'Rendition' Revisited

Scott Pelley reports on CIA practice of rendition

The tail number of one Gulfstream jet was first reported by eyewitnesses to a rendition in Pakistan in 2001. In public records, the tail number came back to a company called "Premier Executive Transport Services," with headquarters listed in Dedham, Massachusetts. But Dedham is a dead end. Premier appears to be a CIA front company. The address is a law office on the second floor of a bank. There was one thing in the records that did lead somewhere: a second tail number.

That number belonged to an unmarked Boeing 737 jet, the plane 60 Minutes found in Scotland. Using the Web and aviation sources, 60 Minutes was able to find 600 flights to 40 countries. It appears the number of flights increased greatly in the Bush administration after 9/11.

The planes have been based in North Carolina. They usually fly to Dulles Airport outside Washington before heading overseas. Major destinations read like a roadmap to the war on terror: 30 trips to Jordan, 19 to Afghanistan, 17 to Morocco, 16 to Iraq. Other stops include Egypt, Libya, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The flight log shows one flight took the 737 to Skopje, Macedonia, from there to Baghdad, and finally to Kabul, Afghanistan. It's a flight that matches the date Kalid al-Masri says he was taken.

"When I opened my eyes in the cell, I saw some writing in Arabic on the walls… And the inmate in the cell next to me told me we were in Kabul and the guards who guarded us all the time were Afghani so it was clear that it was Afghanistan," says al-Masri.

He showed 60 Minutes a prison floor plan he drew from memory. He says other prisoners were from Pakistan, Tanzania, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Al-Masri told 60 Minutes he was interrogated by an American through an interpreter.

"He yelled at me and he said that 'You're in a country without laws and no one knows where you are. Do you know what that means?' I said 'Yes,'" al-Masri says.

What did it mean to him?

"It was very clear to me that he meant I could stay in my cell for 20 years or be buried somewhere and nobody knows what happened to you," he says.

Al-Masri says he was asked whether he had contacts with Islamic groups like al Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood, or aid organizations.

Al-Masri says he told the Americans he had never been involved in militant Islam. He says he was beaten and kept in solitary confinement.

"The whole time was bad. We were mistreated, humiliated, we were treated worse than animals. The food they gave us were leftover bones or chicken skin and the like," says al-Masri.

Al-Masri says he was questioned for five months, then released just as mysteriously as he was taken, put back on the unmarked plane, flown to Albania, and dropped by the side of a road.

"I was in a place where there were no people, in the dark, and they told me to take a path and not look back. I walked along the path and thought they would shoot me in the back," says al-Masri.

Al-Masri says he expected his life was going to end that way. He says he was surprised when they didn't shoot him in the back.

"Yeah, I had a funny feeling. I thought they have this problem with me and they want to get rid of me some way, maybe in an unsuspecting country," he says.

Did anyone ever tell him that they had made a mistake?

"They told me that they had confused names and that they had cleared it up, but I can't imagine that. You can clear up switching names in a few minutes," says al-Masri.

An intelligence official confirmed to 60 Minutes this was a case of mistaken identity. The agency realized its mistake when a technical analysis proved al-Masri's German passport was genuine.