US links prisoner to Sept 11 attacks
A former driver for Osama bin Laden knew the target of the fourth hijacked plane on Sept 11, a prosecutor has said as he sought to undercut defence arguments.world Updated: Jul 23, 2008 14:17 IST
A former driver for Osama bin Laden knew the target of the fourth hijacked plane on Sept 11, a prosecutor has said as he sought to undercut defence arguments that the Guantanamo prisoner was a low-level employee of the terrorist leader.
Salim Hamdan, the first prisoner to face a US war-crimes trial since World War II, heard bin Laden say the plane was heading for "the dome," an apparent reference to the US Capitol, said Navy Lt Cmdr Timothy Stone.
The plane crashed in a Pennsylvania field as passengers overcame the hijackers.
"Virtually no one knew the intended target, but the accused knew," Stone told the jury of six US military officers in his opening statement.
Hamdan is charged with conspiracy and aiding terrorism. The defence says the prisoner, a Yemeni with a fourth-grade education, was merely a driver for bin Laden and had no significant role in al-Qaida's terrorist attacks.
"The evidence is that he worked for wages, he didn't wage attacks on America," Harry Schneider, one of Hamdan's civilian defence attorneys, told the jury. "He had a job because he had to earn a living, not because he had a jihad against America."
But prosecutors say that as bin Laden's personal driver, he helped the al-Qaida leader evade US retribution after the Sept 11 attacks and transport weapons for the Taliban in Afghanistan.
To support that claim, prosecutors called as their first witness a US special forces soldier who described finding two surface-to-air missiles in the car Hamdan was driving when Afghan forces captured him in November 2001.