“Enemy combatant” al-Marri to be tried in US criminal court

Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, a suspected al-Qaeda operative held in the Navy brig in South Carolina since 2003, is to be officially charged and tried in US federal court, following the unsealing of an indictment Feb. 27. Al-Marri, a legal US resident, was arrested in December 2001 in Peoria, Ill., and charged with being part of a terrorist sleeper cell and is the only person held as an enemy combatant in the United States. He is expected to be charged with providing material aid to terrorists. The move comes just two months before the Supreme Court is to hold hearings on al-Marri’s petition for habeas corpus.

The government is expected to ask for dismissal of the case as being moot but al-Marri’s lawyer Jonathan Hafetz said he will oppose a dismissal and ask for a ruling on the merits:

If true, the decision to charge al-Marri is an important step in restoring the rule of law and is what should have happened seven years ago when he was first arrested. But it is vital that the Supreme Court case go forward because it must be made clear once and for all that indefinite military detention of persons arrested in the US is illegal and that this will never happen again.

In January 2009, President Barack Obama issued an executive order directing a review of his case. Al-Marri has previously claimed he was abused in detention. Previously, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit had issued a ruling upholding al-Marri’s detention as an enemy combatant as lawful and within presidential power. (Jurist, Feb. 27)

See our last post on the detainment scandal.

We depend on our readers. Please support our work: