The LWOT: Al-Nashiri hearing focuses on mail debate

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Al-Nashiri hearing focuses on mail debate

The Saudi Guantánamo Bay detainee accused of masterminding the 2000 USS Cole bombing, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, appeared at a pre-trial hearing on January 17, where debate centered on the defense's motion to stop the reading of privileged attorney-client mail by prison staff, a practice ordered by Guantánamo commander Rear Adm. David Woods (AFPCNN). Rear Adm. Woods testified on January 17 that the Privilege Review Team (PRT) examines the prison's incoming mail only to look for contraband, as well as glancing at each page to check that they have been properly marked as "privileged" (PostReutersMcClatchy).

Navy Commander Andrea Lockhart testified at al-Nashiri's hearing on January 18 that the new mail-reading orders had come on December 27 after a copy of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) English-language Inspire magazine was discovered in one suspect's cell (APMiami HeraldCNNTel). And the military judge Col. James Pohl denied a motion from the defense that al-Nashiri be allowed to meet with his attorneys without being shackled to the floor, a condition al-Nashiri's lawyers say could trigger symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder because it purportedly reminds him of his years of torture by his American captors (WSJ).

French judge Sophie Clement has requested permission to visit Gitmo to investigate claims by three former French inmates that they were tortured and raped while held at the American military prison (AP).

NYC subway plot involved 4th suspect - prosecutors

Federal prosecutors last week filed a revised indictment against Adis Medunjanin, a suspect in the alleged plot to detonate three suicide bombs on the New York City subway systems, accusing him -- together with alleged co-conspirators Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay, --of trying to recruit a fourth suspect identified only as "John Doe" to "wage violent jihad" in Pakistan (AP). One of Medunjanin's defense attorneys, Robert Gottlieb, said on January 19 that the defense team plans to request the identification of John Doe at next week's pre-trial hearing.

On January 18, 46 senior federal, state, and local law enforcement officials met at the White House to discuss strategies for combating violent extremism and homegrown terrorism while retaining the trust of their communities (AP). In an inter-agency study of 62 cases of homegrown terrorism carried out to identify broad warning signs for law enforcement officials and presented at this meeting, analysts found that a person's ethnic background, socioeconomic status and country of origin are not reliable indicators for his or her likelihood to carry out violent acts of terrorism.

The AP's Gene Johnson and Chris Brummitt had a must-read on January 18 about the little-noticed death of a radicalized Pakistani-American, Moeed Abdul Salam, whose wealthy family had spent years preaching religious harmony and fighting Islamophobia in their hometown of Plano, TX (AP). Despite his privileged American upbringing and his family's dedication to interfaith activities, Salam moved to Saudi Arabia and later Karachi, where authorities say he killed himself with a hand grenade after police entered his apartment to arrest him.

Thai police search for second suspect

A criminal court in Bangkok on January 19 issued an arrest warrant for James Sammy Paolo, who lived with the alleged Lebanese Hezbollah member detained by Thai police last week, Hussein Atris (Bangkok Post). Turkish police on January 18 said they had detained six suspected al-Qaeda operatives who were allegedly plotting to poison the water supply of an airfield in the southern province of Adana used by Turkish and NATO forces (Today's Zaman). And Nigerian police admitted on January 17 that the suspected mastermind of a massive church bombing on Christmas Day 2011 escaped from custody when his accomplices attacked the officers escorting him to a different police station (AP).

The German court hearing the case of Arid Uka, who has admitted to shooting and killing two U.S. airmen at Frankfurt Airport last year, again delayed a verdict in order to hear more evidence concerning a recent news story that Uka was seen in Bosnia with radical Islamists (AP). Finally, researchers at Boston College will go to court next week to fight a request from police in Northern Ireland investigating a 1972 murder case involving a former Irish Republican Army (IRA) chief, for the release of interviews conducted by the researchers with former members of the (IRA) (AP). Ed Maloney, the former Belfast Post reporter who directed the oral history project for which the interviews were recorded, argues that their release could trigger reprisal attacks against former IRA members, hindering Northern Ireland's peace process.

Trials and Tribulations

  • Two bomb blasts rocked the Northern Irish city of Londonderry on January 19 after police received two anonymous warnings about the bombs, allowing them to clear the area and prevent any casualties (BBCCNNAFPIndependent).
  • Terrorist suspect Khalid Aldawsari, who is accused of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, will face trial in April instead of mid-May, per an order by the federal judge overseeing his case (Local).
  • A U.S. official said on January 19 that a CIA drone strike in Pakistan's tribal regions on January 10 killed Aslam Awan, an "external operations planner" for al-Qaeda (APNYTCNNReuters).



The LWOT: Hezbollah suspect leads Thai police to chemical stash

Foreign Policy and the New America Foundation bring you a twice weekly brief on the legal war on terror. You can read it on or get it delivered directly to your inbox -- just sign up here.

