Supreme Court dismisses al-Marri “enemy combatant” appeal as moot

The US Supreme Court March 6 granted a motion by the government to dismiss as moot an appeal challenging the indefinite detention of suspected al-Qaeda operative Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri. The Court had agreed in December to hear al-Marri’s appeal of a ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upholding his detention. Acting Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler presented a motion to the Court, asking it to dismiss the appeal as moot in light of the administration’s decision last week to try al-Marri in US federal court. Al-Marri was indicted last week on two charges of providing material support to al-Qaeda and conspiring with others to provide material support to al-Qaeda.

In January, shortly after taking office, President Barack Obama ordered an immediate review of al-Marri’s detention. Al-Marri was arrested at his home in Peoria, Ill., by civilian authorities in 2001, and was indicted for other crimes. In 2003, then-President George W. Bush declared him an “enemy combatant” and ordered the attorney general to transfer custody of al-Marri to the defense secretary, claiming inherent authority to hold him indefinitely—and making al-Marri the only “enemy combatant” to be detained on US soil. His indefinite detention and classification as an enemy combatant caused controversy between the Bush administration and rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is providing him with legal representation. Al-Marri has claimed abuse while being held in a US Navy brig in Charleston, SC, where he currently remains. (Jurist, March 6)

See our last post on the detainment scandal.