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Guantanamo detainee to face trial in New York: report

world Updated: May 21, 2009 14:39 IST

A top Al-Qaeda suspect held at Guantanamo Bay will be brought to trial in New York, becoming the first detainee to be prosecuted in a US civilian court, CNN reported.

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian accused in 1998 US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, would be the first former detainee at Guantanamo, the US naval base where some 240 terror suspects are held, to face trial in a civilian court in the United States.

CNN, citing two unnamed US administration officials, said an announcement from the US government was expected Thursday, when President Barack Obama is scheduled to make a major national security speech.

The disclosure of the planned prosecution of the Guantanamo detainee came just hours after the US Senate rebuked Obama's plans to shutter the controversial detention facility by his self-imposed deadline of January 22, 2010, and following a tough FBI warning not to bring detainees to US soil.

Obama's Democratic allies joined Republican critics in a lopsided vote that stripped 80 million dollars he requested to shutter the facility from a 91.3-billion-dollar war spending bill.
Critics were quick to respond to the plans to bring Ghailani to trial in New York.

The decision "is a fundamental shift by the president in the war on terror," said Kirk Lippold, former commander of the USS Cole, a US Navy destroyer that was bombed in Yemen in October 2000, killing 17 US sailors and wounding dozens of others.

"While this action may appear to put substance behind the desire to show the world that the US is a nation that embraces due process, the decision is being done in a vacuum," he added in a statement.

Several high-level detainees linked to high-profile terror cases have already faced trial in New York. Ghailani, CNN noted, has been indicted in New York several times for crimes, including the embassy attacks.

In almost simultaneous bombings in 1998, 11 people were killed at the US embassy in Tanzania and 213 people were killed in Kenya. Twelve Americans were among the dead.

Ghailani was captured in Pakistan in 2004 and was among 14 so-called "high-value" detainees who were transferred from CIA secret prisons to Guantanamo Bay in southern Cuba in September 2006.
Also on Wednesday, a naturalized Canadian man of Somali descent pleaded guilty in a US federal court in Minneapolis, Minnesota to conspiracy and providing material support to the extremist network Al-Qaeda.

According to the charges, Mohammed Abdullah Warsame, 35, conspired with others between March 2000 and December 2003 to provide material support to Al-Qaeda by providing training at camps, supplying personnel and providing funds to the group.