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Guantanamo Detainees Charged With Conspiracy to Commit War Crimes

By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24, 2004 – Two detainees at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been charged with conspiracy to commit war crimes and will be tried by military commission, a judge advocate spokesman said here today.

Specifics of the charges against Ali Hamza Ahmed Sulayman al Bahlul of Yemen and Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi of Sudan include attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, murder by an unprivileged belligerent, destruction of property by an unprivileged belligerent and terrorism, said Air Force Maj. John Smith, office of military commissions.

An unprivileged belligerent is a person participating in hostilities who is not authorized to do so under the laws of war, Smith explained.

"These charges are one important step along the process of eventually bringing these individuals to trial," he said.

Smith said it is alleged that al Bahlul was an al Qaeda propagandist and bodyguard for Osama bin Laden. "He's noted for creating a recruiting and motivational film depicting glorifying the killing of Americans from the USS Cole," he added.

Al Qosi is alleged to have been a bin Laden bodyguard and al Qaeda accountant as well as a weapons smuggler, said the major.

Both men are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, he said.

Smith said he expects the trial will be held later this year.

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