The Defense Department has announced that charges were referred to a military commission in the case of Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi, aka “Abu Khobaib al Sudani,” by the Convening Authority, Office of Military Commissions, Susan J. Crawford.
Al Qosi is charged with conspiring with Usama bin Laden and other al Qaeda members to target, attack and murder civilians and attack civilian objects in violation of the law of war, to destroy property in violation of the law of war, and to commit and provide material support to terrorism. If convicted, the accused could be sentenced up to life in prison.
The charges allege that in 1996 al Qosi personally served as an armed guard and driver for Usama bin Laden. Until about 1998, al Qosi is alleged to have provided logistical support by obtaining supplies and provisions for al Qaeda, an international terrorist group dedicated to opposing non-Islamic governments with force and violence, at a compound near Jalalabad known as the “Star of Jihad.” It is further alleged that from in or about 1998 through in or about 2001, in Afghanistan, al Qosi lived at an al Qaeda compound near Kandahar (“Kandahar compound”), with other al Qaeda members, including Usama bin Laden, where he provided security, transportation, and supply services. It is also alleged that between 1998 and 2001 he traveled from the Kandahar compound to the front line near Kabul, where he fought in support of al Qaeda as part of a mortar crew.
It is also alleged that in 2001, al Qosi, armed with a Kalashnikov rifle, evacuated the Kandahar compound and traveled to Kabul, then to Jalalabad, and then into the Tora Bora Mountains to provide transportation, security and support to Usama bin Laden and other al Qaeda members.
In accordance with the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and the Manual for Military Commissions, al Qosi will be brought before the military trial judge for arraignment within 30 days of the service of charges. Within 120 days of the referred charges being served upon the accused, the military trial judge will assemble the military commission. Assembly is the procedural step that usually occurs when all parties, including the members, are present and sworn, and the judge announces on the record that the commission is now assembled. The military judge will contact attorneys in the case to set an initial trial schedule.
Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, legal advisor to the convening authority, has stated that these war crime proceedings will continue to move forward in open trials and with more due process than any alleged war criminal has historically received. Military Commission procedures include the presumption of innocence; a burden of proof on the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; the right to remain silent; the right to present evidence and a prohibition from drawing any adverse inference if an accused does not testify or present any evidence; and representation by a military defense counsel free of charge with the option to retain civilian counsel at no expense to the U.S. government.
The referred charges are only allegations that the accused has committed a war crime under the Military Commissions Act. al Qosi is presumed innocent of any criminal charges unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt at a military commission.
Of the 275 detainees at Guantanamo, approximately 80 are expected to face trial by military commission.