GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba -- The number of al Qaeda and Taliban inmates rose to 110 in a rugged open-air prison compound Thursday, hours before a Red Cross team arrived to inspect conditions for the men Washington calls "unlawful combatants" and the international aid organization labels prisoners of war.
The four-member team arrived late Thursday on a 19-passenger chartered plane from Fort Lauderdale and headed into briefings with U.S. military commanders. It was unclear whether they would have face-to-face meetings with the captives before today.
"We will look at treatment, at conditions, " said Urs Boegli, the Washington-based senior representative for the International Committee of the Red Cross, responsible for North America.
His team included a Moscow-based ICRC linguist, Christian Mehl; a doctor on special assignment, Raed Aburabi, and Paul Bonnard, deputy head of the ICRC Protection Division in Geneva.
In keeping with long-standing policy of the Swiss-based organization that monitors POW conditions worldwide, Boegli said the team would not make its report public. "We will share . . . our findings confidentially with the detaining authority, " he said.
Earlier in the day, 30 more prisoners arrived from Kandahar, Afghanistan, with the same stiff security arrangements that surrounded three earlier arrivals.
Taped goggles blinded them. Their hands and feet were shackled. And their mouths were covered with surgical masks to prevent the spread of disease as they emerged from the huge C-141 Starlifter cargo plane that ferried them from Afghanistan.
TOLD WHERE THEY ARE
Military officials confirmed for the first time that the prisoners have been notified that they are in Cuba. With the aid of translators, they are provided postcards on their arrival to notify family that they are detained at this Navy base, said Army Col. Terry Carrico, commander of the prison compound called Camp X-Ray.
All cooperated and filled out the forms, Carrico said.
Among the prisoners is the former Taliban army chief of staff, Mullah Fazel Mazloom, U.S. defense officials said Thursday, according to the Associated Press.
The Pentagon has refused to publicly identify any of the prisoners. Mazloom is the highest ranking Taliban official among the detainees, according to two defense officials who discussed the matter on condition of anonymity.
The United States claims that as "unlawful combatants, " the detainees are not guaranteed rights under the 1949 Geneva Convention covering prisoners of war.
But mindful that the world is watching, U.S. military members reiterated throughout the day that Muslim sensitivities are being taken into consideration.
Guards wake the inmates in time for morning prayers before breakfast. Only one captive came with a copy of the Koran, said Carrico, but a shipment of the Islamic holy book is expected before February.
A Muslim cleric - alternately described as a Marine or Navy officer - is en route to this remote outpost on the edge of the Caribbean, added Army Lt. Col. Bill Costello.
Meanwhile, Brigadier Gen. Michael Lehnert, the prison commander, sought to clarify that the chain-link cells at Camp X-Ray are 8-by-8-feet rather than 6-by-8 feet - the size cited by U.S. military officers for the past week. A more permanent cell compound, which has walls, will contain 6-by-8 foot cells, officers said.
PHOTOS OF DETAINEES