2 convictions for bin Laden assistant overturned
WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court on Monday set aside two of three convictions against a former personal assistant to Osama bin Laden.
The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued the ruling in the case of Ali Hamza al-Bahlul, who produced propaganda videos for al-Qaida and assisted with preparations for 9/11.
A military commission had convicted him of conspiracy to commit war crimes, providing material support for terrorism and soliciting others to commit war crimes. He has been sentenced to life imprisonment.
The appeals court rejected al-Bahlul's challenge to his conspiracy conviction but overturned his material support and solicitation convictions.
The court, in an opinion by Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson, said the government had offered little backup for the notion that a military commission could try defendants on the charges for which the convictions were overturned — material support for terrorism and solicitation to commit war crimes.
On the conspiracy conviction, the appeals court said Congress has positively identified conspiracy as a war crime.
Since the Guantanamo Bay detention center opened at the Navy base in January 2002, eight prisoners have been convicted of war crimes. One of those cases was overturned by a civilian court, and six occurred through plea bargains. Six others will go to trial, including the five men charged in 9/11.
Human Rights First, a nonprofit group, said the decision highlights the problems of continuing to rely on military commissions to handle such cases.
“There is no question that al-Bahlul could have been tried in a U.S. federal court on terrorism-related charges, and justice would have been served long ago,” said Daphne Eviatar, senior counsel of the law and security program at Human Rights First.
The Center for Constitutional Rights said the decision will require that another conviction, that of David Hicks for material support for terrorism, be set aside. The Hicks case is pending before the Court of Military Commission Review.
Hicks, an Australian, trained with al-Qaida in Afghanistan and ended up a prisoner in Guantanamo Bay. He was the first Guantanamo prisoner to be convicted of war crimes. He pleaded guilty in March 2007 to the material support charge and was freed by the end of that year.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- FCC chairman floats ‘hybrid’ ruling on net neutrality
- Mexican judge releases retired Marine held for 8 months in jail
- Quarantine lifted, Maine nurse given right to roam
- Medicare paid for drug coverage of patients who had died, investigators say
- Hospital: Girl, 14, dies after Washington state school shooting
- U.S. Department of Agriculture mismanaged rural program, federal audit shows
- Space tourism rattled by test flight explosion of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo
- Federal civil rights charges called ‘unlikely’ in Ferguson shooting
- Man guilty in Florida A&M University band hazing death
- NYPD’s highest black official quits
- Designer of ‘Operation’ game short of surgery cash