The US Justice Department yesterday announced that five Guantanamo detainees would finally be moved to New York to face a normal trial, while others, including alleged USS Cole bombing mastermind Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, would face not ordinary trials, but military commissions.
Reading between the lines of the officials statements and taking comment pieces into account, it seems that the reason for this is that prosecutors are confident of convicting the five to be sent to New York (who will very probably plead guilty, so there won’t be a trial), but not so sure they could convict al-Nashiri.
I was pretty surprised by this decision, and would simply like to highlight some evidence indicating al-Nashiri’s guilt that, in my opinion, is very strong and would very probably be admissible in a normal court. Primarily, this is the statement al-Nashiri made at his military commission hearing in spring 2007 (and presumably similar statements he would have made to FBI investigators in Guantanamo Bay).
One of the more interesting things I have found going through the 9/11 Commission files is this extract, taken from an FBI summary of its investigation into the 9/11 attacks:
UBL can be directly connected to the attack on the USS Cole in October 12, 2000 (ADENBOM 265A-NY-277013). The 200578 telephone number which was originally identified as significant through the KENBOM/TANBOM investigation was also used during the planning of the attack on USS Cole. FBI investigators have learned the 200578 telephone number is subscribed to by AHMED AL-HADDA, whose daughter is married to KHALID AL-MIHDHAR (Flight 77). The ADENBOM investigation has also linked ALMIHDHAR to both NAWAF AL-HAZMI (Flight 77) and KHALLAD, now identified as TAWFIQ MOHAMED BIN SALEH BIN ROSHAYED BIN ATTASH.
At the 9/11 Commission hearing on Law Enforcement and the Intelligence Community in April 2004, in response to a question about the FBI’s failings from commissioner Tim Roemer, former FBI Director Louis Freeh said:
… It would have been helpful — it would have been helpful — for the FBI at that particular point in time to know the names of those two individuals [Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi]; that the information which was generated in the January 2000 physical surveillance, not by the CIA but by a liaison agency [Malaysia’s Special Branch] — if that information and the initiation for that surveillance, which were phone calls to a central number, which you’re well aware of, which plays a integral role not only in the East African bombings case but also in the Cole investigation;…
I have filed a new FOIA request about the investigation of the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen. The document is referred to in the 9/11 Commission Report as “CIA briefing materials, ‘Intelligence Assessment: The Attack on the USS Cole,’ Dec. 21, 2000.” It is mentioned in endnote 144 on page 508 of the 9/11 Commission Report.
Earlier this year I submitted an FOIA request to the FBI for a document reportedly produced in the Cole bombing investigation. It was a request sent by lead investigator Ali Soufan in July 2001 for information from the CIA about al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit, where two or three 9/11 hijackers met al-Qaeda leaders. The CIA falsely claimed it knew nothing about the meeting, although it had actually monitored it quite closely and even followed one of the hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar, on his way there. Had the CIA not lied to Soufan, 9/11 may well have been prevented. The request and its rejection are covered in this entry.