The Rack: Cullen Murphy, Todd S. Purham, David Rose, Philippe Sands, "Guantánamo: An Oral History" (Vanity Fair).

Hezbollah suspect leads Thai police to chemical stash

Thai police on January 12 arrested a suspected member of the Lebanese Hezbollah, Atris Hussein, and later charged him with illegal weapons possession after receiving a tip from Israeli intelligence sources that Hezbollah operatives were plotting to attack various tourist attractions in the Thai capital of Bangkok (NYTCNNReutersAPAFP). After his arrest Hussein led police on January 16 to a warehouse he had been renting for a year, where he had stockpiled a large amount of ammonium nitrate and urea, both of which can be used to make explosives, though a police spokesman later said the alleged plot involved the chemicals being shipped out of Thailand for use in another country (BBC).

Radical cleric Abu Qatada on January 17 won his fight against deportation from the United Kingdom to Jordan, where he has been accused of involvement in two major terrorist plots, because he risks being tortured and having evidence obtained through his torture used against him in court (BBCAPTel) Abu Qatada fled to the U.K. in 1993 after purportedly being tortured by Jordanian security forces, and claims that the accusations against him were derived from evidence obtained by torturing his co-defendants.

Four people, including a British citizen who has been detained in Kenya for a year for being in the country illegally, Jermaine Grant, and Kenyans Fouad Ababaker Manswab, Warda Breik Islam and Frank Ngala were charged on January 12 with possessing bomb-making equipment and plotting to detonate an improvised explosive in Kenya in December (ReutersBBCGuardian). Police said they are also questioning Grant about possible links to the Somali militant group al-Shabaab.

Spanish judge moves forward with Gitmo torture probe

A Spanish judge on January 13 said he is proceeding with an investigation into alleged human rights abuses at the U.S. military detention facility at Guantánamo Bay claimed by four Muslim men who are either residents or citizens of Spain (APMcClatchy). The investigation had been paused while Judge Pablo Ruiz waited for Washington to respond to the claims, but after receiving no word from the United States, he decided to continue the probe. And a Navy defense lawyer, Cmdr. Walter Ruiz, has filed suit before a court of appeals against the prison for failing to protect his client's Sixth Amendment rights to a fair trial, by mandating that mail he sends to his client be inspected (Miami Herald). Cmdr. Ruiz said that Guantánamo commander Rear Adm. David Woods is "censoring what he believes the client should get" instead or just searching the incoming mail for physical contraband.

Imam sentenced to life in prison

A Trinidadian Shi'a Muslim imam, Kareem Ibrahim, was sentenced to life in prison by a federal judge in Brooklyn on January 13 for his role in a plot with three other men, Russell M. Defreitas, Abdul Kadir, and Abdel Nur, to blow up fuel tanks at New York City's Kennedy International Airport in 2007 (NYTCNNAPWSJAFPBloomberg). Previously, Defreitas and Kadir were also sentenced to life in prison, while Nur received a 15-year sentence after he pleaded guilty to the plot, which was uncovered by U.S. officials through a confidential informant.

On January 13 in New Bern, North Carolina, Hysen Sherifi received a 45-year prison sentence, Ziyad Yaghi received a nearly 32-year sentence, and Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan received a 15-year sentence for the three men's activities as part of a Raleigh, North Carolina terror cell led by Daniel Patrick Boyd (AP). Federal investigators say the cell members conspired to attack the U.S. Marine base at Quantico in Virginia as well as U.S. forces serving abroad, and obtained funds, weapons and training in preparation for their attacks.

Anthony Falco Jr., who is accused of trying to bring a fake bomb through the security checkpoint at Kansas City International Airport on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial by a U.S. District judge last week, and ordered to spend 4 months in a psychiatric facility (AP). And a federal judge in Manhattan on January 12 denied a new trial for El-Sayyid A. Nosair, who was convicted in 1995 of conspiring to bomb various New York City landmarks and of murdering Rabbi Meir Kahane, rejecting his claims of newly discovered evidence and of misconduct by the prosecution during his original trial (NYT).

Trials and Tribulations

  • The German government on January 16 presented the country's highest civilian award to U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Trevor Brewer and civilian American airport employee Lamar Connor for chasing Arid Uka after Uka shot and killed two U.S. service members aboard a U.S. Air Force bus last March at the Frankfurt airport (AP).
  • Venezuela withdrew its staff from the country's consulate in Miami after allegedly receiving threats from Venezuelan exiles with links to terrorism, though President Hugo Chavez had already announced the consulate's closure after the U.S. government expelled a diplomat there (AP).
  • Iraqi authorities have reportedly arrested hundreds of foreign defense contractors in the past several weeks, detaining them for a few hours to a few weeks because of questions over their visas, weapons permits, and permission to drive on certain roads (NYT).

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