US charges Osama's driver with aiding al-Qaida attacks

Updated on May 11, 2007 04:27 AM IST
The United States filed charges of conspiracy and providing support for terrorism on Thursday against a Guantanamo detainee .
HT Image
HT Image
AP | By, San Juan, Puerto Rico

The United States filed charges of conspiracy and providing support for terrorism on Thursday against a Guantanamo detainee accused of working for Osama bin Laden and whose lawyers last year successfully challenged the military tribunal system before the US Supreme Court.

Salim Ahmed Hamdan is the third Guantanamo detainee charged under a new set of rules for military trials signed last year by US President George W Bush after the Supreme Court rejected the previous system.

Hamdan, who is from Yemen, has been detained at Guantanamo since May 2002. His legal challenge forced the Bush administration and Congress to draft new rules for the military trials, known as commissions, for the men held at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay in southeastern Cuba.

He is expected to be arraigned in early June, when he can enter a plea to the charges.

In the charging documents, the military says Hamdan conspired with bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders in the bombings of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, the 2000 attack on the USS Cole and the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States.

In addition to working as bin Laden's driver and bodyguard, the US says Hamdan transported and delivered weapons to al-Qaida and its associates and trained at terrorist camps. He could get life in prison if convicted of either charge.
Hamdan's lawyer, Navy Lt Cmdr Charles Swift, says the Yemeni admits working as a driver for bin Laden - being one of about eight men with similar duties - but denies any significant role in attacks against the United States.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr Jeffrey Gordon, disputed the assertion that Hamdan was just a low-level player. Hamdan's lawyers are seeking to have the case dismissed on the grounds that minor figures like him cannot be charged with conspiracy under the Law of War and that providing material support to terrorism was not a war crime until the US made it one in last year's Military Commissions Act.

"The government has decided to charge him with a series of ex-post-facto crimes," Swift said. "You can't write the law after the fact."

His lawyers hope the courts will step in to halt the trial. The new rules require the government to start the trial within 120 days of arraignment.

Hamdan is expected to be arraigned the same week as Canadian detainee Omar Khadr, who is charged with murder, attempted murder, providing support to terrorism, conspiracy and spying. Charged under the new trial rules, Australian David Hicks pleaded guilty to supporting terrorism in March and was sentenced to nine months in prison. He will serve the sentence in his native country as part of an agreement with the court.

The US says it plans to file charges against about 80 detainees at Guantanamo, where it now holds about 380 men on suspicion of links to al-Qaida, the Taliban or associated groups.

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping (Centre) and former presidents Hu Jintao (Left) and Jiang Zemin (Right).

    Xi’s Saudi visit will signal his confidence in getting re-elected as party boss

    Chinese President Xi Jinping's expected visit to oil rich Saudi Arabia could well be an indication of Xi's' confidence in his re-election as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China, which will establish his further grip on power and make him the eternal leader. When asked for confirmation, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said on Thursday that he had no information to offer, according to Reuters.

  • Australia's Canberra airport evacuated after gunshots fired; one arrested

    Australia's Canberra airport evacuated after gunshots fired; one arrested

    Australian capital Canberra's airport was evacuated and a man arrested after gunshots were heard in the main terminal building, police said on Sunday. One person has been taken into custody and a firearm was recovered, the police said in a statement. There have been no reported injuries, it added. Police said CCTV footage has been reviewed and at this time the person in custody is believed to be the only person responsible for the incident.

  • Bestselling author JK Rowling

    ‘You are next’: JK Rowling gets death threats on Twitter after attack on Rushdie

    Bestselling author of the famed Harry Potter series, JK Rowling, on Saturday faced death threats on Twitter following her reaction to the attack on Salman Rushdie in New York. To this, a user commented on her post: “Don't worry you are next”. The user had also replied to her tweet praising the attacker. “To all sending supportive messages: thank you. Police are involved (were already involved on other threats),” she wrote.

  • 8 Israelis wounded in Jerusalem shooting

    8 Israelis wounded in Jerusalem shooting

    A gunman opened fire at a bus near Jerusalem's Old City early Sunday, wounding eight Israelis in a suspected Palestinian attack that came a week after violence flared up between Israel and militants in Gaza, police and medics said. Two of the victims were in serious condition, including a pregnant woman with abdominal injuries and a man with gunshot wounds to the head and neck, according to Israeli hospitals treating them.

  • North Korea criticizes UN chief's support for the North's denuclearisation

    North Korea criticizes UN chief's support for the North's denuclearisation

    North Korea's foreign ministry on Sunday criticised the United Nations Secretary-General's recent comment on U. N. chief Antonio Guterres' supports for the North's complete denuclearisation, calling the remarks lack impartiality and fairness. North Korea's state news agency KCNA released a statement from the foreign ministry after U.N. chief Antonio Guterres on Friday said he fully supports efforts to completely denuclearise North Korea when he met with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, August 14, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now