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Illinois leaders split on taking Guantánamo detainees at state prison

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Republicans – including Rep. Mark Steven Kirk, a candidate in next year's US Senate race, and Rep. Donald Manzullo, who represents the district where Thomson is located – are questioning the wisdom of bringing some 100 terrorist suspects to Illinois, potentially making the area a target for Al Qaeda attack.

If the prisoners are moved to Thomson, "our state and the Chicago Metropolitan Area will become ground zero for Jihadist terrorist plots, recruitment, and radicalization," wrote Representative Kirk in an open letter to President Obama. "As home to America's tallest building and leading defense suppliers, we should not invite Al Qaeda to make Illinois its number one target."

Kirk also noted that any trials of detainees in civilian court would need to take place either in Rockford, Ill., or downtown Chicago, because there are no court facilities near the prison. On Monday, he called for a "homeland security impact study" to examine the danger posed to O'Hare Airport and Willis (formerly Sears) Tower, before any federal funds could be spent to transfer prisoners to Thomson. Another House Republican from Illinois, Aaron Schock, said he would introduce a measure, modeled after one trying to keep Guantánamo detainees from being shipped to South Carolina, that would prohibit the use of federal dollars to move detainees to Thomson.

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