WASHINGTON (AP) - A top al-Qaida suspect held at Guantanamo Bay
will be sent to New York for trial, an Obama administration
official said Wednesday.
Ahmed Ghailani would be the first Guantanamo detainee brought to
the U.S. and the first to face trial in a civilian criminal court.
An official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the
person was not authorized to disclose the decision, told The
Associated Press the administration has decided to bring Ghailani
to trial in New York. He was indicted there for the 1998 bombings
of U.S. embassies in Africa - attacks that killed 224 people,
including 12 Americans. It was not immediately clear when the
transfer would occur.
Ghailani, a Tanzanian, has been categorized as a high-value
detainee by U.S. authorities after he was captured in Pakistan in
2004 and transferred to the U.S. detention at the U.S. naval base
in Cuba two years later.
The official said the administration plans to announce Thursday
morning that Ghailani will be brought to trial for the embassy
attacks. Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd declined to
The decision on the first U.S. trial of a Guantanamo detainee
comes as President Barack Obama faces pressure from across the
political spectrum on his plan to close the detention center by
January 2010. Democrats have said they want to see the president's
plan for closing the base before it funds the effort, and
Republicans are fighting to keep Guantanamo open.
Some lawmakers have already voiced opposition to bringing
Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. for trial, even in heavily guarded
Obama is scheduled to give a major speech addressing Guantanamo
and national security Thursday morning.
The AP reported in March that Ghailani was among a handful of
high-value suspects prosecutors were considering bringing to trial
on charges that predate the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Trying Ghailani for the embassy attacks may help prosecutors
avoid legal challenges surrounding Ghailani's detention and
U.S. authorities say he helped plan and deliver the explosives
in the embassy attack, and later rose p through the al-Qaida ranks.
He has denied knowing the TNT and oxygen tanks would be used to
make a bomb. He also denied buying a vehicle used in the attack,
saying he could not drive.
Just before the embassy bombings, Ghailani flew to Pakistan.
Last year, military prosecutors charged that after the 1998
bombings, Ghailani worked for al-Qaida as a document forger,
trainer at a terror camp and bodyguard to Osama bin Laden.
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