Thursday, May 21, 2009

Accused Conspirator in U.S. Embassy Dar es Salam Bombing Brought to Trial in NYC

Here are a few quotes from the U.S. Department of Justice press release (Accused East Africa Embassy Bomber Held at Guantanamo Bay to Be Prosecuted in U.S. Federal Court):

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian national who has been held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility since September 2006, will be prosecuted in federal court in the United States pursuant to the March 12, 2001 superseding indictment currently pending against him in the Southern District of New York.

-- snip --

Ghailani was first indicted on Dec. 16, 1998, by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York for conspiring with Osama bin Laden and other members of al-Qaeda to kill Americans overseas and for his role in the Aug. 7, 1998, bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salam, Tanzania, which killed at least eleven people and caused injuries to at least 85 people.

-- snip --

Among other things, the superseding indictment alleges that Ghailani assisted in the purchase of the Nissan truck as well as the oxygen and acetylene tanks that were used in the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania. He is further alleged to have participated in loading boxes of TNT, cylinder tanks, batteries, detonators, fertilizer and sand bags into the back of the truck in the weeks immediately before the bombing. Ghailani departed Africa for Pakistan the night before the bombing.

-- snip --

Ghailani was charged with the following substantive offenses: murder in violation of the Law of War, murder of protected persons, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, and destruction of property in violation of the Law of War and Terrorism. He was also charged with conspiracy to commit all of the above offenses, as well as providing material support to terrorism. On Oct. 3, 2008, these charges were referred to trial by military commission.

There is some precedent for bringing captured terrorists to trial in the U.S. In 2002, the federal government sought the death penalty against Zacarias Moussaoui, the "19th hijacker" on 9/11, but a jury voted to give him a sentence of life in prison instead.

I hope Ghailani's jury will be a little more hard-nosed, but, who knows?

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