Chief Guantanamo prosecutor agrees to try al Qaeda conspirator in federal court

[JURIST] Mark Martins [official profile], the chief war crimes prosecutor for the US military commissions at Guantanamo, said on Monday that he had participated in the decision [Miami Herald report] to bring the case of suspected terrorist Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai to the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] for trial. The Obama administration has faced criticism for its choice to try the alleged al Qaeda conspirator in federal court rather than prosecute him through a military commission. Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, known as Libi, is wanted for his involvement in the 1998 US embassies bombing and is thought to have been involved in al Qaeda for at least 13 years. Libi was captured at his home in Libya, and questioned aboard a Navy ship before health problems forced him to be brought to shore. He has since been read his Miranda rights and provided with an attorney. Martins attributed the decision to try him in federal to weighing factors including feasibility, strength-of-interest and efficiency factors. He also pointed out that at the time of his capture, Libi was already under indictment in a federal court in New York. Libi has pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to all charges.

The 1998 bombings killed more than 200 people including 12 Americans. The attacks are thought to have been planned by the terrorist group al Qaeda. In May 2011 US President Barack Obama [official profile] announced [JURIST report] that a small team of US military personnel had killed al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden [WP obituary; JURIST news archive]. Bin Laden had topped the US list of Most Wanted Terrorists [materials] and was believed to have approved or helped plan many notorious terror attacks including those against New York and Washington DC on September 11, 2001, the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole [JURIST news archives], the attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

 

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