US embassy bombing suspect to be tried in federal court
The US Department of Justice announced May 21 that Guantánamo Bay detainee Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani will be prosecuted in a US federal court for his alleged role in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The announcement follows the ordered review of all Guantánamo detainees pursuant to plans to close the detention facility.
Ghailani was charged with several terrorism-related counts in March, 2008 under the Military Commissions Act. Attorney General Eric Holder stressed the importance of prosecuting Ghailani, stating that doing so will:
ensure that he finally answers for his alleged role in the bombing of our embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. This administration is committed to keeping the American people safe and upholding the rule of law, and by closing Guantanamo and bringing terrorists housed there to justice we will make our nation stronger and safer.
President Barack Obama said in a speech on national security that preventing Ghailani from coming to the US would prevent his trial and conviction and that it is time to see that justice is served.
Ghailani was initially indicted in 1998 by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York and currently faces 286 different counts against him. He was captured in 2004 and transferred to Guantánamo Bay in September 2006. In January, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied a request to rehear a case against Wadih El-Hage, who was convicted for his involvement in the embassy bombings. In November, the Second Circuit upheld the convictions of El Hage, Mohamed Sadeek Odeh, Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-Owhali for their involvement in the bombings, holding that the US government did not violate their constitutional rights. (Jurist, May 21)