U.S. Military Commissions to Resume This Week at Guantanamo
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
NAVAL STATION GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, April 24, 2006 U.S. military commission proceedings will resume this week in the cases of three enemy combatants held here since 2002.
Proceedings will resume in the case of Sufyian Barhoumi, an Algerian man accused of being an explosives trainer for al Qaeda. Proceedings will begin for Jabran Said Bin Al Qahtani, a Saudi man accused of constructing circuit boards to be used as timing devices in bombs, and Ghassan Abdullah Al Sharbi, a Saudi man accused of providing English translation for a terrorist training camp and receiving training on how to build and use hand-held remote detonation devices for explosives. According to the charges against them, Barhoumi, Qahtani and Sharbi were captured together in March 2002 at a safe house in Pakistan.
Barhoumi first appeared before the commission March 2. That hearing was cut short by the presiding officer because Barhoumi had just learned of the death of his father and was requesting permission to call his family in Algeria.
The phone call request was put in March 4, and has been approved by the Office of Military Commissions, Army Capt. Wade Faulkner, Barhoumi's detailed defense counsel, said in an interview today. Now arrangements must be made with the State Department to get Barhoumi's family to the U.S. embassy so the call can be monitored, Faulkner said.
In his first hearing, Barhoumi requested a civilian defense counsel -- Lee Foreman, a Denver, Colo.-based attorney specializing in criminal defense and civil litigation. Foreman was supposed to attend this week's hearings, but his security clearance has not been approved, Faulkner said. The absence of Foreman may cause a delay in proceedings if Barhoumi doesn't wish to go forward without him, Faulkner said.
Another issue may arise due to Barhoumi's confinement status, Faulkner said. Barhoumi was moved March 30 from Camp 4, the medium-security facility, to Camp 5, the newest maximum-security facility here, he said. Barhoumi has communicated that if he is not moved back to Camp 4, he will be uncooperative in proceedings, Faulkner said.
According to the charges against him, Barhoumi attended an electronics and explosive course in 1998 at an al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist camp in Afghanistan. After completing his training, Barhoumi became an explosives trainer for al Qaeda, training members on electronically controlled explosives at remote locations, according to the charges.
Qahtani, an electrical engineering graduate of King Saud University in Saudi Arabia, allegedly left Saudi Arabia shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with the intent to fight against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. According to documents summing up the charges against him, Qahtani attended a terrorist training camp in Kabul, Afghanistan, and then moved to a guest house in Pakistan, where he received further training in how to build hand-held remote-detonation devices for explosives.
Qahtani is also alleged to have built circuit boards for use as timing devices in bombs and to have written two instructional manuals on how to assemble these circuit boards.
Sharbi, an electrical engineering graduate of Embry Riddle University in Prescott, Ariz., is alleged to have attended terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and to have provided translation for another camp attendee's military training. According to the charges against him, Sharbi traveled to the guest house in Pakistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, where he received training in how to build hand-held, remote detonation devices for explosives.
Air Force Col. Morris Davis, the chief prosecutor for the Office of Military Commissions, said that he expects there will be issues in these three cases about the detainees objecting to their detailed defense counsel. However, Davis said that all the detainees will be provided a full and fair trial.