Ex-Maryland man who joined al-Qaida was convicted in Guantanamo

By Ben Fox | Associated Press

FORT MEADE, Md. A military jury on Friday sentenced a 26-year-old former Maryland man who admitted to al-Qaeda and has been detained at the Guantanamo Bay detention center on Friday. But according to a complaint agreement, the man could be released as early as next year due to his cooperation with the US authorities.

The sentencing of Majid Khan is the culmination of the first trial by the military commission of one of the 14 so-called high-value prisoners sent to the US naval base in Cuba in 2006 after being detained in a secret network of overseas CIA prisons. facilities and exposed to the harsh interrogation program developed in response to the 9/11 attacks.

Khan, a 41-year-old Pakistani citizen who came to the United States in the 1990s and graduated from high school near Baltimore, previously pleaded guilty to charges of war crimes that included conspiracy and murder for his involvement in al-Qaeda conspiracies such as .ex. lethal bombing of the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, in August 2003.

He apologized for his actions, which included planning al-Qaeda attacks in the United States after 9/11 and a failed plan to assassinate former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. During a two-hour statement to juries Thursday, he said: “I did it all, no apology. And I’m very sorry for everyone I’ve hurt.”

The jury of eight military officers was to serve a sentence of 25 to 40 years. Juries heard about Khan’s extensive cooperation with US authorities after his confession and heard the statement from the prisoner, who also described his brutal CIA interrogation and captivity in the three years before he came to Guantanamo.

In addition to the verdict, the jury said seven of the eight jurors had prepared a letter to the Pentagon’s legal authorities recommending pardon to the defendant, which is a possibility under the military commission’s legal system.

A prior agreement means that he can be released as early as February, after which he will be resettled in a third country not yet determined. He can not return to Pakistan.

Juries were not told of the pre-trial agreement, which requires a Pentagon legal official known as a summons authority to cut his sentence to a maximum of 11 years because of his cooperation. He would also get credit for some of the time he has already been in custody.

It will be up to the Biden administration, which is working to close the detention center, which now houses 39 men, to find a country willing to accept Khan for resettlement with his wife and daughter, who was born after he was captured in Pakistan.

Wells Dixon, a lawyer for the Center for Constitutional Rights who was part of the defense team, said he expected Khan’s verdict to be completed in February. He said Khan’s team looks forward to working with the Biden administration to ensure that “he has the support he needs to enable him to move on with his life and be a positive, contributing member of the community.”

Despite the pre-trial agreement, the prosecution urged the jury to recommend a verdict at the higher end of the range, as the defense urged jurors to consider Khan’s cooperation, remorse and the brutal conditions during his captivity.

“Since committing these crimes, Majid is a different person,” said Army Major General Michael Lyness, a military defense attorney. “Majid Khan is reformed and deserves your grace.”

Army Colonel Walter Foster, the chief prosecutor, tried to cast doubt on Khan’s story of being led astray by radical Islam as a young man. He admitted that the prisoner had also experienced “extremely harsh treatment” in the hands of the CIA, but turned to reminding the court of the 11 people killed in the Marriott bombing.

“He’s still alive and with us today, a luxury that the dead and the victims of the JW Marriott bombing do not have,” Foster said.

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