Bob Daemmrich/AFP/Getty Images

‘Alcatraz of the Rockies’ could welcome relocated Gitmo prisoners

Colorado supermax Federal prison with Unabomber and other infamous 'terrorists' might take detainees from Cuba facility

With the delayed closure of the detention camp holding 107 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, the United States has put off an announcement about moving many of the detainees to isolated mountainous terrain far inland from the tropics.

While 48 cleared Gitmo residents will likely be transferred to other countries, and 10 are in various stages of legal proceedings, another 49 could be indefinitely jailed stateside — presenting the question of where exactly they will be placed domestically.

The inmates slated to be relocated to the U.S. include dozens not charged with any crime, such as Abu Zubaydah, a "safehouse keeper" subjected to waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques. It also includes "high-value" individuals in pre-trial hearings, such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, said to be the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks.

Among the U.S. locations considered by Pentagon officials is the Federal Correctional Complex outside Florence, Colorado, which is home to the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX). Run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, one wing of the complex 100 miles south of Denver has “supermax” security classification and hosts a who’s who America’s most feared prisoners. It is often referred to as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.”

Opened in 1994, ADX Florence has underground passageways connecting cellblocks to the lobby. Cells are mostly made of concrete and are completely soundproof to prevent communication. Inmates spend about 23 hours per day alone in their cells, and the window design is designed to make it impossible to know one’s whereabouts within the complex, inhibiting escape planning. Officers deliver meals to prisoners in their cells, and contact with anyone outside of the staff is rare. Guards can instantaneously close all 1,400 steel doors in the event of a disturbance.

Under the current warden, David Berkebile, the 400-plus inmates considered extremely dangerous at the supermax section of ADX Florence are strictly controlled. Among the most high-profile residents are foreigners convicted of carrying out or attempting to commit large-scale violence (1993 World Trade Center and 1998 U.S. embassy bombers), American citizens jailed for domestic attacks (Oklahoma City bomber), gang leaders (Nuestra Familia frontmen), mob bosses (Bonanno Family Crime ring) and double agents (Robert Hanssen of the FBI).

Here's a look at some of the most notable prisoners currently at ADX Florence:

9/11 co-conspirator.

Zacarias Moussaoui

French citizen Moussaoui pleaded guilty to conspiring to kill Americans as part of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, although he was actually in a Minnesota jail at the time. The self-professed Al-Qaeda member is now serving six life sentences in Florence.

After his trial, Moussaoui took back his testimony, claiming to be part of a separate plot intended to strike the U.S. later on.

First WTC bomber.
FBI photo

Ramzi Yousef

The Kuwait-born Pakistani national was one of the main perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He was also a co-conspirator in the foiled 1995 Bojinka plot to blow up 11 planes in a 48-hour period, which hoped to cause 4,000 passenger deaths and crash an airliner into CIA headquarters.

Yousef is serving two life sentences at ADX Florence with three co-conspirators: Mahmud Abouhalima, Mohammed Salameh and Eyad Ismoil.

Speaking, with Bin Laden.
AP Photo/United States attorney’s Office

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith

Originally from Kuwait, the former Al-Qaeda spokesman is Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law. Convicted of conspiring to kill Americans and providing material support to terrorists, Abu Ghaith was sentenced in 2014 to life in prison.

NBC reported that he had spent a decade under house arrest in Iran before Jordanian authorities arrested him in 2013, and turned him over to the U.S.

Al-Qaeda supporter.
US Marshals Office/EPA

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab

The Nigerian citizen widely known as the “underwear bomber” confessed to trying to blow up a plane from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 with explosives in his undergarments. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed to have worked with Abdulmutallab, who had followed the teachings of Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemen-based preacher.

Sentenced in 2012 to four life terms plus 50 years, he was convicted of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

2001 Shoe Bomber.
Federal Government mugshot

Richard Reid

The British citizen often referred to as the “shoe bomber” for an attempt to detonate explosives in his footwear on an American Airlines flight in 2001 from Paris to Miami, Reid had reportedly spent time training with Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Reid was sentenced in 2003 to three life terms plus 110 years for his effort to take down a commercial aircraft.

Waiting on death row.
FBI via Getty Images

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

A U.S. citizen who was naturalized after immigrating in 2002 as a refugee from the former Soviet Union, Dzhokhar and his brother Tamerlan carried out the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed 3 people and injured almost 300. Of partial Chechen origin, the two were apparently also influenced by al-Awlaki’s teachings.

Tamerlan died in a police shootout, which Dzhokhar managed to flee. He was later apprehended after a massive manhunt and is being held at Florence after receiving a death sentence in May 2015.

Would-be NYC attacker.
U.S. Marshals Service

Faisal Shahzad

The Pakistani-American was convicted for an attempted 2010 bombing in New York City’s Times Square. He was arrested 53 hours after the botched plot, after boarding a Dubai-bound plane at the city’s JFK Airport.

Shahzad admitted to training with fighters in the Waziristan region of Pakistan. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 2010, on five counts of terrorism-related crimes including transporting an explosive device and attempting to kill and maim people.

Domestic bomber.
Stephen J. Dubner/Getty Images

Ted Kaczynski

The anarchist and serial killer was convicted of a string of 1978-1995 bomb attacks targeting people involved with technology. Most of the explosives were homemade, either planted or mailed, killing three people and wounding 23. He was sentenced to eight life terms.

Kacynski’s social critique, articulated in his “Unabomber Manifesto,” railed against industrialization and called for a return to nature. The FBI initially labeled him the "Unabomber" for being a suspected "university and airline bomber."

Oklahoma City bomber.
Larry W. Smith/Getty Images

Terry Nichols

The Michigan-born convict was an accomplice to 1995 Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, and was sentenced to 161 life sentences for an attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building that killed 168 people.

Nichols and McVeigh, both U.S. Army veterans, described being motivated by hatred toward the U.S. government and anger over the handling of the 1993 Waco siege and 1992 Ruby Ridge incident. Thought McVeigh was executed in 2001, Nichols shares a cellblock on “Bombers Row” at ADX Florence with Yousef and Kaczynski.

Serial bomber.
Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images

Eric Rudolph

The Florida native carried out a series of anti-abortion and anti-gay bombings across the southern U.S. in the late 1990s, killing two people and injuring more than 120 others. Often known as the “Olympic Park Bomber” for his role in the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing that killed two people in Atlanta, Rudolph is said to have been inspired by reactionary religious ideas and the rhetoric of white nationalists.

He is now serving four life sentences at ADX Florence Supermax.

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