"60 MINUTES" LEARNS THAT THE MASTERMIND OF FIRST TWIN TOWERS ATTACK CLAIMS HE HAS CONVERTED TO CHRISTIANITY AND THAT AL-QAEDA TERRORISTS WERE FORCE FED IN A U.S. PRISON -- SUNDAY ON "60 MINUTES"
Report on the Nation's Toughest Prison Includes a Look Inside, Where a Corrections Officer Says Terrorists Cheered on 9/11 and Are Needier Than Other Prisoners
Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, claims he converted from Islam to Christianity, Scott Pelley reports in a story that brings viewers inside the secretive "Supermax" prison where he is being held. Pelley also reports that some 900 force feedings were performed on other al-Qaeda terrorists who went on repeated hunger strikes to protest conditions at the Colorado top-security federal prison. The 60 MINUTES segment will be broadcast Sunday, Oct. 14 (7:30-9:00 PM, ET/7:00-9:00 PM, PT) on the CBS Television Network.
The prison in Florence, Colo., which the government calls ADX-Florence for Administrative Maximum, houses the nation's toughest and most infamous criminals, such as Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph, would-be 9/11 terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols and shoe bomber Richard Reid. 60 MINUTES obtained exclusive footage of prisoners inside the facility, where special-case prisoners are allowed only a phone call a month, spend 23 hours a day in their 12-by-7 cells and can get mail only from people approved by the prison.
Robert Hood, its warden from 2002 to 2005, says Yousef was a special case. He never left his cell because he did not want to face the indignity of a strip search required for recreation. "He has that Charlie Manson look," says Hood of Yousef. "He has some charisma about him. He's in [prison] uniform, but you know that there's a powerful person you're looking at," Hood says. Told that Yousef has begun leaving his cell and now claims to be a Christian, Hood says, "He's playing a game with someone. If he's doing that, he's doing it for the reaction....He is the real deal," he tells Pelley. As a Muslim, Yousef prayed almost every hour, remembers Hood.
Other Qaeda terrorists protested the special conditions with hunger strikes that Hood had to end with force feedings. "I probably...authorized, conducted 350, maybe 400 involuntary feedings," recalls Hood. "You could have one person, three meals a day for...two months."
Pelley also speaks with a corrections officer inside ADX-Florence, who tells him what she heard on 9/11 after terrorist prisoners saw the destruction on their televisions. "We had a lot of them jump up and down. ...scream and yell and clap and they were very excited," says Barbara Batulis, who heads the prison's staff union. She also characterizes the Muslim extremists as needy. "They want more than what they have coming," she says. "They want extra toilet paper...writing paper...extra envelopes and if you can't give them, they want to see a supervisor right then and there." Batulis would rather work among the other prisoners because she is female. "It's very obvious, [Muslim extremists] just look at you with sheer disdain." Hate can turn into threats. "A terrorist inmate threatened to kill my family, because I was doing my job," Batulis tells Pelley. Batulis says the prison needs more officers. "...We are very short staffed. I firmly believe that staff lives are at stake," she says.