The Department of Defense announced today that military commission charges have been sworn against Guantanamo detainee Abd al Hadi al Iraqi, an Iraqi national.
The charges allege that Abd al Hadi, as a senior member of al Qaeda, conspired with and led others in a series of perfidious attacks and related offenses in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2004. “Perfidy” is an offense triable by military commission in which those who are the targets of attack are killed, injured, or captured after the attackers have “invit[ed] the confidence or belief... that [the attackers] were entitled to... protection under the laws of war.” The charges allege--
• that Abd al Hadi joined al Qaeda by 1996;
• that, in furtherance of the group’s hostile and terrorist aims, he served as a high-ranking leader on various senior councils that set al Qaeda’s agenda and policies;
• that he was a significant al Qaeda liaison to the Taliban, to al Qaeda in Iraq, and to other allied groups;
• that Abd al Hadi commanded al Qaeda’s insurgency efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, during which he supported, supplied, funded, and/or directed attacks against U.S. and coalition forces;
• that these operations made use of a variety of unlawful means, including attacking civilians, detonating vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) in civilian areas, detonating suicide vests in civilian areas, and firing upon a medical helicopter as it attempted to recover casualties; and
• that Abd al Hadi directed his fighters to kill all coalition soldiers encountered during their attacks, thereby denying quarter to potential captive or wounded coalition soldiers.
Following his tenure as commander of al Qaeda’s insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the charges allege that Abd al Hadi continued his liaison role with al Qaeda in Iraq and was ultimately assigned by Usama bin Laden to travel to Iraq to assume a position among the leadership of al Qaeda’s insurgency there.
The maximum sentence for these charges, should the accused be convicted, is confinement for life. These charges are merely accusations. The accused is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Upon swearing of the charges, the chief prosecutor endorsed and forwarded them to the convening authority, Paul L. Oostburg Sanz, who must now make an independent determination whether to refer some, all, or none of them for trial by military commission. If he refers the charges, the convening authority will also designate commission panel members, who, if they are not excused following examination and challenge by prosecutors and defense counsel, will eventually serve as jurors during the trial. The chief trial judge of the Military Commissions Trial Judiciary would then assign a military judge to the case. Counsel for the accused has been notified of the charges sworn against him.
The chief prosecutor, Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, has detailed Mikeal Clayton of the Justice Department to the case as trial counsel, and Air Force Lt. Col. Dale Riedel as deputy trial counsel.