The Defense Department announced today that charges have been referred against Guantanamo detainee Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza al Darbi of Saudi Arabia.
The accused, al Darbi, is the brother-in-law of the Flight 77 hijacker al Mihdhar. Flight 77 is the plane that hit the Pentagon on Sept. 11. The two charges are: Conspiring with others to attack civilians, commit murder in violation of the law of war, destroy property in violation of the law of war, hazard a vessel and commit terrorism; and providing material support to terrorism. Al Darbi was allegedly involved in planning and procuring equipment for attacks on vessels in the Strait of Hormuz and off the coast of Yemen. The charges authorize a maximum sentence of confinement for life.
It is alleged that al Darbi traveled to Jalalabad and met with Usama bin Laden, trained at al Qaeda’s Jihad Wahl training camp and later served as a weapons instructor at another al Qaeda training camp. From 2001 through 2002, it is also alleged that al Darbi moved money from al Qaeda into financial institutions for expenses related to a plot to attack a vessel in the Strait of Hormuz or off the coast of Yemen.
The charge sheet further alleges that al Darbi joined in preparations for an al Qaeda terrorist operation by traveling to several countries to purchase a GPS device, a boat, and other equipment in late 2000 or early 2001. The boat, named “Adnan” would be loaded with explosives for future terrorist operations. The accused ultimately registered the boat in his name as the “al Rahal” under the Sao Tome flag and purchased a smaller boat to instruct Yemenis how to swim and pilot the boat. He is also alleged, in the spring of 2002, to have departed the United Arab Emirates on board the “al Rahal” destined for Yemen, diverted the boat to Somalia due to concerns with his own passport and to have discussed plans by satellite phone with high level al Qaeda operatives.
In accordance with the Military Commissions Act of 2006, al Darbi and his detailed defense counsel will be served a copy of the charges in English and Arabic. Additionally, a military judge will be detailed to the case. The Manual for Military Commissions requires the
accused to be arraigned within 30 days of the service of charges and the military judge to assemble the military commission within 120 days of the service of charges. Assembly is the procedural step that usually occurs when all parties, including the jury, are present and sworn. The military trial judge will contact attorneys in the case to set an initial trial schedule.
The military commissions guarantee the following rights recognized: the right to remain silent and to have no adverse inference drawn from it; the right to be represented by detailed military counsel, as well as civilian counsel of his own selection and at no expense to the government; the right to examine all evidence presented to a jury by the prosecution; the right to obtain evidence and to call witnesses on his own behalf including expert witnesses; the right to cross-examine every witness called by the prosecution; the right to be present during the presentation of evidence; the right to prevent admission of statements obtained by torture; the right to have a military commission panel of at least five military members determine his guilt by a 2/3 majority; and the right to an appeal to the Court of Military Commission Review, then through the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The charges are only allegations that the accused has committed offenses under the Military Commissions Act, and the accused is innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.