were unaware of bounty payments for random prisoners.
The US Rewards for Justice program pays only for information that leads to the capture of suspected terrorists identified by name, said Steve Pike, a State Department spokesman. Some $57 million has been paid under the program, according to its website.
But many detainees at the US lockup at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, said they were sold into capture. Their names were blacked out in the transcripts of the tribunals, which were held to determine whether prisoners were correctly classified as enemy combatants.